Digital Publishing News

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eReading in Public
Most consumers may know of digital magazines for their information and entertainment values, but a whole new market has opened up for the category. Developers who care creating app-based, easily accessed digital titles are also using them for their marketing value in much the same way they would have once paid to advertise.

One such magazine is Arizona State University‘s Thrive digital magazine. While it’s not at all uncommon for a university to publish a quarterly or even monthly magazine, typically targeted at alumni in order to keep them up to date on university activities while demonstrating why their generous donations are so necessary, Thrive’s digital magazine is free for everyone to use on the iPad. This could mean a far greater amount of information traffic and an important step in reaching out to prospective students without coming across like a commercial.

According to the announcement from, “This is an innovative and dynamic presentation of ASU stories of success, community impact, research breakthroughs, personal profiles and more,” said Dan Dillon, ASU chief marketing officer. “There is a tremendous audience of iPad users who demand quality and convenience in the delivery of subject matter that matches their interest areas. Just as these consumers are on the cutting edge of technology use, this magazine will present ASU in a convenient and completely engaging cutting-edge format.”

One of the great  features about this type of information promotion is the value-added intentional advertising it offers. Readers seeking out the digital magazine will stay connected to a variety of university topics, while those who are not yet stakeholders in ASU can see the benefits of a stronger relationship to the school.

As more and more digital users become accustomed to getting their news and information for free online, their attitudes towards advertising are shifting, too. Consumers understand that advertising is what pays for the content and allows it to be offered for free, but that doesn’t mean the advertising doesn’t need to be informative and unobtrusive. It should be enjoyable to read the information when trying to reach out to a new customer base, rather than an annoyance that has to be tolerated.

Digital magazines and newspapers have seen a wider adoption in terms of being used as a value-added tool. A number of service and business sectors have already turned to this format to entice new clients or customers, including the hospitality industry, the library space, and now education.

Authors who’ve enrolled their books in Amazon’s exclusive program KDP Select might have noticed a new feature in their dashboards, tucked in among the various clickable topics. Amazon Marketing Services allows authors to setup an ad campaign for their exclusive titles, one that is designed to put their books in little “ahem” boxes next to customers’ selections based on either other areas of interest or the selection of similar titles.

AMS lets the author set the budget, time frame to run the ad, and the bid price of how much the ad will cost each time someone clicks on it. This built-in safety net can help authors not overspend on their campaigns, as the minimum budget threshold is $100, and that amount is only deducted from when a customer clicks on the ad. Most amounts per ad start at five cents, meaning the $100 budget would net 2,000 customer clicks before reaching the end.

It’s important to remember, though, that a click is not a buy. This is bare bones investment in putting one’s book in front of consumers, with no guarantees as to a purchase. However, the new AMS dashboard (located inside the KDP dashboard on the lower left after clicking Reports) will show the author how many clicks resulted in sales in order to demonstrate the viability of the program for that particular author and title. It will also show the number of times the author’s book has been shown to consumers (even without a click) so the author can get a better picture of how his book is faring in terms of interest based on keywords.

How does this information help the author?

For one, if the book isn’t getting any “impressions” (where consumers have at least been shown the ad), then there may be a problem with the book’s keywords. One of the two options for putting the book in front of readers is to base it on their browsing activity. If a book isn’t resonating enough with the algorithms for Amazon to suggest it to consumers, the author may need to go back and make sure the appropriate keywords are selected and more importantly that the maximum number of keywords have been used.

If the book has a high number of impressions but very little in terms of anyone actually clicking on the book, then that may be an indicator of first…well…impressions. The cover may not be appealing, for example, or the title may not be catchy. Given the information in the ad, it could also simply be a matter of price, so the author might consider a different price if consumers are simply not responding.

A high number of clicks that have not resulted in a sale can paint an entirely different picture. This is where consumers have actually followed through to the sales page for that particular book, so the cover, title, and/or price were appealing enough to grab the reader’s attention, yet something still prevented him from click Buy This Book. There may be errors on the product page (which is very off-putting and speaks to the quality of the book) or there may be too many low reviews for the consumer to take a chance.

