Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

07/12/2011

Tablet, E-Reader Addicts Also Want Print


Printed Books Still Desired

This is not surprising to me at all … I have posted many times RE the NON-demise of the printed word.

John’s Note: I tried to link to all past posts on ‘printed word’ or ‘print’ but WordPress is giving me trouble tonight! Just go to the “search this site button” at top of this page and enter ‘print’ for my past discussions. 

Oh, the printed word has definitely gone through changes … but, think about it … these changes were brought about by what? Why, the ‘printed’ word itself, of course … only in a different format (digital), that’s all.

A study on this very issue is presented in an article for FOLIO Magazine by Executive Editor Matt Kinsman:

Study Says Tablet, E-Reader Users Haven’t Given Up Print

Few magazine apps in the App Store don’t have at least one reviewer clamoring for a subscription package that bundles print and app, and now a new study from GfK MRI suggests that rather than abandoning old media, tablet and e-reader users might still be print’s best audience.

John’s Note: By the way GfK means ‘Growth from Knowledge’ and MRI means ‘Mediamark Research and Intelligence’

According to the study, tablet owners are 66 percent more likely than the average U.S. adult to be heavy users of printed versions of magazines, while e-reader owners are 23 percent more likely to be heavy print users.

The study also says men are more likely to own tablets while women are more likely to own e-readers (although I still dig my Kindle and I’ll arm-wrestle anyone at GfK MRI or Yudu who makes fun of me).

Read and learn more

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04/24/2011

The Next Generation of Kindle Begins…Powered By You!


Direct Publishing to the Kindle Store

This is a cross-post from my other blog: Writers Welcome!…A John Austin Blog

How would you like to directly publish your works to the Amazon Kindle Store whenever the mood strikes? Eliminate any middleman immediately…

Pretty cool, right?

Well Amazon is introducing a ‘Direct Publishing’ model that will allow authors and publishers to independently publish their books in the Amazon.de Kindle Store that will be available in  Germany, Austria, the U.K., U.S. and over 100 countries!

Damn, they’re making publishing awfully easy! Now if they would only make the marketing just as easy…

Wonder how they will funnel the scripts into proper formats? That would be interesting to understand. I guess the only way to find out is to go ahead and direct publish something on Kindle using the new model, huh?

Anyway, these details are by Ray Willington from HotHardWare.com :

Amazon.de Allows Self-Publishing To Kindle E-Book Store

Read and learn more

Remember to get this blog right on your Kindle here

03/20/2010

Amazon Wrangles Publishers as iBookstore Grand Opening Looms

Filed under: Amazon,Apple,eBook costs,iBookstore,iPad,Kindle Reader,publishing — gator1965 @ 6:25 pm

With both Apple and Amazon pressuring publishers for deals on content for their digital devices, what will happen to consumer prices for digital books, magazines, games, etc?…Gee shitski, don’t you just LOVE the intrigue? Whatever does happen, this writer can’t help but think it will be be good for all concerned!

Kindle looks over after taking a deep drag on his cig, stares deeply into iPaddy’s eyes and whispers “Was it good for you, too, you Digital Tiger,you?”

Katherine Noyes of MacNewsWorld writes on this intensifying subject:

Apple’s newest charmed pair, the iPad and the iBookstore, will amble onto the publishing scene in just a couple of weeks, and Amazon is justifiably fearful. Its popular Kindle may quickly become a has-been, and it could lose hard-won ground in the e-book marketplace. What’s a giant to do? Twist a few arms. If publishers bow to Amazon’s latest terms, will e-book prices rise or fall?
With an unwavering focus on Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) forthcoming iBookstore, Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) has begun pressuring e-book publishers to sign three-year contracts that ensure no competing retailers will get better prices or treatment.

That’s according to a recent report in The New York Times, which cites two industry executives with direct knowledge of the discussions.

The new tactics come hard on the heels of Amazon’s conflict with Macmillan earlier this year over the publisher’s switch to an agency model, whereby retailers such as Amazon act as agents of the publisher and earn a 30 percent commission on publisher-set prices. Those prices, Amazon asserted, were “needlessly high.”

Amazon’s stock tumbled following that well-publicized conflict, in which the e-tailer even stopped selling Macmillan books temporarily in protest.

The titles were soon restored to Amazon’s virtual shelves, but the latest round of pressure tactics raises the question of how far the company would be willing to go to compete with Apple’s iBookstore, which will launch in the United States with its iPad device on April 3.

Five of the ‘Big Six’ for Apple

Apple, in fact, has been applying similar pressure to publishers participating in its iBookstore, The New York Times reported, including five of the “big six”: Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, HarperCollins and Penguin.

Only Random House has not yet signed on, The Times said.

