Monday, 22 September 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 23 September 2014

Posted: 22 Sep 2014 08:17 PM PDT

The Tuesday morning reading list leans to book blogging, with a dash of POD, Amazon, and book art mixed in.

  • An ingenious way to save the comments section (The Kernel)
  • Are Amazon exclusives the next big challenge for everybody else in publishing? (The Shatzkin Files)
  • Book Art Is Awesome: Grown Edition (BOOK RIOT)
  • Half a Dozen Regrettable Choices That Mark a Self-Published Book "Amateur" (Stephen Tiano)
  • It Isn’t (Always) Personal: a Bloggers Take on Not Accepting Self-Published Books (Kate Tilton)
  • It’s Not Just a Girls Club: The Boys of Book Blogging (I’m Lost in Books)
  • Why I Believe in the Future of Print-on-Demand Books (Publerati)

The post The Morning Coffee – 23 September 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Amazon to Launch New Crowd Source Platform, Now Recruiting KDP Authors

Posted: 22 Sep 2014 11:09 AM PDT

8579276979_e78536971b_b[1]Here’s a new publishing program from Amazon which is so new that it doesn’t yet have a launch day, URL, or even a name.

Late last week Amazon started sending out emails to KDP authors, informing them of a new program which Amazon plans to launch soon. According to the email, which was forwarded to me by author Angela Kulig and by Amazon’s pr dept, when the new program launches authors will be welcomed to submit their unpublished book to what I would describe as a crowd sourcing program. 

Details are still scarce, but the email did say that it will work like this:

  1. Authors will be asked to submit their complete, never-before-published book and cover.
  2. After a few days, we will post the first pages of each book on a new website for readers to preview and nominate their favorites.
  3. Books with the most nominations will be reviewed by our team for potential publication.

I’ve confirmed the new program with Amazon pr spokesperson Susan Stockman, who told me that this program will be neither KDP nor Amazon Publishing, but something new. Unfortunately the program is so new that she was unable to provide much additional information.

Edit: If you would like to sign up to be notified when this program launches, Amazon has started a mailing list.

She was, however, able to confirm the contract terms mentioned in the email. Note what it says about the print and digital rights:

  • Guaranteed advance & competitive royalties: You will receive a guaranteed $1,500 advance and 50% royalties on net eBook revenue.
  • Focused formats: We acquire worldwide publication rights for eBook and audio formats in all languages. You retain all other rights, including print.
  • 5-year renewable terms, $5,000 in royalties: If your book doesn’t earn $5,000 in royalties during your initial 5-year contract term, and any 5-year renewal term after that, you can choose to stop publishing with us.
  • Easy reversions: After two years, your rights in any format or language that remains unpublished, or all rights for any book that earns less than $500 in total royalties in the preceding 12-month period, can be reverted upon request – no questions asked.
  • Early downloads & reviews: One week prior to release date, everyone who nominated your book will receive a free, early copy to help build momentum and customer reviews.
  • Featured Amazon marketing: Your book will be enrolled into the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, Kindle Unlimited as well as be eligible for targeted email campaigns and promotions.

Amazon isn’t the first publisher to try crowd-sourcing (in fact, a couple have launched similar programs in the past couple years) but if and when this program launches they will certainly be the most visible.

What do you think of the program?

I’ll confess; as a non-author I am reserving my opinion in order to let the experts way in.

For example, glancing through the KDP discussion forum where I first found this story, I can see that a couple authors have already expressed interest in this program:

Most of us, however, are not selling as well as we would like. For example, in a good month I may move fifty books, more during promotions. My titles have good editorial and customer reviews (and NOT by friends and relatives, either), and I’d like to think they are worth reading. I know one can’t put much stock in opinions of people one knows, but when people I haven’t seen in years have gotten in touch to tell me how much they enjoyed one of the books, I have to think that means something. All of that said, the books haven’t exactly caught fire. I could just be deceiving myself, but I’ve always felt being able to market to just the right audience could cause them to catch fire. For me, this kind of offer sounds tempting because of Amazon’s ability to market effectively on their own site. Anyway, the relative ease with which the rights revert to me if I don’t get the results I expect would reduce any risk involved.


I’d be all over it with a stand-alone just to generate more name exposure, which could lead to sales of my other books.

What do you think?

image by tompagenet

The post Amazon to Launch New Crowd Source Platform, Now Recruiting KDP Authors appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Niche Blog Platform Svbtle Goes Paid, Adds $6 a Month Fee

Posted: 22 Sep 2014 10:10 AM PDT

42e89e02ef6e7a798d74e8bdf7ed4364[1]When the alternative blog platform Svbtle launched in 2011, it followed the big boys (WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger) and offered a free service.  Svbtle was invite only back then, but even after it opened up to the public earlier this year the service was still free.

That changed today. TNW reports that Svbtle is now charging bloggers $6 a month for the service. Existing users can still post for free, but any new users will have to pay.

In exchange for the monthly fee, the new users will have the option of setting a custom domain, and they’ll also have access to at least a few features which existing paid users don’t have, including email subscriptions.

I haven’t used Svbtle myself, but I have been following it distantly. According to its creator, Svbtle was launched in response to existing platforms which “become too complicated by focusing on the wrong things”. Svbtle was developed with the goal of focusing on what was really important:

Svbtle is designed to highlight the things that matter; it's an extremely simple platform for collecting and developing ideas, sharing them with the world, and reading them. That's it. We've focused all of our energy into designing the simplest interface possible for accomplishing these goals. Svbtle is blogging with everything else stripped away.

