Ebook Borrowing/Lending

Library Loans Are a Double-Edged Sword

22 September 2016

From Digital Book World:

Denmark experienced rapid growth in digital lending from libraries between 2011 and 2015. At first this was a welcome source of new revenue for publishers. But by the middle of 2015, the digital lending market had grown even larger than the commercial market for digital book sales. Similar to the New York Public Library app, SimplyE, the national Danish library launched its own digital lending app, eReolen, which considerably simplified ebook borrowing, allowing users to borrow and read in just one click, increasing the amount of digital books borrowed.

Mofibo, the leading subscription service provider in Denmark, told book business news outlet Bogmarkedet that 16 percent of the provider’s customers said the reason they terminated their subscriptions was that they were able to get the same books for free at the library. At this point, an increased opposition from publishers and local resellers of ebooks started moving from the director’s office to the media.

. . . .

By late 2015, the third largest publisher in Denmark, Politikens Forlag, stepped in and said that they were willing to completely withdraw their books from the libraries if a new way of lending digital books was not found. At that time, the publishing director of Politiken Forlag, Lene Juul, said to the newspaper Berlingske(loosely translated): “The lending of digital books has grown rampant. The trend at the eReolen, where books can be lent for free to the consumer, is a slippery slope that has to be stopped now, because it can have devastating effects for the development of the book market in general.”

In Denmark, the libraries have a legal right to lend books without having to get permission from publishers. However, this is not the case for digital books, and by late 2015 the publishers decided to use this to their advantage. Many of the largest Danish publishers, like Gyldendal, withdrew their books from the libraries by the January 1, 2016.

. . . .

It would appear that the withdrawal of the large publishers had the desired effect. Digital books sold now account for about 67 percent of the market relative to library borrows in Denmark.

In neighboring Sweden, lending has continued uninterrupted for several years, and an estimated 72 percent of all ebooks consumed are borrowed from the public libraries. This has put pressure on the market, driving down the prices of digital books. Today the average sales price of an ebook relative to its paper cousin is 28 percent lower (including VAT), and that is even taking into account that physical books have a VAT of 6 percent compared to the 25 percent on digital books.

When looking at possible solutions for finding a natural equilibrium between the public sector and the private market, publishers have begun campaigning for the introduction of limits on the amount of loans made by libraries. One of the suggested solutions is to introduce “friction” when users borrow books. However, it is never a good solution to structurally disappoint the public by making them wait months for their books or use a complicated borrowing process.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Publishing chiefs urged to work on bookshop floor

12 September 2016

From The Bookseller:

Publishing chief executives have been urged to spend a day working on the bookshop floor by the new president of the Booksellers Association.

Ros de la Hey (pictured), who is owner of the Main Street Trading Company in St Boswells, said she hoped to launch a new scheme for booksellers and publishers, called Adopt a C.e.o.

Opening the BA Conference at the University of Warwick this morning (12th September), de la Hey, herself a former publisher at Bloomsbury, explained she wanted to encourage “those who lead the publishing world to step outside of London and their local neighbourhood and spend some time inside a bookshop”.

. . . .

“While a publisher myself, I spent years taking authors on tour so I should have been fairly well informed about the life of a bookseller,” de la Hey explained. “In reality, I had never stood behind a till, never dealt with a tricky customer and never unpacked 12 boxes of books before 11am. I tended to see each shop through the prism of the event I was attending…

“Publishers have begun to refocus their attention on the high street and recognise the importance of bookshops.  As BA president, I’d like to encourage publishers to rediscover the joy and beauty of the shop floor, coaxing them to join us in the fun of day’s bookselling, speaking to actual customers.”

. . . .

“We can genuinely see e-books as just another format – here to stay, but no longer the Armageddon threat of a few years ago,” she said. “Having said that, we must still have our voices heard in the debate over e-lending, otherwise the threat will not only be to bookshops, but libraries themselves.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Library Ebook Loans: Be Kind, Return

4 August 2016

From BookRiot:

Back in the day of VHS rentals there was the slogan(s) Be Kind, Rewind/Please be Kind and Rewind. You could usually find a sticker on the tape reminding you to rewind the VHS tape before returning so either the store nor the next renter had to. It only took a press of a button and a few seconds to be nice to the person behind you “in line.” Be Kind, Return is that but for library ebook loans.

Unless you return the ebook you have on loan from the library when you’re done the next person in queue doesn’t get it until you’re actual loan expires.

