D2C E-BOOKSELLING MEANS BEING RELEVANT, ACCESSIBILE, HONEST
"There’s a new world in sight. For publishers, it’s a world with less risk and higher margins, with less conjectures and more control. For readers, it’s a world with books written just for them. For all of us, it is a world filled with great stories.
But let’s start from the very beginning: the internet connects people. With your screen as the window to the world, everyone is within reach. Finally, the publishing industry has started to realize the implications, and it comes like an epiphany: I can sell my books myself!
For the big players, it is a way to get to know their readers and retain control of the publishing process. For small publishers, it means they can get their books out there, without the big ones setting the rules."
"More readers than ever are reading more books than ever. Yet for more than two decades now, for at least as long as I’ve been in publishing––and certainly preceding the rise of Amazon––the lamentations of publishers and storeowners have filled the land.
There have been little blips along the way when things seemed to be looking up—a Harry Potter series here, an Oprah Winfrey selection there—but overall it’s been a long, sad decline. We’ve been an industry of enablers: giving huge discounts to mollify ailing stores; overstocking books to mollify ailing publishers.
The outcome, more often than not, has been and continues to be shelf space stuffed with unsold product and massive returns. A very few benefit while almost everyone else involved, be they retailer, author, or publisher, suffers.
Now comes something really different. E-books, and the Internet, and with them the prospect of lightning-fast distribution, high efficiency, and minimal, or nonexistent, returns."
THE EBOOK LANDSCAPE IS BROKEN
"Since technically we all work in publishing, it makes sense to turn our collective attention to the technical and logistic challenges of ebooks. They are a new frontier, but it looks a lot like the old web frontier, with HTML, CSS, and XML underpinning the main ebook standard, ePub.
There are key distinctions between ebook publishing’s current problems and what the web standards movement faced. The web was founded without an intent to disrupt any particular industry; it had no precedent, no analogy. E-reading antagonizes a large, powerful industry that’s scared of what this new way of reading brings—and they’re either actively fighting open standards or simply ignoring them."
A List Apart
AMAZON V NEWSPAPER: WHICH IS THE MORE VALUABLE REVIEW?
"Last week's paper from the Harvard Business School asking "What makes a critic tick?" put me in mind of teachers and bombs. Literary critics can be either, but are they any longer central to the chances of a novelist's success?
The Harvard report compared "professional" reviewers (ie those working for newspapers and magazines) with their new competition: the folk who leave reviews on Amazon. Though they limited themselves to Amazon reviewers, they could have cast their net much wider; these days the ivory towers of book reviewing are under attack by a ragtag, undisciplined army of humanity, dispensing their reviews and their ratings across Amazon, Goodreads, LibraryThing, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and the whole glittering panoply of the social web.
The conclusion of the Harvard academics was broadly this: that professionals are slightly more likely to review and approve of books written by writers who worked for the same titles as they, or books that had won prizes. Amazon reviewers, on the other hand, were rather more eclectic, and in particular seemed to be more supportive of debut authors.
I find the first part of this analysis less surprising than the second part."
PRICING BOOKS AND EBOOKS
"Much of what Amazon does is smart. Not having a printed price on their published books, and not having prices in product descriptions, means Amazon can change prices when needed.
They can put things on sale, price-match, and allow retailers to find their own price point depending on supply and demand, location, and market fluctuations. The customer doesn't ever feel like they're paying too much. It wouldn't be immediately obvious if a book is discounted or not, just like it is with all goods.
I propose that no books should have prices on them. I think it would benefit everyone.
But that goes against what publishers want--control over retail prices. They want to condition customers to pay more. That's always been their game plan, and it still is.
That isn't good for customers. It isn't good for retailers. It isn't good for authors."
A Newbie's Guide to Publishing
BOOKS WITH 140 CHARACHTERS
"This is a shame, because from my seat — as an author, a journalist and, yes, a tweeter — Twitter is anything but a threat to the world of publishing and reading. It’s an opportunity.
The format of books isn’t the only thing that’s changing — the entire reading experience is undergoing a shift. E-book publishers, at least, understand that their platforms allow readers to comment on the text and, significantly, enable them to see feedback left by other readers.
Maybe the book isn’t dying, after all. It’s just getting a social life."
The New York Times
WHAT MAKES A GREAT STORY
"What makes a great story? Kurt Vonnegut had 8 rules, Jack Kerouac had 30 beliefs and techniques, evolutionary biology has some theories, and famous writers have some tips.
In this short film by Sarah Klein and Tom Mason, PBS’s Ken Burns, who for the past quarter-century has been relaying history’s most fascinating stories in his unparalleled films and has even earned himself some loving parody, shares his formula for spellbinding storytelling: 1 + 1 = 3, or a story where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Beneath it all is his beautiful blend of personal truth and astute insight into the universal onuses of being human."