Is Amazon Good For Books?

Exactly one year ago today I wrote this post asking the exact same question. But if you happen to click the link you’ll find that there was no discussion at the time. One Like and no comments. Which is funny because the post I published just two days later currently has 109 Likes and 189 comments. Just how these things go sometimes. And honestly, I’ve wanted to revisit this particular topic for a long time now. Partly because last year’s post went unnoticed and because a lot has changed in the last 365 days.

Let me also say something very important. I know some of you will read this question as “Is Amazon good for publishing?” Don’t. I’m looking big picture here. Writers. Readers. Publishers. All of it.

First, I’d like for you to simply answer the question. A simple yes or no will suffice for now.

Got your answer? Great. Let me begin.

Now I’m going to list out all of the programs and things that Amazon has done related to books. If I feel a particular topic requires more information, then I’ll say what I want to say.

I’ll reveal my overall take at the end.

Amazon Kindle

The premier eReader. Period. I have the super old Kindle Keyboard and it works like new. The Kindle Paperwhite was a major step in the right direction and then it was followed by the Kindle Voyage. It’s hard to keep making these better, but they do.

And let’s not forget that the Kindle changed publishing and how books are accessed.

CreateSpace

Yes I used CreateSpace for my first book, but ask anyone and you’ll find that it is the most used and the easiest to use self publishing platform.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Want to publish your book on Kindle and see what happens? This is what you’ll likely use.

Kindle Unlimited

Amazon’s eBook subscription service. You’ve likely read somewhere about how it’s taking money out of authors’ pockets and how all these authors are having to go back to their day job. Come on. The titles in Kindle Unlimited are self published or Amazon Publishing titles. These aren’t your super authors. The authors in the program are probably not making seven figures from their book sales. So let’s give it a rest.

Kindle First

Gives you access to four titles a month before their release date for a discounted price on Kindle. Or free if you’re a Prime member.

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA)

The annual contest is no longer run, but it was the single most lucrative publishing contest in America during its time. The grand prize winner would receive a $50,000 publishing contract. And oh by the way, I’ve looked into some of the past winners and they’re very high in the Kindle store and have thousands of reviews.

Kindle Scout

This is why the ABNA is no longer conducted. It was replaced. Now Amazon has given the power to the readers. All an author has to do is enroll their unreleased book into the program and readers will be able to read a sample for a 30 day period and vote which books they believe should be published. If a book is chosen for publishing the author receives a $1,500 advance and a shortened timeline to publication.

Amazon Publishing

These are traditional publishers under the Amazon umbrella. Thomas & Mercer. AmazonCrossing. AmazonEncore. 47North. Montlake Romance. AmazonPublishing. Grand Harbor Press. Little A. Jet City Comics. Two Lions. Skyscape. Lake Union Publishing. StoryFront. Waterfall Press. Each imprint publishes different genres from the others.

Kindle Convert

You can convert your print books into Kindle books.

Audible

Audiobooks.

AbeBooks

The site on which you can find those rare books you can’t find elsewhere.

Goodreads

Bet you didn’t know Amazon owned this, did ya? Yep.

I think that’s it. I came up with this list off the top of my head, so feel free to tell me if I forgot anything. Now I think you’ve figured out which side of the fence I’m on. I’m Team Amazon. All the way. Let’s just go down the list real quick.

There’s nothing to be said about the Kindle. It’s great and continues to be great.

CreateSpace gives so many writers the opportunity to see their book in print. And who knows, there’s gotta be another Hugh Howey coming along. If you look at the other self-publishing platforms, there really is no match. Even if you think self-publishing as a whole is no good, it’s here to stay…might as well use the best platform.

KDP gives the writers who don’t care to see their book in print the opportunity to sell their book in the Kindle store, and they don’t even have to pay for anything if they’re comfortable with their cover and formatting.

Kindle Unlimited has the potential to be great, but not one of the Big Five has their titles included in the program. I’d say it’s just an eh for now.

Kindle First. I actually really like this. I’ve downloaded four new books for free in the last couple of weeks because I’m a Prime member. I’ll have more info once I read one of the books. But the idea is great and the books chosen for the program shoot to the top of the Kindle store immediately. People seem to like free and discounted books. Surprise, right?

ABNA was the most lucrative publishing contest during its run. Don’t tell me you have something negative to say, especially if you entered every year. And Kindle Scout is one of those programs that many writers dream of. Because let’s face it, there are A LOT of writers out there writing books who will never be published by a traditional publisher. I’m probably one of them. But you could have a blog or nice social media presence or some really cool friends and family members go and nominate your book for publishing. And guess what, there’s a chance that it actually gets published. The Amazon editors have the final say, but anyone who enters their book into this program has absolutely nothing to lose and the chance of a lifetime.

Amazon Publishing has a lot of imprints. For every kind of author. The downside of publishing with one of their imprints is that your books won’t be sold by Barnes and Noble or most other retailers. The plus side is your book will get a significant amount of Amazon marketing. I know because an author I really enjoy went from a Big Five publisher to an Amazon publisher and instead of having 50 reviews as he did on his previous books, he’s in the thousands. So he’s selling a lot of books.