Either way, for a nominal investment–one that does not even pretend to make any promises about finding new readers, despite what some bloggers may already be sharing–an author can come away with a more focused idea of what he may want to change about either this book or future publications. It’s important to understand that this is in no way a replacement for intentional and purposeful marketing practices.


PressReader is one of the most popular digital newspaper and magazine companies in the world. They have built their business around the notion of being able to subscribe to over 4,000 publications for a low monthly fee. In order to show consumers how accessible their apps are, they have just unveiled a series of new videos that teaches users how to take advantage of some of the advanced features. Lately the Vancouver company has really been stepping up their game, releasing some interesting videos that tell the story about their brand.

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Paperight to Shut Its Doors

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In sad news for extending the reach of ebooks and print-on-demand, global distributor Paperight has announced that it will cease operations. The company operated under an anti-piracy/pro-book access model that licensed ebooks from publishers to be sold via photocopy shops across various regions in Africa.

Good e-Reader first wrote about Paperight in 2013 when the group won a digital innovation award at CONTEC, the preshow event to the Frankfurt Book Fair. At the time, it was truly astounding that a company could win such an award for getting more people to read print books.

Paperight operated in remote regions by filling a need for licensed content. Until the company’s arrival, many book stores and university textbook vendors offered a library of single-edition titles that students or their parents would photocopy for a fee. This wasn’t only spurred on by piracy efforts, but also by the fact that many publishers lack a licensing agreement in certain African countries, and therefore did not sell their titles within the region. The only way to access the material was through photocopied piracy.

Paperight changed that by licensing the digital edition and allowing readers to purchase the book via a lower cost license, which the shop owner would then print out on the copiers and bind. Call it a highly rudimentary Espresso book machine, if you will.

While many cultures might be willing to pay a little more to not have to stand at a copier and generate their own books, that has proven to not be the case in the markets that Paperight served. At this time, while optimistic about where the industry can take their pioneering efforts and where their work will take them next, the company has had to close its doors.

Newspapers around the country have been in a steady decline over the past few years, a decline that arguably began with nightly news coverage as more and more households bought a television. In essence, a daily newspaper prints yesterday’s news, which is then read at the end of the work day, making it nearly two days old.

Internet news access–most of it free above the cost of internet service, which consumers pay for already–provides up-to-the-minute headline news literally at the readers fingertips, even if it isn’t always unbiased or wholly accurate.

But newspapers, especially the once-family owned papers, provided a valuable service that internet news rarely offers, and that is in-depth local coverage. Unless a particular incident is noteworthy enough to garner national coverage, it can be completely ignored by the media.

Digital newspapers, on the other hand, have the ability to revive not only the coverage that local newspapers once provided, but also to rejuvenate the true journalism that took place on the local events level. In looking back through the nation’s history, a lot of social good came out of local reporters uncovering the real story; that’s not a service that the public can take lightly.

According to an article for Bloomberg, Cerberus Capital Management LP has a plan in the motion to purchase Digital First Media Inc., which owns some regional news outlets like the San Jose Mercury News and the Denver Post. This deal would expand the digital reach of these papers and allow a broader audience of readers who have some form of tie to the region–former residents, or readers whose parents still live in Denver, for example–to continue to benefit from the serious journalism that takes place in those regions.

Once deals like this take place and broader digital publishing options open up for newspapers, digital newspaper and magazines subscription providers are able to step in with a quality, easy to use app that allows consumers to access a wide variety of content that they otherwise never would have found. Make sure if you are involved in digital newspaper publishing or a fan of any of these papers, you can check them out on PressReader.

Author Earnings
You have to hand it to Hugh Howey and the elusive Data Guy: they do a great but thankless service for which they receive heaps of professional scorn, but they don’t let that stop them. Every time they release a new Author Earnings report filled with charts and graphs and actual information culled over countless hours at the computer, I remember the scene from the film Day After Tomorrow when Jake Gyllenhaal’s character pleads with the people to not go out into the storm, begging them to save themselves and warning them they will die if they go out there.

