Thursday, 26 December 2013

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 27 December 2013

Posted: 26 Dec 2013 09:30 PM PST

Due to so many people taking this week off, I have a short list of posts for you today.

Top stories include a look at the increase in the number of kid’s books banned in the past year (link), Hugh Howey’s post on the 35% boogieman (link) and a response (link), a reminder that reading services like Bilbary, Readmill, Kindle, Kobo, and B&N are watching us (link), and more.

  • As New Services Track Habits, the E-Books Are Reading You (
  • Bookstore, Christmas Eve (Filling the Well)
  • Kids Right to Read Project: Book Challenges Increased in 2013 (Shelf Awareness)
  • Music publishers claim to own “Silent Night” & ripoff indie Youtube singer; ContentID helps them do it (Boing Boing)
  • The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling! (Hugh Howey)
  • The sky isn’t falling because we don’t live under a sky but an Amazon dome. (Rocket Bomber)

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Here’s Why Amazon Won’t be Cutting KDP Payment Rates to 35%

Posted: 26 Dec 2013 01:01 PM PST

There’s a 6540927485_b37108f20d[1]frightening what-if nightmare going around indie publishing circles this week. It’s scaring the children, giving many heart palpitations, but actually has very little chance of ever happening.

The “sky is falling” scenario originated over at KBoards, where one author wrote:

Once B&N fades to black, there is Apple and Kobo. But Amazon will likely have the vast majority of sales, and with it, market share.

I believe at that point, it will do something nobody wants to contemplate, but which makes perfect sense: It will double its bottom line revenues overnight from indie publishers.


Cut the royalty rate from 70% to 35% on all self-pubbed books. Presto. Double the net margin on the majority of their sales with the flick of a switch.

I first read that Thursday morning (6 days after it was written), and after thinking about it for a few hours I think I have figured out why it’s not going to happen any time soon.

My arguments reach an entirely different conclusion from Hugh Howey’s, who argued based on a publisher/retailer relationship, and that of the comment section at The Passive Voice, which pointed out that the move would embolden Amazon’s competing ebookstores.

All of this is true, but I have yet to read a rebuttal that looked at this scenario and considered the effect it would have on the whole of the publishing industry. Most seem to have considered the effect on retailers, or the effect on indie authors. Many of the conclusions reached about the possible outcomes and how Amazon would benefit are true, but only on a small scale.

When I played this scenario out on the scale of the entire publishing industry I quickly realized that the 35% scenario will very likely never happen.

To put it simply, the 70% option doesn’t just forestall competing ebookstores, it doesn’t just build up the number of indie authors, and it doesn’t just give Amazon a direct relationship with suppliers.

All of this is true, but the 70% payment option also acts to fragment the publishing industry. And that’s why it’s not going away in any drastic fashion.

In order to understand why the 70% option won’t be going away, let’s go back to when it began. Amazon launched the 70% payment option on 20 January 2010. This was about a week before the iPad was unveiled, which means that Amazon might have launched it as a response to the blackmail pressure exerted by the 5 publishers who conspired with Apple. I think that view is a tad Machiavellian, but let’s skip it and consider the effect.

The possibility of earning more money inspired new authors to jump in, and it inspired existing authors to ask for their rights back so they can take existing titles and go indie. This is a huge financial incentive to not deal with a legacy publisher or distributor but to instead go it alone.

And that’s not all.

I might have missed a comment here or there, but all of the comments I read on this scenario missed at least one important detail. This 70% payment option affects more than just indie authors; there are small and medium publishers of all stripes that deal directly with Amazon and reap the financial benefit of the 70% payment option.

Consider, for a moment, how the 35% scenario would affect the indie publishers. The drop in income would cause them to lay off staff, pass on contracts, and tighten their belts, but that’s not all.

The reduced income would also make the indie publishers more amenable the next time they got a buyout offer from one of the Big 5.  And do you know what? It would have the same affect on indie authors.

If an author is only earning 35% from a sale in the Kindle Store and S&S comes along and offers 20% of retail price (not as crazy as it sounds), a lot of authors are going to seriously consider taking S&S up on their offer.  It’s not that much less money, and if S&S really puts some marketing muscle behind a launch the author might even make more than they did as in indie.

That 70% payment option is Amazon’s carrot for keeping power from concentrating in the hands of a few major publishers. Take it away and the major publishers will have a much easier job at signing authors and acquiring smaller publishers.

Amazon might not have planned for the fragmentation effect, but I would bet that they are aware of what would happen if the 70% payment option went away. And that is why I seriously doubt that it will ever happen.

