Call for interviewees

Dear writer (yes, this post is for independent authors and writers specifically),

If you are interested in doing a fun written interview, please let me know (by e-mail, or in a comment to this post with a way that I can contact you).

You can find a sample of the questions here, so you know what you will be in for. I have tried to make the questions a bit different from a ‘standard’ interview.

I am looking forward to ‘hear’ from you!

Are ebook sales reaching a plateau?

Via: TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics, by a TeleRead Contributor

Screen Shot 2012 03 22 at 9 32 49 AM

From Dead Tree Edition:

When the U.S. magazine industry gets hot and bothered about the latest craze, you can usually bet that trend is about to run out of steam.

E-books were the talk of many magazine people at this week’s Publishing Business Conference in New York, my spies tell me. The web – which is so hopelessly last year – was hardly mentioned. Everyone wanted to chat about their e-books and tablet editions, more so about their cool factor than about whether they were earning much profit.

Meanwhile, the book-publishing half of the huge conference was getting some rather startling news: The once-exploding sales growth of e-books in the U.S. has slowed dramatically, according to research from RR Bowker. (My correspondent’s account is corroborated by Paul Biba of TeleRead.) This just proves Stein’s Law of Economics: An unsustainable trend cannot be sustained.

“We went from exponential to incremental growth,” said Kelly Gallagher, a Bowker vice president, who also referred to “some level of saturation” in the U.S. market. The breathless predictions of two years ago, which suggested that the growth of e-books would soon shut down all the book printing presses and brick-and-mortar bookstores, turned out to be way off the mark.

E-book sales will probably continue to grow incrementally, Gallagher said, but no one has the market figured out. “Anyone who tells you they have figured it out is probably trying to get some consulting money out of you.”

Despite the massive purchases of tablets and e-readers during the 2011 holiday season, the proportion of book buyers who bought an e-book rose from 17% late last year to only 20% in January, according to Bowker’s research.

Recent buyers of e-reading devices are not purchasing as many e-books as the early adopters do, Gallagher said. Many of those who have switched over to full-color tablets may be caught up in “Angry Birds Syndrome”and not doing much book reading on their new gizmos.

And here’s the real shocker: The power purchasers of e-books (60% of the U.S. volume comes from people who buy at least four titles per month) are buying more ink-on-paper books than previously

All reports indicate that the conference had very few of the print-vs.-digital discussions of previous years. Most publishers seemed to accept that they would be making money from print for a long time to come, that digital editions had real promise, and that they needed to figure out how they could make actual money from the web.

The only “print is dead” sort of talk came in regards to textbooks, which some said would be rapidly replaced by e-books and educational software. But the children’s non-textbook book market is a different story, with e-books having less than 5% market penetration and not showing much promise in the tablet world.

“The App Store is a nightmare for finding children’s book apps,” one publisher complained. What we have here is a rare piece of good news for the future of print-media industries: Today’s children will be trained to associate e-editions with work and printed editions with fun reading.

Self-publishing and pricing

On the blog The Bliss Quest, a blogger who goes by Athena writes a lengthy, thoughtful post looking setting a price for her self-published book. After her last publisher offered her a contract that would only pay her 5% of the book’s cover price (and her editor actually told her “Writers don’t write to make money, they write because they must”), she started looking longingly at the 70% revenue that self-publishing would offer her, and trying to figure out just how many copies she would need to sell at what price in order to make back minimum wage for the time spent writing the book.

She was looking at pricing it at $6, but the problem she runs into is that a lot of the people she talked to who might be inclined to read e-books are cheapskates—they only want to pay $4.99 or less. Athena finds this rather frustrating—as she points out, depending on reading speed, $6 for a book is often less than $1 per hour of entertainment, and people pay a lot more than that for movies.

If writing (my book) does not pay for me to survive well enough to write the next one and the next one – I’m clearly in the wrong profession. If my writing can’t entice people to pay $1 an hour for entertainment – then I might as well be doing something else. If people will pay 12$ for a two hour movie like Transformers 3 or the newest haunted flick, but they won’t pay 6$ for a book – then I’m not doing my job well enough.

I can certainly sympathize. As an unknown independent author, the problem she faces is not just a matter of price, of course. It’s a matter of all the competition out there at all price ranges, and the competition for people’s time from non-book-related activities. And from an economic point of view, it’s hard to figure out how to reach the optimum point on a price-demand curve since every book is going to have a different appeal and thus different demand.

But the question of what price to set is one that every self-publishing author is going to have to face, and nonetheless it’s interesting to see Athena’s thoughts on how to approach it. Hopefully she can get some good advice from writers who’ve gone that way before.

(Via Teleread).

Amazon Dominates the World eBook Market

Kelly Gallegher, the VP of Publishing Services at RR Bowker gave an eye opening presentation at a conference. RR Bowker has just completed a 120 country survey into consumer’s ebook buying habits, and today we got a look at some of the data.

The presentation was densely packed with info, and there was in fact more data on the slides than you can take in at one sitting.

