Ebooks

Amazon hints at e-book price hike on Jan 1st

17 December 2014

From The Bookseller:

Amazon has warned that e-book prices will rise come January following a change in VAT law in an email to self-published authors. On 1st January Amazon will “make a one-time adjustment to convert VAT-exclusive list prices provided to us to VAT-inclusive list prices” resulting in a rise in the list price of thousands of e-books.

From 2015, VAT will be charged at the rate where the customer resides, rather than where the servers are based, meaning e-books bought by UK readers will be charged a rate of 20%, as opposed to the 3% levied by Luxembourg, where Amazon is based. The Kindle Direct Publishing team has contacted authors published on its KDP platform explaining that when the new law comes in on 1st January, Amazon will make a one-off adjustment to the prices of e-books already published, increasing, for example, a £5.00 list price of a book to £6.00 to account for the 20% VAT rate.

The one-off price-change example implies e-book prices will rise when the law comes into effect in January. In the run-up to the change, there continues to be speculation about how retailers and publishers will handle the change, with some tax experts warning that price hikes were inevitable.

. . . .

Amazon has also explained that e-book royalties would be calculated on the list price of a book minus VAT. And following the new law, minimum and maximum list prices for the 35% and 70% royalty plans on KDP will change to also include VAT. However, the retailer assured   authors that titles scheduled to run in the Kindle Countdown Deal in the UK marketplace during or after 1st January would still be eligible to finish that promotion, even if the list price does not fit the new requirements of being priced between £1.99 and £15.99, including the VAT.

. . . .

Other retailers have been less clear about what will happen to prices. A Kobo spokesperson said:  “We will continue to work closely with our publisher partners, both agency and wholesale, to bring our customers the best possible offering.” Nook did not want to make a comment about what would happen to prices.

Authors have expressed concern that the move would either impact their royalties, or, if prices rise, sales. Mark Edwards, author of several books including Because She Loves me (Thomas & Mercer), currently at Number 2 in the Kindle Chart, said he was concerned about the new VAT law’s impact. He said: “My concern as an author is that the amount of royalties we earn is going to decrease unless the price of e-books go up. But if that happens, sales might decrease. My feeling is that prices won’t go up, so authors will lose out on royalties.” He added: “Nobody wants e-book prices to rise because this could harm sales and discourage readers. It’s hard enough to make a living as an author and it’s going to be even harder now that more of the money readers spend on e-books will go to the government and less to the people who write, publish and sell them.”

. . . .

At the time, Richard Asquith, vice-president of global tax at online accounting service Avalara, said he expected retailers to adopt the “Ryanair-style” model of adding VAT at the till. He said: “Companies are getting much better at protecting their margins. If they don’t increase prices on 1st January they will do it soon [after]. Otherwise it’s a huge dent in their business model. It’s inevitable that it will come.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Curtis Brown digital arm Studio 28 launches next year

12 December 2014

From The Bookseller:

Curtis Brown Literary and Talent Agency will officially launch its digital publishing arm, Studio 28, in March next year.

Studio 28 will publish in the UK and other territories, seeking rights from authors already on the agency’s books or “rediscovering and reinventing literary gems from 100 years of the agency’s backlist”. It aims to publish around 12 to 16 titles over the next year.

. . . .

Curtis Brown’s Rufus Purdy told The Bookseller: We are not any kind of threat to traditional publishing. At the moment it’s about exploring niches. It’s about working with authors and maximising their incomes and allowing them to get their books to market.”

Studio 28 was started after restaurant critic and author Jay Rayner came to Curtis Brown to say he wanted to publish The Apologist as an e-book with Amazon’s White Glove programme. The agency instead decided it would set up its own digital publishing arm.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Low-cost ebook conversions enabled massive growth of the market, but there were many errors

10 December 2014

From Publishing Perspectives:

Publishers have converted a huge number of their books into ebooks over the past few years.

For these converted books, most publishers think, “we’re done.” I think they should be thinking, “we’re just getting started.”

That’s the way it is with a 1.0 release of software, and I think publishers should view ebooks as software.

Let’s back up a bit. Why did publishers convert at all? Here are some possible reasons.

  1. They believed that ebooks would be profitable, especially since low-quality conversion was so cheap.
  2. They were skeptical that ebooks would be profitable, but low-quality conversion was so cheap that it was worth hedging their bets.
  3. They feared Amazon’s reprisal against their paper sales if they failed to get on board with Kindle.

. . . .

What I want to emphasize is that low-quality conversion, because of its low cost, was a critical enabler for entry into the ebook market.

I used to rail against low-quality conversion, to whoever would listen. Then, I had a humbling realization. Publishers did exactly the right thing in opting for low-quality conversion, because it allowed them to enter a new market quickly and with low initial investment.

But I haven’t become too humble: I think they did the right thing for the wrong reason. They think they converted cheaply and now they’re done. I think they did the right thing to convert cheaply, but they should just view those conversions as version 1.0.

. . . .

Another way of putting this is that publishers need to start treating ebooks as software, since ebooks are software.