What do you think?

image by Foglienere

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eBook Royalty Calculator Tells You When You’ll Get Paid And How Much

Posted: 26 Dec 2013 08:58 AM PST

Indie authorsebook royalty calculator are used to making back of the envelope calculations on when and how much they’ll be paid, but thanks to a nifty new royalty calculator a lot of the guesswork is over.

Software engineer and author Deirdre Saoirse Moen has built a handy web-based royalty calculator that can tell you when each of the major ebook distributors and ebookstores will pay and how much they’ll pay based on the number of titles sold.

An author can select a retail price from $01 to $19.99, a sales quantity from1 to 10,000 copies, and then choose which of 7 ebookstores and distributors sold what percentage of the titles.

ebook royalty calculator

The bottom of the page shows how much each of the 7 sources will pay, and when you can expect that payment.

It doesn’t cover the compete market (Ingram, Createspace, and the specific Kindle Stores aren’t mentioned, for example), and it doesn’t take into account the delivery fee that Amazon charges or the intricacies of which Kindle Stores offer the 70% royalty option in which markets.

But in spite of the issues I think this tool is still a useful way to double check which ebookstore pays how much. I think it’s worth book marking and coming back to.

Have you tried it yet?

eBook Royalty Calcumatic


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Yotaphone Update Adds FBReader

Posted: 26 Dec 2013 07:17 AM PST

It looksYotaphone_8c_screen[1] like Yota Devices may have been under pressure to get the much-delayed Yotaphone out the door earlier this month, because they just rolled out an update for the brand new smartphone.

The dual-screen Yotaphone is still missing a few bells and whistles, but with the new update users can now read ebooks and other docs on both of this smartphone’s screens.

The Yotaphone now includes a custom version of FBReader, an open source ebook reader.  Readers can now view Epub, FB2, and many other files on the Yotaphone’s 4.3″ E-ink screen. Few specific details are available, but one thing I can add is that this is not the first time that FBReader has shown up on a dual-screen device.

Few might recall this, but FBReader was ported to the Spring Design Alex. That circa 2010 ereader didn’t have much success in the US, but after it was licensed to a Russian company it generated enough interest that it caught the eye of the developers of FBReader. They created a new version of FBReader which would work with both the 6″ E-ink screen and the 3.5″ LCD screen on the Alex, and they probably adapted the work put into that older app so a current version of the app could work on the Yotaphone.


The Yotaphone is equipped with 2 screens, a 4.3″ LCD with a capacitive touchscreen and a screen resolution of 1280 × 720. This device also has a secondary E-ink screen which also measures 4.3″ and sports a resolution of 640 × 360.

It runs Android 4.2.2 on a dual-core 1.7GHz “Krait” Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU with 32GB of storage, 2GB of RAM, and a pair of cameras (13MP w\Flash and 1MP). The Yotaphone has Wifi, BT, GPS, FM radio, a bevy of sensors, and support for LTE and GSM cell networks.

It retails for 499 euros, and is currently sold out. There’s no word yet on when new stock will be available, but I expect the Yotaphone to ship again before Onyx’s E-ink smartphone becomes widely available.



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Calibre Gains eBook Editor in New Update

Posted: 26 Dec 2013 06:05 AM PST

What calibre-logowith the news in September that the Sigil Epub editor might not be getting any major updates in the near future (or ever again, for that matter) I have been quietly looking for an alternative (free, preferably, and open source). Luckily for me, one fell in my lap this week.

Calibre, the leading ebook management/reading/library/conversion app, is now also an ebook editor. This new feature was added in a weekly update about 2 weeks ago, but it only came to my attention this week.

While calibre has long enabled users to edit a book’s cover image and metadata (title, author, etc), it wasn’t until recently that users had the option of editing the contents of the book itself. And as you can see in the screenshot below, calibre can now edit any DRM-free Epub or Kindle (AZW3) ebook:

calibre ebooke ditor 2

Users can edit the HTML source, delete and add files, swap out the cover image, and then run a check to see if any of the files in the ebook aren’t mentioned in the spine. It’s not yet possible to work with the fonts or draw a cover image, but users can edit the TOC as well as the manifest and other ancillary files found in an ebook.

I haven’t had a chance (or a need, for that matter) to use the editor myself, so I would love to read what you think about it. The editor is included in the latest update on the calibre website. After you install it, you can open the editor by right-clicking on a title and selecting the edit option.


Initially launched in October 2006 as libprs500, Calibre has become the leading open source ebook management tool – and more. This app, which reached 1.0 in August 2013, now supports 3.6 million users in 236 countries who use calibre to both convert ebooks to a wide variety of formats and transfer the ebooks to an unbelievable number of ereaders and ebooks. It now works with most Android tablets and smartphones, iOS devices, and more ereaders than you can even conceive of (seriously, there have been ereader which i first discovered when they were mentioned in the calibre changelog).

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