They don’t listen, of course. And then they die.

But the fact that Author Earnings has been providing solid data–regardless of the people who declare that the data is not solid, despite having no other proof of that statement other than their status as well-known industry professionals–all this time has done little to change the minds of the top names in publishing. They still wave their hands dismissively and continue along the course they’ve been charting for four hundred years.

The “executive summary,” or key takeaways of the findings in this January 2015 report, states:

  • “AuthorEarnings reports analyze detailed title-level data on 33% of all daily ebook sales in the U.S.
  • 30% of the ebooks being purchased in the U.S. do not use ISBN numbers and are invisible to the industry’s official market surveys and reports; all the ISBN-based estimates of market share reported by Bowker, AAP, BISG, and Nielsen are wildly wrong.
  • 33% of all paid ebook unit sales on are indie self-published ebooks.
  • 20% of all consumer dollars spent on ebooks on are being spent on indie self-published ebooks.
  • 40% of all dollars earned by authors from ebooks on are earned by indie self-published ebooks.
  • In mid-year 2014, indie-published authors as a cohort began taking home the lion’s share (40%) of all ebook author earnings generated on while authors published by all of the Big Five publishers combined slipped into second place at 35%.”

The newest information from the most recent Author Earnings report includes its usual proof in the pudding of how indie authors are faring in the current book retail market, but also includes an interesting topic that hasn’t received as much attention due to the availability of months of back data: Kindle Unlimited numbers.

“A quick aside on Kindle Unlimited (KU). The indie share of author earnings includes 8% from KU borrows of indie books. In our last report, KU was a brand new part of the author-earnings landscape. To account for it accurately, we crowdsourced borrow-versus-buy ratios from hundreds of indie authors participating in KU, and found that they averaged 1:1 (half KU borrows, half full-price purchases). We used that 50% borrow ratio as a baseline in our author earnings calculations, although we found that plugging in any other ratio instead, even 0% borrows or 100% borrows, made little difference in the overall numbers and pie charts. In November, when announced the size of the October KU “pot” at $5.5 million and the indie per-borrow payout at $1.33, we could now double-check our crowdsourced KU-borrow ratio of 50%. So we did:

$5.5 million / $1.33 = 4,135,338 indie KU borrows in October

Which is exactly 48% of the 8,561,293 paid monthly downloads (purchases + borrows) of Indie & Uncategorized books in KU shown by our data — quite close to the 50% we originally crowdsourced. Perhaps the wisdom of crowds is a thing, after all.”

For a closer look at the in-depth report (and all of its pretty charts and graphs), click HERE.

Since the original innovations in digital publishing and self-publishing first came along, there have been a few upgrades and features added to the concept, but nothing that really shook up the process, at least not in the same way that self-publishing originally turned the publishing world on its collective head. But a new program from ebook and print distributor BookBaby stands to be the first true game changer for indie authors since the recent revolution took off.

While there’s nothing inherently amazing about print-on-demand, being able to combine print-on-demand with a far reaching distribution program is. Authors who currently use CreateSpace–arguably the most trafficked POD service for self-publishing–really only have the option to list their physical books on Amazon, the CreateSpace e-store, and a their own blogs if they choose to fulfill the shipping options themselves. While there is a free expanded distribution option with CreateSpace that at least makes it possible for libraries and bookstores to stock the titles, it sees limited results for most authors.

BookBaby’s new program will distribute self-published print-on-demand titles to retailers like Barnes and Noble through their website (with the potential due to sales and customer requests for in-store sales), Amazon, Powells, NASCORP, Ingram Network, Baker & Taylor Network, plus up to another 150 other outlets.

This program is an add-on to their existing print services, and only requires a one-time minimum order of 25 copies of the professionally printed book. While ebook conversion and distribution is available, it is not required in order to take advantage of the print-on-demand option. That means an author can still offer his ebook on Amazon at his own terms and under his own name, as well as take full advantage of Amazon’s exclusive KDP Select program and its benefits, while still offering his print edition through the other networks.

