ebooks

Kobo Purges Store of Random (Small/Indie) eBooks (via: @PandoDaily, @penenberg, HT: @dangillmor)

Adam Penenberg (editor of PandoDaily) writes about his experience of having his books (two thrillers) swept up in what seems like a giant overreaction by Kobo. This seems to have been spurred by British publisher WHSmith, which took down its entire website because some of Kobo's eBooks (which were passed through into their catalogue automatically) offended their sensibilities. Adam writes:

Kobo’s rash move came on the heels of another rash move by a British publisherWHSmith, which has taken down its entire website, leaving a statement on its homepage. The company said it’s “disgusted” by “a number of unacceptable titles” that have been “appearing on our website through the Kobo website that has an automated feed to ours.”

The bigger issue here is that the purge broadly affects books that couldn't remotely be expected to fall into what Kobo describes as: '“pedophilia, incest, bestiality, exploitation and sexual violence or force”', and disproportionately those by smaller publishers:

It’s hard to believe Kobo’s claims that it’s “inspired by a ‘Read Freely’ philosophy,” which “stems from Kobo’s belief that consumers should have the freedom to read any book, any time, anyplace — and on any device.” That is, unless you want to read my two novels, and thousands of other titles that are not erotica and were either self-published or published by small, independent presses.

Seems like a knee-jerk reaction that will cost Kobo a lot of goodwill.

Read Adam's article in full here: http://pandodaily.com/2013/10/15/kobos-porn-purge-hits-a-lot-of-innocent-bystanders/

You Have No Right To Make Money Anymore (HT: @rosepowell)

Matthew Ingram from GigaOM describes how Seth Godin answered a recent interview question about writers trying to make money:

In a recent interview with Digital Book World, the writer and creator of the Domino Project [...] was asked about his advice that authors should give their books away for free and that they should worry more about spreading their message and building a fan base instead of focusing on how to monetize it right away. And how would he respond to writers concerned about their ability to make a living from their writing? Godin’s response:

Who said you have a right to cash money from writing? Poets don’t get paid (often), but there’s no poetry shortage. The future is going to be filled with amateurs, and the truly talented and persistent will make a great living. But the days of journeyman writers who make a good living by the word — over.

It's hard to disagree with him. Writing has never been a particularly financially rewarding pursuit, much like any art form. There will always be outliers who become ridiculously wealthy, but having an expectation of becoming that famous author is counterproductive, in my opinion.

I don't think books should just be given away for free - things that are free are perceived to have a certain value (ie. nothing) and I value my work a few cents more than that. However, that doesn't mean books should never be given away for free. Getting a fan base with which you can connect as a creator is important, and giveaways are a part of getting new people exposed to your writing.

Mathew also talks about getting a perspective on your writing with regards to its quality:

[M]aybe those vampire books by Amanda Hocking or the detective novels from million-selling author John Locke aren’t as good as yours, but for hundreds of thousands of weekend readers they are probably good enough. Godin’s point isn’t that you can’t make money; it’s that you have to think differently about how to accomplish that task.

I always ask authors who are concerned about things that apparently make them lose money (piracy is a perennial favourite): 'If you were guaranteed never to make a single cent from writing, would you stop?'

If you answer 'yes' then I think you probably shouldn't be writing at all. If you answer 'no', I think you're probably ready to think about how you will try to make some money out of your writing.

Read it here: http://gigaom.com/2012/03/06/godin-to-authors-you-have-no-right-to-make-money-any-more/

iBook Lessons: Hardback-only Memory of Light release frustrates would-be epurchasers (via @tuaw)

'Memory of Light' is the last book in the Wheel of Time series. I personally don't care for these books, so don't expect me to get too excited about the completion of this fantasy series. In a case of old-fashionitis, however, the book was released by its publisher Tor in dead-tree version only, leaving a lot of people who simply prefer to read eBooks stuck waiting until April 9th, 3 months in the future. Of course the book will be available as a pirated copy in approximately minus-one days, just like all other popular books, so anyone realistically expecting to be able to read it on launch day will, in-fact, be able to do so, without the inconvenience of DRM and for less money.

[R]umors are swirling as to why Tor made the decision it did: specifically, whether Jordan's widow and editor forced their hands, and if the NY Times bestseller ratings could be skewed by a simultaneous ebook release that would limit the prestigious hardcover fiction numbers in favor of less desirable ebook listings.

