Harry Potter News!

I just read something I think some of you might be interested in. It has to do with the boy who lived. Can you guess it? New book? New movie? New…anything?

All wrong. The series is finally available to purchase from the Kindle Store. It’s long been available to read on Kindle via Kindle Unlimited, but now the books are available to buy, mostly because more money will be earned from the sale of the books than was earned from the borrowing of them through Amazon’s book subscription service.

The books are each priced at $8.99, which looks to be right in the middle of popular YA series on Kindle. Some are as low as $2.99. Others are $10.99.

How many of you are interested in owning the series on Kindle? I’m not because I already have it in print, and I paid much less than $9 a book for two paperbacks and five hardcovers.

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Oyster Has Shut Down

You know what Kindle Unlimited is, right? And maybe even Scribd? They’re book subscription services. They’re really the only players in the business at the moment. And I imagine it staying that way for some time.

Oyster was the third player, and now they’re no more. Which isn’t surprising when you really think about it. Are people really clamoring to read the books available in these subscription services? I don’t think so. And the Big 5 contracts they did have only allowed for them to list older titles. Quite frankly, I think the idea of a book subscription service is pretty dumb. I’m not into reading current titles, but I know SO many people are. They want to read books released in the last year or two. Not something from 1997. Once they couldn’t get significant deals with the major publishers, they should have realized what would ultimately happen. How many people does it take to see that Oyster was doomed from the start? I don’t have an answer.

There is a positive. The founders are headed to Google. So there’s that.

What do you think of Oyster shutting down? I’ve expected it to happen since I first found out about them. The service just isn’t something I think people want.


On this day in 2014 I published Take Your Pick: Hardcovers v. Paperbacks.

 

Scribd’s Traditional Royalty System Proves Costly

Last week I wrote about how Amazon has changed the way royalties are paid out to authors when their books are borrowed from Kindle Unlimited or Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. They went from paying out a royalty when a reader read 10 percent of a particular book to paying out a royalty per page. I applauded the system because it’s more fair than the previous one. Now we’re given a prime example of what happens when you use a traditional royalty payment system for borrowed books.

Scribd does. They pay out a royalty for every book borrowed, regardless of how many pages are read. And it’s coming back to bite them in the you know what. They announced last week that they will be removing many romance and erotic titles basically because they can’t afford to keep paying the royalties. People are reading them too much and the $8.99 a month subscribers pay just isn’t going to cut it. So, titles are being removed from their catalog.

Now think about this. What if you subscribed to one of these services (Kindle Unlimited & Oyster being the other two) and your genre of preference is romance. And you’re reading along every month enjoying all these romance novels. And then the service decides to remove thousands of books that all happen to be in your favorite genre. Wouldn’t that be a little irritating? I think so. And it just goes to show that a traditional royalty system is not the answer to subscription based book services.

What do you think about Scribd having to remove romance titles because people are reading them too much?

Amazon Creates a Fair Royalty System, and Everyone Hates it

Last week Amazon did something drastic. They changed how authors are paid when Kindle books are borrowed. But let me give you a little more information before I get into the good stuff.

Are you familiar with the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL)? No? Okay. KOLL is set up for Prime members who also happen to own a Kindle device. These individuals are able to download one free eBook per month as part of their Prime subscription. Authors are compensated from a fund that Amazon sets up at the start of each month that is divided up among all downloads. Let’s just say that for a given month the royalty per download is $2. If your books are collectively downloaded 100 times, then you’ve made yourself $200. Got it? Okay.

Second, are you familiar with Kindle Unlimited? No? Okay. It’s Amazon’s eBook subscription service that allows for subscribers to download and read as many books as they want to for $9.99 a month. Keep in mind that not one Big 5 publisher has its titles enrolled in the program. Got it? Okay.

In the past, authors would receive their royalty when their book was downloaded as long as the reader read 10 percent of the book. This threshold applied to all books. It didn’t matter if it was a 50 page novella or a 1000 page brick. The reader had to read 10 percent or no royalty would be paid out. And what were people doing? They were publishing very short works and enlarging the print so that it would be incredibly easy to reach that 10 percent mark. They would get their royalty just the same as someone who published a novel worthy of Big 5 publication.

My book is 216 pages, right? Which is very short for a book. Does it seem fair that someone would need to read 22 pages of my book in order for me to get my royalty when there are works published that are even shorter in length than that? No. It wasn’t fair and Amazon knew it.

The entire system has been overhauled and now authors will be paid per page read. The 10 percent threshold has been eliminated. How is this new system unfair to anyone? How can people be writing article and blog post after blog post denouncing Amazon for this? THEY MADE IT MORE FAIR!

Just to give you an idea of the kind of people who have spoken out against the new system, one blogger who claimed to be an author and reader said that Amazon has invaded her privacy by tracking how much she reads of a given book. How the hell does she think those lists are compiled each year about the books being read on Kindle? Magic? I mean, get a fucking clue. Her Kindle is MADE by Amazon. Her Kindle is BOUGHT from Amazon. Her Kindle is REGISTERED ON AMAZON.