Kindle Convert sucks and it’s stupid.

Audible. There are a few audiobook makers out there, and I haven’t listened to one in more than a decade. So eh.

AbeBooks is great. I once had a handful of books written by a favorite author of mine that I could not find anywhere. I even asked the author! He didn’t know. But then I was referred to AbeBooks and BAM I got my books.

Goodreads is actually Amazon’s second foray into the book social networking realm. Shelfari was their first, and if you’re still using that site….you’re behind the times. Way behind. And yes, I know Amazon didn’t create Goodreads. But they still own it so it belongs on the list.

All in all, if you look at what Amazon has done for readers, at the opportunities they provide authors, and at the newfound competition between traditional publishers that have had a stranglehold on the publishing industry for more than a century….I don’t see how one can conclude they’re bad for books. But I’m certain that this will be a mixed bag of responses.

Unleash your thoughts on the matter!

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You’d be Crazy to use Kindle Convert

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When I first found out about this new Amazon program it had me scratching my head. I was literally lying in bed scratching my head as I read a few articles about it. Kindle Convert does exactly what you might think after reading its name. It enables you to convert your physical books into Kindle eBooks. Guess how? By scanning them, page by page into the program.

I have to admit that I have no idea who at Amazon came up with this program. Or why it’s offered to the public at all. This is a joke. Seriously. Even if you have a typical 300 page book it’ll take hours to scan it. All for what? So you can read it on your Kindle? That is, if you somehow manage to do everything correctly in the process. I’ve known a few people to own both the Kindle and print version of books, but I’ve never really seen the point of that. I mean, if you REALLY have to be able to read a particular book at your every location, then take the damn thing with you. Or are you going to give me some excuse about it being too heavy or bulky?

I have no idea why Amazon would release Kindle Convert to the public, but suffice it to say that I have no interest whatsoever in downloading the software. You can view the Amazon product page here.

Ever Heard of Kindle First?

Amazon keeps rolling out the book-related programs. I think Kindle First was launched late last year, I think. Anyway, have you heard of it? I randomly received an email some time ago that told me a little about the program and I jotted down a few words on my list of topics to blog.

What happens is the Amazon editors pick four books each month to have in the program. The books become available a month before the public has access. Rather than pre-ordering and waiting for release day, the price of each Kindle book is $1.99 for non-Prime members. Prime members can read two of the four books for free. The books are from four different genres. Thriller. Romance. Mystery. Historical Fiction. I’m not sure if the genres change or not. But that’s it. The books count as purchases and remain in your Kindle library. Everyone is limited to two of the four books each month.

What do you think? Want to read some books that you probably haven’t heard of a month before they’re released? I’m a Prime member, so I just might download two of the January books to see if I can make using the program a regular thing.

One last note, all four January books are in the top 30 in the Kindle store. One of them has over a thousand reviews already and its release day is February 1. Hmm.

You can get more information about the program and the January titles here.

Do eBooks Count as Books you own?

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Photo Credit: The Next Web

I already know that I’m going to be the only one on this side of the fence, but that’s okay. Do eBooks count as books I own? Nope. I have an Excel Spreadsheet with only the number of books I own by individual authors and not one of them is from an eBook. I also have a Word document with all of my books listed in alphabetical order and not one of them is an eBook.

I honestly have no idea why I do this. I still count eBooks toward my reading goals and I time how long it takes to read them, but for whatever reason I’ve never included them in my lists of books I own. Perhaps it’s because I have right around 180 print books and maybe 20 eBooks? I don’t know. I really just think I’m crazy. Cause there’s no real reason not to count eBooks in my own little library of books.

I just realized something. I’ve had my Kindle almost FIVE years and I just counted the number of books on it. Guess how many. Quick. You don’t know? Okay. 15. That’s it! Suffice it to say that I’m not making the switch like some other readers are so eager to. Eh. Doesn’t really matter, right? Reading is reading. Except for Twitter. That’s not reading. That’s time wasting.

When you take a count of all of your books, do you count eBooks?

Will you Consider Downloading a Free Book?

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Photo Credit: GoodEReader

This question ultimately asks if you read self-published books, but not all self-published books are free at some point. In my experience I’ve found that people are typically “I read a lot of free books” or “I will not ever read a book if it’s free.” I’ve rarely found someone who sometimes reads free books and sometimes doesn’t. I’ll never sit here and say that one person’s reasoning for their decision is wrong while another person’s is right, so this is just me repeating what has been said about why people do or don’t download books that are free.

“If it’s free it must be bad”

This goes along with the stigma that still exists for self-publishing. Maybe self-published authors are making strides when it comes to their literary merit, but talk to someone who knows nothing about the publishing industry about your book. One of their first questions is sure to  be who published your book. I mean, there are MANY great books out their that have been self-published, but some readers will never find them because they don’t give them a chance. Like when they’re free.

