Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Why Kobo, Amazon and Barnes and Noble Need Dedicated Self-Publishing Sections

Bill Leggett

Many of the leading digital book stores all offer self-publishing programs. Kindle Direct Publishing, Nook Press and Kobo Writing Life all are viable platforms for indie authors to submit and sell their eBooks on a worldwide scale. Even Apple has got into the game by pulling curated content directly from Smashwords. All of these stores have a single thing in common, they list self-published titles side by side with traditionally published books. This is not a viable long-term strategy and these stores need to revise their approach.

A recent firestorm has erupted due to hundreds of adult eBooks with topics ranging from threesomes to incest are being listed in the same category as kids books. This has resulted in UK bookstore WH Smith shuttering their entire online bookstore. Kobo is has deleting close to a thousand titles on their platform and giving a scolding to the vanity presses who are responsible. Amazon and Barnes and Noble are addressing this issue in their own way, but are not publicly divulging anything.

Why hasn’t the industry embraced a dedicated self-publishing section and instead are listing the books right beside traditional published content? We have asked this very question to all of these companies at Book Expo America, Future Book and the Frankfurt Book Fair. Most have said their is no distinction between a self-published title and one done with a major publisher. A self-published section by its very nature might have a negative condentation. The bookstores basically have a vested interest in selling indie titles intermixed with everything else, because they make their commissions either way.

I think its very important for all major bookstores to have an indie section because small publishers and indie authors are abusing the system. I have seen many duplicate content with different titles and cover art listed in different categories in order to be visible. You might have an hardcore erotic book listed in Romance, Paranormal, Mystery and Thriller. Indies know that the more categories you are in, the more likely you will sell more titles. In other cases indie authors are stuffing their description and meta data with specific keywords to try and get their book to show up amidst popular searches. You even now have authors changing their pen name and book title to be very similar to popular authors. E.B James is one example of an author who capitalized on the whole 50 Shades of Grey gravy-train.

Major Publishers such as Penguin and S&S have seen their digital revenue increase to 24% within the last year. eBooks are doing nothing but generating more money and self-publishing is on the rise. With more titles being added every day by anyone with a word-processor the old way of listing the titles in the bookstore are not cutting it anymore. The firestorm about Kobo, WHSmith and adult content is nothing new, these books have been there for a longtime. If digital bookstores continue to maintain the status quo this can be an even bigger problem within a few years. eBook discovery will suffer and parents who buy innocently sounding books like “Daddy’s Playtime” might scar their kids for life.

Why Kobo, Amazon and Barnes and Noble Need Dedicated Self-Publishing Sections is a post from: E-Reader News

Publishers Begin to Abandon Apple Newsstand


Publishing companies are beginning to abandon Apple Newsstand as a singular vehicle to promote their digital magazines. This is primarily due to the revised nature of the app itself with the advent of iOS 7. Companies such as Maggio noticed the magazines are being squirreled away within the newsstand and forgotten about by the majority of subscribers.

Newsstand is a section of the App Store intended for periodicals. You need to publish at least quarterly to qualify. Newsstand apps are "real" apps just like their non-Newsstand counterparts. The difference is that the publisher has decided to list them within the Newsstand section of the store.

There are a few problems with the existing newsstand structure that is alienating publishers. All Apps and Games are represented by an icon when you are browsing the app store. Digital magazines listed on the newsstand don’t have an icon and instead have smaller version of the cover art. This simply does not work on mobile phones because it is too small to accurately decipher the small print. One annoying bug is that you can release your magazine as an app outside of the newsstand, but if you do it on the newsstand first you can’t.

In 2012, John Gruber said that Newsstand is a place where apps go to be forgotten. Today the Newsstand app is much worse. The folder-like design in iOS 5 and iOS 6 has been replaced with an opaque app icon. The end result is so horrible that it's hard to avoid thinking it was done maliciously: if someone was tasked with hiding away a set of unwanted apps, they would be likely to come back with a design that was something very much like the iOS 7 Newsstand.

Some companies are doing very well on the Newsstand but the future of publishing is done via the web and not apps. It simply takes too much time and money to use Adobe Creative Suite or buy into proprietary software to make a magazine. Considering Newsstand, Google, Zinio, Nextissue, PressReader all offer magazines, publishers are shooting themselves in the foot by customizing apps for all of these platforms. It is scalable in the long-run to invest in a HTML5 infrastructure that can be accessed on phones and tablets. You only  have to update one thing, instead of a bunch of little things, which saves time and energy.

Publishers Begin to Abandon Apple Newsstand is a post from: E-Reader News

Penguin: Hidden Gems

On September 25th we proudly announced the addition of more than 17,000 Penguin eBooks to our catalog purchasable by U.S. libraries and colleges. This exciting supplement brought the works of blockbuster authors such as Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Tom Clancy, Ken Follett, Maeve Binchy and many more to OverDrive's collection of over one million digital titles.


With so many great titles to sort through, it can be difficult to discover and select the titles your readers want most. To help with your selections, we will be offering up some "Hidden Gem" collections over the next few weeks to help you take advantage of all that our newly-available Penguin catalog has to offer. To kick off our "Hidden Gem" collections, we have some recommendations for absolutely-must-have titles that your digital collection cannot be without:


Elizabeth Gilbert – Eat, Pray, Love


John Green – The Fault in Our Stars


Jack Kerouac – On the Road


Michael Pollan – The Omnivore's Dilemma


Mario Puzo – The Godfather


Khaled Hosseini – The Kite Runner


Ayn Rand – Atlas Shrugged


John Steinbeck – The Grapes of Wrath, Cannery Row, and others


Jim Trelease – The Read-Aloud Handbook


Tracy Chevalier – Girl with a Pearl Earring


Kim Edwards – The Memory Keeper's Daughter


Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees


As a reminder, these Penguin titles are available to public and college libraries, including consortiums, on a one copy/one user lending model for a one-year period. For collection assistance, please contact OverDrive's Collection Development team at collectionteam@overdrive.com or your designated Collection Specialist.