If I get the slides I will post them, but until then I think the photos are worth a look.  The world ebook market is a lot more complex than you might think, and each country in the survey has its own market quirks.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • eReaders in the US market peaked at 70% in August 2011, PCs now under 10%
  • From November 2011 to January 2012, the percentage of ebook buyers went from 17% to 20% in the US
  • 35% of ebook buyers are power buyers, and they buy 60% of ebooks & spend 48% of the market
  • Print power buyers, on the other hand, only account for 22%, buy 53% books sold, and they account half the market
  • US ebook market might have hit a saturation point, given that growth has slowed down

And here are some details from the international market

  • fiction has its greatest appeal in developed countries
  • non-fiction & technical books have greater appeal in the emerging ebook markets
  • the PC is still the most popular reading device (all markets)
  • eReaders are the most popular reading device in the US, UK and smartphones win in South Korea
  • India & Brazil have the greatest potential for growth, both in terms of low resistance and high enthusiasm
  • Kobo has a major presence in South Korea (15%)

And as for Amazon, in almost every country where they have a local ebookstore they are the single largest source of ebooks. The one exception is France, where the Kindle Store loses out to “high street chains”, collectively. Split those stores up (Fnac, for example) and Amazon probably wins there too.

Bowker also found that B&N doesn’t show up as having nearly the market presence I thought they did. Consumers reported them as having only 13% of the US market.

(This news via ‘the digital reader‘)

10 Things Readers May Not Know About Indie Authors

By  Todd R. Tystad, author of Blue Hill, stolen from Original article here.

Modern media has given birth to independent musicians and independent filmmakers and now to independent authors, more popularly known as indie authors.  In the spirit of the indie musicians and filmmakers that came before them, indie authors are now blazing their own trails outside the publishing establishment.  With this new category of artist, readers may be unfamiliar with what defines an indie author.  So, let’s get to know the indie author and why the breed is so rare.  This list certainly doesn’t define every indie author, just as no list could ever define every indie musician or filmmaker.  Every indie author is different from the next and that’s one of the many reasons they’re deemed independent.  Here’s a list of ten things you may not know about indie authors:

  1. The indie author is a dedicated reader, just like you.  She loves books and what she earns from her work is often put back into buying books, often from other indie authors.  She can’t help it because she fell in love with language and the printed word at an early age. Creating stories and sharing ideas through her writing is second nature and a life without books is unimaginable.  Reading and writing is just another necessary behavior, like breathing, eating, and sleeping.
  2. The indie author is a regular guy who goes to work, comes home, takes out the trash, feeds the kids, and walks the dog.  The difference is that when the day job and the chores are done, he summons up the creative energy needed to spin all sorts of tales with the hope of entertaining his readers.  It takes Herculean strength to create characters, build cities, and poetically describe feelings of passion just minutes after cleaning out the litter box, but the indie author can do all that and more.  He’s really quite remarkable.
  3. The indie author believes that books are a medium that will never grow old.  Storytelling will always be a part of the human experience and books will always be a way that we share our stories.  The form that books take has been changing, but the value of reading a well-written story never will.
  4. The indie author dreams that her main character will overcome every obstacle, slay every dragon, and fall in love in a way that has never happened before.  She has faith that true love will prevail and she knows that if you believe, anything can happen.  All she wants is for you to join her on her journey.
  5. The indie author is a renegade, a rebel, and a force to be reckoned with.  In quiet ways and armed only with language and some carefully laid-out ideas, he will not rest until he has delivered his story to his readers.  He sits for hours composing what he has dreamed of sharing and rejects the traditional publishing rules that tell him it must be done in a certain way.
  6. The indie author is the author you’ll be hearing about in the future.  She’s a rising star.   She knows that even if she becomes successful enough that the next computer will be newer or the paper more plentiful, she’ll still write with the same zeal that she had when she wrote her first book.  Read that first book now so you can say you knew her back when she first got started.
  7. The indie author is not a franchise figurehead leading a creative staff and an editorial team producing books by committee.  The indie author is an individual writer, toiling away in the early morning or late at night creating stories that emerge organically and are handcrafted with the love a parent has for a child.
  8. The indie author is inspired to be a writer, but is usually not inspired to be a marketer.  Since the task of promoting an indie book falls entirely onto the shoulders of the indie author, he must become an independent businessperson (by default and usually not by choice). Treat him kindly when he visits your doorstep selling his wares.
  9. The indie author is technologically proficient (also by default and also usually not by choice).  Indie publishing requires that he be expert in managing data, formatting, uploading, creating cover art, and interacting with various indie publishing websites.  If not, he must scrounge up the money to pay someone else to do it for him and that can often be a significant obstacle.  He sometimes wishes technology could be set aside so that all of the time he spends on technological proficiency could be used for writing.
  10. Most of all, the indie author is, in her heart, the defender of the independent spirit and the keeper of the faith.  As fresh ideas become more difficult to find, the indie author becomes more determined.  She has refused to be bound by the shackles of the establishment and she has no intention of backing down.  The indie author writes and publishes independently and, through her work, she helps to keep us thinking independently too.


The Devil’s Diary – 1

Dear reader,

As I already threatened posted earlier, I am going to post the first two chapters of The Devil’s Diary, a new book I am working on to publish.

Again the warning:
It is not for the faint of heart who are very religious and can’t take jokes, puns and other stabs to religions, gods and other creatures belonging to that.

If you decide to read on, and you are offended – my apologies, but that’s life. And in that case the book is not for you. (Chapter 2 will appear in a few hours.)

Continue reading “The Devil’s Diary – 1”