- The Morning Coffee – 20 May 2014
- New Authors Group Hasn’t Even Launched and It’s Already the Victim of FUD
- National Journal Shuts Down Their Public Comment Section
- Smashwords Adds Txtr to its Distribution Network
- Amazon is Giving Away an $8 PDF App Today
- New Author Earnings Report Shows Growing Revenues for Authors
- A Different Take on That Amazon Studio Arrangement Patent
- gReader v3.7.0 Adds New Themes, Features, and More
Posted: 19 May 2014 09:30 PM PDT
Top stories this morning include a satirical take on, well, you just have to read it (link), how censorship killed the early golden age of comics (link), more problems with speed reading apps (link), translation issues at AmazonCrossing (link), and more.
Posted: 19 May 2014 08:13 PM PDT
Have you heard about the Authors Alliance? It’s a new forward-looking authors trade group which first broke cover last week in Publishers Weekly, and even though it won’t formally launch until later this week it is already the subject of strife.
PW interviewed one of the founder of the Authors Alliance. I think that article is worth your time to read, but for the purposes of this post I am going to skip to the juicy catfighting which has already broken out.
One The Authors Guild board member took to The AG’s blog last Friday to post a “warning” about this new group. It start out with this:
And it goes downhill from there.
At a time when The Authors Guild should be building bridges, trying to bolster their ranks, and making peace, they have instead chosen to take an inflammatory and divisive position that is guaranteed to alienate many people like myself who weren’t happy about The Authors Guild’s positions in the first place.
I had suspected that The Authors Guild would not react well if they ever faced direct competition as spokesgroup for book writers, but I didn’t think they would descend into FUD quite so quickly.
If you think I’m wrong to call it FUD, feel free to call me out in the comments.
But after having read that post 3 times today and after looking up the founders of the Authors Alliance, I can’t help but conclude that the post is slanted and conveys dubious, inaccurate, and misleading information about the Authors Alliance.
I can’t think of a better word to describe that post on The Authors Guild blog than FUD. Can you?
image by Jason Hargrove
The post New Authors Group Hasn’t Even Launched and It’s Already the Victim of FUD appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 19 May 2014 04:28 PM PDT
Citing comments which “debased” and “cheapened” the discussion, the political news magazine National Journal announced today that they were shutting down the public comment section for the indefinite future:
By only allowing members to leave a comment, the NJ is in effect pursuing a “real name” policy similar to that of Facebook. Given that this site covers an inherently divisive topic, I’m not sure that’s going to help. (It also doesn’t help that the sign up process appears to be broken). But this will tend to discourage the more casual troll, so it is better than nothing.
News sites have tried various solutions to the comment troll problem, including signing up for comment management services like Disquis, turning to Facebook comments, or shutting down the comment section entirely.
Just last month the Chicago Sun-Times turned off their comments section. Pointing out that “a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader’s perception of a story”, Popular Science did the same in September 2013.
And then there are sites which sidestepped the problem entirely. Quartz, for example, enabled readers to leave inline annotations rather than comments, and Vox, a news "explainer" site, launched last month with no comment section at all.
Perhaps the most famous attempt at curbing online trolls was in South Korea, which started requiring commenters to use their real name in 2007. This was scrapped in 2011 because it was deemed largely ineffective at curbing trolls.
At this point there doesn’t seem to be a one size fits all solution, and the effort to encourage civil online discourse continues.
image by Genista
The post National Journal Shuts Down Their Public Comment Section appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 19 May 2014 01:53 PM PDT
Smashwords announced on Monday that they had signed a new distribution agreement with txtr, the Berlin-based ebook company. Authors and publishers who distribute their ebooks via Smashwords can now elect to also sell their titles via txtr and the ebookstores it operates.
Smashwords currently distributes 290,000 titles to over a dozen ebook retailers and service providers. Its distribution network includes ebook subscription companies Scribd and Oyster, ebook retailers like iBooks, Flipkart, and Kobo, and even one library ebook provider (Axis 360).
Txtr orignially launched in 2008 with the goal of launching an ereader, but today they are what is technically known as a whitelabel ebookstore operator. They developed a platform to run an ebookstore (including ebook apps), and then licensed that platform to other companies.
