Monthly Archives: May 2015

Free Same-Day Delivery Is Amazon’s Gambit to Own All Retail

29 May 2015

From Wired:

The battle to win same-day delivery has raged for years, but Amazon has remained a relatively quiet player—until now.

Today, the company unveiled free same-day delivery for members of its wildly popular Prime service in 14 US metro areas. The new service is a more limited version of Prime’s trademark free two-day shipping. A mere 1 million items are available for same-day delivery, as opposed to the 20 million eligible for standard-issue Prime. To qualify for the perks, orders must be placed before noon and total at least $35.

While Amazon has offered experimental versions of same-day delivery for years, it’s waited to offer such a service widely until it had built up its logistics infrastructure to make same-day scale. The company has spent massive amounts of money over the past several years to build huge fulfillment centers near major metro areas.

. . . .

Now, assuming the service works, Amazon appears to be well ahead of rivals both large and small. Both Google and eBay have taken stabs at same-day delivery, but neither has a physical infrastructure for handling inventory at scale, relying instead on local chain stores to fulfill orders. Walmart has also experimented with same-day, but it remains a primarily brick-and-mortar business.

The question for Amazon, however, is whether it’s really figured out how to make same-day delivery pay.

. . . .

By offering same-day for free, Amazon looks to be relying on the same growth-before-profits strategy that has led to the massive growth of its core retail business. By making same-day free, many more customers will likely give same-day a try. If it becomes popular, consumers may come to expect that same level of service at the same price from everyone else—and everyone else will be hard-pressed to match it.

Link to the rest at Wired

B&N Partners With Bublish for a Free Two Month Trial Through Nook Press

29 May 2015

From Ink, Bits & Pixels:

Here’s a freebie for those authors who still have an active Nook Press account.

I just came away from the Bublish table in the innovation zone here at BEA 2015. It hasn’t been widely announced, but Bublish was pleased to share the news that they had signed a promotional deal with Barnes & Noble. Authors who distribute books through Nook Press can now sign up for a two month free trial of Bubish’s platform (everyone else can get a one month free trial).

Bublish offers an author-centric marketing platform, with a free tier and a paid tier which costs $99 a year. The free tier is fairly basic, and the paid tier enables authors to set up author profiles and create “book bubbles” for each of their titles.

A book bubble is Bublish’s name the the promotional page for a book. Authors make each book bubble by uploading an excerpt of their book, adding links to where it can be bought, and (if they like) expanding on the excerpt with a background explanation.

The book bubbles are designed to be shared on twitter by the author and their fans.

. . . .

In a way, Bublish combines elements of an author’s site with easily shareable links, a clean layout, and analytics.

Link to the rest at Ink, Bits & Pixels

A non-writing writer

29 May 2015

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.

Franz Kafka

Report Surveys Opportunities for English-Language Writers in China

29 May 2015

From Publishing Perspectives:

A new report produced by Nesta in the UK, in collaboration with Literary Platform and Douban Read, looking at the potential for the Chinese book market for English-language writers has been released.

. . . .

China has nearly 1 billion mobile users and 100 million of these consumers use their devices for Alipay — the online payment service for China’s largest e-commerce site Taobao. Alipay already generates double the transaction volume of PayPal globally.

. . . .

By December 2014, the number of internet users in China had reached 649 million, of which the number of mobile internet users was 557 million (or 85.8%), according to the 35th Statistical Report on Internet Development in China.

Data from Nielsen’s 2013 Mobile Consumer Report showed that 89% of Chinese consumers aged 16+ had a mobile phone.

The Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China estimates that the business of English-language learning is worth 30 billion Yuan (£3.2 billion), with more than 50,000 companies operating in this area.

The International Publishers Association puts the value of the Chinese book (print and digital editions) market at €15.3 billion (£11.4 billion), naturally making it a market that all foreign publishers are looking to better understand.

China alone, by now the second largest publishing market worldwide, accounts for more than half of the BRIC countries’ global market share (to be exact, over 12% of global publishing).

. . . .

According to a survey conducted by the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication, the average Chinese adult reads 4.77 books in 2013, about 0.38 books more than the equivalent figure in 2012. Reading times for an adult on a mobile phone averaged 21.7 minutes a day in 2013, 5.18 minutes longer than in 2012.24

. . . .

For British publishers and writers to understand the potential of China’s digital market, however, it is imperative not only to understand how traditional Chinese publishers are changing, but also to understand the strength and popularity of China’s online literature market, which sits outside of China’s traditional publishing sector.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

Canadian Writers Working Harder While Earning Less

29 May 2015

From The Writers’ Union of Canada:

The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) has released today a summary report from its latest income survey of Canadian writers. Devaluing Creators, Endangering Creativity contains the very bad news that writers in Canada are making 27% less from their writing than they were making in 1998 (when last surveyed to this extent). What’s more, a full 45% of those surveyed indicated they are working harder in order to earn that lower amount.

