Pokémon Go and Book Publishing

Last week for work, I was at SIGGRAPH 2016, a conference and exhibition on computer graphics and interactive techniques. In addition to companies sharing their products via booths, there were a lot of panels and presentations of peer-reviewed research in graphics and techniques.

Not surprisingly, a big chunk of the conference was dedicated to virtual reality (VR). One whole section was called Emerging Technologies, which featured VR eye-tracking technology, guidance methods in VR, and VR films (as well as robots, lighting displays, augmented reality, and more). But there was a feeling that VR is still a little too new, and while it’s cool to play around with, it’s not that wide-spread among consumers, or at least not yet. Continue reading

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Indie Authors and Libraries

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By Joe Crawford from Moorpark, California, USA (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Libraries are wonderful for indie authors. They open up a whole new audience of readers, but unfortunately the route to getting an indie book into a library is not always very clear.

The American Library Association (ALA) has a great fact sheet that goes over what libraries buy, when they look to buy books, what the library market looks like, and marketing opportunities. The fact sheet even has a section specifically for indie authors, providing a link to a number of articles and resources about self-publishing and libraries that are accepting self-published books.

According to GoodeReader, more libraries are opening up to the idea of purchasing indie books, which is good news. Libraries in general are changing. In fact, one library, University of Iowa, has started digitizing fanzines.

Until recently, it seemed the best way for indie authors to submit their books to libraries for consideration was via Smashwords, which distributes to Overdrive (who recently announced they are working on a way to convert PDFs to EPUBs) and Baker & Taylor, and IngramSpark, which distributes to libraries. However, indie authors don’t really get to pitch their books to librarians this way, which makes the whole process less likely to succeed.

From what I can tell now, there are two new platforms that basically cater to indie authors looking to get their books into libraries. Continue reading

Readers and Writers: Library News

Libraries are an important part of the book publishing world, and it’s been a while since I mentioned them in a post, so here’s a collection of links to library news, services, and more. Continue reading

Getting Past the Gatekeepers: Promoting Children’s Books

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By Louisa Clarkson – Indicated

Now that more and more people self-publishing, it can be hard for new books to get noticed. With that in mind, Louisa Clarkson, founder of Indicated, a promotional resource for indie authors and small presses, has shared three helpful tips on how to promote children’s books, the genre with arguably the most gatekeepers.

Boy, I thought writing for children was tough. Keeping things exciting enough to entertain kids. Maintaining a fast pace to hold their short attention spans. Being sneaky and sprinkling in lessons so that the kid’s didn’t run a mile.

But then when I self-published, I also learned I had to get past the gatekeepers so children could read my book. Gatekeepers (parents, grandparents, friends and family, guardians, librarians and teachers) sometimes choose books on behalf of children to ensure a book will be suitable to read. Here’s 3 tips to promote your children’s books to gatekeepers, and get them into the hands of children. Continue reading

This Week in Publishing

Random House finally decided to adopt the agency model. It’s the last of the big six houses to switch from the wholesale model, but now that it uses the agency model all 17,000 Random House ebooks will be directly available through the iBookstore—which is good since the iPad2 made its debut on March 2.

The agency model is “when the publisher sets the price and designates an agent, in this case the bookseller, who will sell the book for 30 percent commission.” With this model, publishers typically make less money than with the wholesale model—the model where the publisher sells to a retailer at a discount.

A Random House spokesperson said that the company decided to adopt the agency model partly as commercial motivation for customers, partly as an investment in digital sales growth, and partly to ensure their e-books will be more widely available anywhere anytime.  With the agency model comes higher eBook prices, which is a good thing for publishers and independent retailers, because low eBook prices tend to devalue books and cannibalize hardcover sales, according to PW. The agency model means that “once a price has been set it cannot be changed or discounted by the retailer and independent e-book retailers believe the higher prices of the agency model allow them to compete with big e-book vendors.”

What does this mean for publishers? It’s confirmation that for now at least, the agency model is the best way to sell e-books. But what about other ways to ensure that print books are still valued? Bundling seems to be a good option. Just as DVDs and Bluerays often come in a pack, publishers can offer hardcovers and eBooks together. They can price the package at a slightly higher rate than a stand alone hardcover or eBook, and that way customers will see value in both forms.

