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2Apr/110

Tobias Buckell posts one year of Amazon sales figures for e-published story collection

tobiastalesAuthor Tobias Buckell has spent a year experimenting with pricing for selling a short-story collection, Tides from the New Worlds, as an Amazon e-book. He has posted the results to his blog, complete with figures and charts.

Buckell started out selling the book at .99. It sold a couple of dozen copies each for the first couple of months, and then sales tapered off. Then Buckell decided to raise the price to .99 and see what that did for his bottom line. It turned out that the number of people buying the book from month to month remained about the same, but since he was charging more he was making more money on it.

Subsequently, when Buckell tried dropping the price to 99 cents, he did get a boost in sales for about three days, but then they dropped back to the same level, even at the low 99 cent price.


Buckell wants to try the same experiment with a backlist novel, given that novels tend to sell better than story collections, and he also wants to try selling novellas/novelettes directly. He thinks that 99 cents would make a good introductory price to get people interested in an author’s other works, but prices in the .99-.99 range are more likely to earn the most money overall in the long run.

Obviously getting more titles into the pipeline will help, it would be steady money. And I’ve been encouraging authors to get their backlist up, with smart looking covers, for sale, so that they can benefit. 3-5 extra titles you own the rights to, making each a month, is a car payment. Or more if any of the titles take off.

But at the moment, at least for him, continuing to publish “frontlist” titles traditionally still makes more financial sense. But what really makes sense to him is diversifying—continuing to work in print, e-books, and audiobooks.

While these figures only represent a relatively small sample—one book from one author—they are still good to have available, and can help writers make a more informed decision. It would be nice if more writers would post the same information.

20Mar/110

The annual ebook spring cleaning: what I learned this year

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Something about being off for March break brings out the nesting/cleaning instinct in me, and after almost a week off, my home is now sparkling—and my digital home is too! Among other spring cleaning chores was the purchase of a new backup drive, the deletion of a bunch of digital clutter so I wouldn’t over-fill said drive, and a virtual pruning of the digital bookshelf. Lessons learned this time around? Keep reading!

1) LESSON LEARNED: NO SAMPLE, NO PURCHASE

Before there was Smashwords, the big indie goldmine was the Fictionwise multiformat book, and I used to get suckered in to spending on the new stuff with the promise of rebates I could use to get a dozen of these pretty much for free. This turned out to be a costly regret. Fictionwise did not allow reviews and most of these books had no samples; I bought blind on the strength of the plot description, and it turned out that in many cases, I bought stupid. Of the ones I actually read, most were mediocre at best. And of the ones I hadn’t yet read, most of them didn’t look all that compelling or well produced when opened up and sampled.

In my mind, Smashwords is a huge step up because it allows for both samples and reviews. You know what you’re getting into! Fictionwise is now off my purchasing radar, and has been since they were decimated by the introduction of the agency model. But I regret the money I spent on these quick, cheap and so-so reads. Lesson learned: sample first. And if there is no sample, pick something else to read. There are plenty of other choices, especially these days!

2) THE AGENCY MODEL: A HUGE MONEY-SAVER

I looked at my purchasing stats and was shocked at how much money I have NOT spent this year. Last year, my total ebook spending was almost 00—some of that was a big pre-agency binge because I knew prices would go up, but even so, we’re looking at an average of about 0 a month for the last two years.

So, how much have I spent in 2011? Slightly over 0 since January, or about a third of what I spent before. And why am I spending less? A combination of higher prices and greater choices. I belong to three public libraries now which lend ebooks. My sister has a Kindle and can share with me. I get a ton of stuff from Smashwords, including professionally edited books from established authors. If a new book comes out at .99 and doesn’t drop really fast, it languishes on my wish list. In many cases, someone else gets it—my sister, my mother, the library—and I read it for free. And if not, I skip it. Plenty else to read! Something interesting will always come along if that one doesn’t work out…

3) PRICE IS NOT THE ONLY THING THAT CAN IMPROVE (OR NOT) WITH TIME

Calibre’s cover art feature has been upgraded, and you can use larger, sharper images now. I went through and updated the ones which were tiny into bigger, better versions and found to my delight that many books I owned had better art available now. At least five indie authors had either changed the cover art altogether, or reissued an old cover with a better font. And one commercial series I follow had been re-issued in the UK with gorgeous matching covers that were just a Google Images search away.

