Here are some key points of interest from the past month.
Amazon announces new SciFi and Horror Imprint - 47 North
Amazon has strengthened its continuing development as a traditional publisher with the roll out of 47 North, an imprint specialising in SciFi, Horror and Fantasy. The first releases, in paperback and on Kindle, include work by B V Larson, Dave Duncan, Stephen Leather, Arwen Elys Dayton, Evan Currie, William Rabkin and Aric Davis with further titles promised from Neal Stephenson and Greg Bear.
This brings to 6 the traditional imprints now spun out from amazon. The others are: Thomas and Mercer (Thrillers), Montlake Romance (Romance), Amazon Encore ('Exceptional Books'), Amazon Crossing (Translations), The Domino Project (Ideas) and can be linked to from here.
No wonder then that traditional publishers are looking very closely at developments.
Mark Coker – How ebook buyers discover books
This survey was carried out at Mobileread forum with the results published in Smashwords. There were over 200 responses. And although you might argue that the results could be skewed since those at Mobileread are likely to be internet savvy, what emerges is of great interest. Here's what the sample voted for:
Recommendations from fellow readers on online message forums, blogs and message boards, 29%
I look first for my favorite authors, 18%
I browse book covers, and if it grabs me I investigate further, 7%
I browse randomly then look at reviews, 7%
I read free ebooks, and if I like the authors I buy their other titles, 5%
I browse paper books at brick and mortar bookstores, then search for the ebook online, 4%
I'll sample anything, and if it grabs me I'll download/buy it, 4%.
Significantly, traditional print media reviews came in at only 3%, as did making choices from bestseller lists.
Thanks, Mark for making this information available.
There is no indication that author's blogs were a significant factor in motivating buyers.
And that comes up next.
Writers Blogs – Are They A Waste Of Time?
Blogs. We all have them. We spend good time when we could be writing keeping them up to date. But there's an increasingly strong case to say that they have little effect in selling books.
The debate was kicked of at The Writer's Guide To E-Publishing which said: "The writers with best-sellers on their hands obviously have something people want to buy. But the most successful writers are those that sell outside their personal blogosphere." And the article continues by questioning the accepted wisdom, now being used as selecton criteria by agents, that any writer worth their salt should have a blog and a following on Facebook and Twitter.
I responded by starting this thread at Goodreads and that's sparked some interesting further comment.
And speaking of Jeff Bezos......
Guardian Books announces the most powerful man in publishing
As Charlotte Higgins of the 'Guardian' newspaper announced:
'Seismic shifts in the publishing world, transforming the way we buy and read books, have propelled Amazon's chief executive Jeff Bezos into the number one slot of the Guardian and Observer's Books 100 Power List.
According to Lisa Allardice, the editor of Guardian Review, "Amazon has given readers a limitless choice of books in a way that no bookseller or publisher has ever done before. It has dealt the high-street bookshop a near-fatal battering, completely changing not only the way we buy books, but also the way we read them, as the huge success of the Kindle shows."'
But is there trouble in paradise.......?
'The Bookseller' on publisher reaction to amazon UK's proposed October sale
In an October 9th article, the 'Bookseller' stated:
'Amazon.co.uk has asked publishers for discounts of 90% on titles in order to participate in an October Kindle promotion. The campaign, due to run from 17th to 31st October inclusively, will also be featured on Amazon.de, the retailer's German website.'
and went on to report possible resistance from publishers to the idea.
The sale has so far failed to materialise.
The full article is here
amazon posts 73% fall in 3rd Quarter profits
The Bookseller reports: "In the three months to 30th September, net income fell from $231m (£144.4m) to $63m (£39.4m) year on year. Sales rose by 44% to $10.88bn (£6.8bn), in comparison to $7.56bn (£4.7bn) in 2010."
Investment in new Kindle and Fire devices is cited as an underlying cause.
Turnover also rose outside the US:
"In its international arm, including sites in the UK, Germany, Japan, France, China, Italy and Spain, the company reported sales were $4.94bn (£3.1bn), up 44% from third quarter 2010."
Amazon prepares to launch KF8
Interesting to see that amazon has announced the replacement for the MOBI format that Kindle books are currently fomatted in. Called Kindle Format 8 (or KF8), it introduces many more features that support graphics (of the kind you see in illustrated books or graphic novels). This becomes more meaningful with the Kindle Fire with its high resolution colour.
