Ebook Borrowing/Lending

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

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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.

PLR rate to increase by 1p next year

11 November 2015

From The Bookseller:

The British Library Board has proposed an increase in Public Lending Right (PLR) payment made to authors next year, following a decrease in the estimated number of book loans.

The board has recommended the PLR rate should increase from 6.66 pence to 7.67 pence per loan in 2016, a rise of 1.01p, which the department for culture, media and sport (DCMS) intends to accept.

Following the proposal, the Society of Authors c.e.o Nicola Solomon has written to Dominic Lake, deputy director of arts, libraries and cultural property at the DCMS, urging the government to ring-fence the PLR fund and “protect and maintain the library service which is under serious threat.”

Lake said: “The proposed increase has been possible in part due to efficiency savings and increased income, and in part as a result of a reduction in the estimated number of loans of books registered for PLR. The DCMS notes the British Library Board’s recommendation that the 2016 payments are made at an increased rate per loan of 7.67 pence and propose to amend the PLR Scheme accordingly.”

. . . .

“PLR continues to be an important source of earnings for authors and we would urge the government to ring-fence the (already meagre) PLR Fund in any future spending review,” Solomon said. “We are sad to note the decrease in the estimate loans of books registered for PLR, caused, no doubt, by the cuts in library services and the exclusion of some volunteer-run libraries from the scheme. We urge the government to include volunteer-run libraries within the PLR scheme so that true figures for library lending can be recorded and remunerated.”

She went on to say: “We understand that the government is considering plans to bring in PLR payments for remote e-lending. Libraries now remotely lend a significant number of e-books and it is only fair that authors should be remunerated for these. Publishers have been reluctant to ensure that authors receive a fair share of licensing revenues for remote lending. We believe that an author’s receipts from e-book lending should equate to the total earnings the author would have received on a physical copy over the lifetime of the book from the combination of royalties on sale and PLR on every loan. The same considerations apply to the remote lending of digital audiobooks.”

The PLR payment is made to authors by the government each time their books are loaned through the public library system. The amount due to each author is based on a rate per loan, calculated on the basis of the size of the fund available and an estimate of the total number of loans of their registered works, obtained by way of a sample of public libraries in the UK.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Kindle Unlimited

25 August 2015

From author Susan Tisdale:

Over the past few months, there has been lots of talk about Kindle Unlimited. For those of you who don’t know what KU (Kindle Unlimited) is, think of it as Netflix for books. For $9.95 a month, you can borrow as many books as you can read. As soon as you’re done with a book, you can return it and get another, keeping as many as ten titles at a time to read to your heart’s content.

There also seems to be a lot of misinformation out there on just how it works. Today, I’ll answer some of the main questions and concerns that I hear from readers regarding KU.

But first, let me talk about my own personal experience with Amazon and the other vendors. For more than three years my books were exclusive to Amazon and I was very content and happy with my success there. I had built a great reader base and was able to give up my day job within in a year of publishing my first book. That was until last summer when the bottom seemed to fall out. I didn’t realize it at the time that it was only a temporary set back. Instead, I gave in to a knee jerk reaction and began preparations to make my books available on other platforms. By January of this year, my books were also available at iBooks, B&N, and Kobo.

In all honesty, were it not for Amazon, I would not have been able to give up my day job a few years ago to become a full time author. None of the other vendors treated me with the same amount of respect and level of help that Amazon and it’s KDP people have.

After a seven-month long experiment, I’ve decided to go back to being exclusive to Amazon and making many of my books available through the Kindle Unlimited program. While I had a couple of relatively decent months at the other vendors, the results were erratic and unstable. There was nothing that I could count on and in the case of B&N no one to turn to to ask questions, get support, or strategize with. Simply put, there is no one at B&N to help the indie author. While it was much easier to find an actual human being to help you at iBooks and Kobo, the resulting sales were not anywhere near what I had hoped for. Many indie authors are quite successful on these platforms and to them, I tip my hat. But as in almost all things, results will vary from author to author, person to person. Why one things works for one author and not another, I simply do not know. I can only speak to my own personal experiences.

. . . .

My own personal results with the new KU 2.0 as we call it has been amazing! In July alone I had more than 800,000 pages read. By the 20th of this month I had surpassed even that number and if things continue on the current path we will hit the million pages read mark within the next 48 hours. That is a lot of new readers being introduced to my books and that makes me exceedingly happy.