Remember guys, this new system applies only to books enrolled in KDP Select, which automatically enrolls them in Kindle Unlimited and KOLL. This does NOT apply to books purchased, only books borrowed. A book bought is a book bought, no matter if the reader reads the whole thing or two pages. And also don’t forget that no one says any book has to be in KDP Select at all.

You can read exactly how the system will work by clicking here. It goes into effect July 1.

I’m ready to open the floodgates. What do you think of Amazon abandoning the 10 percent threshold for a pay-per-page model for books borrowed?

 

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!

Amazon Launches Kindle Scout

kindlescout

Remember this post from a couple months ago? I talked about Swoon Reads, a publisher that put the power of publishing in your hands by allowing you to comment on and rate excerpts of books yet to  be published. Based on the feedback received, the company would then choose which titles to ultimately publish. Well Amazon has gotten in on the fun with Kindle Scout, which just launched last week.

The premise is essentially the same as the publisher I mentioned above and in my previous post. Authors submit a never before published manuscript. Readers can read an excerpt within 30 days. Readers can nominate up to three books during the 30 day period and change their nominations at any time. Then, once the period is up Amazon will tally the nominations and decide which title(s) to publish.

But Amazon has upped the stakes just a bit. First, if your book is chosen for publishing you’ll receive a $1500 advance. You might think that is quite small, but you’re not getting any advance by self-publishing and most traditional publishers offer debut authors little to no advance because you’re unlikely to make it back for them. So you get the nice little advance AND you get Amazon marketing. I think this may be the bigger deal of the two.  A quick example of an author who I think has seen major benefits of Amazon marketing is Marcus Sakey. His first few books were published by major publishers and all well received, but they all have less than 100 reviews on Amazon. Which isn’t many. His two most recent books have been published by Thomas and Mercer (an Amazon company) and they have 1492 and 435 reviews, respectfully. If a book has that many reviews, then it’s sold a few more.

Also, the author will receive 50 percent e-book royalties, which is right in the middle of traditional and self-publishing.

But Kindle Scout of course has its doubters. I’ve read people saying that the books will be low quality. That it’s dumb because Amazon ultimately makes the publishing decision rather than the readers. These arguments are hardly valid. Low quality books are published every year by traditional publishers. It’s not about quality, everyone knows it’s about what they think will sell more books. And second, every publisher decides which titles will or won’t be published. This isn’t new.

I think there are some people out there who will hate any program that Amazon comes up with just for the sake of doing so. CreateSpace. KDP. Kindle Unlimited. Kindle Scout. It doesn’t matter, they just dislike whatever Amazon comes up with because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do. Well I don’t. I think it would be fun to take part in something like this. And if you nominate a book that is ultimately chosen for publishing, then you get a free Kindle copy of the finished product. Kindle Scout adds books everyday in all genres.

What do you think? A $1500 advance and Amazon marketing if you write a book that readers on Kindle Scout like. I say sign me up.

You can watch a Kindle Scout video and take a look at some unpublished manuscripts here.

Kindle Unlimited Hmm…

screen-shot-2014-07-16-at-11-26-20-am

Another thing that I credit WordPress for bringing me into the loop about are the two Netflix for books type companies that have joined the e-book fun recently. Hopefully if you’re reading this you have some idea as to what I’m talking about. You don’t? Okay. The two companies I’m talking about are Scribd and Oyster. Like I said, Netflix for books is really all you need to know about them. But both companies are limited to a set number of devices. I think only iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook, and the various Apple and Android smartphones. You’ll notice no regular Kindle reading devices.

Before I continue, you all should be well aware by now that although I own a Kindle, I’ve never been a big user. I’ve read perhaps 20 books all the way through in the time I’ve had it (3+ years). I did read the last two THG books and also more recently The Fault in Our Stars. But those are the rare cases. I’m all for buying the paperback edition of my books so I can store them on my shelves right here next to me as I write this. I’ve read so much about people with too many books that they donate or give them away. I can tell you that I’ll never do this. Ever. So now you have an idea about how much I love my own books.

With all that being said, the announcement just this week that Amazon is in the testing phases of its own reading subscription service caught my attention. People say they have no money, but I really don’t. I work weekends and the little money I do make is gone rather quickly, but even I can afford $9.99 a month to read books. And I could still easily buy the books I really want because $9.99 is essentially the price of one book, so it’s not like price of the service would be astronomical.

I have to say it, Amazon first flipped the publishing industry on its head when it first released the Kindle just a few short years ago. And I think they’re about to do it again. Millions of readers read on their Kindle devices every single day. This service will be heaven on earth for all of those people. According to an article I read, Amazon doesn’t yet have any titles from any of the Big 5 publishers. Assuming this is eventually worked out (crossing my fingers) I’ll gladly fork over $9.99 a month for this service. Why now and not before with one of the other ones already available? Because who wants to read books on their phone? (I don’t have an iPad)

If Amazon is able to bring this service to market, I’ll definitely take part. Will you?

You can read a short article on the service here.