The best part? One of the chief concerns that prevents bookstores from carrying self-published works is the inability to return unsold titles, even at the author’s cost. BookBaby’s program will allow these outlets–from the local indie bookshop to Barnes and Noble’s physical locations–to return unsold books for a full refund, while still not incurring any cost to the author. BookBaby will absorb the cost of the refund.

“This is different from any other Print On Demand program out on the marketplace,” said Steven Spatz, BookBaby President. “Self-published authors deserve to have a place on the book store shelves around the world, and our program delivers the maximum exposure through retail stores and wholesale catalogs.”

Unlike many companies who offer publishing tools for indie authors, BookBaby does not take an additional royalty on each item sold. The full remaining percentage after the retailer’s cut goes to the author. There are metrics involved in factoring the royalty on the print-on-demand titles, but they are comparable to other distributors in the industry.

digi pub china
If there was every any doubt about the need for authors and publishers to distribute their books abroad, a new report on book consumption in China may have just put those thoughts to rest. While China does boast the largest single-country population on the planet, those numbers translate into an incredible amount of sales within the various provinces.

What is more interesting about the report was the breakdown by genre within the different regions, as well as the accumulation of where books are being bought in the highest numbers. One particular province, for example, bought more books than the combined sales of sixteen other provinces. Capital cities of the provinces and different universities in various provinces were also examined to discover the overall rate of book buying and the genres that sold the most copies in each location.

According to an article on the findings for, “Chinese people purchased 33 million books via in 2014. The top three provinces for book consumption are Guangdong with 16.89 percent, Beijing 11.39 percent, and Jiangsu 7.01 percent. They are followed by Shanghai 6.45 percent, Shandong 6.23 percent and Zhejiang 5.71 percent.”

While this report took into account the total book buying habits of consumers, ebooks also saw a spike in consumption.

“E-book consumption has increased dramatically along with the development and popularization of smart phones. The ratio of e-book sales to hardcopy sales rose from 10 percent to 30 percent in 2014. The top three sales regions are also the biggest e-book markets: Guangdong, Beijing and Jiangsu. It has become popular for readers to read and buy e-books by mobile phone. In 2014, 60 million e-books were downloaded, which is equal to 20 percent of hardcopy sales. That figure is 10 percent higher than that in 2013.”

This news should serve as a conversation starter for authors and publishers–especially smaller press publishing houses–who have yet to explore the options of international distribution, an important market option considering the lack of available English language content in direct proportion to the numbers of English speakers in many of these countries.


Michael Bloomberg is a man on the mission.  One of his lifelong goals is purchasing one of the most influential newspapers in the world, the New York Times.  A few years ago he formally approached Chairman Arthur Sulzberger about a possible deal, but was told “The New York Times will never be for sale.” Recently the New York Magazine published a speculation piece and for all sense and purposes, Michael’s interest has not waned.

Michael Bloomberg is the former mayor of New York and held the office for three terms.  He is considered to be the wealthiest person in New York, whose reported net worth is north of $33 billion, could certainly afford to acquire a publicly traded media company with a market capitalization of a mere $2 billion—even if he had to pay a substantial premium.

Many of the most popular newspapers in the US also proclaimed that they would never be for sale, but look how it all panned out. The Wall Street Journal was not for sale until Rupert Murdoch made an offer that was 67% above their shares’ trading value.  The Washington Post wasn’t on the market until Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos came knocking and bought it in August 2013.

The New York Times has been under the gun lately to produce. In October they  reported a loss of $9 million compared to a profit of $12.9 million in the third quarter of 2013. The loss was driven, in part, by the cost of buyouts and over 100 layoffs, as well as a capital investment in new products. The company bet big on NYT Opinion, a mobile app dedicated to opinionated content and NYT Now, which was aimed at younger readers. Both had not gained the traction the Times had wanted and were quickly shuttered.

