Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Amazon: Game Changer or Whipping Boy?

Warning: you’ll need your tissue box handy when you read this piece for The New Yorker about how Amazon has ruthlessly destroyed every single aspect of the entire book industry. You’re free to ignore the fact that it was written by an author who has no less than eight books are currently available on Amazon, a couple of which are even at the top of Amazon’s rankings; the author certainly chose to ignore that. (In an interesting aside, clicking on the author’s book titles in his bio on the article links directly to their Amazon sales pages.)

There’s no need to go into detail on an article that would actually qualify as a Kindle Single (editor-in-chief David Blum could consider it for publication if his name wasn’t dragged through the mud in the piece), and the primary reason for skipping the details is the author decided he could skip crucial details, too…like the names of all the so-called sources who gave him insider information into Amazon’s evil ways, some of which border on allegations of criminal activity. Of course, the number of times the author had to state that his facts had been denied by one party or another was almost laughable.

The short and skinny of the piece–from what I could gather amidst all of the veiled-truths and unfounded statements, including assertions that Amazon is struggling to even make a profit while posting a net income of $239 million last quarter–is that Amazon is a book killer, hellbent on duping greedy consumers into pressing that Buy It Now button before sitting back and waiting for a drone (one that didn’t have to have fair wages or air conditioning in its warehouse) to deliver their goods.

The reality? By their own admission, sources in the article have stated that Amazon saved the book industry, saved the publishing houses, made reading reach new levels of consumer engagement, gave authors who’d been spit on by the publishing industry a home for their works, and created a whole new climate of reader engagement. According to the article, the company takes advantage of its warehouse employees by paying them a shocking $4US per hour over the current minimum wage; incidentally, Amazon also has a program in place to hire US military veterans upon returning home from war, with a special emphasis on providing jobs for disabled veterans and their spouses.

Yes, Amazon has grown both horizontally and vertically, branching out into unheard of and unrelated industries. And despite the allegation that Jeff Bezos never cared at all about books, choosing to focus on those initially because they were hard to damage in shipping, the man has almost single-handedly revived a culture of reading and writing that was floundering, to say the least.

As for the publishers cited (or not cited, as very few real names were revealed) who are terrified of upsetting Amazon? Grow a back bone and sever ties with the world’s largest retailer if you can do it better on your own. Or, alternately, stop complaining about the company that puts your books in front of more consumers than any other retailer on the planet. Any author who wishes to criticize the company that is arguably selling more of his books than anyone else should remove his titles immediately, at the risk of being a hypocrite. To say that Amazon is destroying the industry while cashing a royalty check takes a certain level or nerve.

Amazon: Game Changer or Whipping Boy? is a post from: E-Reader News

Kobo, Bella Andre Launch Three-Month Exclusive Book Deal

In another brilliant career move by highly successful self-published author Bella Andre, the author signed an exclusive contract with Kobo to make five of her popular Lucy Kevin titles available in French exclusively through the Writing Life platform. Andre, who wrote the Four Weddings and a Fiasco series under the name Lucy Kevin, has become widely recognized for maintaining strict creative and rights control over her work, despite traditional print publishing deals with a major publisher, a move that has allowed her to make decisions such as the Kobo deal.

According to a press release from Kobo, “The first title, The Wedding Gift (Le Cadeau), is now available, with the other titles launching throughout the year. From now until February 15th customers who purchase any Kobo eReader model at any Kobo retailer in France will receive a copy of Le Cadeau and three other eBook titles for free. The translation, a collaboration between Kobo and Lucy Kevin, is a part of a Kobo Writing Life initiative to bring self-published authors to new non-English markets.”

Andre, who also writes the bestselling Sullivans series, told Good e-Reader yesterday that this promotion is exactly the kind of opportunity that authors need to take advantage of, especially as it relates to providing their fans with content in a timely way.

“Writing the next great book is always the most important thing you can do for your career, whether you are just starting out or consistently hit the NYT bestseller list. I have consistently released a book about The Sullivans once a quarter since 2011, and once I hit book five in my series about The Sullivans, my career jumped to an entirely new level! Now that I’m about to release Book 12 (JUST TO BE WITH YOU) in early March 2014, the number one thing my readers say on Facebook and Twitter and in emails is that they hope I never stop writing about The Sullivans because they want to read stories about this family forever.”

Kobo’s Writing Life platform has allowed self-published authors to make their books available globally, and translation efforts like Andre’s help ensure that content reaches viable reading markets. Kobo currently has an ebook and e-reader retail presence in over 190 countries.