The ways of publishers are complex and deep, and it's perfectly possible they were forced through contractual agreements to release the book in this way. After all, Tor has a very modern stance on ebooks, releasing big chunks of their back catalogue in consumer-friendly non-DRM formats. This object-first approach to such an anticipated release as 'Memory of Light' is certainly not the optimal money making strategy:

Back in 2009, publishers began delaying ebook releases, as they noted that ebook sales cannibalized hardcover sales. Even then an Amazon spokesperson was quoted by the NYT saying, "Authors get the most publicity at launch and need to strike while the iron is hot. If readers can't get their preferred format at that moment, they may buy a different book or just not buy a book at all."

Also noteworthy is that the book is receiving many 1-star reviews on Amazon in some kind of misguided campaign to pressure the publisher into changing its release schedule.

Now...readers...book reviews do not work that way! Goodnight!

Please, if you're reading this and you're upset, do not comment on a book in the book reviews section of a store if you aren't reviewing the book. Seriously.

Read the entire article here to get a glimpse at this bizarre process: http://www.tuaw.com/2013/01/08/ibook-lessons-hardback-only-memory-of-light-release-frustrates/

Are Publishers Making a Killing on e-Books (via @publisherswkly)

This is part 2 of the original article here. eBook pricing is still all over the place; from my perspective as a reader the market still hasn't decided on the 'value' of a book stripped of its physical container, the content. In one corner of the internet it's a race to the bottom, in another it's priced comparably (or even higher) than the same book in print.

Adding some incidental charges, we figured the total cost for you to convert a previously published book to an e-book and print on demand paperback was $1,600.00, not counting the cost of marketing, advertising or publicity. How should you price your book to recover that investment and make a profit to boot? And how many copies must you sell to hit that number?

Richard Curtis over at Digital Book World continues to break it down; hopefully this will help a little bit to shed some light on the flipside of high eBook pricing.

Of course, it's all about expectations. A reader doesn't (and, honestly, shouldn't) care how much a book costs to produce: if it feels too expensive, it is too expensive. The trick is to change consumer expectations, and I don't think simply selling a digital book for $15 is a healthy way to do so. Readers are not your enemy.

Link: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2012/are-publishers-making-a-killing-on-e-books-part-2/

Electronic Signing: HelloSign app (via @justrick)

I spotted this on one of the tech-y news feeds to which I subscribe:

We live in an increasingly paperless world, but just try to get someone's signature without one or more sheets of letter-size stock. Whether you need to collect signatures or fork over yours, it usually means dealing with printed matter.

This made me wonder if there was some sort of use-case here for ebook signing. The HelloSign app allows you to annotate PDFs or images you take on the fly, by signing directly on your screen:

The app gives you two options. First, you can "scan" a paper document by taking a photo with your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. Second, if you receive a PDF via e-mail, you can open that attachment in HelloSign.

In my quick tests, both options worked quite well. Once you've got your document loaded, it's a simple matter to add text, a checkmark, a date stamp, and, of course, your signature.

Has anyone used similar technology to facilitate digitally personalising and signing an ebook for a fan?

Check it out here: http://www.macworld.com/article/2010909/app-spotlight-sign-documents-on-the-go-with-hellosign.html

A Million Books Sold; What's Next? (via @cjlyonswriter, HT @thecreativepenn)

Occasionally I like posting some good news from the self-publishing world. Yes, we all know that not everyone is going to achieve success self-publishing, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't look at the successes and see if we can gather tips:

Sometime in July, I passed one million indy books sold. Don’t ask me when; I was busy writing the next book (see, I do practice what I preach).

But here’s the real kicker: that means in one year I’ve outsold what traditional publishing has been able to sell of my books in the past four years.

I now make more in a month than I do in a year from traditional publishing.

C. J. Lyons discusses her approach (as well as linking to the various tips and tricks in her blog), and makes a few predictions:

Prediction 1: As more traditionally published authors enter indy publishing with their extensive backlists, it will be harder and harder to be discovered.

Prediction 2: As traditional publishers relinquish Agency pricing, there will be greater competition than ever for spots on the bestseller lists. As much as we want to treat our books as “art” we are in the business of selling them, and let’s face it, people love finding a great value.