Such publishers will use the agency model for iBookstore sales , allowing them to set prices as long as they pay Apple 30 percent. Typical prices under that model are $12.99 to $14.99 for most newly released titles.

Apple does stipulate, however, that publishers must not allow other retailers to sell their e-books for less than their iBookstore prices, according to The Times.

Whereas Amazon ultimately agreed to let Macmillan set its own prices, it has typically tried to keep its titles at $9.99.

“My sense is that consumers have been very happy with the pricing model Amazon has established,” Kurt Scherf, vice president and principal analyst with Parks Associates, told MacNewsWorld.

“It’s very easy to compare an Amazon digital title with hardback or paperback, and I think that’s part of the reason why Amazon has had the success it has had,” he added.

‘Publishers Will Have More Power’

Amazon’s business and reputation both suffered as a result of its conflict with Macmillan, Susan Kevorkian, program director for IDC’s mobile media and entertainment service, told MacNewsWorld.

So, if it chooses to limit access to the works of publishers who won’t sign its contracts, it will be hurt even more, she predicted.

“As the e-reader market grows, publishers will have more power in the marketplace because they control copyrighted work and can dictate payment terms for it, and because more retailers — and options for consumers to buy digital books — will emerge to challenge Amazon and Apple,” Kevorkian explained.

Amazon is “still in the content business,” she noted, so it “needs to offer as wide and deep a selection of content as it can in terms of physical and digital books — the latter to keep Kindle competitive.”

Going forward, retail price competition in digital books is “more likely to be at the expense of retailers’ margins than publishers’ revenue and profits,” Kevorkian concluded. “The takeaway here is that publishers will set digital book prices, and retailers will need to follow suit with their pricing, rather than dictating retail prices to consumers.”

Amazon on Thursday also launched its new Kindle for Mac, a free application for reading Kindle books on Macintosh computers.

Neither Amazon nor Apple responded by press time to MacNewsWorld’s requests for comment.

02/15/2010

Literary Armageddon: Technology Is Beating the Hell Out of Publishing


Publishing in recent years has just gotten too damn big for it’s baggy britches and needed a restructuring of some sort to come into alignment with the literary god’s invisible but real and moral principal of justifiable publication for all worthy projects… not just the ramblings of the latest celebrity fad or news-drenched idiot for a quick buck! So, the literary god sent down Kindle and iPad as a jumpstart rejuvenator.

Dan Agin, author and neuroscientist (you REALLY need to look up this interesting professor) wrote on this subject for the Huffington Post:

Kindle Armageddon: How the Publishing Industry Is Slitting Its Own Throat
Once upon a time, the only books that existed were books copied by hand by monks and scribes and sold to the very rich for the equivalent of $5000 or $6000 a book. Then along came the printing press, and all the monks and scribes had to find another way to earn their bread.

Once upon a time the only books that existed were books on paper made by printing presses and sold to the rich and not so rich and not rich at all for enough money to make publishing houses worth hundreds of millions of dollars, enough money to pay high salaries to publishing executives. Then along came the digital book, and many thousands of people in and around publishing had to find another way to earn their bread.

The subtext of the story is the impact of technology on culture and commerce, and the unfailing collapse of any industry that allows itself to be blinded by sloth, short term greed, and general mediocrity of attitudes.

Anyone with an imagination about the future of technology and commerce knows that the printed book on paper is already on its way to obsolescence. The wrangling and beefing and whining about prices and protecting demand for printed books by publishing executives is both amusing and tragic.

It’s tragic because when an industry dies because of corporate blindness, people do get hurt. When the automobile put the horse and carriage trade out of business, blacksmiths and carriage makers became irrelevant overnight. But before that happened people were up to their eyeballs in media baloney that the automobile was only a fad.

Some fad.

The same will happen to the entire printed-book industry, editors, publishers, printers, salesmen, publicists, marketeers, whatever. They will be gone or transformed — to be remembered in anecdotes about the old days.

Which brings us to the Amazon Kindle. Although most people don’t know it, you don’t need a Kindle to read Kindle books. The current high price of the Kindle device is irrelevant. Amazon is now offering free software for download to any PC, the software allowing Kindle books to be downloaded in seconds to be read at once. Anyone with a laptop that runs Windows can read Kindle books. There are now 400,000 Kindle titles available, everything from high and low class lesbian erotica (Spectrum Diva Books) and erotic romances (Harlequin Blaze) to high and low class Supreme Court decisions and books about string theory in cosmology. In short, nearly everything is now available — and soon it will ALL be available in digital format.

