This week's Top 10 ebook articles for authors includes several perspectives on how ebooks are changing the face of publishing, which is evident in Indie author John Locke's new distribution deal, and in We Grow Media's interview with author Bob Mayer. Also included are eBooks with synchronized soundtracks, NASA's foray into science fiction ebook writing, and focusing on the relationship that goes beyond any discussion of print versus digital, the relationship between writer and reader.
As usual, these articles are culled from my daily paper, Join The eBook Revolution, as well as from top media websites, my favorite writing blogs, and whatever pages my web surfing muse leads me to. If, in my insatiable quest for eBook info, I stumble across an article or two that look helpful but are older than "this week," I'll include them, here, as well.
1. A Revolution for Readers (This is a fabulous article!!!)
IndieReader.com, David Gaughran
E-books have been around for decades, but only become easy to disseminate with the widespread availability of the Internet in the 1990s. However, another development was required to unlock their potential: a killer device, the Kindle. Once Amazon opened up their digital self-publishing platform, all the pieces were in place for writers to strike out on their own. But what has this meant for readers?
Most of the chatter in the publishing world centers on what all these changes mean for literary agents, publishers, booksellers, and writers. Each new set of statistics is debated, often quite passionately, as everyone tries to figure out where the e-book juggernaut is headed.
A lot of people seem to forget that there are only two essential components of the equation: writers and readers. Without readers, we couldn’t make a living. And without writers, they would have no books. Everything else is just window dressing. (...read more)
I thought this topic was so important that I created a separate blog post about it earlier this week. To get a sense of what this deal means from a larger publishing perspective, I highlighted several articles, including one by J.A. Konrath, that not only look at Locke's new deal, but at recent publishing trends, unconventional book deals for Indie authors, and new publishing pathways being carved out by traditionally published authors. (...read more)
3. Are books dead, and can authors survive?
A popular catchphrase among agents, when discussing authors advances, is "10K is the new 50K."
First of all I'd like to clear up the question: "The end of Books?" This is misleading as it seems purely technical – a question of the paper mill versus the hard drive. Of course the paper book will survive, you may say; it will reinvent itself as it did before. Haven't future projections been wrong in the past? Didn't they say Penguin paperbacks would destroy the print industry in 1939? That the printing press would overthrow Catholicism after 1440? That home videos would destroy cinema?
On the paper front, depending on whom you listen to, statistics vary wildy. Barnes and Noble claims it now sells three times as many digital books as all formats of physical books combined. Amazon claims it has crossed the tipping point and sells 242 ebooks for every 100 hardbacks, while Richard Sarnoff, CEO of Bertelsmann, admits that the future of the paper book is tied to the consumption habits of a generation: the baby boomers. Generation Y-ers (the children of the boomers) already consume 78% of their news digitally, for free, and books will follow suit. Interpreting Sarnoff's calculations, the paper book has a generation left. (...read more)
4. Bob Mayer Interview – Selling 80,000 eBooks in One Month
Well, this isn’t exactly an article…
- Bob Mayer’s 20 years’ experience in traditional publishing, and why he is putting so many resources into ebooks.
- In January of this year, Mayer sold 347 ebooks total (with 8 books for sale), grossing $5,000 across all platforms. In July, he sold more than 80,000 ebooks (with 32 books for sale), and had $90,000 in profit.
- The importance of pricing: why only two of his books are priced at 99 cents, and the rest at higher prices. Nothing is above $4.99.
- That every author needs to be an entrepreneur, spending at least 50% of their time on the business end of things. (…see the video)
5. Do Agents Publishing E-books Have a Conflict of Interest?
Last year, when Andrew Wiley announced he would release 20 titles as e-books exclusively through Amazon, under the imprint Odyssey Editions, it sent publishers into a tizzy as they saw themselves being bypassed by the agent. This year several agents have followed suit, venturing into publishing e-books on their clients behalf. (...read more)
6. Booktrack Thinks E-Books Need Sound Effects and Soundtracks
Have you ever wanted to listen along to the music of Beethoven as you finger-swipe through the pages of A Clockwork Orange on your iPad, or "enjoy" the novel's grisly action as audio sound effects? New York startup Booktrack is gunning for exactly this by adding musical scores and ambient noises to e-books.
Booktrack, which is partially funded by PayPal founder Peter Thiel of utopian island fame, adds synchronized soundtracks to ordinary e-books to "dramatically boost the reader's imagination and engagement," according to the Web site. Readers personalize their reading speeds on their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch (and later, the Android-powered Samsung Galaxy Tab), and -- at least theoretically -- Booktrack's soundtrack keeps pace with story progression, adding ambient music and sound effects such as footsteps and ominously creaking doors. (…read more)
7. Amazon Publishing Leaps Forward; HarperCollins Smells a Monopoly
For Amazon, a publishing program is the next logical step in its long-term business strategy. For the rest of the book industry, it’s cause for a bad case of nerves. Amazon’s announcement this past week that it would be publishing its first major title—The 4-Hour Chef, by self-help maven Tim Ferriss—had the chief executive of HarperCollins UK worrying aloud in the New York Times: “[Amazon is] very, very powerful now, and in fact they are getting close to being in a monopolistic situation.”
If Amazon were to gain a stranglehold over bookselling and publishing, jobs and avenues to publication would decrease further, and competition for both would become even more cutthroat than it already is. The result would be tremendous ill will from the literary community, especially if the company engaged in monopolistic practices: chiseling authors on advances and royalties, gouging consumers on prices, and so on.
Again, though, this is all a doomsday scenario. (...read more)
As the growing eBook market for fiction overtakes the print sector, traditionally-published and self-published authors face a new marketing issue: reputation.
Not just a specific book's reputation, which historically was set by book reviewers, readers and librarians, but also the author's individual reputation. From authors who go on the attack to dispute negative reviews to a single, wildly-popular book reviewer's thrashing of a self-published novel that triggered readers to give it one-star reviews on Amazon while openly admitting they had not read the novel, all it takes is one bad comment to go viral and in an instant, years of work goes down the Internet rabbit hole. (...read more)
9. NASA to work on approved sci-fi books
NASA is working with a publisher to create a series of sci-fi books inspired by NASA's work. The US space agency has inked an agreement with Tor-Forge Books to work on "NASA Inspired Works of Fiction" that will contain stories relating to current and future missions and operations.
NASA's space shuttle program came to an end last month, removing a large part of the US manned space program. Though flights to the International Space Station will continue using Russian Soyuz ships, in the meantime surplus Earthbound 'nauts are helping put pen to paper - or fingerstroke to ebook, perhaps. (…read more)
10. Ladies love e-readers; guys prefer tablets
Is it too early to assign gender stereotypes to gadgets? New Nielsen data suggests that e-readers are more popular with women while guys prefer their tablets. Smartphones are now equally popular between the sexes.
Does this confirm that women like book reading more, as research suggests, or do they just prefer a lighter device or perhaps a simpler, single-purpose gadget? And do guys just want more horsepower and complexity, or do they prefer more games? (…read more)