Monthly Archives: November 2012

Colbert on Copyright

29 November 2012

Thanks to Joshua for the tip.

Kindle Direct Publishing Adds $1.5 Million Holiday Bonus for KDP Select Authors

29 November 2012

From Amazon’s Media Room:

Amazon.com, Inc. today announced that a bonus of $1.5 million has been added to the KDP Select global fund this holiday season. This is on top of the regular monthly fund during the three-month period from December-February. December’s regular monthly fund is $700,000, plus $700,000 of the $1.5 million holiday bonus will be paid out for December, doubling the total amount available to authors in December to $1.4 million. The remainder of the $1.5 million bonus will be paid on top of the regular fund in January and February as well. Authors worldwide can earn a share of the total global fund every time their book is borrowed from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de and Amazon.fr, and reach more readers than ever before.

“This holiday season, millions of customers will open new Kindles, and if they’re Amazon Prime members they can borrow a book from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library for free. The unusual thing about KDP Select is that when this happens authors get paid. With record Kindle sales worldwide, and the recent expansion of the lending library to Europe, we expect the number of books borrowed this holiday season to increase significantly,” said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content. “We’ve seen authors experience incredible success with KDP Select – in only a year it’s become commonplace to see KDP Select books on our best seller list.”

Link to the rest at Media Room

It will be interesting to see what effect this additional money will have on per-book payouts for each book borrowed from the Kindle Owners Lending Library. As many indie authors attest, for the past few months, payment for a borrow has been approximately the same as royalties earned on a $2.99 ebook sale on Amazon. The larger lump sum Amazon is providing will cover more books borrowed during the big post-Christmas surge in ebook sales.

Of course, signing up for KDP Select requires that authors remove their ebooks from all other online booksellers for at least three months. If an author signed a book up for the Lending Library now, this would mean that that ebook would be unavailable for post-Christmas purchase until the first part of March by readers who receive a new Nook or Kobo ereader for Christmas, for example.

If an author generates the large majority of ebook sales from Amazon, this may be a reasonable trade-off.

An author can enroll one or more ebooks for KDP Select by checking a box in the Bookshelf section of the Kindle Direct Publishing website.

Foxconn to Make Smartphones for Microsoft, Amazon

29 November 2012
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From DigiTimes:

Foxconn International Holding (FIH) has reportedly landed handset orders from Microsoft and Amazon and is set to launch the devices in mid-2013, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.

. . . .

The sources pointed out that Microsoft and Amazon’s own-brand handsets will only have a limited shipment volume initially and may become a new business model for the manufacturers in the future.

Link to the rest at DigiTimes

Amazon Publishing Expands to Europe

29 November 2012

From Paid Content:

Amazon will begin publishing original books in Europe, the company announced in a letter to literary agents Wednesday. Victoria Griffith, Amazon’s head of West Coast publishing, will move to Luxembourg, while Larry Kirshbaum will assume leadership of both the Seattle and New York imprints.

. . . .

Belle also touted some sales numbers. Tim Ferriss’s The Four-Hour Chef, released November 20, “has already sold over 60,000 copies (print + Kindle),” he said. With Publishers Lunch reporting today that Four-Hour Chef sold 29,000 print copies in its first week (according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks print sales, including those through Amazon’s website), that suggests about half Four-Hour Chef‘s sales were digital.

Amazon Publishing now has five active Seattle-based imprints, mostly focused on genres like romance and thrillers, along with the general trade and children’s divisions in New York. Publishing industry veteran Kirshbaum was hired to launch the New York division in May 2011, and it published its first books this fall — including Ferriss’s Four-Hour Chef and former Laverne & Shirley star Penny Marshall’s memoir My Mother Was Nuts. Barnes & Noble and many independent bookstores refuses to carry Amazon print titles in their stores, which limits the distribution of Amazon Publishing titles and could affect the company’s ability to sign bestselling authors in future. But, as Belle notes in his letter, the company will now attempt to bring more English-language authors to a European audience.

Link to the rest at Paid Content

Why Crowded Coffee Shops Fire Up Your Creativity

29 November 2012

From The Atlantic:

Yes, caffeine helps. But new research shows that the moderate noise level in busy cafés also perks up your creative cognition.