It took time to get the cover art for 1500 books checked and updated, but it was worth it. My Calibre library is, to me, the equivalent of the roomful of bookcases I grew up with in my parents house, and I want to be able to browse it and have it look pretty. The cover art does matter to me. I like it when the series books match, and a garish, ugly cover will turn me away from a book. It was tedious to spend the time on this chore, but now that it’s done, I’m glad to have everything nice and pretty.

4) INDIE QUALITY IS ON THE RISE

I added a new tag to my library to indicate whether I obtained a book for free or not. I have a bit of a hoarding habit with ebooks, and wanted to prune my collection of stuff I’m really never going to read. It’s easier to chuck it if I didn’t have to pay! So I set up the free tag, browsed what I had and deleted nearly everything I downloaded during Read an Ebook Week last year. A lot of it seemed okay on first glance but proved to be in need of a good edit!

Then I looked at what I downloaded this year. Sure there were some clunkers, but overall, the quality was much higher and there were more genres represented. I think that the success of a few pioneers in this area has made aspiring indie authors take this more seriously, and those astute enough to be aware of promotions like Read an Ebook Week represent the more business-savvy end. The books just seemed a little more polished this year. And the growing cadre of published, edited backlist getting its second life via Smashwords is upping Smasword’s cachet a little. These are quality, polished books, a huge and growing number of them. And they are giving readers a real, viable alternative to what the big pubs are offering, at better prices, DRM-free, and a better deal for the author to boot. All hail the indie! I am looking forward to writing some great reviews this year.

5) BOOKSTORE WEBSITES STILL NEED SOME WORK

The bookstore websites I shop at have their conveniences—the Kobo coupon code, the Smashwords sample—but they still need some work. Kobo badly needs a wishlist feature, for instance. I am tired of having a book I don’t own cluttering up the ‘library’ on my iPad app just because there is no place else to put it. And no shopping cart yet? Really?


As for Smashwords, I would dearly love some expanded filtering options. I’d love it if there was a way authors could indicate, perhaps via a checkbox, that the book was a backlist repub, so people could filter for that precious subset. And I would love it if people could set up lists or collections within the site, as Amazon has. That way, book reviewers like me could set up a browseable collection of favourites and give their readers a starting point. There is just such a large quantity of books on Smashwords. We need to start getting more options for filtering.

I think it’s going to be an interesting year for the book industry. Some things are going on right now which really alarm me, but I think the indie scene is just exploding and we’ll see some really cool things coming out of the little guys this year. Should be a ride!

18Mar/110

Overdrive’s Digipalooza conference to be held in Cleveland this year

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From the press release.  It looks like it will be quite interesting:

Public and school librarians from around the world will come together with publishing industry leaders at OverDrive’s third international user group conference, Digipalooza (www.digipalooza.com), July 28-31, 2011, in Cleveland. Held every two years, this four-day educational and networking conference will address the massive surge in library eBook borrowing with panels on industry trends, best practices, marketing and outreach, and upcoming enhancements to the OverDrive (www.overdrive.com) service. A roundtable featuring representatives from several of the world’s leading publishing houses will provide librarians with the chance to ask questions, in-person, about the future of library eBook lending.


“Hundreds of librarians and publishing professionals from the US and Canada joined us for OverDrive’s second Digipalooza in 2008, but much has changed since then, with the introduction of new eBook reading technology,” said Shannon Lichty, manager of library partner services at OverDrive. “eBook usage at many libraries has doubled in the past few months with the introduction of our mobile apps for iPhone®, iPad®, and Android™, as well as increased adoption of eBook readers and tablets. Digipalooza is a unique chance for our library partners to share experiences with fellow librarians, Team OverDrive, and publishers.”