For example: I recently got on loan Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and while I had 21 days to read it I inhaled it in 2 days (so good!). I returned it as soon as I was finished so the next person could read it. Had I not known about returning the ebook (information I accidentally stumbled across) the next person in line would have waited those extra 19 days before getting their loan. 19 days! To a reader dying to read a book that is an eternity.

. . . .

I send my ebook loans to my Kindle so I can give a quick how-to return if that’s also how you read your library ebook loans: Amazon account > manage your contact and devices > select the “Actions” box next to the book you’re returning > select “Return this book.”

Link to the rest at BookRiot

Timberland libraries now offer access to self-published books

21 June 2016

From The Olympian:

There are two ways to publish a book these days.

The first is through the six prominent publishing companies that are still the recommended route to maximum exposure.

The other is through independent publishing, an approach authors take when they haven’t signed with an agent or a publishing house, but still want their work to be read.

And there was no middle ground until SELF-e became the compromise.

SELF-e is a website that lets libraries distribute the work of independent authors, and offer an array of genres and content for subscribing patrons.

The Timberland Regional Library system has joined thousands of other libraries across the country in providing SELF-e offerings, said Timberland public relations specialist R.J. Burt.

“One of the barriers for writers is being recognized enough to be picked up by a large publishing house,” Burt said. “Libraries have broken down that barrier for writers, so they should certainly use it.”

. . . .

Publishing on SELF-e is not only free but effortless, said Kim Storbeck, a library collections development specialist. After authors upload a book to SELF-e, there is a vetting process that takes roughly a week.

Barring any infractions of its policies — such as plagiarism, libel, or including hate speech — the book will be placed on the “Indie WA” list. This list is featured at participating libraries in Washington.

If a book is attracting an audience, editors from Library Journal will review the work and possibly add it to the national collection. Books added to the national collection, or a SELF-e selection, will circulate through every participating library in the nation.

Olympia author Ned Hayes, 47, published his first novel on SELF-e in 2015. “Coeur d’Alene Waters” went viral and was added to the national collection.

. . . .

“In this new world of publishing, I think these options give authors more flexibility to move outside genre boundaries and seek new audiences for their writing,” Hayes said in an email to The Olympian. “I appreciate the flexibility of being able to control my own publication rights and my own promotions for this book.”

Link to the rest at The Olympian

Authors beware: A new danger for KU authors

19 June 2016

From author K.J. Simmill:

Anyone who follows me closely will know my book was removed from Amazon for almost a fortnight after they registered some unusual activity. At first I was at a loss. What was it, where had it come from? But since I have learnt a terrifying truth behind Kindle Unlimited, it is one all authors need to be aware of. It is a KU scam that could ruin your career and put your money into fraudsters’ pockets.

. . . .

I was running a book promotion, a push to generate interest in my first book. After approaching blogs and book promotion sites I began to run a 99cents promotion on Darrienia, which at that time was number one in two of its categories. Book two is coming out at the end of the year and, despite it being a stand alone novel, I was aiming to attract more readers in the hope they would want to read the second book. I did what any author would, attempt to get the message out there. It worked, with the 99cents offer I see an increase in sales, but also an increase in KU activity. Brilliant right? Not really.

A week later my book was no longer for sale. Confused I logged onto my KDP account but couldn’t access the bookshelf and the ‘Contact Us’ button wasn’t working. After hours of trying to find a way to contact Amazon KDP, posting on the forums asking for help, I remembered having raised a query with them. I found it and clicked ‘no’ on the did we solve your problem link and finally, I was able to send them an email. But the information I got back was concerning.

“We are reaching out to you because we have detected that borrows for your books are originating from systematically generated accounts… As a result of the irregular borrow activity, we have removed your books from the KDP store and are terminating your KDP account and your KDP Agreement effective immediately. We will issue a negative adjustment to any outstanding royaltypayments.”

. . . .

So I wait. I wait and I wait, all the time fearing the worst. Amazon wipe all my KU page reads and obviously as above keep all my sale royalties too. But I didn’t care about this, I still don’t. I was never writing for the money. I had a story that I needed to tell and my entire writing future was on the line.

When royalty payment day came I had still heard nothing. But then something strange happened. I get a phone call from my bank. Someone has charged £100s worth of iTunes to my account.

Alarm bells are obviously ringing.

Back in February I was the victim of identity fraud, but not the kind you see on TV. This person rang my bank pretending to be me but failed the security checks. They did however have my account number, sort code, name, address, mobile number, and date of birth.