Prediction 3: More authors will turn down traditional contracts once they start treating their writing as a business. Also, more traditional publishers will be offering contracts to indy authors.

Note: she does have a response to each of her predictions, so do check out her thoughts here: http://www.norulesjustwrite.com/a-million-books-sold-whats-next/

Aspire to become the victim of piracy (via @TWLuedke)

A brief article from Travis Luedker was reposted into my twitter feed today, in which he relates his attitude towards the casual piracy of (his) ebooks. It's always a divisive topic, and many comment threads are devoted to the to and fro of opinions in this field. Disclaimer: I don't like piracy, but I believe it is a market response to pricing and availability (including DRM), and that it is impossible to affect by any other means. This means that I am inclined to agree with Travis here:

To be pirated is a compliment, I have succeeded in catching the pirate's attention.  He wouldn't steal my ebook if it wasn't valuable.  At least he knows I exist.

Perhaps he even read my novel ... that would make me happy :)

The original is here: http://thenightlifeseries.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/aspire-to-become-victim-of-piracy.html

I am not a Luddite (Judith Ridge on eBooks)

With all the excitement about eBooks, it's nice to occasionally read a reasoned (and entertaining) defence from someone who just doesn't care for them:

I swear. I promise. I love my gadgets. I’ve been an enthusiastic up-taker of technology since I first laid eyes on an Apple computer back in 1987. I’ve had around eight Mac computers, desk- and laptops, and numerous iThings; I’ve always upgraded my mobile phone as soon as my contracts allowed—and now my 84 year old Dad, who never quite figured out how to use his mobile, thinks I’m surgically attached to my iPhone. (He’s not far wrong.)

So what's Judith's problem, right? (I kid, everyone is entitled to their own opinion):

It’s not that I have any particular objection to ereaders, and I certainly don’t think it’s a lesser form of reading. I find those who carp on about the death of the book as annoying as those who think people only tweet what they ate for lunch, or proclaim Facebook the end of intimacy. I am, in fact, delighted that ereader technology will very likely mean that writers will always have backlists that people can actually read, and that even the most obscure classic titles can be accessed at the press of a button. I’m even thrilled at the possibilities it presents for self-publishing and the publication of books that may otherwise be too “niche” for a paper print run to be viable, despite believing that the jury is well and truly out on editorial standards of straight-to-ereader titles.

So I’m all for the ereader. I just don’t want to use one.

Judith describes her own relationship with books and it's a great insight. Granted, the physicality of print books creates a completely different relationship between reader and print book than that between reader and ebook. I imagine it much like how the relationship between a horse and rider bears little resemblance to that between a driver and a car. Things change; relationships change as containers change: I agree with a lot of what Judith says, and also tend not to read as many books in electronic formats as I do in print. However, I'm really excited to see how a new generation of readers extols the virtues of electronic books (eg. all my books with me all the time!) and how that relationship could never be equaled by mere paper pages.

Read Judith's thoughts here: http://greylands.theslipstream.com.au/2012/07/i-am-not-a-luddite-judith-ridge/

Legit eBook Lending Site Taken Down by Angry Mob of Authors (via @techdirt HT: @AllanDouglasDgn)

Just have a read. I'm quite annoyed by the unthinking reaction of the writers involved in this, but of course on the Internet it is easier to react than investigate:

A bizarre thing happened late last week. A bunch of authors, playing Twitter telephone, managed to take down LendInk, a legitimate book lending site. (This "discussion" has spilled over to LendInk's Facebook page.) LendInk, a matchmaking site for Kindle and Nook users to "borrow" each other's titles, somehow found itself on the receiving end of an irate mob, who accused it of piracy and sent (at least according to the threats) several DMCA takedown notices its way.

Of course, the 'borrowing' on this site simply redirects to the perfectly legitimate eBook lending schemes of Amazon and Barnes & Noble, enforced by DRM. From the FAQ:

The actual book loaning process is handled by Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, not by LendInk.

Other authors have assisted with debunking some of the outrage, but it's always more difficult to overcome 'OMG TEH PIRATES' than it is to break through the noise with reason:

Before the site was taken/knocked offline, any one of these authors could have drawn the same conclusions as these helpful forum contributors, but most seemed to be caught up in the excitement of the hunt. An in-depth post by April Hamilton of the Indie Author blog points out everywhere these authors went wrong and how easily it could have been prevented.