One ally that Bloomberg has in a possible buyout situation is Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, who also expressed an interest in purchasing the Times. Last week, Mr. Slim exercised warrants to become the largest shareholder of the company with a 17% stake and told Reuters last July that his holdings in the company are a “financial investment.” If Bloomberg paid a dramatic above average rate for the company, Slim would make a copious amount of money.

Will the Times sell? It looks highly unlikely, primarily due to the way the company is structured. Poynter outlined the current situation by saying “The structure of the family trust is the heart of the matter . It would be almost impossible unless there was unanimity” among family shareholders to sell the company to an outsider.  Even were there a block of dissident family members, stock in the Trust would have to be offered first to the other Class B Trust shareholders before it could go to anyone else.”

The New York Times core business is sound. Their online digital strategy is paying off big time. They basically pioneered the paywall system, that gives people a limited amount of content they can read, before they have to take out a subscription. Over 900,000 people are currently paying for this and via their official line of apps for Android and iOS apps. Third party companies are also lending the assist in generation additional revenue.  PressReader  is marketing the NYT replica edition to a ravenous audience.

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In some ways, the current state of digital publishing is even more mysterious to indie writers than when the doors first opened on publishing a handful of years ago. With so many more options than the first wave of publishing revolution, even seasoned, published authors may find some of the new options and features a little daunting.

Two of the many reliable, on-going sources of information will be staging their monthly online events today with topics aimed at furthering the careers and success of self-published authors.

The first is the Alliance of Independent Authors’ monthly “Ask ALLi” roundtable with guest experts Joanna Penn and Orna Ross. Penn, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author who was named one of The Guardian UK Top 100 Creative Professionals in 2013, will share insights into the current state of self-publishing with author, ALLi director, and sought-after industry expert Orna Ross. Together the pair will take questions and offer tips and solutions.

Later tonight, the weekly Bibliocrunch Twitter chat #IndieChat will take place at its usual time, only this week’s guest is far from usual. One of the top issues that continues to plague indie authors isn’t in the writing, editing, or publishing side of the business, but in the marketing and promotion aspect. Tonight’s #IndieChat guest is Shari Stauch, founder of Where Writers Win, a company dedicated to working with authors with a spectrum of budgetary allowances to offer every type of promotion service, from outright media campaigns to simply building their websites.

Participation in both events is free and simple. For the ALLi event, simply sign in to join the Google Hangout by following THIS LINK. The event kicks off at 11am ET/4pm GMT. For the #IndieChat hosted by Bibliocrunch, simply sign into your Twitter account and follow the hashtag at 9pm ET. Remember to include the hashtag in your tweets to join in the conversation.

The publishing industry has extolled the virtues of digital publishing–less waste, lower transport and delivery costs, a reduced carbon footprint–especially where periodicals are concerned, but there is more to delivering e-content in the form of newspapers and magazines than simply browsing through a magazine while you wait for the train.

New data on travel, specifically the numbers that pertain to business travel, may provide a correlation between the increase in individual trips and the steady increase in popularity of digital newspaper and magazine apps. Numbers from the Travel Industry Association of America indicate that:

  • 3% of business travelers travel outside of the U.S.
  • 47% of business travelers reported that their last trip was to attend a meeting, trade show, or convention, as opposed to other activities, such as consulting or making a sales call.
  • The average business trip lasts 3.3 nights.
  • 20% of business travelers report that they combined work and vacation on their last trip.
  • There were 43,900,000 individuals who traveled on business in 1998 — or one out of every five American adults.
  • The average business traveler is 42 years old.
  • 60% of business travelers are men.
  • The average business traveler takes 5.4 trips each year.
  • The average business traveler earns an annual salary of $76,100.
  • In the 1990’s, there were an average of 200,000,000 business trips taken per year.
  • With 25% of business travelers visiting the South Atlantic region of the U.S., it is the most common destination.

With so much travel taking place in far flung destinations when the individual is required to travel, one of the small comforts that airports and hotels have been able to offer is access to internet connectivity and digital magazines and newspapers. This allows the business traveler to connect to content and news from back home, rather than experience the sense of relief from getting away from it all, as when on vacation.

