The Indie E-Books Evolution

24 September 2016

From Publishers Weekly:

Indie authors are finding that now is a good time to dive into e-books. As readers continue to embrace the format, e-book platforms expand their offerings, and indie authors get savvier with the technology, authors and publishers are seeing more opportunities—but also a fair number of challenges—in the self-published e-book market.

At the beginning of September, Pew Research Center reported that 28% of U.S. adults had read an e-book in the past year—a five-point increase from four years ago. Additionally, earlier this year Technavio predicted that the e-book market in the U.S. would grow by almost 14% between now and 2020—surpassing $13 billion.

BookWorks founder and CEO Betty Kelly Sargent says members of her self-publishing association are embracing the format in ever-greater numbers. “E-book technology is the magic bullet for indie authors,” she says. She adds that members use the format to “make their books accessible to a worldwide audience [and] give their out-of-print books a new life by making them available again as e-books when the original rights have reverted to the author.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Google Books will now make better suggestions on what to read next

22 September 2016

From TechCrunch:

Google today is launching a new feature for Google Books which aims to offer a better challenge to Amazon’s Kindle app when it comes to helping you find new things to read. Called “Discover,” this new section in the Google Books application will help point users to new content, including both personalized suggestions as well as other recommendations based on what’s currently popular with the wider community.

Amazon, of course, has historically offered personalized recommendations in Kindle’s software as well as across its website. In its Kindle app, Amazon highlights books you may want to read based on your prior shopping history.

Google Books’ recommendations will work much in the same way. The company says it will offer up new stories based on what you read on Google Books. However, it will also automatically suggest books that are mentioned in an article or mentioned in a video you watch, elsewhere in the app – like in the new “Weekly Highlights” section.

. . . .

For comparison’s sake, Amazon’s “Book Browser” is the primary way Kindle mobile app users would find new content, but it’s more of a categorical listing of books. For example, beyond the suggestions powered by your shopping history, the app may showcase things like “Books with Narration,” or “Trending Now” selections, but not much more. Other book categories are found at the bottom of the screen, but only as standard navigation.

Meanwhile, Amazon has largely failed to capitalize on its Goodreads acquisition as a means of adding a more social experience when it comes to discovery and recommendations. In fact, the Kindle app’s latest update just oddly crammed a tiny “Goodreads” button on top of the “All Items” screen, so you can tap to see updates from that network.

Link to the rest at TechCrunch and thanks to Bailey for the tip.

Today Is International Read an Ebook Day

16 September 2016

From Digital Book World:

Ebooks provide a simple way to give readers instant access to what they want to read. And to celebrate digital reading, Overdrive is hosting its annual international Read an Ebook Day today, September 16.

Throughout the day, readers have a chance to win a tablet by sharing what they’re reading, pictures of what they’re reading, or stories about ebooks by using the hashtag #eBookLove on readanebookday.com, Facebook and Twitter.

Readers are also encouraged to take part in, according to Overdrive, “the largest digital reading event,” by borrowing ebooks from their local library.

A recent study conducted by Overdrive showed that ebook usage is on the rise, and that new users are using libraries for their digital reading because of their broad selection of titles and 24/7 access.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

It’s official — ebooks really are books and Euro tax could plummet

14 September 2016

From author Roger Packer:

Ebooks are books rather than ‘electronically supplied services’, the European Union has ruled.

The move means that member countries of the EU will be free to slash VAT (valued-added tax) on ebooks which have been hit by high rates of tax.

Some European countries have lower rates of VAT on print books than for other products and services, where the tax is generally somewhere between 15% and 20%. For example, in the UK (which has voted to quit the EU), print books are zero-rated and incur no VAT while ebooks have a 20% surcharge slapped on them.

However, this 20% tax was applied more as an admonishment to tech firms such as Amazon and Google, which have been seen as dodging VAT by funnelling sales through the low-tax territory of Luxembourg, so it remains to be seen whether the UK, which is the second-biggest ebook market, will actually make any move to cut the ebook tax, whether it’s a member of the EU or not. This could place publishers in the difficult position of facing higher ebook taxes in the UK than in the EU.

Link to the rest at Roger Packer and thanks to Lexi for the tip.

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

A Return to Print? Not Exactly

7 September 2016

From Bloomberg:

E-books are not taking over the world! That seems pretty clear from a Pew Research Center survey released last week, which showed that the percentage of Americans who read digital books hasn’t risen since 2014.

. . . .

