Digital ebooks only account for %1 of all book sales in Vietnam, and Biitbook is hoping to dominate this space. Currently, the online store offers 20,000 titles, of which 10,000 are in Vietnamese. Nhat Nguyen Hung, the founder of the company, recently said that in the last eight months 46,000 users have registered on the platform.
Biitbook knows the vast majority of its customers do not use credit cards, so the company accepts PayPal and SMS to charge people for their digital content. One of the unique aspects of Biitbook’s monetary strategy is to use its own virtual currency called Bcoins. Customers can use their preferred form of payment to accumulate credit into their Bcoins account to buy ebooks. Publishers will get 70% of the cut, and the first 100 publishers (or authors) get a 75% cut for signing up for the first year on Biitbook’s platform. The ebookstore currently accepts both publisher submitted ebooks and also offers digital self-publishing solutions.
One of the ways this company excels is in educating the publishing market on the virtues of going digital. It provides marketing materials and tutorials on how to convert traditional books to ebooks and then distribute them.
Accessibility is one aspect Biitbook is heavily focused on. It currently has mobile apps for Android and iOS. In Asia, reading on your phone tends to be the norm, and dedicated tablets and e-readers tend not to be as popular. Biitbook does have MAC and PC apps in development, to be released in the next few months. You can download the Android App HERE, which we also converted for the Blackberry 10 platform, HERE.
Barnes and Noble is dominating the majority of the headlines regarding the drastic price reduction of its e-readers. Meanwhile, Kobo is quietly offering one of the best deals in the UK via WH Smith. Customers can purchase a Kobo Mini today for a paltry £29.99, which is the same price as the Nook Simple Touch.
The Kobo Mini is a very pocket friendly 5 inch e-reader with a resolution of 800×600 pixels. One of the benefits of this device is the fact that it has a touchscreen and is very responsive to page turns and hitting various menu and settings buttons. It is using an older iteration of an E Ink display with the Visplex technology. Underneath the hood is a 800 MHZ processor, which is enough to power your daily tasks.
If you look at it, the Kobo Mini costs less than your standard hardcover book sold in local shops. You can then gain access to over a million free ebooks within the Kobo ecosystem and basically read forever.
Random House has been developing a new breed of enhanced ebooks for the Apple ecosystem since late last year. The publisher has released six iBooks Author cookbooks in the last seven months and has 15 more planned by the end of year. These digital cooking guides go beyond the standard ebook and allow for interactive conversion charts, shopping lists, and photo galleries.
iBooks is the avenue of choice when it comes to producing enhanced ebooks that feature a variety of interactive elements. Most bookstores don’t have the right tools in place and Random House is exclusively dealing with Apple to sell its entire line of cookbooks. We caught up with Liisa McCloy-Kelley, VP, Director eBook Development & Innovation at Random House about how the program is going and to get a sense of the development of each title.
Liisa knows the EPUB 3 landscape. She currently sits on the board of directors of the IDPF, the body responsible for the development of this new ebook format. She said in an exclusive interview, “Interactive cookbooks demand new methodologies, we make the enhanced editions day and day with print, we work simultaneously with the launch of the book/ebook. Each title normally has between six and twelve weeks of production.”
The team responsible for the Random House line of Cookbooks, such as Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction and Top-Chef-winner Richard Blais’ Try This at Home, is rather small. There is a core team of eight developers and programmers that work on the framework and back-end. They are responsible for navigation, interactive elements, and main UI. Editors and the writing team mainly ensure the body of content adheres to strict guidelines and sometimes are on location, shooting video and taking pictures. Liisa mentioned, “our entire development cycle is done in a very low-touch way, so our costs aren’t too high and we can have short product releases.”
One of the next titles Random House is creating is Extreme Cakeovers, which puts the emphasis on creating cakes for the kids, such as fire engines, shoes, and the art of placing candies. This particular title warrants different features, such as a brand new difficulty rating system. This appeals to both beginners and advanced users and the complexities of cake creation is scalable towards the baker’s overall acumen.
Barnes and Noble drastically slashed the prices on the Nook HD and HD+ tablets for Father’s Day. The company is trying very hard to dump all of the old stock and still make a little bit more money in the US and UK. Today, B&N has announced the continuation of the sale. You can now purchase a Nook HD for only $129 and the Nook HD+ for $149.
“With the fantastic success of our Father’s Day promotion, we decided to extend the great prices on Nook HD and Nook HD+ to help our customers gear up for a great summer reading season,” said Jamie Iannone, President of Nook Media. “In our stores and online, customers have embraced these beautifully designed, lightweight devices with stunning displays that offer great reading and entertainment content. We’re thrilled to keep in place our best prices ever and deliver great value to make reading more affordable.”