The Writers’ Union believes these results represent a cultural emergency for Canada. For 81% of respondents, income from writing would not allow them to live above the poverty line, and the average writer’s income ($12,879) is a full $36,000 below the national average. This despite the fact that writers have invested in post-graduate education in large numbers.

“This is not a sustainable situation,” said TWUC Chair Harry Thurston. “If we want a strong and diverse publishing and cultural industry in Canada, it’s essential that creators are reasonably rewarded. Everyone — governments, corporations, institutions, and individual consumers — have a part to play in fairly compensating writers for the content they expect, need and enjoy.”

Similar findings have emerged from recent income surveys in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Writers’ incomes are in steep decline across the English-language publishing industry. Changes to contracts and publishing practices (declines in royalty percentages and advances on sales), industry consolidation, as well as worldwide pressure on professional creators to work in a disastrously weakened copyright environment are all likely contributors.

Link to the rest at The Writers’ Union of Canada and thanks to Tudor for the tip.

It’s interesting to PG that this announcement from Canada is released at the same time The Authors Guild announces a steep decline in the income of traditionally-published authors in the United States.

Both announcements fail to mention the incomes of indie authors.

Authors Guild Announces Fair Contract Initiative

29 May 2015

From The Authors Guild:

Times have changed in the world of publishing, but the “standard” book contract has not kept up. It’s filled with terms, conditions, and language that would be recognizable to authors of a century ago, remnant of a bygone era when e-books, print-on-demand, deep pricing discounts, and online booksellers weren’t even a gleam in the eye. At the same time, new overreaching clauses have been added to insulate the publishers from any potential loss, placing all risk on the author. Yet today’s authors are often asked to sign these standard agreements “no questions asked,” and if they question author-unfriendly terms, they are often told the clauses are “not negotiable.”

In April 2015, the Authors Guild conducted its first major member survey since 2009. Though the complete results are still being compiled, our preliminary findings suggest that fulltime and part-time U.S. authors have experienced a significant decrease in writing income over the last five years. Median writing-related income decreased 24% in that time frame—to only $8,000, with full-time authors’ median income down 30%, from $25,000 to $17,500. Authors who have been writing between 25 and 40 years have seen the greatest drop in income, from a median of $28,750 to just $9,500.  While there are many reasons for this decline in income, unfair terms in publishing agreements don’t help. Notably, during the same period, publishers’ revenue has seen steady annual growth. There’s something very wrong about that disparity.

. . . .

The traditional publishing enterprise was conceived as a joint venture, with authors and publishers working as partners to produce and distribute books. In the pre-digital climate, this meant that publishers split their profits more or less equally with authors. Publishers earned an equal split of profits as compensation for their efforts in shepherding a book through the publishing process, from creation to distribution to sub-licensing. But that is far from today’s reality.

Many publishers are doing less than ever for their authors. In many cases the companies provide less editing, little to no marketing, and no promotional budget. Instead, they ask authors to do their own marketing by engaging in time-consuming social media campaigns. Rather than compensate authors for this additional work, publishers usually insist on keeping a whopping 75% of income from e-book sales. That’s just one of many unacceptable policies.

. . . .

Here are just some of the unfair terms in today’s standard book agreements:

  • In exchange for some money, you give the publisher all rights to your book for 35 years—or your lifetime plus 70 years (let’s just call it “forever”) if you or your heirs forget to terminate after those first 35.
  • The publisher gets to reject your manuscript for any reason or no reason, and if that happens, you have to give back all the money you’ve received before you can publish the book with somebody else.
  • The publisher can publish your book when the company gets around to it, which may take as long as two years from the time it accepts your manuscript—or even longer. You have no control, and you may have to wait for the last part of your “advance” until the book finally appears in print.
  • If you are even one day late delivering the work (time is of the essence, it seems, only when it comes to the author), the publisher can opt to terminate the agreement and ask for the advance back.
  • You can’t publish another book under your name or even a pseudonym anywhere in the world until this one is published—even if the publisher has put it off.
  • You have to offer the publisher the rights to your next book, but the publisher can wait to decide whether to offer you a deal on it until two months after this one comes out.
  • You have no say in what the cover, jacket flap, and ad copy will look like.
  • If the publisher does anything you don’t happen to like, such as assign you an incompetent editor, fail to exploit subsidiary and foreign rights, print too few copies to satisfy customer demand, forget to register your copyright, consistently forget to pay you on time, or go bankrupt, you have no real recourse.

Like authors, publishers have had to adapt to the new realities of the digital age; one unfortunate way they have adapted is by squeezing the author.

. . . .

If authors can’t make a living producing works of quality, there will be very, very few people who can afford to write books.

Link to the rest at The Authors Guild and thanks to Michael for the tip. Here’s a link to the announcement of the initiative.

PG would have added a few items to the list of unfair contract terms, but this isn’t a bad start.