I’ve never used Svbtle, but he could well be right. One thing I’ve noticed after using WordPress for nearly 5 years is that it’s really not all that useful at developing a blog post. The interface is too complicated, too complex, and too busy for that, and as a result most of my posts come from ideas, concepts, and thoughts tesseracting around inside my own head (as opposed to typing them and letting them go from mind to screen to mind again).

I have only found WordPress useful at getting an idea down, not developing it, so I can see the appeal of a platform like Svbtle.


I don’t cover this enough on this blog, but over the past few years we’ve seen multiple new niche blog platforms launch, almost as if we were in the beginnings of a renaissance (or bubble, of you prefer the pessimistic view). In addition to Svbtle, there’s also Medium (which is both a publisher and a platform), PostHaven, Ghost, and a bunch more which I am only just learning about today.

Have you used one of these platforms? I’d love to read what you think.


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Amazon Hit with Lawsuit, Strikes in Germany

Posted: 22 Sep 2014 10:08 AM PDT

2990948221_8f3e973a8b[1]Given Amazon’s experiences in Germany over the past week I’m sure someone there is thinking about that old adage: when it rains, it pours.

The WSJ reported this morning that workers at five of Amazon’s nine warehouses based in Germany have gone on strike:

The dispute centers around a wage deal for Amazon’s workers in Germany. The labor union wants Amazon to offer its workers in Germany a collective wage agreement in line with compensation in the German retail and logistics sector, rather than using its own pay policies. Verdi accused Amazon of paying employees several hundreds of euros less a month than they are entitled to earn, based on the current German retail wage agreement.

In Graben, Bavaria, Amazon has recently offered pay increases of between 2.1% and 3%, the labor union said.

9679140599_cd0a66b115_z[1]How this will affect Amazon’s warehouses outside of Germany, many of which support the same markets as the striking warehouses, is not clear.

The strikes were led by Verdi. Amazon has been fighting with this union, which has been working for years to unionize Amazon’s warehouses and raise the workers’ pay. Amazon has so far managed to resist  Verdi, but the retailer is not having nearly as much luck in their legal battles.

Showing that there is no love lost between German book industry trade groups and Amazon, Buch reported last week that Börsenverein is suing Amazon over a violation of Germany’s fixed price book laws. According to my source, Börsenverein is suing over a single isolated incident of Amazon price-matching a new book to replace a used book which a marketplace seller was either unwilling or unable to sell. (Yes, it does sound that petty to me, too.)

As you might recall, Börsenverein is also the group that filed an anti-trust complaint against Amazon, alleging that Amazon had a monopoly on the German ebook market. That maneuver fell apart, but it’s not clear whether this lawsuit will as well.

In any case, Amazon is proving to be as much of a lightning rod in Germany as they are in the US, and in Japan.

images by 5mal5Max Braun

The post Amazon Hit with Lawsuit, Strikes in Germany appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Shunned by Publishers, One UK Librarian Proposes an Alliance with Amazon

Posted: 22 Sep 2014 06:34 AM PDT

4377283450_6b89af0bed_z[1]Eeee-vil Amazon might just have a new friend in Great Britain. There’s a new blog post up this morning on the site of Cilip, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.

Inspired in part by the launch of Kindle Unlimited last month, the blog post notes that libraries in the UK face a couple serious hurdles that Amazon might help solve:

The first is that you can't read library e-books on a Kindle. Amazon doesn't release sales figures, but Ofcom reports that nearly a quarter of all households own an internet–enabled e-reader. It's quite clear – from talking to our customers – that the vast majority of these are Kindles.

Our second problem is that 80% of bestseller ebooks are unavailable to UK public libraries. In the US all of the Big Five publishers "sell" to library suppliers; here in the UK, three release a small number of titles. We're pinning our hopes to the "Sieghart" pilots in four library authorities, in which all five are participating and which are taking place as I write.

Neither problem is directly the fault of Amazon (although you could them for not expanding their partnership with OverDrive outside the US in the 4 years since it launched), but the post isn’t wrong in suggesting that Amazon might help solve the problems.

Amazon is widely believed to dominate the ebook market in the UK (for example, Amazon accounts for 78% of Hachette UK’s ebook sales), and with that market under their thumb it would make sense to develop new markets – like library ebooks, for example.  This would both boost Amazon’s digital revenues and give Amazon more opportunities to recruit new customers and boost their overall revenues in the UK.

There are technical and legal issues which might preclude such a partnership, but it’s not a bad idea.

I can see how both sides could benefit, but on the other hand I can also see how libraries could end up getting hurt. As you might recall the launch of Kindle Unlimited  inspired several willfully uninformed pundits to proclaim that it had made libraries redundant. These folks were either unaware or indifferent to the reality of the many services  offered by libraries which KU can’t replace, and I would expect that a close partnership between UK libraries and Amazon would lead some to ask why libraries were receiving public funds if Amazon was doing all the work. (Yes, I know that sounds stupid but so were the suggestions that Kindle Unlimited could replace libraries.)

What do you think?

image  by David Avoura King

The post Shunned by Publishers, One UK Librarian Proposes an Alliance with Amazon appeared first on The Digital Reader.

The Summharry: All of Harry Potter, in a Single Comic

Posted: 22 Sep 2014 05:39 AM PDT

Looking for a reason to read through all 7 massive Harry Potter novels again? Then you might be interested in the following comic slash infographic.

Artist Lucy Knisley has distilled the entire Harry Potter epic,from staircase to that final scene on the train platform, into a single illustration. Be prepared to lose at least a few minutes this morning as you read it; it is that detailed.


via Electric Literature

The post The Summharry: All of Harry Potter, in a Single Comic appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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