The survey didn’t show any real sign of a print resurgence either, though. Overall, the percentage of Americans consuming books in any form appears to be trending modestly downward. By holding steady, e-books are thus gaining a bit of ground over print.

This is not exactly the “return to print” story that the nation’s book publishers have been telling lately. Yes, the Association of American Publishers reported in June that physical book sales were up in 2015, and that sales in brick-and-mortar bookstores rose, too. The percentage of people who read books is down a little, but the people who do read books are buying more of them. That’s what one should expect of a mature industry in an improving economy — which is certainly better than being in a rapidly declining industry like newspaper publishing.

The AAP also reported, though, that e-book revenue was down 11.3 percent in 2015 and unit sales down 9.7 percent. That’s where things get misleading. Yes, the established publishing companies that belong to the AAP are selling fewer e-books. But that does not mean fewer e-books are being sold. Of the top 10 books on Amazon’s Kindle bestseller list when I checked last week, only two (“The Light Between Oceans” and “The Girl on the Train,” both mass-market reissues of novels that have just been made into movies) were the products of major publishers. All the rest were genre novels (six romances, two thrillers) published either by the author or by an in-house Amazon imprint. Their prices ranged from 99 cents to $4.99.

. . . .

Book publishers are what business-school professors call two-sided platforms, or two-sided markets. They’re selling books to readers, but also selling publishing services to authors. When it comes to e-books, the established publishers are choosing not to offer a very good deal to either. After Amazon’s early experiment with limiting Kindle prices to $9.99, publishers now set the prices, and for prominent new books they’re often in the $12.99 to $14.99 range — not much less than the discounted hardcover price on Amazon. And even though publishers spend a lot less to produce and distribute e-books than paper ones, they generally don’t offer authors a bigger cut of the proceeds.

The publishers have instead chosen to prioritize physical books, and you can’t entirely blame them. Most book buyers still seem to prefer reading books on paper (I do, unless I’m traveling), and keeping physical bookstores alive seems like a much better deal for publishers than relying on an all-powerful Amazon to distribute all of their products.

. . . .

There are a few problems with this steady-as-she-goes scenario. The most obvious is that Amazon doesn’t really do detente. It’s now opening its own physical bookstores, and surely has other plans up its sleeve. Another is that cheap genre fiction is a lucrative business that publishers didn’t really want to give up. (News Corp, owner of Big-Five publisher HarperCollins, bought romance-novel publisher Harlequin, which has been hammered by the rise of digital self-publishing, in 2014.) Finally, the rise of e-books fits Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen’s classic model of disruptive innovation so perfectly that it seems unwise to assume that it is already all played out. This is from the introduction to Christensen’s book “The Innovator’s Dilemma”:

Generally, disruptive technologies underperform established products in mainstream markets. But they have other features that a few fringe (and generally new) customers value. Products based on disruptive technologies are typically cheaper, simpler, smaller, and, frequently, more convenient to use.

Established companies naturally focus on serving their existing customers, who aren’t all that interested in the new product. They also look at the lower profit margins on the cheaper, simpler new product and think, “No, thanks.” This leaves the field to new entrants, who keep improving their product and luring new customers until it becomes dominant. The former industry leaders are left on the sidelines wondering what went wrong.

Link to the rest at Bloomberg and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Timberland libraries now offer access to self-published books

4 September 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.

. . . .

Readers can access SELF-e through Biblioboard, a companion site that libraries use as a digital library. Created in 2011, Biblioboard offers public and school library patrons unlimited access to content from publishers, historical databases, academic institutions and local organizations, Biblioboard Chief Business Officer Mitchell Davis said.

“SELF-e is one our most popular aspects of Biblioboard,” said Katie Davis, a Biblioboard library relations manager. “And indie publishing is not dying. It’s growing.”

Link to the rest at The Olympian

No, the Internet Has Not Killed the Printed Book. Most People Still Prefer Them.

3 September 2016

From The New York Times:

Even with Facebook, Netflix and other digital distractions increasingly vying for time, Americans’ appetite for reading books — the ones you actually hold in your hands — has not slowed in recent years, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.

Sixty-five percent of adults in the United States said they had read a printed book in the past year, the same percentage that said so in 2012. When you add in ebooks and audiobooks, the number that said they had read a book in printed or electronic format in the past 12 months rose to 73 percent, compared with 74 percent in 2012.

Twenty-eight percent said they had opted for an ebook in the past year, while 14 percent said they had listened to an audiobook.

