Nice interview here with Piotr Kowalczyk, one of the first ebook experts I came across several years ago, and author of numerous funny & intriguing stories published under the alias of Nick Name, available on Feedbooks. Also check out his E-book Friendly web site, a great place for all things ebooks
We like to make up those kinds of store names, like “Blue Jeans Etc” and “Beverages and More”, only ours are even more stupid, if you can believe that, like ”Pickles & Stuff” or “Bottlecaps Galore!”. But on the subject of ghosts, I was happy to see one of my “ghost stories” garner a genuine five star review on Amazon. “Hidden HIghway” has been neck and neck in a race for worst overall rating with “Fissure Monroe”, averaging somewhere around 1.8 on Goodreads, so seeing a 5 was a bit of a shock, but a pleasant one. And here it is:
My review: “A gentle and bittersweet story of an old man’s reminiscence about the love of his early life, its poignant scenes interspersed with passionate explorations into nature through botany and a charming love of plants and birds. It’s an emotional book that is not afraid to feel. I read somewhere recently that sentiment is no longer permitted in fiction. It’s a shame. I guess we’re only allowed to yell and blow things up, keeping us at a safe distance from the things that really do happen and hurt.”
Even a fairly well read person is constantly coming across “famous” writers they’d never hear of. In this case, 19th century German master of the short form, Theodore Storm. I only heard of him through an article about Cesar Aira defending the concept of the novella (or ‘short novel’, whichever you prefer). So I thought I’d check him out, and found Immensee on Project Gutenberg, the only one of his books available in English there, along with 19 others in German.
Zombie Nights is just about to hit 50,000 downloads on Smashwords (3 years in), where it is now the #7 most downloaded ebook from that website, trailing two Smashwords’ user guides, one Islamic baby name book and 3 erotica titles. There have been very few other titles breaking into that top 10 free list over the past two years, which makes me think that fewer and fewer people are following the ‘free’ route towards readership these days, preferring instead to test the cold hard sales waters. That’s all well and good. It’s a thriving new market, or perhaps one that is not all that new at all. A very interesting article on the business of literature provides a lot of history and perspective on bookselling and is well worth reading. Our current era may be more like an earlier time than we realize.
I often come across comments in self-publishing blog posts that numbers are interesting to indie authors, so I thought I might offer some here regarding Zombie NIghts during its 50,000-Smashwords-download-jubilee-day celebration. (Overall downloads for Zombie Nights, including Apple, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Feedbooks, Obooko, Google Books, Sony, Kobo and Smashwords, are somewhere around 150,000).
On Smashwords.com its overall rating is 3.73 based on 33 reviews – note a mere 33 reviews, only 1 every 1515 downloads.
On Amazon a scant 10 reviews nets it a 2,5 rating, while on Goodreads there have been 107 ratings, including 29 text reviews, for an average of 2.76
As usual, Apple readers are more generous. 155 ratings on iTunes give it a 3.5 rating, while on Barnes and Noble, 101 ratings give it 3.0 stars. On Sony there’s been only 1 review (5 stars), and on Kobo 3 ratings give it 3 stars overall. On Google Books, 8 reviews give it an average of 4 stars.
I’ve noticed this pattern is typical of most of my books: Smashwords and Apple readers are often a full star more generous than Goodreads and Amazon reviewers. Theories have been offered, but it’s only guesswork. The main thing is, reviews remain sparse as a percentage of downloads. I have not gone out of my way to ask for reviews of this book or done any sort of marketing or advertising for it, other than having it show up on getfreeebooks.com, a site I always recommend to free-ebook-offerers.
In light of Amazon apparently tightening the screws in its hot-and-cold relationship with free ebooks, I’ve been wondering how that particular aspect of the self-publishing wave is going to play out over the next few years. This particular righty-tighty move will have little effect on its own – “The company predicted that the new policy will only affect .1 percent of its associates” – so they’re probably just fine-tuning the knobs and trying to put a little hurt on certain perceived competitors, in this case websites that get paid by Amazon for directing people to where they can find free Kindle ebooks. On the one hand, the websites are driving traffic to Amazon, which is good for them, but on the other hand, maybe it’s not worth as much to Amazon as it’s costing them. Small potatoes, to be sure.