Barnes and Noble is seemingly getting out of the tablet game and focusing on ebooks, licensing its ebook technologies to other vendors, and continuing to develop new E Ink readers. The profit margins are just too slim on its Android devices to make the company any real money and there are too many competitors in the tablet space. When the Nook Color and Nook Tablet came out, there weren’t a million other tablets on the market, and the whole concept was rather fresh. These days, five to ten are unveiled every single month by companies such as Samsung, Acer, Asus, Google, HTC, and other big companies. There is nothing that makes the Nook line of tablets unique anymore, except for their vibrant ecosystem of ebooks, movies, and television shows.
Still, being able to get a solid tablet for less then $140 is very compelling. Barnes and Noble now has Google Play, which allows you to install arch-rivals’ e-reader apps.
Verdict: 5 Stars
What happens when you saw off your thumb, but the dysfunctional people in your life are so convinced that you did it on purpose to hurt yourself that you start to wonder if they’re right?
Jagerfeld’s New Adult title, Me On The Floor, Bleeding (translated by Susan Beard), opens with that scenario. While trying to make a wooden shelf for sculpture class–a running theme in the book in which literally every individual she talks to about the shelf tells her that a shelf is not a sculpture–seventeen-year-old Maja Mueller accidentally saws off her own thumb. Her classmates’ reaction is swift: they take out their cell phones and photograph the incident.
Through the story, Maja’s complex life unfolds. Only a day after the thumb is stitched and bandaged, Maja heads to her mother’s house three hours away for her mom’s custody weekend, only to find that her mom isn’t there. She hasn’t answered any phone calls or texts, and didn’t leave a note. Maja spends a lonely weekend coping on her own, but comes to make some pivotal decisions during those independent days.
What actually makes Jagerfeld’s title so compelling is the fact that, prior to the digital revolution of the last few years, it most likely never would have reached US readers. Its Swedish publisher (Stockholm Text) might have decided to have a complete re-write for American audiences, as the book is full of grammar conventions and scenarios or landmarks that could leave some readers feeling lost. This title was definitely written with European readers in mind, but that’s what made the experience all the more interesting. As more and more international authors’ works reach global readers, these little nuances will become more of the mainstream and less daunting to audiences.
Me On The Floor, Bleeding will be released July 3rd and will be available from Amazon and through the publisher’s website, stockholmtext.com.
Self-published authors with their insistent need to spam social media and pump out a copious amount of horrible ebooks are ruining the modern online bookstore. You can’t browse Kobo, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon without running into a maelstrom of poorly written and poorly edited books. All of these bookstores put indie authors’ books side by side with established authors, who are signed to a publishing company. Social media is also a breeding ground for people to try and hustle their books and literally beg for sales.
Bowker Market Research reported last week that self-published ebooks now account for 12% of the entire digital publishing market. In some cases, the number actually rises to a very respectable 20%, but is fairly genre specific to crime, science fiction, fantasy, romance, and humor. 95% of these books are insufferable and are written to capitalize on trends in publishing, with authors trying to emulate successful writers such as E.L. James or Cassandra Claire.
At a recent publishing conference in London, Andrew Franklin, founder and managing director of Profile Books, blasted authors who self-publish. “The overwhelming majority of self-published books are terrible—unutterable rubbish, they don’t enhance anything in the world.” He ranted on by saying, “These books come out and are met with a deathly silence, so the principle experience of self-publishing is one of disappointment. I was very shocked to learn you can buy Facebook friends and likes on social media. That is what passes for affirmation in what I think is the deeply corrupt world of self-publishing.”
I am inclined to agree with Andrew. Take a look at Amazon, the only quality control it employs is Kindle Serials and its official publishing imprints. All of their other self-publishing programs do not have anyone proofreading or editing the books. These ebooks are then listed side by side with mainstream books. This makes the process of quality ebook discovery a very time consuming effort. Not to mention the onslaught of auto-generated books, written by scripts and Public Domain Books, retitled and put up for sale. GoodReads was basically purchased by Amazon, because it sought to bring some measure of separating the good books from the terrible.
Smashwords is one company that is one of the guiltiest in encouraging writers to try and market their books on the internet. The company even provides a free ISBN number and will list your book for sale on Sony, iBooks, Kobo, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many others. It will ACCEPT anything, though most amateur fan-fiction is better, because at least those authors are trying and fanatically loyal to their subject matter.