“Digipalooza is my GPS for navigating the bumpy road of digital library world. Practical and forward-thinking librarians share best practices while OverDrive staff provide background and answer questions,” said Sarah Redman, adult services librarian at Capital Area District Library in Michigan. “The conference is essential for librarians who work with OverDrive at any level, giving us opportunities to discuss trends and share ideas for creating robust digital media catalogs.”

The Digipalooza conference features vital sessions for librarians, including:

  • Managing the eBook Explosion: New Challenges and Opportunities for Your Library
  • Publisher Roundtable and Library Lending Dialogue
  • Going Mobile: The Latest Devices and Apps
  • The Digital Lending Library: Maximize the Value of the ‘Virtual Branch’

A full program and activities schedule is available at http://www.digipalooza.com/Program.aspx.

10Mar/110

Lenovo LePad 2 to come later in the year, hits FCC as the Skylight

While the long awaited Lenovo LePad has already gone on sale in the Chinese markets, the company has already got into the process of developing the next generation LePad. This they believe will put them in good stead in battling the mighty iPad 2. However, the LePad 2 is now nowhere near completion and is expected to reach markets only later in the year. For the time being though, the company exuded confidence they will have no problem taking on the iPad in the domestic market. As Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing points out, “We are confident that the LePad that will be launched this month has its unique advantage over iPad. I hope you can see the launch of our LePad 2 this year, too.” By ‘unique features,’ Yang was obviously referring to the LePad’s Adobe Flash capabilities along with its ability to support multiple video formats. The LePad’s compatibility with dual 3G technology (EV-DO and WCDMA) also makes the LePad have an edge over the Apple offering, Yang believes.

As Yang also points out, “Many Western Internet companies have difficulties in competing with Chinese rivals, which gives Lenovo a unique advantage in the home market.” Yang announced their ability to strike a nice working relationship with Chinese Internet companies such as Baidu and Tencent will provide the LePad with an advantage that other non-Chinese players will have difficulty getting into.

Meanwhile, in another development, the LePad has also made it to the FCC though under the cover of SilverLight. This surely makes the tablet a good head-start as SilverLight will have a better acceptance in the US than LePad.

Everything else though remains the same. Like the same 10.1 inch HD display with a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels upfront with a 1.3 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 8650A chip making up the core. RAM strength is 1 GB while the tablet gets its power from a 27 Whr lithium polymer battery. Among the other features the Silverlight alias LePad also comes with include a 2 megapixel camera, WiFi and Bluetooth, a built-in mic along with stereo speakers. Then there is also a 3-axis gravity sensor with compass support as well.

However, there is some disappointment on the OS front as here its still going to be Android 2.2 Froyo though there will be a custom software layer built on top of it to ensure a good all-round tablet experience. Surely, the new LePad will come ported with HoneyComb right out of the box.

via engadget via androids.in

Related posts:

  1. Lenovo LePad Android tablet due out June 2011
  2. Lenovo LePad to go on sale end of March 2011
  3. Coming ‘LePad’ Android tablet from Lenovo
  4. Lenovo LePad to be launched in December
  5. Lenovo to unveil two tablets at CES 2011
  6. Lenovo Android tablets won’t come until summer next year
27Feb/110

Apple iPad 2 Invites Sent: Come See What 2011 Will Be The Year Of|Lastest Ipad News]

Apple iPad 2 Invites Sent: Come See What 2011 Will Be The Year Of
There were strong rumors that Apple would hold their annual media event on March 2nd with the only thing remaining was for the invites to be sent out. This has now been done as Apple has sent out the electronic invites through email. (...)Read the rest of Apple iPad 2 Invites Sent: Come See What [...]
Read more on Coated

26Feb/110

Could the Kindle be free by the end of the year?

kindlepriceforecast2Could Amazon be offering the Kindle free by the end of the year? Kevin Kelly, former editor of Wired, thinks so. He points out that an analyst charted the decreases in the Kindle’s price over the last two years and projected that it could be marked down to nothing by November of this year. Kelly notes:

Since then I’ve mentioned this forecast to all kinds of folks. In August, 2010 I had the chance to point it out to Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. He merely smiled and said, "Oh, you noticed that!" And then smiled again.

