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Archive for the ‘eBooks’ Category

swlogoOn Friday, Smashwords, the website for self-published authors, announced it will hook up with Barnes & Noble to sell eBooks through the mega book retailer’s website.

As you might imagine, we’re thrilled.

Until today, it was difficult if not impossible for many independent authors and publishers to gain such mainstream digital distribution. Now with Smashwords, virtually any deserving author, anywhere in the world, can receive broader distribution for their ebook.

This is an important milestone for Smashwords. 15 months ago when we launched, we were an ebook publishing platform for self-published authors. Earlier this year we opened our services to publishers. And today, we expand our role to that of an ebook distributor as well.

Smashwords ebooks are now distributed via multiple online channels, including Smashwords.com, Stanza (the e-reading app used by 2 million + people on the iPhone/iPod Touch), Aldiko (for Google Android phones) and soon, the Barnes & Noble network (Barnesandnoble.com, Fictionwise, Ereader app, others).

Because Amazon already provides a portal for self-publishers via the Kindle Store, and thus a method of beefing up their inventory of ebooks, this looks like Barnes & Nobles’s bid to do the same. Currently, they have only a fraction of the romance eBooks Amazon offers.

Critics may get snarky, claiming that the move will pollute the publishing gene pool with sub-par manuscripts, but those in favor are bound to point out one important fact. The Smashwords-B&N nuptials are another step toward the democratization of American publishing.

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Via Paul Biba of Teleread: Bring the eBooks Home, is this tidbit from the Financial Times, “Hatchette Feels eBook Pricing Could Kill Hardbacks.”

Hardback books could be killed off if Amazon’s e-books and Google’s digital library force publishers to slash prices, Arnaud Nourry, chief executive of French publishing group Hachette, has warned.

Mr Nourry said unilateral pricing by Google, Amazon and other e-book retailers such as Barnes & Noble could destroy publishers’ profits.

He said publishers were “very hostile” to Amazon’s pricing strategy – over which the online retailer failed to consult publishers – to charge $9.99 for all its e-books in the US. He also pointed to plans by Google to put millions of out-of-copyright books online for public use

Personally, I doubt it. Did video kill the radio store? Did DVDs kill the movie theater? No. People like a variety of formats and continue to patronize all of them. As much as I love eBooks, I love hardbacks and paperbacks as well. Each has their separate pleasures and merits.

Even when the day comes and eBook readers have color (“multiple years” in the future, according to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos), this still won’t equal the “romantic” experience of holding a beautifully designed hardback in your hands.

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Fresh from the Tweetosphere Comes Word…

Charlaine Harris, Heather Graham, Brenda Jackson, Marjorie M. Liu, Shelli Stevens, Shiloh Walker, and J.R. Ward are among 150+ early confirmed authors for next year’s RT Book Review Booklovers Convention in Columbus, Ohio, April 28-May 2.

RTConvention2010

Fab news, but what interests me is the conference brochure. Check it out, RT has scheduled an expanded track of eBook author programming. Quite a contrast to RWA Nationals. Here’s the list of panels and their descriptions:

  • WELCOME TO THE DIGITAL AGE (1 hour) Where has e-publishing been and where is it going? Join editors and authors as they examine the radical changes taking place in the publishing industry thanks to e-books.
  • WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE E-EXPECTING (2 hours) From submission-formatting guidelines to the e-publishing timeline to royalty checks, this panel will explain what every writer needs to know about electronic publishing.
  • MAKING A HOUSE YOUR HOME: HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT PUBLISHING HOUSE FOR YOUR E- & SMALL-PRESS BOOK
    (1 hour) Ever wonder how to go about finding the e-publisher or small-press house that’s right for you? Do you go with an established company with a good track record or do you take a chance with an enthusiastic new start-up company? How to avoid being scammed by disreputable companies by tapping into the e-book and small-press network of authors for support.
  • RED FLAGS: DEMYSTIFYING E-BOOK CONTRACTS (1 hour) Do you need an agent for an e-book contract? What about a literary attorney? This panel will discuss the ins and outs of e-book contracts and show you what to look out for when you are getting ready to sign.
  • E-BOOK AUTHORS AND E-READERS UNITE (1 hour) Discuss digital rights management, e-readers, trends and where to buy the best e-books.
  • FROM DIGITAL TO ANALOG: LEVERAGING YOUR E-PUBLISHING CAREER INTO PRINT PUBLISHING (1 hour) A panel of authors will discuss how they used e-books as a stepping-stone to move into a successful traditional print career.
  • FOLLOW THE E-LEADER: IS ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING RIGHT FOR YOU? (1 hour) The book you want to write may be a great story but it may not fit in any traditional print publisher’s house. An e-publisher or small publisher could have the flexibility that you are looking for. From newbies to bestsellers, why authors are choosing to e-publish and why you should too.
  • SELLING E-BOOKS TO TREE READERS (1 hour) Creative ways to reach out to the general public and educate them about e-publishing — online, at bookfairs, author signings and other events.
  • DIGITAL RIGHTS: WHY THEY ARE EVERYONE’S ISSUE (1 hour) Since all publishers are now publishing in digital formats, every author must know about their digital rights, digital royalties and digital piracy (including the Google settlement).