Kobo, Bella Andre Launch Three-Month Exclusive Book Deal is a post from: E-Reader News

Oyster Launches New Kids Section – Signs Deal with Disney


Oyster, better known as the Netflix of eBooks, has just launched a new childrens section today, which should give parents another reason to sign up for the service. The bulk of the titles are stemming from a new relationship with Disney Publishing.

The eBook subscription site launched last September and current has a library of 100,000 titles. Oyster charges $9.95 a month to read as many backlist titles as you want, on the iPad or iPhone.

The kids section is mainly populated by titles garnered by the new Disney deal. Of course, you have the main characters such as Mickey, Donald and Goofy, but also Toy Story, Cars and the Disney Princesses. One of the big benefits of this category is putting content in there that used to be in the YA area. Parents be warned, the vast majority of the Disney titles on Oyster are not picture books, but they are short novels.

Oyster Launches New Kids Section – Signs Deal with Disney is a post from: E-Reader News

Google Accused of Dodging Taxes in South Africa


Close on the heels of Google having to deal with some uncomfortable tax evading accusations in Europe, the search giant is facing a somewhat similar scenario in South Africa as well. Google has drawn the ire of the local media company Naspers, which has accused the company of following unscrupulous business practices in the African nation by not only denying the country its rightful share of taxes but also making it difficult for the domestic publishing industry to remain competitive.

Google clearly has a dominant position in the South African market and local digital publishers would benefit if the playing fields were leveled, making global companies abide by the same rules, price structures and economics faced by smaller local businesses. In the digital age, we accept that we compete with businesses from all over the world. However, it is clearly wrong that, as we invest in building a taxpaying business employing hundreds of South Africans, we are competitively disadvantaged through aggressive tax-planning strategies of global businesses,” says CEO Geoff Cohen.

Google is estimated to have caused the national exchequer a loss of R140 million per year in corporate taxes. Rough estimates put the loss to another R100 million in PAYE.

Google has denied the allegation, saying it follows South Africa’s tax laws and those of every other country else it has set up operations. The company further argued that the onus is on its advertisers to report and remit value-added tax (VAT). While current laws cannot hold Google accountable for reporting VAT, that is set to change April 1 as digital goods suppliers and services will be brought under the reach of VAT.

Google further stated it also helps the domestic publishing industry to grow by driving traffic to their sites via organic search results, as well as through Google news., which happens to be Nasper’s online publishing arm, is not convinced and is seeking changes in the current tax system to make companies like Google accountable. “Considering the rapid growth rate of digital advertising, it remains to be seen whether, and if, South African tax legislation will be amended quickly enough to adapt to this critical issue,” said sources.

However, it will be interesting to note that this isn't the first time that Nesper has hurled allegations against Google. The South Africa-based media company had earlier taken Google to court in Poland and Brazil on similar charges. The matter is sub-judice in Brazi,l even though Google won the first round there.

Google Accused of Dodging Taxes in South Africa is a post from: E-Reader News

Hachette Reports Good Sales in 2013


The France-based publishing company Lagardère revealed it has had a profitable year in 2013, reporting positive growth in sales in both the US and UK. The company's revenue went up 1.9 percent in 2013, which is in spite of a slight hiccup that the company had to deal with in the final quarter of 2012 owning to a strong Euro. However, Lagardère revealed ebooks have grown to 10.4 percent of its total sales in 2013. This marks a growth over the 7.8 percent that ebooks made for the publisher's total sales in 2012. The publisher further revealed its digital growth is largely limited to the US and UK markets. France has reported good results though the same could not be said of Spain, yet to come out of the financial mess it is embroiled in.

Hachette Book Group had a very strong year in 2013, with continued digital growth, the acquisition of Hyperion, and more bestsellers than ever before, including 10 of Bookscan's top 25 hardcover fiction titles,” said Michael Pietsch, CEO HBG while declaring the results.

The publisher also reported brisk sales of Sir Alex Ferguson’s autobiography, which sold 1.4 million copies so far, thereby contributing to the publisher's good performance. As for Hachette’s performance in the UK, the firm revealed its proceeds from digital sales stands at £70 million in 2013.

Tim Hely Hutchinson, Hachette UK CEO, said: “2013 was another stand out year for Hachette UK, in fact it was one of our best years ever. We estimate that our combined e and p sales give us a UK market share of 15% in 2013. We are the leading e-book publisher by some margin and January 2014 is our best month ever for digital sales.”