Kelly thought that Amazon might operate on a cell phone model where you get a free Kindle if you commit to buy X number of e-books (funny, I would have called that the book club model instead), then he noticed that Michael Arrington once brought up the idea (we covered it at the time) that Amazon Prime subscribers might get a free Kindle.

Though he misdates Arrington’s post as a week ago rather than a year and a week ago (nice to see I’m not the only one who does that!), that doesn’t make the idea any less valid; Bezos has a history of thinking in the long term. And the recent addition of free video streaming for paid Prime subscribers shows Bezos is definitely thinking in terms of ways to add value to Prime membership. (Or to, fellow Transformers fans forgive me, “optimize Prime”.)

And it’s not so far-fetched. Prime subscribers tend to order more frequently since they don’t have to factor shipping charges in, and to shift their purchases away from other sources to Amazon out of a psychological need to “get their money’s worth” out of that they put up. If Bezos gives more people reasons to sign up, the added value overall could let Amazon give every Primester a Kindle and still come out in the black—especially if the cost of making them continues to drop.

I’ll say this for sure: if I got a complementary Kindle plus streaming movies and no-cost 2-day shipping out of it, I’d sign up for Prime in a heartbeat, and try to talk all my friends into doing it too. Even if it was a refurb of last year’s model, that would still be enough added value to put it over the top for me.

Perhaps a more interesting question is whether this sort of marketing coup would convince Barnes & Noble to follow suit. Certainly it’s not been shy about matching Amazon’s price decreases as closely as possible—or even lowering its own prices first. If free or subsidized e-readers start popping out all over the place, that could strike a pretty critical blow to the market for the also-rans that don’t have a huge bookstore chain behind them.

(Found via Novelr.)

24Feb/110

A call to action: why 2011 is going to be an important year for ebook fans

IndexThree stories are occupying my techie RSS feeds these days, and they are all alarming ones. Readers, I urge you to keep abreast of the news on these and stay tuned for any on-line activism that may arise. There are some pivotal issues being decided upon in the next year or so. What are my top stories?

1) The Borders/Red Group Closures

Oh sure, I hear you saying. You read ebooks now. Why should you care? Here’s why: because the world is full of non-Americans, and the bugbear of geographical restrictions means these people may be more screwed than you think. When I lived in New Zealand in 2005, my city (the fourth largest city in the country) had a grand total of ONE bricks and mortar bookstore. It was a Whitcoull’s. If they closed it, that would have been it! Now, close it AND prevent those customers from buying the ebooks instead, and what are you leaving them with?

2) The Hot Mess That is the Apple In-App Purchasing Fiasco

Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPad, and am typing this article right now on a Macbook which is currently charging my iPod Touch. I am not a ‘fangirl’ but these products work for me and make my life easier. But I have some serious misgivings about the stand they are trying to make on in-app purchases.

As a customer, I don’t really care about the logistics of who pays what to whom or how one can skirt the app store guidelines this way or that way. What I do care about, though, is being able to enjoy my own legally purchased content on my own legally purchased device. And my concern is that I won’t be able to do this anymore because Apple is playing such hard ball on this that vendors I rely upon will just bail completely. It won’t be ‘I don’t care about the in-app purchasing because I can just buy it off the website.’ It will be ‘even if you buy it off the website, it’s all a moot point because there will be no effing app to read it on.’