Does this mean that readers will expect more than the standard black and white Kindle offering? Or is the secret of the success of Kindle still in words on the page?
The graphics capability looks very good. And that opens up many possibilities.
The FAQ's section on the page answers a number of questions:
Q: Will KF8 capabilities be available on all Kindle devices?
A: Kindle Fire is the first Kindle device to support KF8 - in the coming months we will roll out KF8 to our latest generation Kindle e-ink devices as well as our free Kindle reading apps.
Q: Will my existing Mobi files still work on Kindle e-ink devices and apps?
A: Yes. All currently supported content will continue to work. Information on how to update your existing titles to take advantage of new capabilities in KF8 will be in the new Kindle Publishing Guidelines, available soon.
Q: Will my book be available on Kindle Fire?
A: All Kindle books currently available in the Kindle Store will be available on Kindle Fire. Information on how to update your existing titles to take advantage of new capabilities in KF8 will be in the new Kindle Publishing Guidelines, available soon.
Q: Will I have to provide two versions of my titles going forward?
A: No. The upcoming updates to our Kindle Publishing Tools will take care of this for you. KindleGen 2 will convert your content so that it works on all Kindle devices and apps. You will be able to preview how your title will look on the range of Kindle devices and apps using Kindle Previewer 2.
So far, so good. But it doesn't look as though KF8 will be supported on existing Kindle tablets.
Oh, and it was announced recently that internet access on 3G models will be restricted to the amazon store and wikipedia. That would seem to rule out the use of Kindle for books that interact with the web (unless the reader is using a tablet with paid for 3G access).
Once again, there are signs of trouble in paradise.......
B&N response to exclusive amazon deal on Kindle Fire content
CNET reports that the response of Barnes and Noble to the announcement by amazon of an exclusive deal to publish DC comics Marvel titles on Kindle Fire has been to remove the physical copies of these titles from its stores. A spokesman said: "We will not stock physical books in our stores if we are not offered the available digital format..... ( to have the physical book but not the e-book) would undermine our promise to Barnes & Noble customers to make available any book, anywhere, anytime."
Kobo announces new publishing service and links with W H Smith in the UK
Leading UK bookseller W H Smith is featuring the Kobo eReader in its stores in a new link up. Authors published on Smashwords should find their titles featured on Kobo, making Smashwords a more attractive place to publish.
Meanwhile, Kobo has announced a new publishing service for authors, believed to be based on editing and design assistance for self-publishers. It's set to start up in early 2012.
Writers in the news
Libby Fischer Hellmann
Author Libby Fischer Hellmann has published an interesting comparison of the merits of traditional and e-publishing To E or Not to E: An Update. In a wide ranging article she states, with respect to amazon:
"An author’s success on Amazon depends mostly on their algorithms, a secret formula that makes my books show up with other books as “If you have read X, you’ll like Y.” Being on the right list at the same time can produce a book that virtually sells itself — for months. Just ask Simon Wood, CJ Lyons, and J. Carson Black. But the opposite is true as well. I know. I’ve been in both places. I hear that Amazon is changing their algorithms so there will be a faster turn-over of authors. We shall see..... Still, the fact remains that Amazon accounts for over 90% of my sales."
Congratulations to Lia Fairchild who has just signed with Amazon Encore. Amazon announced this as follows:
'Lia Fairchild, author of 'In Search of Lucy', has just signed with AmazonEncore, an imprint of Amazon Publishing whose mission is to help unearth exceptional books and emerging authors for more readers to enjoy. While this is Fairchild’s first novel, 'In Search of Lucy' has been receiving rave reviews and has made regular appearances in various Amazon Top 100 bestseller lists. AmazonEncore will re-release 'In Search of Lucy' with a new cover and a creative marketing team that will introduce the book to a broader audience.'
Lia's thoughts on this are here.
Thanks to author Rebecca Forster for a very much appreciated 5-star review of my novel 'Take No More - the Murder Mystery Thriller'.
Here are some excerpts:
'It was a few pages before I realized what I was reading: a sort of modern noir. I walked in the hero's shoes, was privy to his thoughts and intruded on his emotions as he was drawn into the mystery of his wife's death. Kirby's spare yet rich prose, his perfect word choices, made this a work that appeared to be effortlessly constructed. That seamlessness is the hallmark of a gifted writer. Definitely recommended.'
You can read the full review here.
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