. . . .

PROBLEM: To optimize creativity, how quiet or noisy should your workspace be?

METHODOLOGY: Researchers led by Ravi Mehta conducted five experiments to understand how ambient sounds affect creative cognition. In one key trial, they tested people’s creativity at different levels of background noise by asking participants to brainstorm ideas for a new type of mattress or enumerate uncommon uses for a common object.

RESULTS: Compared to a relatively quiet environment (50 decibels), a moderate level of ambient noise (70 dB) enhanced subjects’ performance on the creativity tasks, while a high level of noise (85 dB) hurt it. Modest background noise, the scientists explain, creates enough of a distraction to encourage people to think more imaginatively.

Link to the rest at The Atlantic

Indie Authors Need to Become Great Publishers

28 November 2012

Smashwords CEO Mark Coker on Digital Book World:

Jeremy Greenfield: Smashwords is now working with over 100,000 titles from about 40,000 authors and publishers. Yet you only have 13 employees right now. How is Smashwords going to expand?

Mark Coker: The level of [e-book] uploads has increased dramatically over the last year. In April, we had our first month of over 9,000 new titles added to Smashwords. We’ve been increasing every month. By the end of the year, we’ll be doing more than 10,000 new titles every single month, and that’s a super-conservative estimate. We now have four years experience doing this and our growth is organic, driven by word of mouth. We don’t do any marketing.

We’re expanding our vetting team. Our vetting team opens up and manually looks at every single book uploaded to Smashwords to check that the book meets formatting requirements of retailers, to make sure that it’s legal content and to make sure it’s original content. They’re looking to enforce all the requirements of the Smashwords style guide. We’re at three or four people currently.

We’ll continue to add to our vetting team, to our support team and to our technical team throughout the year.

JG: You said that you’ve been profitable for two years now. Can you give an indication of just how profitable?

MC: Growth has been fantastic. We’re selling millions of dollars worth of books every year. Our profitability is healthy and growing. We monitor our profitability very carefully because we’re completely self-funded.

We’re a private company, so we don’t disclose specific profitability or revenue numbers.

We are a corporation and I’m the majority shareholder. The other equity holders are employees. We’re preparing to do a stock option plan for all of our employees.

. . . .

JG: Speaking of your authors, what’s the biggest challenge facing indie authors who want to publish and distribute e-books today?

MC: The biggest challenge is self-restraint. Publishing tools, like Smashwords make it fast, free and easy for any writer anywhere in the world to publish. But we don’t make it easy to write a great book. Many writers, intoxicated by the freedom to self-publish, will often release their book before it’s ready to be released.

The biggest challenge faced by self-published authors, it’s not marketing, it’s not discoverability, it’s adopting the best practices of the very best publishers. It’s about becoming a professional publisher.

. . . .

JG: Should the established publishers be worried about this? At the Digital Book World Conference in January, we learned that indie authors took an estimated $100 million from publishers last year – sounds like a lot, but it’s a very small percentage of the overall trade book business.

MC: Authors are starting to ask two very dangerous questions from the standpoint of publishers:

What can the publisher do that I can’t do for myself? They’re saying, “I can publish myself and distribute myself and hire my own editors.” The distribution of e-books is now open to all.

And, will it actually harm my ability to reach readers if I work with a large publisher? They’re saying, “That large publisher is going to price my book too high, so they’re going to price me out of the market. If my publisher insists on pricing my book $9.99 and higher, I’m going to get beat by all the other authors who are priced lower.”

In publishers’ favor, every single book is a unique product, and price isn’t the only consideration for consumers.

But these questions set up publishers to be in a precarious situation.

The secret is now out on how to become a professional publisher. That knowledge is now freely available on main street.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

The most beautiful experience we can have

28 November 2012

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed.

Albert Einstein

Flipkart.com launches eBooks in India

28 November 2012
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From Business Standard:

Bangalore-based online retailer Flipkart.com announced its foray into the eBooks category through its digital store Flyte. The company founded in 2007 had launched its digital music store in February this year.