My personal view is that apart from the ease of access to books, the most important feature of Kindle books is that the type size can be adjusted to anything you like at the click of a button. No more eye strain. No more visits to a bookstore that may be miles from your house. No more waiting for printed books in the mail. No more crowding your living space with thousands of books that you can’t throw out because they are part of your life and represent what you once were and what you are now. The Kindle (or your computer hosting Kindle books) can hold thousands of books in no more space than that occupied by a single school notebook.

Anyone who believes this new technology is going away is dreaming. Anyone who believes the print publishing industry has a chance to survive in its present form is dreaming. It’s now possible for any small publisher to have free and almost immediate access to the largest bookstore in the world — Amazon. In a few days, a small publisher can have its entire backlist in Kindle format available at Amazon to readers. Salesmen are bypassed, distributors are bypassed, bookstore buyers are bypassed. What will not change much is marketing and promotion — new books will still need to be brought to the attention of the public. But the new books will be Kindle or Kindle-like digital books.

The big print publishers need to understand the reality of the 21st century: either you roll with new technology or you get rolled over by it. That’s the lesson of the history of technology in commerce.

Requiescant in pace, big print publishing. The run is finished.

02/10/2010

Publishers, Amazon Inch Toward Truce In Post-iPad World


More insider opinion Re e-book pricing and battles between Amazon and publishers. Who is going to make more money under the new materializing business model? Who is offering olive branches to get on the new book media distribution bandwagen?

Dan Gallagher of the Wall Street Journal reported thusly:

Since Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) debuted its first Kindle e-book reader late in 2007, the reaction within the book industry has been some mix of welcome and scorn.

Welcome because of the potential to tap an entirely new market–before a wave of digital piracy similar to the one that decimated the music business. Scorn because of fears that the online retail giant, which already has a commanding share of the market for physical books, might use its leverage to seize control of the new market and push down prices even further.

Publishers have been fighting back, and seemed to score an important victory over the last week, with Amazon reportedly agreeing to a model that would let them set higher prices for e-books sold for the Kindle.

Analysts say a truce is likely but won’t do much harm to Amazon even if the company loses the $9.99 price tag for e-books that has helped make the Kindle a major hit.

The company discloses little data for its Kindle business, but it is widely estimated that Seattle-based Amazon loses money on most e-books that it sells for that price. Higher prices would mean a better margin for the business even if sales take a small hit in terms of volume, experts say.

But concerns persist about whether publishers will give any ground at all on e-book prices. In theory, the companies should still make good profits on e-books at lower prices, because they are saving on the costs of printing, binding and distribution that make up an estimated 10% to 12% of a hardcover book’s total price.

“Publishers seems to be fighting a rear-guard action against Amazon,” Stephen Windwalker, a small book publisher and author of the Kindle Nation Daily blog, said on a conference call hosted by the brokerage Collins Stewart on Monday.

“I’m not seeing a lot to be excited for,” he added.

Turning Off The ‘Buy Button’

Ironically, the company that has thrown the biggest wrench into Amazon’s plans for the e-book market is the very company that Amazon was trying to emulate–Apple Inc. (AAPL).

Apple, with the launch of the iPod and its iTunes online music store, turned the music industry on its ear.

The store sold single tracks for 99 cents and kept most full albums under the $10 mark. The music industry had already seen its profits socked by digital piracy, so it begrudgingly accepted a model that allowed for some revenue–even if it was less than what the industry was accustomed to.

Amazon tried the same simplified pricing scheme for e-books, pushing publishers to keep the prices below $10.

But last month, Apple introduced the iPad tablet device and with it, announced a new service called iBookstore. No prices were announced for the store, but the company said it would let publishers set their own rather than force them to accept a set price.

Six major publishers announced support of the iPad and have been pushing Amazon to allow them to set higher prices. Things came to a head last week when Amazon removed the titles of one publisher–Macmillan–from its site in protest of its new e-book prices, even as the company admitted that it had “capitulated” to Macmillan’s demands to set higher prices.

Macmillan’s books are back for sale on Amazon this week, and neither company will say what sort of deal they reached.

“It’s fair to say that no one in the book industry wants to see a major channel of distribution shut down, and that’s what happened when Amazon turned off the buy button on Macmillan’s books,” said Al Greco, a professor of business at Fordham University who studies the book market.

An Olive Branch?

In an op-ed column in The Wall Street Journal on Monday, the head of a major publishing house noted the changes rippling through the book business and offered what some considered to be an olive branch in the battle over pricing e-books.

John Makinson, chairman and chief executive of the Penguin Group, wrote that publishers need to understand that “it’s fruitless to stand between the reader and his choice.” But he also noted that the physical cost of a book is roughly on par with the average margin of the consumer book-publishing industry, “and what’s needed to keep investing in new writing and new ideas.” (John’s editorial note: The last part of the last sentence makes absolutely NO sense to this author)

“So there’s some room for discussion but not that much,” he wrote.