In addition to running their own ebookstores in a dozen markets around the world, txtr also powers the ebookstore run by the UK-based retailer Foyle, and they have partnered with Duetsche Telecom in a couple markets in Eastern Europe. Txtr’s highest profile partner used to be Sony; before Sony shut down the Reader Store a few weeks ago txtr supplied Sony’s ebookstores in Germany and the UK, and probably other markets.
Txtr will sell Smashwords titles at the price set by the author or publisher (no discounting), or at the local currency equivalent, and authors will earn 60% of the list price (minus VAT and taxes). The first Smashwords titles will begin appearing for sale at txtr on Friday.
Posted: 19 May 2014 10:55 AM PDT
For example, today’s free app in the Amazon Appstore is PDF Max. It usually costs $7.99, but today Amazon is giving it away for free. PDF Max supports annotations, filling out forms, text reflow, and text to speech. It features Dropbox integration, and it also enables users to edit, delete, or insert pages into existing PDFs.
Posted: 19 May 2014 10:10 AM PDT
The new report takes a one-day snapshot of the Kindle Store’s best seller lists and computes the relative number of indie, self-published, and traditionally published titles, the relative earnings for each type of author, and so on. That’s pretty much what the first report did, only with fewer titles (~50,000). This new report pulled data for 85,000 titles from the Kindle Store’s best seller list, and it confirms what Howey told us back in February.
Self-published authors make up 38% of the titles on lists (this number includes the uncategorized single author publishers), with medium and indie publishers (43%) and the Big 5 (18%) making up most of the rest. The last 1% is Amazon.
Self-published authors make up a slightly larger share in the new report (+2%), and the Big 5 make up a smaller share (-2%.) It’s not clear whether the self-published are making gains or that more of the bottom of the best seller list is taken up by self-published titles.
Part of the reason I am expressing doubt is that the unit sales report is virtually the same as the one from February. Self-published authors sold an estimated 36% of copies of books which made the list ( this again includes the uncategorized single author publishers as self-published).
The only difference with the earlier report on unit sales is that small and medium publishers picked up a +4% sales volume at the expense of the Big 5 and Amazon.
The report goes on to detail the gross revenue estimates (the Big 5 earn most of the money, of course) and an estimate of daily revenues to authors. You can find that information over at the Author Earnings website.
Hugh says in the report that they plan to continue to run new reports each quarter. As they get more data they hope to start seeing trends in how the market is shifting.
Do you know what I would like to see?
I think it would be useful to run a similar report on Amazon’s print book sale,. That way we would know if self-published authors are having similar success in print.
It’s a lot harder to do a POD self-pub title than to put out an ebook, so there’s a chance that self-published authors will have less of a presence in that area. Unfortunately, we won’t know until someone goes and checks. Any volunteers?
The post New Author Earnings Report Shows Growing Revenues for Authors appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 19 May 2014 06:46 AM PDT
When word got around a couple weeks ago that Amazon had received a patent for an obvious photography studio trick, many bloggers had fun heckling Amazon (for filing) and the US Patent Office (for awarding) a patent which documented a trick that photographers had been using for decades.
Amazon’s patent covers a process for taking a photo against a white background with the goal of reducing the number of shadows and other blemishes in the resulting image. This is an old photographer’s trick which is so well established, as some have pointed out, that you can find how to guides and demo videos online which explain the steps involved.
So this patent is clearly a strong argument for patent reform, right? Amazon has patented the digital photography equivalent of sliced bread, right?
Rebecca Allen, posting over on her blog, writes about her take on the patent. She read it and concluded that it is something new:
One could argue that a common trick like this is too obvious to deserve a patent, but I think that misses the point. This is a trick which photographers are trying to perfect, and one which everyone shares tips online. If this were obvious then there would be no need to share tips online.
In short, Amazon has a patent on perfecting a trick that photographers have struggled with for decades. Amazon might not be the first to get it right but they are the first to document their success.
And for that, they got a patent.
The post A Different Take on That Amazon Studio Arrangement Patent appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 19 May 2014 05:03 AM PDT
gReader got a major update over the weekend which added many new features and improvements, including an option to export the list of feeds you follow, new blue and green color themes, as well as improvements to a number of existing features.
The post gReader v3.7.0 Adds New Themes, Features, and More appeared first on The Digital Reader.
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