Lee Rainie, the director of internet, science and technology research for Pew Research, said the study demonstrated the staying power of physical books.

“I think if you looked back a decade ago, certainly five or six years ago when ebooks were taking off, there were folks who thought the days of the printed book were numbered, and it’s just not so in our data,” he said.

. . . .

While 6 percent said they read books only in digital format, 38 percent said they read books exclusively in print. But 28 percent are reading a combination of digital and printed books, suggesting that voracious readers are happy to take their text however they can get it.

“They want books to be available wherever they are,” Mr. Rainie said. “They’ll read an ebook on a crowded bus, curl up with a printed book when they feel like that, and go to bed with a tablet.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times

It’s Past Time Researchers Stopped Comparing Digital/Print and Started Asking About Genre, Category, and Length

2 September 2016

From The Digital Reader:

The Pew Research Center released a new report yesterday which showed that, for the third year running, the number of respondents who had read an ebook (or listened to an audiobook) remained flat while the number who had read a paper book wavered.

You can read the report on the Pew Research Center website, and you can read about it on a half-dozen sites. But I don’t know why you would bother; the headline data isn’t terribly useful – not in 2016, anyway.

. . . .

The question Pew should be asking is how readers consume the various genres and categories.

How are people reading their nonfiction?

Does it differ from their preferred format for novels?

What about comics vs digital comics?

The problem with Pew’s current report is that, for example, we now know that the romance and thriller genres have largely gone digital (and SF isn’t far behind). We also know that digital adoption in comics is occurring at a different rate than other types of ebooks, and there are also intimations that nonfiction readers are sticking with print.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

Paper still prevails over e-books

2 September 2016

From The Associated Press:

Adult readers in the U.S. still strongly favor paper over e-books, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center.

Around 65 percent of those surveyed had read a paperback or hardcover over the past year, compared to 28 percent who had read an e-book, Pew reported Thursday. Around 40 percent only read print books, while just 6 percent favor e-books exclusively. Fourteen percent said they had listened to an audio book, up two percentage points from 2015, but the same as in 2014.

E-book sales surged after Amazon.com introduced its Kindle reader in 2007. But they began leveling off a few years ago and have even declined for some major publishers. Those who do read e-books prefer a tablet computer (15 percent) or cellphone (13 percent) rather than a dedicated device such as the Kindle (8 percent).

Overall, 73 percent of Americans 18 and older read a book over the past year, up one percentage point from 2015 but below the 79 percent recorded for 2011. Women were more likely to have read a book (77 percent) than men (68 percent).

Link to the rest at The Associated Press and thanks to David for the tip.

Free E-Books, Timed for Your Commute

29 August 2016

From The New York Times:

Rainier Velardo watched the basketball-player-tall man in the blue shirt who sat down next to him — the man had gotten on at the last subway stop, West Fourth Street in Manhattan, and this was an F train going to Brooklyn. Mr. Velardo watched the man tap the screen of an iPad. He heard the man chuckle and say: “You’d think I would know this. I wrote it.” And then, with even more of a chuckle, “Didn’t see that twist coming.”

Mr. Velardo, 66, perked up at what the man said next: “Actually, it’s a big enough font. I can read it without my glasses.”

The man in the light blue shirt was Harlan Coben, the prolific, best-selling author whose fans really do not see the plot twists coming. He writes mysteries and thrillers — page-turners, some people might call them. But that term seems to have been forgotten in the universe of cellphones and tablets. “Page-swipers” conveys the notion of motion — the reader’s finger gliding on a glowing screen — but as a locution, it will never catch on.

And here on the F train, he was in the digital universe, trying out something called Subway Reads, a web platform that can be reached from a subway platform.

On Sunday, Subway Reads started delivering novellas, short stories or excerpts from full-length books to passengers’ cellphones or tablets. The idea is for riders to download a short story or a chapter and read it on the train. Subway Reads will even let riders choose what to read based on how long they will be on the subway — a 10-page selection for a 10-minute ride, a 20-page selection for a 20-minute excursion, a 30-page selection for a 30-minute trip. Delays not included.

“I would like to do it,” said Mr. Velardo, a retired Sanitation Department employee who was on his way to a bottle distribution center in Brooklyn.

He can, for eight weeks. Subway Reads will last longer than a summer romance, but not much longer. It was intended to promote something that will not disappear, something that transit officials see as a milestone in the digital age: Wi-Fi service in 175 underground stations.

Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to Rob for the tip.

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