Honestly, if physical libraries had been invented in the 21st Century, they'd never survive the copyright litigation and social media outrage.

Have a read: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120807/21080519958/legit-ebook-lending-site-taken-down-angry-twitmob-writers.shtml

Do Children's Books made for the iPad Miss The Point? (HT: @pnpbookseller)

I've previously talked up the exciting nature of interactive children's books as applications, as well as linked to some research discussing their effectiveness (or lack of) as teaching tools, but Jon Page recently posted a link to this editorial by journalist Farhad Manjoo, who asks:

When a young reader engages with the Another Monster app, what is he doing? Is he reading a book? Playing a video game? Watching TV? It's hard to say.

Farhad specifically points out the 'Another Monster' app when discussing the downside of these interactive optimised experiences:

The Another Monster app is an extreme example of what I've found to be a common problem with children's books made for the iPad. They offer too many different kinds of experiences, becoming muddled in the process - and, more importantly, missing the point of children's books, which is to get kids excited about reading.

I agree with him to a point. Electronic children's books lie on a spectrum from pure digital conversions to fully interactive games-with-text. Farhad raises good points about children being easily distracted by the tempting 'home' button on the iPad, and why they would concentrate on the text in front of them with so many other tempting options, but this really highlights a problem with the hardware, not the individual story applications.

This tempting-home-button problem is fixed in the latest upgrade to the iPad's operating system, iOS 6, with a setting known as Single App mode, or Guided Access. This locks the device into one application, and optionally disable parts of the screen, meaning Farhad's complaint about children clicking away from a book application is pretty much addressed (of course iOS 6 will not be available on the first generation iPad, which is the model most often repurposed for children, so...yeah...but my point still stands).

Regardless, it's a good article about a parent's experience with digital children's books.

Link here: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/monsters-in-the-childrens-app-store-20120622-20s3f.html

Making eBooks is Harder Than It Looks (via @thezackcompany)

Andrew Zack argues eloquently that eBook production costs are higher than readers expect and understand.

Originals are books that are first appearing in eBook form and are not reprints of previously published books. And here the argument that eBooks should be cheaper and easier to produce than paper books really fails. To produce a quality eBook takes just as long and costs just as much as producing a quality paper book. Yes, you save some money on paper, printing, and binding. And you save some money on warehousing and shipping. But you incur other costs. But first let's look at the commonalities.

Of course the grim reality of the marketplace is that it doesn't matter how much something costs to produce, consumers have an expectation of 'value' that is very hard to shift. The trick is to find a profitable balance: if a reader won't pay more than $5 for an eBook (a reasonable price as far as I'm concerned), then if your eBook upfront costs and per-sale costs are greater than $5 per unit you are not going to have much luck.

Bear in mind I'm no expert on this at all, and have no experience selling books, just buying them. Personally, I'm not optimistic about the $0.99 eBook model, either (but hey, if you can make quality eBooks and sell them profitably at that price, I support you).

Andrew goes through the cost and royalty breakdown for his own small publishing business, and determines:

So who is getting rich here? No one, really. And are readers being overcharged for e-books? No.

However, have readers been led to believe that eBooks should cost less than they do? And far less than printed books? Yes.

It's a lengthy but valuable article, so do have read of the entire argument here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-zack/making-ebooks-is-harder-t_b_1610953.html

War and Nookd - And quick thoughts on dynamic electronic text

A funny but disconcerting look into the fluidity of ebook text:

The Nook version of War and Peace had changed every instance of “kindle” or “kindled” into “Nook” and “Nookd,” not just on Philip’s copy, but on ours too.

This was just a publication oversight (dare I say laziness?), and a change such as this is easily picked up in the course of reading the text itself. But because it's easy to change text slightly in ways that aren't detectable until it's too late, I find it a touch disconcerting:

The unwitting hilarity of a publisher doing a “find and replace” and accidentally changing the text of a canonical work of Western thought is alarming. Many versions of e-books are from similar outfits, that distribute public domain works formatted for Kindle or Nook at the lowest possible prices. The great democratizing factor of the ebook formats – that anyone can easily distribute – can also mean that readers can never be quite sure that they are viewing the texts as the author intended.