Rob Mooney is a Collection Development Specialist at OverDrive.



Scholastic Book Fairs Go Mobile with New App


Many readers have fond memories of Scholastic Book Fair time when they were in school, getting the chance to browse new books and discover a new character, series, or author. But the world’s largest publisher of children’s books and content is bringing the book fair to mobile devices, thanks to its free app that lets young readers find out even more information about the books.

“We’ve been striving for a way to extend the book fair,” explained Deborah Forte, President at Scholastic Media, Executive VP at Scholastic, Inc., in an interview with Good e-Reader, “and this is a great compliment to the physical experience. Society is mobile, and it’s really great to be able to offer our customers a mobile extension of the book fair.”

Through the app, parents and students can scan the cover of books that are available on site and learn more about the book, the author, get recommendations for other books that might be of interest, get important information about the reading level and Accelerated Reading status of the books, and more. The app also lets schools offer their students even more selection beyond the books that are physically displayed during the event.

One very helpful feature that this app can offer readers and their families is students who attend schools that are taking advantage of digital learning can scan the covers of titles they are interested in within the app, then share that information at home with their parents in order to make purchasing choices about books.

“The application is a great way to connect the physical with the digital,” continued Forte, “and what we can do with this application is when a pair downloads the app it geolocates the fair and they simply press the location of their fair, and they go in and take the application and connects with the physical product in the fair. It offers far more information at the touch of a finger.”

One of the best features of this app is to help parents and teachers grow a curated collection of content that is age- and grade level-appropriate, and it also lifts the limitations of the physical fair to let readers find more content through the online fair extension. This also affords the hosting schools to benefit from the online purchasing in order to add to their fundraising book event.

Scholastic’s Storia ebook platform is also connected to the book fairs and the same information is provided through the app, allowing parents to choose the digital edition of books for their children during the excitement of the book fair.

“We really look at these fairs as a literacy event,” explained Forte, “we really believe that strongly that this is a way to create a lot of excitement around reading, and it works. Getting kids and families excited about reading and books is what it does, but it does benefit the school as well. The primary focus is that they want the kids to read more, and this is one very effective way to motivate kids and to allow them to be a part of the process of selecting books. The research says that when kids have a role in selecting their own books, they tend to read more.”

Scholastic Book Fairs Go Mobile with New App is a post from: E-Reader News

Ratsberry Pi – scampering Halloween rats

A quicky today – I’ve been running from meeting to meeting all day and have only just managed to get some time at my desk now, at half past four in the afternoon. Great meetings, though, and I discovered that Ben “Pi Weekly” Nuttall not only rescues the drowning in his kayak, but also does parkour.

Anyway. This Adafruit project, putting good use to servo motors, red LEDs and a bushel of rubber rodents, is just the ticket for freaking out your mother this Halloween.

Instructions and a parts list are at Adafruit, where I’m pretty sure Mosfet the cat (Mooncake’s favourite Skype buddy) is having a fantastic time with the rubber corpses.

Got a Halloween project you think we might like to feature here? Mail me!

Podcast: New and featured content for October

Do you want in on the newest and hottest titles available in OverDrive Marketplace? Tune in to the October edition of Collection Highlights, where you'll hear all about popular new content, recently added publishers, and big news from members of the Big Five.


In this month's podcast, we tell you about two new curated lists you'll be seeing in Marketplace from now on—Top Picks and LibraryReads—which are designed to highlight top titles and help make collection development easier than ever. We also recap big news about Penguin and Macmillan availability, and clue you in to lots of other newly available content, including niche titles for dog lovers from Dogwise, Chinese-language eBooks from Heibei Guanlin Digital Publishing Co., and the latest thrillers from UK-based Quercus.


Stay tuned through the end of the short podcast to hear about which other publishers are scheduled to join us soon, as well as additional tips and resources for placing orders in Marketplace. October's podcast is available until the end of the month on OverDrive’s Learning Center.


Carrie Smith is a Technical Writer at OverDrive.


Book Distribution in Russia Enhanced via Ingram


Ingram has expanded their Global Connect Group into Russia with a new deal with EE Media. This will allow publishers to print new books on demand in less then 48 hours and then them through a domestic distribution network.

EE Media is the largest print distribution company in Russia. They have 2,343,321 titles in their catalog and ship books to over 3,000 bookstores. This new agreement with Ingram will ensure that local and international publishers can print and distribute books in Russian, English and a myriad of other languages. The English book market is said to be worth around $100 million a year and should grow. CEO Denis Kotov of Bookvoed, one of the largest traditional book chains in Russia said, “Currently, English language books are poorly represented in Russia, but even despite this, there is healthy demand. Through the work between EE Media and Ingram, we look forward to having access to a greater number of quality English books for the consumers we serve.”

"Our Global Connect network provides publishers with a comprehensive option to expand the reach of content to new global markets,” said David Taylor, Senior Vice President, Content Acquisition International, Ingram Content Group Inc. “In today’s immediate all-access world, publishers need solutions that ensure books are immediately available to people who want to buy them, and through Ingram’s proven Global Connect offer, they have a single, integrated solution to do that globally.”

Book Distribution in Russia Enhanced via Ingram is a post from: E-Reader News