Tag Archives: amazon

E-books Outsell Your Mom

XKCD - Kindle

Word has it that e-books are now outselling p-books (er, paper books) over at Amazon.com:

Amazon released its quarterly report for the end of last year and says that for every 100 books sold on its site, it sells 115 Kindle ebooks.

And that’s despite neuroscience blogger Jonah Lehrer’s insistence that e-readers are “too easy” on the eyes. He may be partially right, though I think the culprit here is that Helvetica is simply boring as fuck. Consequently, anything displayed in Helvetica is going to be boring as fuck, and anything boring as fuck is probably not going to be prioritized by your brains. A crisp, clear, elegant, easy-to-read serifed font is where I’m putting my money. Having readers default to some sort of Garamond would be kick-ass, though at the moment the Kindle 3 renders most Garamonds pretty shittily unless you do some hacking.

Over the holidays I traded in the rest of my magic beans and got a Kindle 3. Initially, I was merely out to more accurately format the e-books I distribute through Smashwords, but in the month and a half since, I’ve read two novels and a handful of short stories on the thing. The non-LCD screen has thoroughly seduced me (and, now that I’ve studied the Laptop Kama Sutra, I’ve made adjustments and seduced it back). I totally see a growing market for people weary of Microsoft’s (Un)ClearType text rendering. Or Apple’s soft, fuzzy iPad approach. Reading a novel on a dedicated e-reader is not like reading a novel on a laptop, iPhone, or iPad, the latter of which are perfectly suited for news articles or blog entries that include photographs, or for porn site “Enter if you’re over 18” warnings, but not for long-form novels or text-based books. Ironically, all the screenshots provided in Bill Hill’s “The Future of Reading: iPad Magazines” are proof that reading for extended periods on an LCD-based device is just lame. At least using current LCD technologies. If someone started mass-producing ~200dpi LCD screens tomorrow I’d so be there. In the meantime, as Amazon’s Kindle or B&N’s Nook excel at displaying text, and Apple’s iPad excels at displaying graphics, we’re looking at two separate e-reader markets: one for readers of newspapers, magazines, and manga / comics, the other for readers more interested in long-form books and novels.

Either way, I get why e-books are finally outselling p-books. Hardcovers sport excellent typefaces and quality paper stock, but are cumbersome to handle. Paperback novels may have enjoyed their “warm and cozy” reputation for the last near-century, but reading those two novels I mentioned above on a Kindle has proved to be just as enjoyable. More so, even, when you consider the ability to change font size or line spacing based on your preferences. You don’t have to worry about margins being so close to the binding that you have to pry the book open just to read complete paragraphs. If you’re dirt-poor, like me (or if you’re a college student), you don’t have to sacrifice modest living space for the sake of storing your dusty volumes. Best of all, you don’t have to shift the book to suit odd or even pages if you’re reading while lying on your side in bed—which is totally something I love to do. It’s such a small thing, but makes such a big difference.

Now, come up with a reading device that’s hi-res, can do color, and has an adjustable back-light, and you’ll really start outselling your mom. And your dad.

A Lot Fewer Dangling Wires

Carrie's not a fan of the new Kindle

Carrie's not a fan of the new Kindle

I’m still on the fence regarding the Amazon Kindle’s worthiness. The Onion has brought me one step closer to salivating over one with its tongue-in-cheek list of “features and improvements.” One feature that has received much attention as of late: text-to-speech. Roy Blount, Jr. seems to have the notion that unchecked Kindles might pave the way for royalty-scoffing e-reading supercomputers down the way. Audio book sales could be in danger—but only when the Kindle learns to do multiple voices and accents, as well as provide sound effects and music to spice things up. Right now the main concern should be the number of bookworms forgoing dental work in order to save up for a Kindle. Could lead to an epidemic blogorific proportions. Film at eleven.

More Kindling for the Fire

Those of you who own / are planning on owning an Amazon Kindle e-book reader may be interested to know that you can now download most of my books and novels to your Kindle:

I’m told that all of my titles are priced between $4.00–$5.00. So there you go. One more way to read some books without turning a physical page. I’m still on the fence as to the meaningfulness of the Kindle. At nearly $400, I’m tempted to just grab one of those Acer Aspire One netbooks for ~$300 and gain the ability to listen to music and browse the Web in color—in addition to e-book capabilities.

What say you? Amazon Kindle or netbook with Adobe Reader installed?

Andorian Flu

The new Pepsi logo

My sinuses feel like the new Pepsi logo (interpretation) looks: a bulging sac of snot ready to explode all over some poor pedestrian’s face. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating; I don’t feel that bad. But I don’t exactly feel all that good either. Hence my not updating my blog in a while.

The new Amazon Kindle is out. An optimistic quote from the POD People blog:

Now, with the sale of e-books on the rise, I think it’s worth the effort for authors to get their books to readers in whatever format is available, more options means more readers. Plus, I can offer the book at a cut-rate cost since there are no production dollars associated with the end product. Readers are more willing to take a chance on a new or self-published author if the investment is minimal.

I’ve had several of my books available as Kindle e-books for a while now, but haven’t yet added the proper links to my site. That’ll come later in the week, after I’ve learned to taste and smell again. ;) Anyone have any home remedies for the flu that don’t involve witchcraft or voodoo?

Amazon.com to POD Publishers: Bend Over

Last year, while considering my options for the publication / distribution of The Reformed Citizen, I stumbled across Amazon.com’s BookSurge POD (print-on-demand) service. It seemed a lucrative way to be included in Amazon.com’s conglomerate catalog. However, I decided against using their service because the sales representative assigned to me was just that: a sales representative. She knew the prices and names of the various packages offered, but when I started asking more detailed questions about the file-to-book process, I got dead air. That, and she wouldn’t answer my question regarding distribution: would my book be listed outside of Amazon’s site? (I later found out it wouldn’t; books “published” by BookSurge are Amazon.com-only.) After a while, the sales rep stopped responding entirely—only to pick up again a few months later with a stream of “special offer” e-mails.

Yep. Amazonian spam.

I’m sure other self-publishers have had similar experiences, and I’m sure it’s contributed to BookSurge’s inability to compete efficiently with the likes of POD services such as Lulu, who get you an ISBN, global distribution (not just a listing via their site’s marketplace), and more flexibility with regard to your book’s trim size, cover design, etc.

I ended up sticking with Lulu for The Reformed Citizen. They listed my book all over the Internet—it was better market penetration for the money. And now the mighty Amazon.com is throwing a hissy fit, threatening to remove all 3rd party POD book publishers from their catalog unless they use BookSurge’s printer—even if you’ve already paid for your listing(s). Oh, you can still use Amazon’s swap-meet feature, but how unprofessional does that look?

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. For years Amazon has required that you be a paying customer before you’re allowed to use the restroom (ie, you have to buy something before you can review an item). Posted reviews basically become the property of Amazon.com, Inc. in that you grant them the right to do with your commentary as they please (well, to be honest, most sites do this as well). Bundled advertising is common with orders of my book(s), though as of this writing I have not been offered a cut of the revenue generated therein. FYI: that T-Mobile offer you received with your copy of The Knack wasn’t my idea.

I could continue to rant and rave and stumble over my own words regarding Amazon’s most recent anti-competitive, anti-POD tactics, but this slashdot.org post sums it up nicely:

http://news.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=504382&cid=22918124

There’s also a nice article (including a phone number) explaining things over at the PODdy Mouth blog:

http://poddymouth.wordpress.com/2008/04/02/scamazon-2008-part-i/

There’s even a petition:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/protectPOD/?e

Ain’t big business grand? wink.gif, 170B