Perhaps it's my SF writing brain kicking in, but what about an ebook that is free but has targeted advertising inserted in the text? Say, whenever a smart phone is referenced in the text it is replaced with 'iPhone' if you are reading on an iPhone, or 'Windows phone' if you are reading on a Windows phone? This is trivial to accomplish, and kind of cool...sort of... It's not as cool if text is subtly changed to promote a particular ideology, though.

Just a thought.

Read it all here: http://futureoftheinternet.org/war-and-nookd

Monday Market - URL Love - Harper-Collins anthology - April 23

This comes via an email I received from Jodi Cleghorn at eMergent Publishing. I usually don't paste full submission information, but I don't have a submission page for the anthology, so verbatim it is. Apologies for any formatting errors, it is a long holiday weekend in Australia and so I am using the iPad to construct this post. In short, HarperCollins are looking for 800-3000 word short story submissions by April the 23rd, 2012, on the topic of "love in the digital age". Payment is a modest royalty of 25% of the publisher's net receipts, shared among the submissions, and a HarperCollins book pack to the value of $50.

I have some personal reservations about the rights requested (5 years exclusive and what seems to be an explicit agreement that they can amend your work even if it would be in breach of your moral rights), but those details are explicitly listed below in the terms and conditions, so do please read it thoroughly.

If this is something that sounds interesting, or if you have a story lying around that would suit, please read on for the full submission details:


Invitation for submissions for HarperCollins new e-book anthology titled:

URL love from RSVP to Twitter, the hottest online romance stories

Are you the next E.L. James or Marian Keyes? HarperCollins Publishers are currently seeking short-story submissions about love in the digital age to publish in a brand new e-book anthology. We all love a hot romance… and what could be more relevant to the way we live now than a love story involving text messages, online dating, emails or tweets? Our target audience is digitally savvy women aged 25–40 who enjoy a cleverly written romp. They like reading on their iPads or Kindles, and might be currently signed up to RSVP or e-harmony, or engaged in a little email flirtation at work. Writers whose stories are selected will receive a part share of the royalties of 25% of publisher’s net receipts (the part share is dependent on the number of successful submissions included in the Work) and a HarperCollins book pack to the value of $50.

Submissions are open from ­­­9 April 2012 and will close at 5pm on 23 April 2012. Writers should send their completed manuscript to loveonline@harpercollins.com.au. Any queries can be sent to loveonline@harpercollins.com.au with ‘query’ in the subject line. Media enquiries should be addressed to loveonline@harpercollins.com.au with ‘media’ in the subject line.

Please note:

  • Submissions should be between 800–3000 words long. Please submit a double-spaced Word document (using Times New Roman font) as an attachment. The subject heading should be the title of your work. Include your name, postal address and email address in the body of the email
  • We are particularly looking for strength of ‘voice’ and creativity in the submissions.
  • HarperCollins is unable to give personalized feedback as to why a submission isn’t selected for this anthology.
  • Eligibility for the anthology is at HarperCollins’ discretion.

Terms and Conditions By submitting your Work, you agree to the following terms and conditions:

  • You are the owner of copyright and the material has not previously been licenced to any other party.
  • We will only accept stories up to 3,000 words (use word count) and will consider any Work over 800 words in length.
  • You hereby grant us the exclusive worldwide right to use your submission in the Work for five years, including in relation to all marketing, advertising and promotion of the Work. You agree to that we may edit and do any act that would otherwise be a breach of your moral rights in the work as defined under the Copyright Act. We reserve the right to alter, delete or amend your work at our sole discretion. We will identify you as the author of your submission in the Work in accordance with our normal practice.
  • The royalty is a part share of 25% of publisher’s net receipts (the part share is dependant on the number of successful submissions included in the Work).
  • Submissions should be made via the following email address: loveonline@harpercollins.com.au
  • The subject of the email must say ‘Submission’ followed by your name.
  • You should send your Work as an attachment in Microsoft Word format.
  • Include in body of email:
    • Your real full name
    • Author name (only if you want to use a pseudonym)
    • Email address
    • Postal address
    • Phone number
    • Manuscript title
  • Submissions should be double spaced; 12 point font preferred, Times New Roman (if your Work requires multiple or specific fonts please make this clear).
  • Your Work should be completely ready to print, properly formatted with no typos, grammar or syntax issues. We suggest having someone proofread your work prior to submitting.
  • You will receive an e-mail confirming receipt of the submission.
  • Please note that we receive a very large number of submissions and failure to adhere to these submission guidelines will limit the chances of your submission being viewed.