Good e-Reader has around 3,000 Twitter Followers and over 5,000 Facebook friends. Not a day goes by that I don’t see people asking for ebook sales. “BUY MY BOOK!” No marketing, no reason to buy it, JUST BUY IT! The vast majority of indie authors have no concept on how to legitimately market a book title and just encourage people to BUY! #ihateebooks
One thing indie authors have done is devalue the work of legitimate published authors. You know the type that write for a living, who have an editor and are considered accomplished, or at least well-read. The average indie title is $0.99 to $2.99, and the average publisher price is $7.99 – $12.99. Book buyers have been so conditioned to pay as little as possible that often they will not even consider a more expensive book.
The vast majority of self-published authors definitely incur my everlasting ire, but hybrid authors gain my respect. Often, these folk cut their teeth with major publishers and now self-publish for a little bit more control. Bella Andre is a fine example of a self-publisher; she got a major deal and went back to self-publishing. She has done very well.
I don’t know how many more paranormal romances or erotica clones I can stomach before I got completely berserk. Sure self-publishing MAY pay for a few bills, but at the expense of modern literature.
Two years after the seminal Steve Jobs book by Walter Isaacson was released, it is still is a bestseller and a quasi-bible for tech start-ups everywhere. Simon & Schuster has announced that the paperback version will be released on September 10th, 2013 and sport a new book cover.
Steve Jobs: A Biography will will feature a younger version of Steve Jobs, with the same pose as the older version found in the original ebook and hardcover edition. It will also have a new afterword that has not been published before.
This book was the top Amazon Bestseller of 2011 and in the first week sold over 379,000 copies. Many people claim this book as one of their all time favorites and it is a reference on leadership for many young CEO’s. When the paperback comes out in early September, it may be worth a read if you never indulged yourself before.
The Helsinki City Library and Zinio have come to terms on expanded digital magazines. In the first two weeks of the program, over 42,000 checkouts have occurred and patrons are obviously enamored with digital content they could not get before. The deal, which was signed off on April, is now getting major media coverage in Finland, with profiles being done in the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper and the national news.
“The feedback from users both direct to us and via social media has been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve had people expressing astonishment that we could make such popular resources available and we even got comments praising the service as a good use of public funds,” said Marja Hjelt, information specialist for Acquisitions and Cataloguing of Electronic Resources at Helsinki City Library. “It’s wonderful for us to have so many visitors to our library site and very gratifying to be able to serve our users with the content that they actually want. We love Zinio!”
“It’s great to see [Helsinki City Library’s] support of Zinio’s compelling product offer rewarded with such strong usage,” commented Sally Frankcom, vice president of marketing at Digital Content Associates (DCA), which initiated the subscription with RBdigital. “We are looking forward to working with HelMet on other RBdigital services and to helping other libraries in the region and beyond experience the ‘Zinio effect.’”
There is a new online indie bookstore in Australia today, by the name of Tomely. It allows small publishers and independent authors to sell their ebooks on a new platform, DRM-Free.
Tomely provides publishers and authors with the ability to sell directly through their own existing websites, manage their own promotions using a flexible coupon-code generator, and easily send galley copies of books to reviewers. While other ebookstores can force publishers to wait weeks or months for payments to process, Tomely facilitates direct transactions between readers and publishers.
So what type of publishers and authors are using the new ebook platform for launch day? Connor Tomas O’Brien, the founder of Tomely, told Good e-Reader, “We’ve got some exciting Australian small publishers like Editia, Xoum, The Lifted Brow, and The Review of Australian Fiction on the platform, and fairly well-known American indies like Publishing Genius Press and Dzanc. We’ve also got writers like Jack Cheng, Adam Ford, and Lisa Dempster. We’re very geared toward working with small independent publishers, as well as indie writers. Over the next couple of months, post-launch, we expect the number of publishers we work with to grow considerably. We have about 500 books currently in our system.”
Connour elaborated on his company’s ebook selling strategy, by explaining, “At this stage, we’re not acting as a distributor for free books (we believe that market is already fairly well-served) so all of our books are paid. However, we do provide the ability for authors/publishers to allow readers to receive books for free by ‘purchasing’ them in the form of a promotional tweet. This system has been really successful. We also provide a fairly sophisticated system for authors/publishers to create and manage download/discount codes, which also lets them distribute books for free to their audience.”
So how does the entire payment and revanue system work? When somebody buys your book through Tomely, their payment flows directly to your designated Paypal account (minus Tomely’s 20% revenue share). You can opt to collect customer information to build your mailing list, and use Tomely’s analytics to find where your readers are coming from.