. . . .

The day of this month’s royalty payment comes and £100s are requested from my bank.

My bank were great. I was given new details and the transactions were voided. Then it occurred to me, given the timing surely this was more than a coincidence. What if this odd activity against my book wasn’t a result of the promotions but someone trying to ensure there was money in my account for them to take?

. . . .

The moral of this story is simple. If you see activity in your KU which is against the normal figures contact Amazon immediately, and keep an eye on your bank for small transactions you are unfamiliar with, someone could be testing the water. Don’t assume you’re getting interest in your book, even if you are running a promotion, or pushing KU. It is better to contact them first with concerns rather than suddenly not be allowed to sell with them and then have to prove you have no knowledge of events.

This experience has really opened my eyes. The things that were done I had never dreamed possible, especially with Amazon’s IP tracking. After all, they always know who and where you are. I still don’t know how it was pulled off, and I imagine I never will. I only hope that either the fraud teams, or Amazon catch up to them. The events are too closely linked not to be connected, so whether this is a new fraud specifically targeting authors, or someone exploiting existing victims after researching them further, one thing is clear, they knew me. They knew I was an author and found a means to exploit it for their own gains and very nearly ruined me in the process.

Link to the rest at Darriennia and thanks to P.D. for the tip.

Here’s a link to K.J. Simmill’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Dangers for Prawny Authors

17 June 2016

PG was intrigued by comment to another TPV post from Ann Christy about innocent indie authors being seriously harmed by KU borrow scammers:

When I was doing my blog posts on the KU Scammers, several people on both sides of the issue wrote to me. One such was a woman who had her account shut down in exactly this manner.

She was a “prawn” and had almost no borrows to speak of. She had a one day spike on a book (much like the one in the kboards post referenced above) and was confused, but chalked it up to one of the many smaller newsletter services picking up her KCD without her applying. We all know that happens and we can’t always figure who picked it up.

Fast forward and she was shut down.

Now, it’s happened again. And there are more if you go to the Kindle community forums. All are completely innocent, all are prawns and the only common denominator seems to be a one day spike in borrows for a single book that they didn’t initiate.

I researched the KU Scams extensively for months, but you don’t have to do that to figure out what’s happening. Bot driven KU accounts are hired by click-farms. Just like with Adsense and other such click schemes, how do they obfuscate that they are bot driven?

They download a random real book and make sure to do the same to that one. By doing it enough times interspersed with the books they’re hired to click-farm, they make it hard to figure out they’re a click farmer at first glance.

Unfortunately, now that Amazon has responeded to the click farming, they are hammering the innocent victims of the click farmers attempts to hide what they are.

If you’re a prawn, you’re a potential target.

And there is absolutely nothing you can do.

It’s a real shame and I’m pretty shocked that Zon is doing this. I’m not in the Zon and I could figure it out in a hot second. This is their business and they couldn’t?

I’ve always been a huge fan of KDP and KDP Select, but this is worrisome. It is both capricious and stupid, which makes it dangerous to anyone who is a prawn that in good faith publishes with KDP-S.

As to why they choose prawns…obvious. They have no phone contacts at KDP to make take notice immediately. A prawn has no such recourse and is essentially at the mercy of whatever whim is currently blowing up the collective KDP skirt.

Also, this is now a way to target anyone you don’t like. Hire a click farmer for a one day shot at a book by someone you don’t like. Now, they will be ruined without even being asked about it.

In this context, PG believes a prawny author is someone who is not a big fish author.

Amazon Adjusts Page Size Measurement for Kindle Unlimited Royalties, Also Adds a Cap

3 February 2016

From The Digital Reader:

Ever since July 2015 Amazon has been paying authors and publishers with works in Kindle Unlimited by the page, and on 1 February 2016 Amazon adjusted how it calculated the page size.

Amazon quietly announced on the KDP support forums on Monday that it had developed a new algorithm for calculating the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count, or KENPC.

The retailer said that the new method, which has been dubbed KENPC v2.0, “makes a number of improvements to how we standardize font, line height, and spacing used to normalize the length of each book relative to one another. This change will impact the KENPC of some titles while others will remain unchanged. The average KENPC will change less than 5%, although individual books’ changes may be larger or smaller. The new KENPC approach will be applied uniformly to all KDP Select books and all versions of those books.”

. . . .