Flipkart said, Flyte has a selection of over 100,000 books at highly attractive prices and said the e-book offering will change the reading habits of Indian book lovers. With this e-book offering, a user can now buy and read their favourite books instantly on their mobile devices.

. . . .

Recently, Landmark, a part of Tata Group’s retail arm Trent, has launched an e-books section to its readers on its website.  In August, Flipkart raised around $150 million from investors like Nasper and Iconiq Capital, as well as existing ones in Tiger Global and Accel Partners.

Link to the rest at Business Standard

What happened to my Bookstore?

28 November 2012

From author and frequent visitor Randall Wood:

 Just the other day I found myself at the mall. It’s not my favorite place by any means, but when you have a wife and kids and a dog and a life, you somehow end up there on a regular basis.

The mall we visit sucks. I hate to use that term, but in this case it fits. For two major reasons; one; it has no bar, and two; it has no bookstore.

It does however have a Starbucks, so that’s where I usually end up while the wife and kids are doing their thing. I’ll sit at a table at the window and gaze across the mall with a highly caffeinated drink in my hand. My wife frowns upon this for some reason, but she has yet to outright protest. I counter this by telling her it gives me time to think of new subject matter.

There was a time when I enjoyed the mall. Main reason being that it had a bookstore I could browse for hours. Even as a kid, mom always knew she could park me there and I would remain safely in place until she returned. The price for her peace of mind was that I got to take home one or two of the books I’d found. A good deal I thought.

. . . .

There’s no doubt that e-books are a growing phenomenon. They’ll most likely be the dominant form of reading in the next few years. But I don’t see print going away anytime soon either. As I mentioned before on this blog, I see digital growing to a certain point and then slowing down, then, as the population ages, gradually taking more and more of the market. Unlike most predictions that I see, I feel this will take many years to happen. Within that time, we’ll most likely see several new ways to market both e-books and print books.

In this new world of publishing, what would the new mall bookstore look like?

. . . .

The new Kindle will be out soon and it wouldn’t surprise me if it had some form of scanner on it. If not I’ll be very surprised, because armed with such a device, one could shop at the e-bookstore.

I can picture myself wading through the legs of shoppers lounging in the various leather couches outside the store, each of them with an e-reader in one hand and a large coffee of some sort in the other. Why? Because Randall’s e-bookstore of the future has a Starbucks inside. I think this is referred to as a no-brainer.

I join the crowd at the entrance gazing up at the multiple flat-screens hanging from the ceiling. I skip past the Romance screen, the Non-Fiction screen, the SciFi screen, and the Bestseller screen until I find the Indie screen. I watch a few 10, 20, and 30 second videos for the latest thrillers to come out. It’s a new advertising medium that even self-publishers can afford. One of them piques my interest, so I pull out my e-reader and scan the QR code at the bottom of the screen. The code offers me a discount if I buy the book in the next 60 min, but I hold off as I’m curious as to what I might find inside the store.

I sidestep around the group of people crowded at the window watching the Espresso Book Machine crank out another paperback. It’s one of the new machines with the clear plastic covers so everyone can watch while it works. The kids seem to enjoy it as much as the adults, one little girl taps on the glass before pressing her nose against it.

“Make another one! Make another one!”

The store employee looks at the author, whose book he is printing for the very first time, he smiles and gives the go-ahead for another copy. The store only charges a few bucks, so why not? The young girl waiting behind him with the thumb-drive clutched in her hand rolls her eyes, her time-to-publish just got a little longer.

. . . .

I get my coffee and turn around, only to run into the store owner. His name’s Mike, he’s here every day, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in a seated position.

“Hey Randall, when’s the next book out?”

“Two months, give or take.”

“Better book early if you want to do another signing. I’m full up till then. Did you want to do a coop display again this time?”

“Yeah, it seemed to work well for the last book. Thanks for pointing me to that vendor.”

“No problem. Gotta go, tell Jessica I said hello.”

“Will do, thanks Mike.”

Link to the rest at Randall Wood Author

Pow!

28 November 2012
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Pow! by Mo Yan from gerard donaghy on Vimeo.

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