Random House Switches to Agency Model for E-Book Sales

HarperCollins has decided on limiting e-book lending capabilities for libraries to 26 loans. Basically, this means once an e-book has been lent 26 times, the license expires and the library has to buy a new license. Obviously, libraries are frustrated with these new restrictions, especially since ebooks are already so difficult to loan. Currently most ebooks can only be lent for up to two weeks.

This new limitation addresses the bigger issue regarding ebooks. With ebooks, there is a much higher risk of plagiarism than with print books, yet deeply engrained into our culture is the idea of being able to lend our books to friends. With print books, it’s no big deal how many people you lend your book to; you own that book. But with ebooks, it’s more like you pay for the right to keep it on your hard drive, right now you can only lend a book once in its life, and only for two weeks. After two weeks, the file on your friend’s hard drive stops working.

Right now, there is no good solution to this problem. HarperCollins seems to be experimenting with new ideas, but unfortunately that hurts libraries with shorter loan periods. Still, if ebooks had no restrictions in libraries, then there is the chance that people would stop buying books altogether.

Maybe publishers could over a larger number of loans, say 50 or 100. And libraries could extend their loan periods. Or, if that doesn’t work, maybe publishers should turn to a subscription model. Libraries could pay a certain amount each month and license the unlimited use of a specified number of books, or even just an unlimited use, period. Right now, the best way seems to be experimentation. And even though HarperCollins recent decision is unpopular, it is just a first step.

HarperCollins Announces 26 Loan Limit on E-Book Circulation for Libraries

This Week in Publishing

According to this blog post, the death of print media is coming sooner than we think. Amazon recently said it’s now selling more e-books than paperbacks, and “for every 100 paperback books they’ve sold this January, they’re selling 115 ebooks…” This means ebook sales are 45 percent of all Amazon book sales. But what about ereaders?

Cavanaugh says, “I’m sticking by my assertion that e-readers themselves are way stations that will soon go the way of the Pong console. You can see that with every new generation of e-reader, which adds new writability and interactivity that make the devices behave more and more like those electronic brains our ancestors used to all “laptops.”

All of this is very interesting, especially just after Digital Book World, where Random House announced their plan to soon sell 50 percent ebooks, 50 percent print books. How will publishers change their strategies to raise their ebook sales? And how will they format their ebooks to fit new devices and ways to read them? Will it be a problem?

E-Book Sales Closing the Gap, Quickly

Here is a great example of the future of publishing. It’s not unusual to publish famous speeches, but with new technology we’re now able to quickly convert speeches into ebooks. Books are changing, and I think the new version of books will be shorter and more experimental. St. Martin’s Press’s ebook of President Obama’s speech at the Tucson memorial service on January 12 is just the start.

Obama’s Tucson Speech is Publishable

Turns out, libraries are still very important. And they can help publishers sell more books than bloggers. Libraries do what is called one-book, one-lend, which means the library licenses a book, someone comes in and downloads the book, that person is able to read that book for a specified period of time (usually two weeks), and then that person can no longer access the file. In December of 2010 alone, the New York Public Library had 36,000 ebook checkouts.

Still, not all ebooks are available to libraries. For example, “Life” by Keith Richards and “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen are not yet available. And people with Kindles are not able to check out ebooks because the Kindle only works with books that come from Amazon.

But the future of publishing seems to be with the ability to read any book at any time. I suspect some day Amazon will allow its books to be read on other devices, and all publishers will soon see the importance of making all books available in ebook format, particularly the best sellers.

Digital Book World: Where do libraries and ebooks meet?

 

Digital Book World 2011

Today I was a volunteer for Digital Book World 2011, an annual conference that discusses the changing technologies of the publishing world. It was cool–I got to meet people in the industry, and for about five hours I handled their coats. Yeah, that’s right: coats. It was actually a great way to meet new people, since nobody wanted to carry around their drippy, snowy, heavy coats all day.

I was able to see one of the talks, and it was about optimizing the sales of eBooks. Basically print-on-demand (POD) is on the rise, because it offsets printing costs quite a bit, and it is vital to digitize backlist titles. There were also a lot of statistics showing the effectiveness of digitization for certain books, and I was surprised to find that I’ve learned about most of this stuff in my NYU classes. I also learned that libraries are becoming more digital, and they are actually very helpful to publishers and still a big part of publishing.

The conference was held at the Sheraton Hotel, nearish to Rockefeller Center, and it lasted three days. To read more about the specific panels, check out the NYU blog posts Digital Book World: Optimism and Excitement and Digital Book World Day Two: Catering to Kids.