  1. Software has bugs that need to be fixed.
  2. Software needs to evolve as its environment changes.

To be fair, nothing in publishers’ previous, paper-based business would have prepared them to understand the dynamics of software.

. . . .

One might think that publishers’ quality process savvy would have ported well to the world of ebooks. Sadly, this could hardly be farther from the truth.

As far as I can tell, these time-honored quality control processes almost never happen to ebooks. This is especially puzzling in the case of bug fixes, since the ebook medium drastically lowers the cost of reporting and fixing typos.

Paper books don’t have a button allowing a reader to report a typo to the publisher. But, Kindle books might as well not have such a button, since, in my experience, publishers hardly ever act on Kindle typo reports. I made hundreds of such reports before realizing that it is virtually pointless to do so.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

PG says the 2.0 version of lousy ebook editions of backlist books won’t happen. Big Publishers regard ebook backlists as cash cows and you don’t put cash into cash cows.

Amazon has a serious ebook theft problem

8 December 2014

From Geek:

It would appear as though Amazon has a problem with author accounts being used to steal books and resell them under another name, as Kindle Direct Publishing users discover a single author with 37 titles under their belt. The one thing they all seem to have in common is that the author labeled as the creator of the ebook had absolutely nothing to do with its creation.

. . . .

There doesn’t seem to be any pattern to the books that have been published under the name Jay Cute, with titles ranging from the obscure that are available for free on Amazon to the first in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series. The prices range the spectrum that Amazon allows for Kindle Direct Publishing accounts, and in some cases the publisher hasn’t even bothered to change the cover of the book when publishing under this new name. The books that do have different cover art seem to have either a random image or a cover from another book entirely.

For whatever reason, Amazon has yet to respond to the dozen angry authors and the 310 One Star reviews calling out these books as being published illegally.

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

Not Reading

30 October 2014

From GEIST:

Reading a book is an act of concentration that abolishes the world. As the type on the page dissolves before the reader’s private re-creation of the people, images or ideas that the ink evokes, reality is enhanced by insights, emotions or perceptions that were not there before. This compensatory quality is the product of concentration; it arises because reading is linear, reeling us along sentence by sentence toward a series of revelations. Reading a book remakes the temporality of the physical world. The shapelessness of experience yields to a chronology whose internal symmetry feels superior to the disorder of life. Book-based transcendence fuelled the three ancient Middle Eastern monotheisms that became the core religions of the early modern period in the West and on its fringes, and which were exported to other continents; all were “religions of the book.”

The book’s sacred status survived the secularization of society. The words of the imaginative writer, particularly the novelist, invested specific social configurations with mythic resonance: Thomas Hardy’s Wessex, Dostoevsky’s St. Petersburg, Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, García Márquez’s Macondo, Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo.

. . . .

More than a decade ago, when I moved to the university town where I teach, it was common to see students reading books on municipal buses. Now, with the exception of the occasional nerd stuck into a fantasy novel, or a diligent student poring over a diagram-filled textbook on her lap, this sight has disappeared. The students travel in stooped postures, jabbing their cellphones with their thumbs. Most of this jabbing is texting, or playing solitaire; but even when the students are browsing online course readings, what they are doing is not reading, because they are not performing an act of concentration, but rather one of perpetual distraction. As Marshall McLuhan perceived, the medium is the message. Reading is an act confined to books and magazines, and, in somewhat more scattered form, newspapers; what we do when we absorb words from a screen—and we haven’t yet evolved a verb for it—is not reading.

. . . .

The term ebook, more than a misnomer, is an oxymoron: we may read a text on a screen, in between anxious jumps to other windows, but we do not read a book because we do not achieve the level of concentration necessary to experience the spiritual or artistic affects that books provide. Some software even invites the user to read the book and watch the movie at the same time. A tweet is a perfect match with the medium of the screen; approaching a book in this way is like trying to view the rings of Saturn with cheap binoculars.

Link to the rest at GEIST and thanks to Timothy for the tip.

Austrian minimum book price to apply to e-books, web sales

27 October 2014

From telecompaper:

Print books sold online in Austria and electronic books will be subject to the set price law.

. . . .

The law charges publishers and book importers with setting a floor for the price of books. From December, this law will apply in Austria for books sent from overseas, too.

Link to the rest at telecompaper

Got Workflow? Step by Step to Better Books

16 October 2014

From book formatter and TPV regular JW Manus:

Sloth is my deadly sin of choice. But you know what they say, If you want to figure out the fastest, most efficient means of getting a job done, find a lazy person. That’s me. I want to get my work done for the day so I can kick back with a can of Pringles and watch Gordon Ramsay on Hulu.

Producing books for public consumption is not nearly as difficult, complicated or time-consuming as writing them in the first place. Even so, it is a real job (as opposed to an afterthought) and it takes some skill and planning. To do the job right–produce a great product–requires a workflow that makes sense and doesn’t involve anybody’s head exploding.

. . . .

The very first thing I do when I receive a manuscript is create a project folder and do a Save As of the original. Save As is important. There is no reason to NOT make multiple copies of the file. Your computer has plenty of room, and there will be cases when you NEED a previous version. I’ve come up with a file-naming system that helps me keep track of the files. I date the versions, too.