“With todays’ competitive hospitality industry, retention is usually a result of high guest satisfaction,” explains the logic behind digital amenities as offered by digital content app PressReader. “Value added guest amenities, like PressReader, give hoteliers an ideal solution to gain a competitive edge in the market resulting in higher guest satisfaction and repeat visits. With a library of over 2,000 same-day digital newspapers and magazines including the Washington Post, Elle Magazine, Business Traveler, The Globe and Mail and Le Monde, PressReader is a cost-effective luxury amenity that leisure and business travelers alike would appreciate.”

When the digital revolution kicked off, it sparked a wave–for better or for worse, depending on which supporter or critic you ask–of self-publishing opportunities that many were quick to take advantage of. But there were key groups who were left out at first, namely children’s book authors, graphic novelists, photo array creators, and similar content developers. But thanks to companies like Blurb, Draft2Digital, Story2Go, and many more, there are now opportunities for a wide variety of publishing types.

This has led to an increase in interest in private self-publishing, or a model of publishing in which an individual simply wants to have a professional-looking print or digital edition of a book that will not be listed for major sale. While outlets like CreateSpace function to list a professional-grade print copy on Amazon’s retail website, others like the addition of print services from Nook Press simply make print-on-demand copies available for the author to purchase.

A recent article for Economic Times highlighted the need for cookbooks to have a publishing process, as more and more people are sharing their old family recipes within their group of relatives, and are looking for a professional option. While church cookbooks in particular have long been a fundraising option, the results were often shoddy plastic spiral bindings between two pieces of card stock, while the books themselves had to be ordered in minimum shipments of bulk that the organizations then had to turn around and sell at an astounding price, just to make a return.

With print-on-demand, though, not only is the option available for single-purchase at much lower prices, the option to list the book on sites like Amazon is still there if organizations choose to direct their customers to the retailer and make their royalty that way. Of course, they are also free (and encouraged, even) to order their own copies at a significant savings and sell them at events as impulse purchases.

In the case on the family cookbook featured in Economic Times, the book actually went on to be picked up by HarperCollins India, given that it was a large collection of regional favorites and nothing else like it was available at the time. The publisher has gone on to actively seek out other cookbooks for the same reason.

One of the early adoption markets for tablet use, K12 digital textbooks, and a thriving e-commerce site to offer ebooks was India, but recent reports have shown somewhat stagnant responses, which experts have attributed to a lack of reliable wifi and internet connectivity throughout the country, as well as concerns about posting credit card information on unreliable digital infrastructure. But a new multi-billion dollar initiative from the Indian government in conjunction with a major telecom provider may change all that with the institution of free wifi in 2,500 cities across the country.

The Digital India project will create some 50,000 to 60,000 hotspots in various cities, and offer citizens data plans through telecom-provider BSNL. These data plans, which will function in much the same way that consumers currently subscribe to data plans, will offer the free data packages, with the option to purchase additional data each month after the free threshold has been reached.

According to an outline of the project, the goals include:

  • Broadband highways to connect all villages and cities of India
  • Everywhere mobile connectivity; wherein mobile coverage will be provided to every nook and corner of India
  • Public Internet Access Program wherein internet accessibility to the web will be provided at subsidized rates (example public WiFis)
  • eGovernance in every government department, wherein 100% paper-less environment will be encouraged
  • e-Kranti, wherein government services would be electronically delivered
    Information for All policy (which includes provisioning of Right to Information using the Internet as a medium)
  • Electronics manufacturing
  • IT for Jobs
  • Early harvest program

How does this affect the publishing industry? Nearly all sectors of publishing have seen lagging adoption–slower than predicted, at least–due to concerns of connectivity. While educational initiatives have put devices in place, retail websites like Flipkart and Amazon India have introduced easy ebook purchasing, and even major self-publishers have brought the platform to authors in India, the lack of internet connection has been blamed for disappointing results in publishing.