In related news, Amazon has also added a cap on the maximum number of pages an author can earn from a single reader  in a single title (3,000 Kindle Edition Normalized Pages).

Amazon says that only the very longest books will be affected, and given that authors have reported that, say, a 300 page paperback has a KENPC of around 500 to 600 and that a box set ran to around 2,000, I would bet Amazon is correct in that regard.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader and thanks to Valerie for the tip.

Libraries may be contributing to decline in e-book sales

9 January 2016

From Greenwich Time:

The e-book industry was expected to topple the printing industry in much the same way the Internet has revolutionized print news — quickly and with little mercy.

And for a while it seemed like that would be the case, but a slew of new data from 2015 indicates that is far from reality as the e-book industry is trending downward and print sales are enjoying a resurgence.

According to Forbes, the global e-book industry generated $8.4 billion in revenue in 2013, compared to $53.9 billion in global print revenue. In 2014, e-book sales plateaued and in 2015 declined across the board.

 Among the reasons attributed to the decline in e-book sales are a reduction in the number of first-time e-reader purchasers — many people already have one — and an increase in the price of e-books. The five major publishers — Penguin/Random House, Macmillan, Simon and Schuster, Harper Collins and Hachette — have implemented a new pricing mechanism, increasing the cost of many e-books from $9.99 to $14.99.

Barbara Ormerod-Glynn, director at the Greenwich Library, said one reason sales could be on the decline is that checking out e-books from the library has become so much easier in recent years. Greenwich Library uses the Overdrive digital library, implemented by public libraries across the country, to allow users to download library books directly to their e-readers. The library even hosted a workshop Wednesday to help people who received e-readers as holiday gifts learn how to use them and check out books through the Overdrive system.

. . . .

“Use of e-books in our library have continued to increase and the reason that people use e-books and why they’re becoming more popular is, first of all, you can access them from our downloadable library 24/7,” Ormerod-Glynn said. “The library does not have to be open for you to put a hold on or check out an e-book. Also e-books were first introduced to the market, it was easier to download from Amazon than from the library. But Overdrive has really improved access and library staff at reference desks are comfortable helping our patrons no matter what device they bring in.”

Link to the rest at Greenwich Time

Libraries Lend Record Numbers of Ebooks and Audiobooks in 2015

6 January 2016

From Digital Book World:

Overdrive, the leading supplier of digital content to libraries and schools, reported Tuesday that, in 2015, readers borrowed more than 169 million ebooks. This marked a 24-percent increase over 2014. There was also a notable spike in audiobook usage, which saw a faster growth rate than ebook library borrowing.

. . . .

• Ebook circulation was 125 million (19-percent growth over 2014)
• Digital audiobook circulation was 43 million (36-percent growth over 2014)
• Streaming video circulation was up 83 percent over 2014
• 33 library systems circulated 1 million or more digital books in 2015
• Lending of digital magazines and newspapers grew significantly in 2015 (introduced in late 2014)
• Reader visits to OverDrive-powered library and school websites was 750 million (up 14 percent from 2014)

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Penguin Random House Announces New Ebook Terms of Sale for Libraries

13 December 2015

From the Library Journal:

Penguin Random House today announced a new unified, companywide terms of sale (TOS) policy for ebook licenses sold to public, school, and other libraries working with approved ebook vendors in the United States and Canada. Effective January 1, 2016, all Penguin and Random House adult and children’s frontlist and backlist ebook titles will be available under the one-ebook, one-user, no loan cap perpetual licensing model that has long been employed by Random House.

The one-year lending cap on Penguin ebooks will be discontinued, and library prices for all Penguin Random House ebooks will range from under $20 per title to a newly set maximum of $65 (both USD and CAD), reduced from the current Random House maximum of USD $85 and CAD $95. In a statement to the press outlining the new terms, the company added that “as with our e-book pricing for consumers, Penguin Random House’s suggested pricing of e-books for libraries will be variable and flexible” and announced plans to periodically offer limited-time special value pricing on select titles, with the first such promotion scheduled to begin with the launch of the new TOS on January 1.

“We want this transition to our new terms to be as easy and as smooth a process as possible for our library partners, and my team and I have been working closely with all the various digital aggregators who sell our titles to libraries to achieve this. Any Penguin or DK titles purchased prior to January 1, 2016 will be honored under the existing one-year loan cap,” Skip Dye, VP of library sales for Penguin Random House, told LJ.

Link to the rest at the Library Journal and thanks to Valerie for the tip.

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