Let's ask it again: What Should an E-book Cost? (via: @IPGBookNews)

Curt Matthews at the Independent Publishers Group provides a cost breakdown on print and ebook production:

Independent publishers are crucial to the vitality of our culture. They are the reason why in America almost no good author goes unpublished.

Curt breaks print costing down nicely, as well as comparing it to eBooks. I would only question his figures for ebooks where he neglects to offset the 50% discount that print books are sold at, making ebook margins much higher (and thus providing an argument (it seems to me) for lower ebook prices and higher author royalty percentages.

My own views on this from an older post are here: http://cacotopos.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/when-the-container-has-no-value/

Have a read of Curt's article - the oft cited argument that upfront costs for ebooks are the same as print books is valid, but this is a fixed cost and for the purposes of this argument can be considered the same for print and ebooks. I'd still argue that where eBooks warrant their reduced list pricing is in the low-to-zero scaling cost of distribution. Granted, there may be a 'stocking' cost for eBooks using DRM, as ongoing servers have to be maintained for managing licenses, but we all know DRM is unnecessary, unwanted, and therefore a waste of money, so I don't accept that as a relevant cost for eBook production.

Link here: http://www.ipgbook.com/why-ipg-has-not-been-able-to-agree-on-terms-with-amazon-news-32.php

PS: Curt makes an unrelated shout out to hard working editors while discussing cost. I agree wholeheartedly:

Most books are hugely improved by the editorial process. Nor are the improvements editors make limited to spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Often they are deep structural changes that make a title more engaging for its intended audience, more saleable.

Librarians Talk of Abandoning E-Books (via @digibookworld, HT: @jafurtado)

This relates a little to the walled-garden post from yesterday, in so far as DRM is being used to impose constraints. Digital libraries by their very nature require a control mechanism to prevent ebooks on loan from being copied by a library's patrons, and publishers are using this to impose lending fees and restrictions which are causing concerns among librarians:

There has been much controversy lately around e-book lending at libraries. Pricing, lending policies, digital rights management and relationships between distributors and sellers are all issues on the table. (Here’s a good review of the situation from our own resident library expert Barbara Galletly.)

Jeremy Greenfield links to a few related articles in this post, and if digital libraries are of interest to you, check them out: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2012/librarians-talk-of-abandoning-e-books/

If you want something more light-hearted, have a look at this video from March last year, comparing HarperCollins's then new '26 checkout' ebook expiration license:

We ask the question, What does wear and tear look like on a print book? Is 26 checkouts a realistic standard to apply to ebooks?

Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Je90XRRrruM

Persian Cat Press and books-as-apps for children (via @readinasitting and @persiancatpress)

Persian Cat Press guest blogs at Teacher Turned Writer to describe their approach to children's books as apps. I linked to research about children and ebooks just recently, so this pracital example of books for children provides a good follow up.

An app is a unique platform in that it allows publishers to create a product that involves not only traditional reading and visual literacy, but also a physical and aural literacy too. In this way, apps have the potential to not only talk to a child’s imagination but also directly to their senses.

They talk about their first books-as-app, 'The Gift', and all the various elements, from musical scores to non-essential-but-fun little diversions in the text, that were brought together in the final work.

Check it out here for some inspiration: http://teacherturnedwriter.gillrobins.com/?page_id=108

For Reading and Learning, Kids Prefer E-Books to Print Books (via @digibookworld)

Well! But what about the smell, you say? Of the books, I mean, not the kids.

A new “QuickStudy” – so named for its short duration and the small size of its sample group – from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center observed 24 families with children ranging in age from three-to-six reading both print and e-books in the Summer and Fall of 2011. Most of the children in the study preferred reading an e-book to a print book and comprehension between the two formats were the same.

Now bear in mind this is exactly what it says on the tin: a quick study, mostly useful for identifying if there an interesting result that might warrant further investigation. Also, interestingly:

Enhanced e-books – those that have more bells and whistles than e-books, like interactive features and games – were also compared in the study with their regular e-book counterparts. Children recalled fewer of the details of the content of enhanced e-books versus the same e-book.