. . . .

Kindle Unlimited can be a great resource for those people who have ‘book budgets’, like I used to have when I got my first Kindle in 2010. Back then, I could read three or four books a week and that could get quite expensive. KU gives those readers the opportunity to read as many books as they wish without worrying about going over their budgets.

Link to the rest at Your Cheeky Wench and thanks to Shelly for the tip.

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

Konrath Kindle Unlimited Numbers

16 August 2015

From Joe Konrath:

I might be pretty good barometer for this experiment, because I have a large backlist, I haven’t released anything new in over a year, and I didn’t do any BookBubs or other promo in June or July (May was the last one I did.)

So the only real difference between my numbers in June and my numbers in July is the new KU 2.0 payout system. I’d already shared some thoughts about it last month.

Let’s take a look how I did.

I have 28 novel-length works in KDP, all over 60k words. I have 17 shorter works, ranging from 8k-50k. Genres include mystery, thriller, horror, humor, erotica, and sci-fi.

In June, I made $9300 in KDP sales.

In July I made $10,550 in KDP sales.

In June, I made $5700 in KU/KOLL borrows.

In July, I made $11,600 in KENP reads.

So my KU income doubled under the new payment system. I have no idea what to attribute the extra twelve hundred in sales to, but it’s pretty clear that KU 2.0 benefits me.

Under the old system, I earned as much for With A Twist, which is 23 pages, as I did for The List, which is 310 pages.

. . . .

Under the new system, estimating $.005779 per page read, a full read of With A Twist earned me $0.16, and a full read of The List earned me $1.79.

. . . .

First, I wonder why I didn’t pay more attention to KU 1.0 while it was in full effect, because I should have written a ton of short stories. The short story market prior to Kindle was dismal. Getting into a top market was very hard. There was a lot of competition. Most markets paid $0.05 a word, so With A Twist was worth about $300, and I was lucky EQMM paid more. But the fact that I was making $60 a month on a short story is insane. Never before, in the history of publishing, have short stories been worth so much. I was fortunate enough to get that story into one of the top paying markets in the world, and I made $450. Under KU 1.0 I was on track to make $720 a year on that same story, just in borrows.

Second, even though short stories were finally lucrative, thanks to Amazon, my readers still seem to prefer longer work. With a Twist is a Jack Daniels short. Cherry Bomb, my weakest selling JD novel, had 313 borrows in June, and 179 sales. This is true for all of my shorts and novels; the novels had more sales and more borrows. Anyone who needs more proof of this, look at the thousands of reviews I’ve had for novels. whereas my shorts are lucky to garner a few dozen.

Third, readers really seem to like KU. I was getting more borrows than sales.

Fourth, even though readers did more borrowing than buying, I was earning almost twice as much via sales than borrows.

Maybe this is why I didn’t pay a lot of attention. I saw the numbers, saw that sales were still financially superior to borrows, and decided not to worry about borrows.

Now, there’s no doubt KU was cannibalizing sales, but I wasn’t complaining. I was in KDP Select, but it wasn’t my only source of income. So I didn’t worry about it, nor did I take advantage of it. It was what it was.

. . . .

Under KU 1.0, Amazon was rewarding writers for enrolling in KDP Select. Amazon wanted as many titles as possible, to build their Kindle Unlimited catalog. Shorts are easier and faster to write than novels, so Amazon rewarded short stories by paying authors much higher for shorter works, way out of proportion with novels and with the paper short story market, in order to get more titles into KU so it appealed to more subscribers.

Under KU 2.0, Amazon is rewarding writers for being good writers. Amazon wants writers to hook readers for longer than 10% of the ebook. Amazon wants good, meaty novels, which my numbers point to readers liking more than shorts.

. . . .

Under KU 2.0, I’m continuing to do what all professional fiction writers have done throughout history; write novels. It’s what readers want. With the rare exceptions of a few authors, no one made a living selling shorts. There was a brief moment, during KU 1.0, where shorts were valuable. Their market value has now dropped. Novels are going to earn writers more money. But they have to be good novels.

Link to the rest at Joe Konrath and thanks to Stephen for the tip.

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

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