The progress or lack of progress on this initiative will be one way of demonstrating whether The Authors Guild is a relevant organization for 21st century authors or not.

Apple Loses Bid to Oust Monitor

29 May 2015

From Publishers Weekly:

In a minor setback for Apple, a three judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the company’s bid to oust its court-appointed monitor, Michael Bromwich. In a brief opinion and order, Judge Dennis Jacobs, writing for the court, held that Judge Denise Cote did not abuse her discretion in appointing and retaining Bromwich, despite Apple’s objections, and that the monitor’s conduct was “appropriately constrained by the injunction and by other powerful restraints of law.”

Bromwich was appointed in October, 2013, after Judge Cote found Apple liable for its role in fixing e-book prices with five publishers. In her September 4, 2013 final order, she appointed the external monitor for a two-year term with a narrow mandate: to ensure that an antitrust training and compliance program was put in place at Apple that was “sufficient” and “reasonably designed to detect and prevent violations of the antitrust laws.”

Apple, however, has bristled over Bromwich’s work from the beginning, and Apple attorneys have sought to have him disqualified. DoJ attorneys counter that Apple is guilty of openly obstructing Bromwich’s work, and waging a “campaign of character assassination” against him.

“Apple simply does not want any monitor whatsoever,” DoJ attorneys concluded in one court filing, and “manufacturing these baseless objections is the only way it apparently believes it can achieve that result.”

Notably, Judge Dennis Jacobs is also part of the panel that will decide Apple’s main appeal over its 2013 liability verdict.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly and thanks to Chris for the tip.

Discovery Challenges Mount in a Reader-Driven World

28 May 2015

From Digital Book World:

Editors and imprints are steadily losing the ability to dictate how their content is curated and discovered, says Canelo co-founder Michael Bhaskar, speaking at the International Digital Publishing Forum’s Digital Book 2015 conference at BookExpo America in New York City this morning.

That power, as Bhasksar sees it, has devolved to readers.

Or, at least, that’s the impression that many within the publishing industry seem increasingly keen to convey. “That the customer holds all of the power is clearer than ever today,” Tom Chalmers of IPR License wrote yesterday, “thanks to the Internet and the various forms of social media. No longer does our or any industry control the main filters through which information about what to buy reaches customers.”

. . . .

Get used to swapping “or” with “and.” Far from being mutually exclusive, print and digital are now increasingly complementary formats, and more readers are comfortable switching back and forth between them. 60% of Goodreads users read in both formats, Chandler says, while 48% read on their mobile devices and about a third of those use mobile as “a backup device” to fill in on-the-go for a primary one that stays more at home. No discovery effort, in other words, can afford not to pay heed to those many, interconnected use cases.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Writing is the only profession

28 May 2015

Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.

Jules Renard

What Marketing Support Looks Like at a Big 5 Publisher

28 May 2015

From author Todd Moss via Jane Friedman:

One of the unexpected surprises of being a new author is how much goes into promoting your books. I was lucky to be published by Penguin’s Putnam imprint for my debut novel, The Golden Hour. Yet even with the backing of a hefty Big Five publisher, I discovered that delivering the manuscript is just the beginning.

In 2013, Putnam offered me a generous multi-book contract for a thriller series.

. . . .

During the sixteen (long!) months between signing the contract and the actual release of the first book in September 2014, Penguin provided an enthusiastic marketing team and two professional publicists. I couldn’t have asked for more support from Putnam, and I’m exceedingly grateful for all they did to help propelThe Golden Hour to the Washington Post bestseller list.

The book’s success helped turn a fun, mostly weekend project into a second career.

. . . .

Putnam helps me by crafting graphics and giving advice when I ask, but I built and manage my own website, created a Facebook author page, and was already fairly active on Twitter. I’m on Twitter nearly every day in short bursts and try to post on Facebook about once per week. I’m taking the long view on social media, as I’m not yet convinced the hours I spend on it greatly impact sales.

. . . .

I also created an email database of some five hundred friends and colleagues who want to know the latest and support my writing life.

. . . .

Putnam’s publicists created a press kit and helped me to place articles in USA Today, the Daily Beast, and on NPR’sGoats and Soda. They booked me on MSNBC’s The Cycle and the Diane Rehm Show on NPR, and arranged nearly fifty (!) back-to-back radio interviews over two days. This was tremendous. Yet I’m still tapping my own networks toget in the newspapers or on radio and TV, especially outside of the immediate weeks surrounding a launch.

. . . .

I’d heard that traditional book tours are becoming a thing of the past, so I wasn’t expecting much. Still, Putnam arranged a book launch at Politics & Prose (a humbling rite of passage for any Washington DC author) and a brief but exhilarating tour to bookshops in Phoenix and Houston. Turnout at each was mostly friends (and friends of friends!) since, by definition, no one knows debut authors.

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman and thanks to Michael for the tip.

Here’s a link to books by books by Todd Moss

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