The free ebook segment is composed of different theories and practices. Some people offer free ebooks here and there, a day at a time, in promotional efforts in the hopes of attracting attention and stirring up interest. A typical scheme these days is to write series of books, giving away the first one and charging for the others. This differs from offering a free sample of a book, which for me is the best way to browse online. I almost always download a sample first unless I know it’s something I really want. Others seem to be playing a longer game, offering their works for free for long periods of time (through Smashwords and other sites that allow this, unlike Amazon), hoping to build up an audience over time before starting to charge. That’s probably not a terrible idea, seeing as it can take years and years to accumulate enough interested readers (depending on the type of book, of course). I’d guess that most self-publishing writers have not fully come to grips with that likelihood.
Others have no intention of charging for ebooks ever. Some hope to get sales for paperbacks, others for movie rights, for overseas markets, or other such alternate avenues. Some aren’t in it for the money, period, but have strange, inscrutable motivations defying all laws of gravity, thermodynamics and commerce. Some of these people (ahem) are treating the whole thing like a worldwide online jam session for “amateur” writers.
But ultimately, will there be a concerted clampdown across the industry? Will Smashwords, and Feedbooks and Apple, and Barnes and Noble (assuming they survive) and Sony et cetera join up with Amazon in requiring some at least minimal form of pricing someday?This would not surprise me at all. I’d expect some new rules such as “you can make it free for the first month only, or for one week every year, but otherwise it’s got to be at least whatever is a penny under whatever is a dollar in the various world currencies”. Why not? Why should they be giving stuff away forever without restriction?
It’s possible that some kind of book-subscription service will come to be the norm, similar to Pandora or Spotify in music. This could answer the problem of piracy as well as blur the distinction between free and not-free, as well as between indie and traditional publishing. In the long run, that’s my best guess
Meanwhile, in piracy news:
That report shows that the number of music files being illegally downloaded was 26% less in 2012 than in 2011. What’s more, 40% of the people surveyed in the study who said that they’d illegally downloaded in 2011 did not do so in 2012. So what’s responsible for this massive reduction in piracy? According to the survey, it’s not stepped-up enforcement – it’s the availability of free music via streaming services like Spotify. Nearly half of the people who had stopped or sharply reduced their music downloading cited those services as the reason for stopping.
I just came across this very nice review of my (free) children’s book, Tiddlywink the Mouse. The reviewer had told me about it via Twitter a few weeks back but I just noticed that today, and wanted to say thanks
You may have read nonsense poetry; this is nonsense prose, surreal and different. Tom Lichtenberg is the Salvador Dali of children’s authors. Get Daddy to read it to them in a variety of silly voices, and it seems like BAM, you’ve walked smack into a cloud of laughing gas. Funny for its bizarre novelty, rather than for any sophistication in the humour, this book is worth a try when you need a silly counterpoint bedtime story to a day of serious activities.
I wanted to read a book and it’s not in the library. I can get it used through Amazon for fifty cents plus postage or on Kindle for twelve dollars. Why twelve dollars? Don’t tell me it’s supply and demand or the cost of production. It’s a text file that costs next to nothing. Grrr. And the author is long since deceased so it’s not for him or even his family, just the corporation that owns the darn text file. Double grrr. I can see a few bucks maybe, but twelve? It makes no sense. It’s not competing with new book sales. It’s an old book. I guess the logic is just because they can, they do.
included the graphic below
An interesting article from TeachingDegree.org
I completely agree with the assessment that ebooks and print books can not only co-exist but also mutually re-inforce each other. They have different advantages and disadvantages. For me, personally, the greatest advantage of print books is sharing them with friends. The greatest advantage of ebooks is the ease of their availability (anytime, anywhere there’s internet).
In an excellent post, Paul Samael makes the case for traditional publishers aggressively going into the ebooks market in an innovative way – sort of halfway between the Smashwords/Amazon approach of taking everything, and their own current way of only e-pubbing their own (relatively small) collections. They could be taking in a lot of submissions, doing a certain amount of filtering (think of how a great blue whale filters for feeding) and in that way claiming a genuine foothold in the new publishing industry. No doubt those they accepted through their filtering would have to go exclusive (or through the pubs into outlets like Amazon).
The plus side for writers would be the good ol’ stamp of trad-pub approval that’s so much craved. The down side is, what? More acceptance, less rejection, better filtering, less of a haystack.
Any other downsides one could see, for the publishers at least? Personally, I’ve got no horse in that race.