. . . .

I scan through my version of the original .doc file and make styling notes (chapter heads, special formatting). I note hyperlinks and images placement. Then I use Find/Replace to tag italics, bolding and underlining.

. . . .

I Select All and Copy, then transfer the text into a text editor. Here I do a thorough cleanup which includes finding “illegal” characters, deleting extra spaces, tidying special formatting (italics etc.), and making sure the punctuation is “printer” punctuation and not “manuscript” punctuation. I also start a simple text file that is called “Notes_…” where I jot down the table of contents entries, any special formatting required, and other bits.

. . . .

I always save the POD version for last. Production takes longer, not only in layout and design, but because it takes time for CreateSpace or Ingrams to approve the files, the cover has to be custom fit, then a proof edition ordered, mailed and gone over. It can take a few weeks. While this is being done, the writer/publisher can already have uploaded and started selling the ebook.

Link to the rest at JW Manus and thanks to Cal for the tip.

Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time, or Simply Screen Time?

12 October 2014

From Douglas Quenqua at the New York Times

. . .

For years, child development experts have advised parents to read to their children early and often, citing studies showing its linguistic, verbal and social benefits. In June, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised doctors to remind parents at every visit that they should read to their children from birth, prescribing books as enthusiastically as vaccines and vegetables.

On the other hand, the academy strongly recommends no screen time for children under 2, and less than two hours a day for older children.

At a time when reading increasingly means swiping pages on a device, and app stores are bursting with reading programs and learning games aimed at infants and preschoolers, which bit of guidance should parents heed?

. . .

Part of the problem is the newness of the devices. Tablets and e-readers have not been in widespread use long enough for the sorts of extended studies that will reveal their effects on learning.

Dr. Pamela High, the pediatrician who wrote the June policy for the pediatrics group, said electronic books were intentionally not addressed. “We tried to do a strongly evidence-based policy statement on the issue of reading starting at a very young age,” she said. “And there isn’t any data, really, on e-books.”

But a handful of new studies suggest that reading to a child from an electronic device undercuts the dynamic that drives language development.

. . .

Of course, e-book publishers and app developers point to interactivity as an educational advantage, not a distraction. Many of those bells and whistles — Clifford’s bark, the sleepy narration of “Goodnight Moon,” the appearance of the word “ham” when a child taps the ham in the Green Eggs and Ham app — help the child pick up language, they say.

. . .

Read the full article at the New York Times

The criticisms in the article seem to be directed at enhanced e-books of the sort that feature animation, narration, and extras. Neither the author nor the experts he quotes seems to know that there is such a thing as electronic books for children that function pretty much like paper books.

Welcoming-a-returning-PG vacation guest post by Bridget McKenna

HarperCollins Signs Deal With Bookmate – but Not Kindle Unlimited

9 October 2014

From Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader

Bookmate, which is primarily focused on Russia and ebook markets in eastern Europe, will now be able to offer its 1.5 million users ebooks published by HC. No one is talking specifics on the numbers, but the press release does say that “books by hundreds of authors, including CS Lewis are included in the deal”.

. . .

But I will note that Bookmate has a deal which Amazon has not yet secured for Kindle Unlimited. Following the deal between S&S and Denmark-based Mofibo, this is the second time in only a couple weeks that a smaller ebook subscription service scored a contract with a major US trade publisher which Amazon could not get.

. . .

This trend, if it exists, could well explain the speculation that Amazon is about to open up Kindle Unlimited to all KDP authors – with no exclusivity required. This would give Amazon a significantly larger catalog, and what’s more the idea is already getting positive responses from some indie authors.

. . .

Read the full article at The Digital Reader

So far we have only rumors and report of a possible tech glitch to support the opening up of KDP to all indies, but Nate Hoffelder lending weight says it’s still fertile ground for speculation.

Holding-the-digital-fort vacation guest post by Bridget McKenna

 

Have we fallen out of love with e-readers?

7 October 2014

From Caroline Corcoran at the Independent via The Digital Reader

“Print is where words go to die.” So went the theory in 2007 when Amazon launched the Kindle. . . .

But while it’s true that e-books show no signs of disappearing – the new Kindle Voyage launches next month hot on the heels of the “Kindle Unlimited” subscription service that came to the UK last month – neither does print.

Recently, I realised that I had become so addicted to the speed of new book buying on my Kindle that I had barely bought anything in print in the past year. . . .and I was sad that such great books were missing from my bookshelves. Worse than that, though, was a feeling that plots had started to blur, even with books that I had loved. The only way I could explain it is that they had never had a physicality.

So I decided to go back to books. On my first trip to Waterstones, I left with a hardback of the new Howard Jacobson that there is absolutely no way I can take on the bus. But I don’t care – somehow a story like that should have weight, and it feels so luxurious to get into bed and prop up that beast of a dystopia on my knees.

More at the Independent, including facts and figures about “falling ebook sales.”

Filling-in-for-PG vacation guest post by Bridget McKenna

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