Registration is $485 until 3.15.10. You’ll find a workshop brochure, registration form, and early bird tour, all in PDF format at the convention website.

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Blogger David Rothman of TeleRead: Bring the eBooks Home offers a current guestimate of the number of Kindles vs. Sony eReaders now sold in the U.S.:

Of U.S. dedicated e-reader sales of a bit more than a million a year, Kindles make up 45 percent, according to the Cleantech Group. Sony is 30 percent, while rivals are just 25 percent.

In some ways this parallels the eBook Stats reports here on Kindling Romance each Friday, which show Sony is well behind the Kindle in terms of romance titles available, 18.7K titles in the Kindle Store as opposed to 11.4K titles at Sony’s The eBook Store.

The same blog post predicts 29 million eBook reader devices, all brands included, will ship in 2013. Hyperbole or no, eBooks are gaining critical mass with consumers.

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Getting noticed as a romance writer is hard work. Competition from bestselling novelists can suck the lifeblood out of a newbie’s promotion efforts faster than a vampire on a drinking binge.

A writer may go on tour, build a website, start a blog, make a trailer, create bookmarks, host a giveaway, attend conferences, join romance loops, and twitter until she gets carpal thumb, and still have more to do. Of all the fiction genres, romance writers strike me as being the savviest, most upbeat promoters of their own work today. They never stop working and networking, or looking for ways to get their books in front of readers.

Here’s the word. FREE is the new black.

According to the Associated Press, free books are now the latest weapon in the sales arsenal. It sounds counter-intuitive, but giving away an entire novel, not simply an excerpt or a short story is leading to dramatic increases in sales for known and lesser known romance novelists.

“There’s always going to be someone who wants free things. What we’re trying to do is link free with paid,” Maja Thomas, senior vice president of digital media at Patterson’s publisher, the Hachette Book Group, said. “It’s like priming the pump.”

“What we like to do is make the first book in a series free, usually a series that has multiple books,” said Scott Shannon, publisher of the Del Rey/Spectra imprint at Random House, Inc.

You can witness this dynamic in action at Amazon.com where a significant number of the top 25 romance novels for the Kindle are free.

For the last several weeks, Dark Fever by Karen Marie Moning has bounced around in the top five to ten books on the list. No mystery there. It doesn’t cost readers a dime to download. Not coincidentally, two of the author’s other books, Bloodfever and Faefever, have nearly kept pace in sales, even though the price for these is $6.00 and $6.39 respectively. Lara Adrian is another writer to benefit from this trend with her novels, Kiss of Midnight (free) and Kiss of Crimson (not free).

Del Rey Publisher Shannon is quick to add one caveat in the article by AP:

“We have had phenomenal success with using free books to get people to buy others by an author. But in the long term, we have to guard the market. We have to make sure people understand that time and energy goes into writing a book.”

Newbie eBook authors take heart. If you don’t have an entire novel you can afford to give away, or should even want to give away, apparently free is free and free sells romance. Short stories are just as sought after when the price tag is $0.00.

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By way of Smart Bitches and Dear Author, comes this alert about a sweet deal on eBooks. Today, only, Harlequin is offering 25 percent off any book in their eBook Store. All you need to get the discount is the Code: BLOGSPECIAL.

The promotion is part of the Save the Contemporary Campaign run jointly by Smart Bitches and Dear Author. Apparently the contemporary romance is an endangered species? With digital versions of Harlequin’s contemporary romances topping their bestseller lists, I wasn’t aware there was a problem, but hey, who’s to quibble with 25 percent off?

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For all of us who have wondered where the eBook market is going and just how fast it will get there, comes a couple of headspinning predictions buried in an otherwise dull, dull, dull news release.

Late last week, LibreDigital, the sort of company you only read about in a business magazine while you’re stuck at the dentist, secured an additional $15M in venture capital, as reported by Venture Beat. LibreDigital supplies eBook software services to six out of ten of the top publishers in America, romance publishers HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette among them.

Okay, so great, this Libre group gets a cool 15, but here’s the interesting part, remarks from one of LibreDigital’s new investors, plus the company chairman, as quoted by Venture Beat.

“Demand for books & newspapers in digital formats is out-pacing supply,” Triangle Peak co-founder David Pesikoff said in a prepared statement. The amazing thing about this over-the-top statement is it’s true. Consumers seem frustrated by the limited options for reading newspapers and books in an electronic, portable format.

LibreDigital chairman Martin Neath [snip] claims the market for e-books and similar electronic editions of printed materials will exceed $2 billion by 2012.

Two billion? In May, eBook sales were a mere $11.5 million. If the projections come anywhere near reality, in a short three years, romance publishing, not to mention RWA’s stance on eBooks, may be getting a serious makeover.

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