Already, I have held off on renewing some Zinio subscriptions because I’m worried that if I do it before this is all resolved, I may be stuck reading them on a laptop if Zinio pulls their app. And if Kobo pulls their app too, what will that leave me with? The iBooks store is an absolute wasteland for the non-American, so even if I wanted to shop there, I wouldn’t be able to buy anything good…

3) The Broadband Spectrum and Usage-Based Billing

I hope my fellow Canadians are following Michael Geist’s blog. He has some excellent columns on this and knows his stuff. It’s not so much about the showdown between the bigwigs and the indies on who pays what percent of this or that. As with the Apple problem, it’s about what this means for the customer. The reality is that in Canada anyway, most of us are vastly over-paying for our internet, and the bigwig monopoly seem determined to monetize—at super-high markup—every pixel we view. All right, many of us spend more internet time than we should on stupid stuff. But there are some nobler uses—and some bottom-line business livelihood ones—that come into play as well. The question should not be ‘how do we stifle innovation and competition by making everyone paranoid about how much bandwidth they use?’ The question should instead be ‘how can we make bandwidth cheaper and more stable/plentiful to promote new business models and improve the economy for everyone?’ Now, factor in the bookstore closures, which may spike the ebook business, and you see how tangled up this all gets…

As for the broadband spectrum, Geist addresses this in his column today http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/5649/135/ and the short version is this: Canada, among other countries, is implementing a switch this year from analog to digital television transmission. So his question is: what will happen to the bandwidth that gets freed up when everything migrates off of the analog spectrum? If you’re an entrepreneur looking to start any kind of net-based business, this will be an issue to watch for.

2011 is going to be an important year, I think. I am just praying that those in actual power here don’t screw this whole thing up!

23Feb/110

More books published every year due to POD and digital publishing

The Bookseller reports that a Nielsen Book study shows that the number of new books being published every year is steadily rising, due largely to the influence of digital and print-on-demand publishing. Of course, this figure comes from the ISBNs that Nielsen issues; if the number of books published without ISBNs (offered for sale directly via websites, local stores, or other means) has also increased, that might make it even greater.

This puts me in mind of the old argument about how the Internet has “killed” the music industry, and the oft-heard retort that, no, it’s just hurting the record labels but that other parts of the music industry are thriving. By the same token, it would seem that the digital world might be hurting the big publishers, but the self-publishers and print-on-demand shops are thriving.

23Feb/110

More books published every year due to POD and digital publishing

The Bookseller reports that a Nielsen Book study shows that the number of new books being published every year is steadily rising, due largely to the influence of digital and print-on-demand publishing. Of course, this figure comes from the ISBNs that Nielsen issues; if the number of books published without ISBNs (offered for sale directly via websites, local stores, or other means) has also increased, that might make it even greater.

This puts me in mind of the old argument about how the Internet has “killed” the music industry, and the oft-heard retort that, no, it’s just hurting the record labels but that other parts of the music industry are thriving. By the same token, it would seem that the digital world might be hurting the big publishers, but the self-publishers and print-on-demand shops are thriving.

9Feb/110

E-reader market doubles in UK, predicted to double every year world-wide

E-readers have been doing pretty well lately. The Bookseller reports that the e-reader market in the UK doubled over Christmas, showing that 7% of British adults received a new e-reader during that time, bringing the total percentage of e-reader adoption by adults to 13%. The Kindle and iPad were the fastest-growing devices, but 19% of e-book downloaders say they use iPhones to read digital content, and 13% say it is the device they use most often.

Perhaps most interestingly for the UK publishing industry, 61% of the people who got e-readers for Christmas had downloaded a paid-for e-book, and the average new owner bought 5.9 e-books. This suggests that 10 million e-books could have been sold in the UK since Christmas—compared to 18.6 million print sales. That’s a lot larger chunk than the 5% of the market e-books have been said to occupy, but the level of sales will probably decline and average out over the rest of the year as some new owners decide e-books are not for them.

On a larger scale, market research firm Yankee Group expects global e-reader device sales to grow from .9 billion and 11 million unit sales in 2010 to .2 billion and nearly 72 million units in 2014, with the total worldwide installed base of e-readers doubling each year—12 million in 2010; 127 million in 2014

Furthermore, the firm suggests the average price of e-readers will drop from 2 in 2010 to 4 by 2014.

Of course, analysts’ guesses are often not worth the electrons they’re printed on. Still, whether the specific figures are accurate or not, it was already pretty obvious that e-reader sales are set to grow explosively over the next few years, so these predictions are not exactly a big surprise.

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