“Kids were more focused on tapping things and that took away from their comprehension as well as the interaction between the parent and the child,” said Shuler.

There have been few studies on the impact on children of this sweeping new way of accessing content, so hopefully this study will spur further research. For writers and publishers, having more of an understanding of how kids respond to digital content will help structure new e-books (both fiction and non-fiction).

The original article is here for further reading: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2012/for-reading-and-learning-kids-prefer-e-books-to-print-books/

Discussion on Ebook pricing using the Starbucks pricing model (via @sydneywriters)

The Sydney Writers centre reposted a great article by Elle Lothlorien about how she adjusted her ebooks prices upwards and increased sales. She postulates that a few different reasons account for the behaviour, and compares this to expensive coffee at Starbucks. There are a couple of insights into reader approaches to pricing. Having started at $2.99 she says:

The first revelation took place at the beginning of October. While skimming various Kindle reader forums, I ran across a thread on the topic of pricing. One reader wrote that she never bought a book that was $2.99 or less because it was sure to be self-published “indie crap” riddled with typos.

This reader perception doesn't even have to be true; the simple fact that it exists needs to be taken into account.

Consider this: In mid-October I raised the price of The Frog Prince to $3.99. I immediately saw a jump in sales. And when I say immediate, I mean overnight. Within a few days the book had leap-frogged for the first time onto two Amazon Top 100 lists.

The article is fascinating and pretty detailed. But if you are feeling a glimmer of excitement, read what happened next:

At the beginning of November, I raised the price to $4.99. In November I sold 224 copies. I raised it again to $5.99 at the beginning of December, and that’s when the whole thing began to pick up steam.

Even more excitement! If you're interested in managing pricing on your self-published books you could do worse than read it: http://www.writingbar.com/2011/12/interviews-with-writers/one-author-shares-what-she-learned-from-starbucks-pick-an-ebook-higher-price-and-turbocharge-her-sales/

The Opportunity in Abundance - a talk by Brian O'Leiry

Brian O'Leiry recently gave this presentation at the "Books in Browsers" conference.

I'm hardly the first person to think or talk about the implications of content abundance.  Michael Hart, the founder of Project Gutenberg who passed away in September, thought that portable petabyte storage capable of holding a billion ebooks would be readily accessible to a middle-class reader by 2021.

He talks about the challenges inherent in this world of abundance of media, and halfway through the talk digs deeper into the four things he says need to be done in order to reinvent publishing (I'll preview the first one):

First, we need a goal.  “Survival” is really not adequate.  It doesn’t motivate or sustain, and it presumes a zero-sum game (or worse).  I’d like to put a not-so-radical idea on the table: abundance, digital formats, Amazon and Apple all challenge prevailing business models, but the super-threat is people not engaging in immersive reading and text-based study, the precursors to critical thinking.

If that sounds like something of interest to you, check out the entire piece here: http://www.magellanmediapartners.com/index.php/mmcp/article/the_opportunity_in_abundance/

Don't Write off Physical Sales Too Early (via @thebookseller)

The Bookseller writes on how the publishing industry should avoid the mistakes of the record industry:

Publishers should not be too quick to write off physical products and should encourage competition between a number of digital players to avoid the mistakes the record industry made, the director general of the Entertainment Retailers Association has said.

This is a good point, actually. The publishing industry's move to digital has jumped into the same problems that crippled the advance of digital music ten years ago. Did I mention TEN YEARS AGO? Amazingly, most haven't learned from that lesson: ebooks have DRM, ridiculous regional constraints, excessive prices - all the artifacts of moving from a physical distribution process and trying to cram the digital versions of their entertainment product into boxes analogous to the physical versions.

Kim Bayley gave a presentation to more than 100 indies at the Booksellers Association’s Independent Booksellers Forum conference in Coventry on Monday (26th September) and discussed the Record Store Day initiative. Record companies provide independent stores with exclusive products, mostly vinyl albums and singles, created especially for the day. It is now in its third year, and 180 stores took part in 2011.

This is a great idea (for bookshops and publishers) and another interesting way to provide collectibles. Because, after all, the only physical books we'll be buying in the future are the good quality ones, or the ones that offer us something special, like a signature or limited edition cover.

Read the entire article here: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/dont-write-physical-too-early-trade-warned.html