Recent quotes:

Free books flooding the market

the days of releasing the first title in a series as permafree have passed. All that accomplishes now is to flood the market and make it harder to sell ebooks.

Kirkus paid reviews

When we talk again, in October, Brunette has “big exciting news”—a favorable write-up from Kirkus Reviews, the venerable book-reviewing publication and website whose blessing is considered essential by many authors and publishers. “A mystery with an unusual twist and quirky settings; an enjoyable surprise for fans of the genre,” the review trills. She had to pay for it, though. Kirkus has an “indie team” that will review a self-published work for $425 ($575 for express service), with no guarantee of the outcome. “To me, it’s worth it,” Brunette says. “You want that validation.” She plans to use the review in ads on the Kirkus website and magazine.

Amazon fosters a content glut to attract customers for other products

The problem, says Aaron Shepard, elaborating upon his “party’s over” blog post, is competition: There’s an enormous amount, given how easy it is to upload a book onto the Kindle. Even a niche that seems specialized—like soapmaking, the subject of a self-published book by Shepard’s wife, Anne Watson—faces dozens of competing Kindle titles. Meanwhile, Shepard says, Amazon has conditioned readers to pay next to nothing for books. “You need enough books to compensate for the lousy payoff. And of course, that’s a perpetual invitation to produce a lot at a lower level of quality. It’s a treadmill . . . What they [authors] generally don’t realize is that their treadmill is actually a generator, and it’s mostly for powering Amazon.” He explains: “Books have always been a loss leader for Amazon, a way to attract customers for more profitable items. So it suits Amazon very well to have an army of self-publishing authors, mostly working for pennies per hour, supplying Amazon with dirt-cheap content to keep customers coming to the site.”

How Amazon promotes books

Amazon has “daily deals” and “monthly deals” in addition to countdown deals. It has its own “editors’ picks” and best-seller lists. All these regularly feature Amazon titles. Consumers who buy a certain type of book through Amazon, say a romance, will immediately get recommendations for similar books. Amazon Publishing romances are likely to be among them. Those who buy one will get an e-mail the next time its author comes out with a book. Like politicians who feel the press has betrayed them and want to bypass conventional means to get their message out, Amazon is largely bypassing traditional advertising and promotion that relies upon media and bookstores. “We’re focused on customers we can talk to directly,” Belle says.

NYT best seller list excludes Amazon ebooks

It has not helped Amazon Publishing that most of its authors have been unable to get on The New York Times’ best-seller lists. While the Times tracks e-books, it does not look at titles “available exclusively from a single vendor,” according to its written policy. It is presumed that’s because the Times does not trust Amazon to report sales figures on its own titles without independent verification.

The Social Reading Checklist |

You should be able to bookmark your place in the book, make notes and select and save text. You should be able to save these marks separate from the book itself. You should be able to share your bookmarks on the web, with social services, via email, and other methods, however you made them, if you want to.

To read a book is to write in it...

a way to not just passively read but to fully enter a text, to collaborate with it, to mingle with an author on some kind of primary textual plane. […]Texts that really grabbed me got full-blown essays (sideways, upside-down, diagonal) in the margins. […] Today I rarely read anything — book, magazine, newspaper — without a writing instrument in hand. Books have become my journals, my critical notebooks, my creative outlets. […]marginalia is — no exaggeration — possibly the most pleasurable thing I do on a daily basis.