“I have too many books I actually WANT to read”

There’s no doubt in my mind that when said in this context this statement is an excuse not to read a particular book or perhaps a book that is free. I understand that most avid readers have dozens and dozens of books they want to read, maybe hundreds cause some people are crazy, but the notion that reading one book that’s not necessarily on your never ending TBR list is going to mess with the alignment of the universe is simply absurd. After all, you have to keep adding new books to your TBR list if you intend to keep reading, right? Just say you don’t want to read the damn book and be done with it.

“I have too many books on my Kindle”

This is probably more valid than you might think. There are plenty of readers out there who navigate the Kindle free store on a daily basis just downloading books. This isn’t bad and I’m not going to knock anyone for it, but this really does create the dilemma of having too many books. I’m talking hundreds of unread books just collecting figurative dust in the depths of your Kindle. From what I’ve been told and understand, many of these readers just pick titles almost at random once downloaded because there’s no easy way to pick which book to read when you have hundreds at your fingertips.

I’m quite certain that I could continue the list here because the likelihood is that you’ve had some experience with this question. Maybe you’re a reader who never downloads free books. Or maybe you’re an author who has offered your book for free through KDP Select. Me? I’ve never actually downloaded a free book. And I have offered my book for free a couple of times. I think my best free promo garnered 6571 downloads in a couple of days, but obviously I don’t have a gazillion reviews of my book.

Do you download free books?

Print Books Here to Stay

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Photo Credit: Julie Griffin

Okay guys, anyone who reads about books or the publishing industry on any kind of regular basis has read at some point in the last couple of years about the demise of printed books. I know I have. I’ve always been the person to roll my eyes and acknowledge that those writing such pieces had no real information to back up their claims that printed books were a dying product.

I know what you’re thinking. What about Kindle? Or even iBooks or the Nook? Ebooks have certainly changed the publishing industry, there’s no doubt about that, but to say that ebooks have moved printed books toward the brink of extinction has never been close to reality. Obviously when something new comes along everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon. Ebooks saw triple digit rates of growth for years, until 2013 saw the rate slip into the single digits. With the first six months of 2014 showing evidence that the growth rates of ebooks may have leveled off with ebooks making up just 23 percent of the market, with hardcovers at 25 percent, and paperbacks at 42 percent. Look at that. People are buying those big, bulky, overly expensive hardcovers more than they are buying ebooks at the moment.

Ebooks aren’t going anywhere, but neither are printed books. So I kindly ask that you stop writing articles that are strictly your opinion with no basis in fact. Thanks.

You can read an article on the topic here.

Questions About Books and Reading

So I found a list of 55 questions related to books and reading on Tara Therese’s blog. I thought they were interesting enough to answer myself. BUT there’s a twist. If I wrote out answers to all 55 questions in a single post you all would not read all the way through. I know because I wouldn’t. Instead I’m going to answer 10 questions each day this week with the final 15 coming on Friday. This is a little different from what I normally post, but eh. Let’s go ahead and get started.

1. Favorite childhood book

I wasn’t a big reader as a child. So I’m going to have to to say Crispin: The Cross of Lead. This is the first real book I remember reading, though I have no idea when it was. 2003 maybe? No clue. You’ll notice that this is the book I mention in my ridiculously long bio on my About page.

2. What are you currently reading?

It’s actually a book written by a fellow blogger. But we have some stuff coming for that so I won’t say.

3. What book do you have on request at the library?

Unfortunately, none. I haven’t used the library much in recent years. Maybe I should. Well see.

4. Bad book habit

Bad book habit? I have no bad book habits. Unless you’re damaging your books by dog earing the pages or bending the covers all the way back, then I don’t see what habits there could be. I mean, not talking to a human being for 12 hours straight because you’ve been reading isn’t bad, right?

5. What do you currently have checked out from the library?

Well this is stupid. Nothing. If I actually used the library, then I’d most likely have something on request, right? Dumb question asker. (Who am I yelling at?)

6. Do you have an e-reader?

Of course. But don’t go punching me in the face. It was given to me as a gift by someone I no longer talk to. It’s a Kindle Keyboard. So it’s one of the first models, though I’ve never had any problems with it. I’ve read maybe 20 books on it in three years.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time or several at once?

I feel like I’ve written posts about all of these questions. One book for me. Everyone who reads several is a crazy person. Just kidding. Nope.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting your blog?

Well yes, but the blog has nothing to do with my reading. Last year I was finishing up my undergrad and then writing my first book. This year I’ve just been lazy.

9. Least favorite book you’ve read this year

Easy. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.Didn’t like it at all. Not going to explain further because I’ve already written about it.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year

Another easy one. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Best book I’ve ever read. If you haven’t read this for some reason, then you need to right now. Right now.

So there you have the first 10 questions and tomorrow shall bring 10 more. Any thoughts? Also, I just realized that she skips random numbers in her post, so I may have less than the 55 I’d said unless I start searching the internet for others who have answered the questions. We’ll see.