Greco called Makinson’s piece “an attempt to calm the waters.” He noted that five of the six major publishers have entered into what is called an “agency agreement” with Apple to allow the company to sell e-books for its iPad, but it gives publishers control over pricing.

Such a model “will become the norm for all sales of e-books in the future,” Greco said.

“Ironically, while Amazon seems to not like that agency approach, they lost money on every transaction under their current model,” he said. “From a financial point of view, Amazon will make more money this way.”

He noted the risk, however, that consumers have now become used to a $9.99 price tag for e-books, which may make some resistant to the idea of paying higher prices.

“Will consumers walk away? I don’t think so,” Greco said.

Windwalker, the Kindle Nation Daily blogger, agrees that Amazon will likely do well financially even under higher prices. But he added that consumers will likely resist the higher prices–providing an incentive to publishers who break from the pack to keep prices low.

He also noted that publishers may be ignoring Amazon’s key strengths–at their own peril.

“There are two things that Amazon knows more about more than anyone else in the world: Price elasticity and their own customers,” he said. “If higher prices begin to suppress sales and profits, then I think it’s fair to assume they [publishers] will not march in lockstep.”

01/23/2010

With Kindle, the Best Sellers Don’t Need to Sell

Filed under: eBooks,free best-selling eBooks,Kindle Reader — gator1965 @ 7:58 am

The latest on Kindle from New York Times columnist, Motoko Rich:

Here’s a riddle: How do you make your book a best seller on the Kindle?

Answer: Give copies away.

That’s right. More than half of the “best-selling” e-books on the Kindle, Amazon.com’s e-reader, are available at no charge.

Although some of the titles are digital versions of books in the public domain — like Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” — many are by authors still trying to make a living from their work.

Earlier this week, for example, the No. 1 and 2 spots on Kindle’s best-seller list were taken by “Cape Refuge” and “Southern Storm,” both novels by Terri Blackstock, a writer of Christian thrillers. The Kindle price: $0. Until the end of the month, Ms. Blackstock’s publisher, Zondervan, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, is offering readers the opportunity to download the books free to the Kindle or to the Kindle apps on their iPhone or in Windows.

Publishers including Harlequin, Random House and Scholastic are offering free versions of digital books to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other e-retailers, as well as on author Web sites, as a way of allowing readers to try out the work of unfamiliar writers. The hope is that customers who like what they read will go on to obtain another title for money.

“Giving people a sample is a great way to hook people and encourage them to buy more,” said Suzanne Murphy, group publisher of Scholastic Trade Publishing, which offered free downloads of “Suite Scarlett,” a young-adult novel by Maureen Johnson, for three weeks in the hopes of building buzz for the next book in the series, “Scarlett Fever,” out in hardcover on Feb. 1. The book went as high as No. 3 on Amazon’s Kindle best-seller list.

The digital giveaways come as publishers are panicking about price pressure on e-books in general. Amazon and other online retailers have set $9.99 as the putative e-book price for new releases and best sellers, and publishers worry that such pricing ultimately creates expectations among consumers that new books are no longer worth, say, $25 (the average list price of a new hardcover), or even $13 (a standard list price for trade paperbacks).

Some publishers have tried to take control of pricing by delaying the publication of certain e-books for several months after the books are made available in hardcover.

Executives at some houses said that given such actions, offering free content amounts to industry hypocrisy.

“At a time when we are resisting the $9.99 price of e-books,” said David Young, chief executive of Hachette Book Group, the publisher of James Patterson and Stephenie Meyer, “it is illogical to give books away for free.”

Read more @ http://alturl.com/psmg

12/08/2009

Self-Publishing Question: Print or eBook?

Filed under: eBook costs,Kindle Reader,Nook Reader,self-publishing,Wordpreneur — gator1965 @ 7:12 am

Eldon Sarte, creator of Wordpreneur, has hit upon a subject I have discussed in past posts: self-publishing…but from a little different perspective that made the old lightbulb turn on in my overworked brain (what I have left of it).

His article on using self-published eBooks to test the market first before doing a possible print version is short but thought-provoking:

After observing the consumer ebook market with the seeming success of the Amazon Kindle and the upcoming Barnes & Noble Nook, I think this brings up an interesting question for self-publishers. Namely…

Instead of first doing a “print” edition and then releasing an ebook version as an afterthought (the usual M.O.), why not do a Kindle/Nook edition first, test market the book on the dirt cheap, and then decide whether a print edition is worth the time and expense?

For many scenarios, this seems to make oodles of sense. The market certainly seems ready for this kind of approach, for most niches I care about anyway.

Hmmmm…

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