Online reading is shallow

A long train of studies suggests that people read the Internet differently than they read print. We skim and scan for the information we want, rather than starting at the beginning and plowing through to the end. Our eyes jump around, magnetized to links—they imply authority and importance—and short lines cocooned in white space. We’ll scroll if we have to, but we’d prefer not to. (Does the weightless descent invite a momentary disorientation, a lightheadedness? Or are we just lazy?) We read faster. “People tend not to read online in the traditional sense but rather to skim read, hop from one source to another, and ‘power browse,’ ” wrote psychologists Val Hooper and Channa Herath in June.
With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive.
We've quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. […] the customer is paying 33% less and the author is getting a royalty check 16% larger and being read by an audience that’s 74% larger. The pie is simply bigger.
Wolf is optimistic that we can learn to navigate online reading just as deeply as we once did print—if we go about it with the necessary thoughtfulness. In a new study, the introduction of an interactive annotation component helped improve comprehension and reading strategy use in a group of fifth graders. It turns out that they could read deeply. They just had to be taught how. Wolf is now working on digital apps to train students in the tools of deep reading, to use the digital world to teach the sorts of skills we tend to associate with quiet contemplation and physical volumes. “The same plasticity that allows us to form a reading circuit to begin with, and short-circuit the development of deep reading if we allow it, also allows us to learn how to duplicate deep reading in a new environment,” she says. “We cannot go backwards. As children move more toward an immersion in digital media, we have to figure out ways to read deeply there.”
Rakefet Ackerman and Morris Goldsmith found that students fared equally well on a post-reading multiple-choice test when they were given a fixed amount of time to read, but that their digital performance plummeted when they had to regulate their time themselves. The digital deficit, they suggest, isn’t a result of the medium as such but rather of a failure of self-knowledge and self-control: we don’t realize that digital comprehension may take just as much time as reading a book.
er hunch is that the physicality of a printed page may matter for those reading experiences when you need a firmer grounding in the material. The text you read on a Kindle or computer simply doesn’t have the same tangibility. […]When Mangen tested the readers’ comprehension, she found that the medium mattered a lot. When readers were asked to place a series of events from the story in chronological order—a simple plot-reconstruction task, not requiring any deep analysis or critical thinking—those who had read the story in print fared significantly better, making fewer mistakes and recreating an over-all more accurate version of the story. The words looked identical—Kindle e-ink is designed to mimic the printed page—but their physical materiality mattered for basic comprehension.
Mary Dyson, a psychologist at the University of Reading who studies how we perceive and interact with typography and design online and in print, has found that the layout of a text can have a significant effect on the reading experience. We read more quickly when lines are longer, but only to a point. When lines are too long, it becomes taxing to move your eyes from the end of one to the start of the next. We read more efficiently when text is arranged in a single column rather than multiple columns or sections. The font, color, and size of text can all act in tandem to make our reading experience easier or more difficult. And while these variables surely exist on paper just as they do on-screen, the range of formats and layouts online is far greater than it is in print. Online, you can find yourself transitioning to entirely new layouts from moment to moment, and, each time you do so, your eyes and your reading approach need to adjust. Each adjustment, in turn, takes mental and physical energy.
On screen, people tended to browse and scan, to look for keywords, and to read in a less linear, more selective fashion. On the page, they tended to concentrate more on following the text. Skimming, Liu concluded, had become the new reading: the more we read online, the more likely we were to move quickly, without stopping to ponder any one thought.
I was paid a $3k advance in 2011 for “Sober Is My New Drunk.” That’s $1,000 more than Horwitz was paid for his book but close enough to suggest the expectations for our respective titles were similar. Also, I didn’t sell my book to Byliner through my book agent, while Horwitz says he did. (Horwitz should find a new agent.) In the first month of publishing (March 2012), Sober… sold 3,378 copies — $4,557.92 in net revenue, of which $2,278.96 went towards paying back my advance. Many of those sales came, I assume, from the guest editorial that Byliner’s freelance publicist was able to place in the Wall Street Journal. She also arranged for me to appear on various radio shows over the next months or so. I can’t imagine those radio appearances sold a single extra copy. They did make a lot of Alcoholics Anonymous zealots angry though, so it wasn’t a total loss. By month two I’d earned back by advance — with royalties of $1,287.16 payable for the month. From then on, everything was money in the bank for me. My May 2012 check was $676.83, June was $360.88… by the end of 2012, Sober… had sold 8,842 copies and I’d been paid $2,805.34 plus my initial $3k royalty. Close to six thousand dollars in total. Even without Byliner’s active promotional support, the book continued to sell steadily through 2013, netting me an additional $2,706.27. So far this year I’ve earned close to $1,000 from the now three year old book. I just received another royalty check for close to $400. The grand total so far? 14,710 copies sold, $9,237.24 paid on net sales of $18,474.