One particularly interesting component of Tomely is the Infinite Book, which generates an endless page full of random samples of text pulled from inside ebooks uploaded to Tomely. When it was launched last year, the Infinite Book was praised on the Oprah.com blog as “a lovely way to find a new book to read and a lovely way to think about reading.”
Many bookstores, such as Pottermore and TOR, have successfully adopted a DRM-Free policy for selling ebooks. It will be interesting to see if a 3rd party store focusing exclusively on indie titles has a place, and if authors will gravitate towards the platform.
When Barnes and Noble issued its Nook HD and HD+ tablets last year, customers did not flock to the new hardware in droves. The company confirmed on many occasions that the new Nook line of Android driven HD tablets was the lowest selling to date. Recently, the biggest update in the history of Nook tablets occurred, when they added support for Google Play. This put hundreds of thousands of apps, games, movies, and ebooks at your fingertips. The Nook suddenly became relevant again, but the one story no one is talking about is how Barnes and Noble has stopped Android Piracy.
The Nook line of tablets received a firmware update late in 2011 that introduced a block against loading in your own apps. This carried on through all of new devices that were issued since then and has been a contentious topic among Nook owners. Basically, it means Barnes and Noble blocked the functionality for users to load in their own Android apps that they downloaded from the internet or from other websites. This basically stopped piracy dead in its tracks, as most people will just download a paid version from a pirate website and then load it into their tablet. Since B&N blocked this, it made people use their official app market to buy content directly.
Unfortunately for Barnes and Noble, since they introduced the inability to load in your apps beginning with the Nook Tablet, sales plummeted from there. They sold 5.5 million units from 2011-2012 and sales have decreased with their new generation by 12.6% in 2013. It seems most users are put off from dealing exclusively with Barnes and Noble because they can’t pirate their own apps, or live outside the US/UK.
Barnes and Noble device sales are obviously floundering and there are rumors that the company is suspending further development on Android tablets. Still, it accomplished the mission of releasing a commercially viable product, which did sell quite well, all things considered, and stopped piracy. Android is the most heavily pirated platform in the world, which is why most developers end up going with Apple, so they can actually make money. It is very hard to pirate Apple apps, but oh so easy with Android.
It is hard not to find a message board that has a large number of Nook owners complaining they can’t load in their own apps. In some cases, it’s legitimate and new users to the Android platform want information on why they can’t load in some app that Google Play and the Nook Market don’t have. In 95% of the other cases, it’s people who just don’t want to pay for content and would rather download the pirated version for free. B&N has done a tremendous job for the greater Android community by being the first company to use Android and totally lock down their system to prevent piracy.
IDW Publishing, home of many licensed comics including Star Trek and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, have added another property to their repertoire: The U.S. Army, as portrayed in the video game America’s Army. From the way the press release is worded, it looks like the Army created the comics and IDW is simply providing digital distribution.
The America’s Army comics series kicks off with four issues, all available digitally on comiXology, the IDW app, Nook, and iBooks. The press release mentions Kindle as well, but I couldn’t find it in the Kindle Store.
So how is it? Not bad, although I’m sure it makes a lot more sense if you have actually played the game. We meet the troops and get the setup in the first issue: The fictitious republic of Czervenia has invaded its neighbor, the Republic of the Ostregals, and the U.S. Army is there on a humanitarian mission, assisting the refugees, but also doing intelligence on the scene. That means being airdropped in, getting into firefights, doing recon with night vision goggles—all kinds of cool stuff. The story is classic war-movie stuff, with lots of explosions and fighting (but surprisingly little blood), and plenty of scenes where we get to know the individual soldiers and see their human side. The characters are well thought out, and the story moves along in an interesting way, with flashbacks and shifts in the point of view taking the narration in different directions, then looping back to an earlier scene, giving more context for it. Writer M. Zachary Sherman conveys a fairly complex story this way, although some of the details get lost in the acronyms (which reflects life in the real army, I guess). Artist Mike Penick and colorist J.Brown do a nice job as well, with a solid, smooth style that tells the story and doesn’t get in the way. Of course, the comics are basically a recruitment tool, and that’s most obvious in the second issue, when a medic in the middle of treating a patient flashes back to the way the army really challenged him to do his best—there are some stock characters and situations there, let’s just say. Aside from that, the comics work well as entertainment, although anyone who is tempted by these stories to go into the military should talk to a couple of real soldiers first.
There’s a lot of information, including interviews with the creators, at the America’s Army comics site.