The New York Times Book Review criticized Amoruso's hashtag, declaring “an unclickable hashtag makes about as much sense as a scratch ’n’ sniff radio commercial”. I agree – up to a point. If the hashtag were in an ebook where I could indeed click through and get more information, that would be more fitting, and that is likely something we’ll see more of as smart publishers embed content that could not have a home in a print book.To my mind, the hashtag is a code which says the author is active online, as opposed to going through the motions of social media because they have been told they “should”. […]I’m far more inclined to buy books from an author who, say, follows me on Twitter or responds in other ways, because I know our communication is a two-way street. As Amoruso told me, her title’s purpose “wasn't to target social media users per se, since at this point nearly everyone is on social media. It was to embed sharing into the title of the book – if someone liked it, they had to share it just by mentioning it”.
And for Morgan, the biggest problem with the music industry is obvious: It no longer knows what business it's actually in. "When people say they sold 5,000 units in Cleveland, it has been a long time since someone could explain to me what that unit is," he said. "If you sell three songs on [Apple's (AAPL_)] iTunes, stream three more on Spotify, and then move two EPs discs at a concert, how many records did you just sell?
If a reader waiting for my latest release (who was willing to pay $4.99) suddenly gets it for 99c, they now have $4 more to spend on books. So maybe they’ll end up buying two or three instead of one. Also, while I might leave money on the table this week, the strategy is to maximize sales by getting more of my disparate list/platform to try my historical fiction. If it works, I’ll have expanded my readership and made money. If it doesn’t… the worst that will happen is I’ll make a little less money, but still expand my readership somewhat and make existing readers happy. But however it works out for me personally I don’t see it having much effect on anyone else, other than somewhat increasing the amount of books my readers can afford.
“Look at Harper’s own numbers,” DeFiore wrote. “$27.99 hardcover generates $5.67 profit to publisher and $4.20 royalty to author. $14.99 agency priced e-book generates $7.87 profit to publisher and $2.62 royalty to author.”
What is the currency of advertising? Impressions. Every physical book you see as you go through your day is an impression, just a like a Coke ad on a bus shelter or a Coach logo on a handbag--each of those glimpses is a little hit of marketing. Think about the millions of printed books out in the world--displayed in store windows, piled on tables, racked at the checkout in supermarkets and drugstores. Or seen in the hands of people on airplanes and buses; given as given as Christmas or Mother's Day presents to people you know.  We know that one of the reasons people buy books is that they see other people enjoying them (hence the enduring popularity of bestsellers, even in a long-tail marketplace). There is no question that many of the titles on the e-book bestseller list are boosted by the visible popularity of hardcovers and paperbacks. The thankfully still-robust presence of printed books contributes significantly, I would argue, to the “mindshare” enjoyed by any e-book--not to mention the overall "mindshare" of "book" as a category of entertainment.
Marketing includes a booklet for booksellers introducing the author and Maigret; a Waterstones loyalty scheme with double points available; “money-can’t-buy” prizes, including places at a Maigret dinner with guests including the books’ translators and Simenon’s son John; and a launch of six of the titles simultaneously next spring.
Simon & Schuster announced Wednesday that some of its titles are now available on Oyster and Scribd, two of the leading e-book subscription services. The move makes Simon & Schuster the second of the Big 5 publishers to experiment with the relatively new e-book subscription market. As part of the agreement, Simon & Schuster will make available its entire backlist of thousands of books, including works by authors ranging from Ernest Hemingway to Stephen King.
If Hachette doesn't have the power to maintain 70% earnings, how will million-copy-selling New York Times bestselling indie authors have any power when Amazon decides to put the squeeze on them?   And how about the rest of the indie community which has even less leverage over Amazon? How long until Amazon puts on the squeeze?  The squeeze may already have started.  In February, Amazon gutted the royalty rates they pay for audiobooks, as Laura Hazard Owen reported at GigaOm in her story, Amazon-owned Audible lowers royalty rates on self-published audiobooks.  Previously, authors earned up to 90% list.  Under the new terms, authors earn from 25% to 40% list. Amazon can do this because they dominate audiobooks.
Welcome to NoiseTrade. The idea is simple. Authors can upload ebooks (and audiobooks) and NoiseTrade’s community of readers can download them for free – for as long as the author wants. There is a tip-jar, and you can suggest a figure, but it’s not compulsory. So it’s pay what you want, but with a killer twist. In exchange for the download, the reader provides their email address to the author (in full knowledge they will be contacted in future). In other words, it’s a smart way to boost your mailing list, with the possibility of making a little money on the side too.
30% of the top-selling e-books on Amazon are self-published, beating out the biggest authors from the largest publishing houses in the world – as well as titles from Amazon’s own imprints (which aren’t included in the Indie Top 100). This roughly tallies with the limited data we do have from Amazon, who recently announced the top-selling Kindle Books of 2013 (January to March). Seven of the Top 20 were self-published (and that’s not counting formerly self-published work, or Amazon imprint books).