Hachette Reports Good Sales in 2013 is a post from: E-Reader News

Catch the “low-hanging fruit” of marketing ideas

I am a big fan of the "low hanging fruit" philosophy where you take a course of action that can be undertaken quickly and easily as part of a wider range of changes or solutions to a problem. Today specifically, I am applying this philosophy to marketing your school's digital collection.

Here's my list of the top five quick and simple marketing ideas to get you started:

  1. Place a web graphic on your school's website, catalog and other digital resources.
  2. Distribute print-ready materials (standard marketing suite/printable getting started guides) to raise awareness of your digital collection.
  3. Announce launch of your digital collection and new titles to students over loudspeaker or in a newsletter using suggested wording from our student outreach templates.
  4. Raise awareness of your digital collection to parents at parent teacher conferences or by sending a memo using wording from our student outreach templates.
  5. Provide teachers with a brief 'script' to promote the digital collection at the beginning of class. You can use wording from the student outreach templates or make it even simpler by just having them play the 'School digital library website overview' video.

If you have already checked those five activities off your list – excellent! Now it is time to take it up to the next level. Try organizing a digital book club, exploring social media promotion, connecting with teachers to find ways to incorporate eBooks into the classroom, and more! Check back on our blog frequently for new marketing ideas and reference our Partner Portal for existing resources.


Cassie  Renner is a Marketing Specialist with OverDrive.


Top 25 love stories of all time



You know Valentine's Day is coming soon, love is in the air, and we just happen to have a handy list of a few of the best love stories of all time. You may be surprised by some of the titles, but we hope you're intrigued too.

You can find the complete lists of one copy/one user titles and metered access titles here:

Top Love Stories: One Copy/One User

Top Love Stories: Metered Access


The timing couldn't be better, because we also have a great big February Romance sale going on right now through the end of the month. Romance titles 30-50% off! This is a chance for you to get two titles for the price of one and dramatically increase your content in the genre that circulates the most.

Disagree with our list? What did we leave out? Please feel free to comment!

*Geographical rights may vary by title.


Cindy Orr is a Digital Collection Advisor at OverDrive.


Getting started with Streaming Video

I do not have cable. There. I said it. Like many Millennials, I have grown up with the convenience wonder that is simply logging on to the Internet and being able to watch almost anything I'd like. This instant gratification is an amazing thing, and the phenomenon of watching TV online isn't just a temporary fascination, either. I was clued into this when my father started sending me YouTube videos of water-powered jetpack stunts. However, there are times when I would like to actually sit down and watch a film that doesn't have to do with cats (no offense to cats intended). I want to do yoga in the quiet of my own room without having to slog a mat through the snowy, Cleveland streets. Even more so, I want to be able to get Streaming Video from my local library. Why? Because that's why it's there.

computer_popcornThe library is just as much about discovery as the Internet is, but without the disconnect and lack of human element. OverDrive's Streaming Video is the perfect marriage of the great library service your patrons expect and the convenience of finding great material whenever, wherever.

Our Collection Development team has streamlined (pun intended) the process of getting started. Simply pick some awesome titles from our ever-growing catalog, or to make things super easy, try our Streaming Video Starter Kit – a hand-curated list of our favorites. If you would like additional collection lists, email your Collection Development specialist. Once you submit your order, your Account Specialist will be in touch about updating your site to support the Streaming Video for your users. Check it out! Because, you know, you can do that now – in your pajamas. Just like I will be.

Kate Seivertson is a Collection Development Analyst at OverDrive.


Amazon Publishing Wins Auction of Self-Published Author’s New Thriller

While the news indicates that Amazon Publishing may be floundering a little in the US, its UK publishing division just bid on and won a multiple-rights five-figure deal for a self-published author’s new historical thriller title, The Thief Taker by Cath Quinn. Set in seventeenth century London during the plague, Quinn’s title will be published under the Thomas & Mercer imprint.

A couple of interesting aspects of the deal, notably Amazon’s snagging of multiple rights to publish it in both English and German, point to the publishing house’s intention to remain a force in the industry, despite performance so far.

Like more and more publishers, Amazon Publishing is taking a gamble on authors who’ve already enjoyed self-publishing success, a far cry from only a handful of years ago when a history of self-publishing pretty much sealed an author’s fate as far as traditional publishers and literary agents were concerned.

Apart from the significant advance, this deal also offers the author Amazon’s typically lofty royalty percentage, something that more authors have been able to negotiate in their contracts. Authors, especially those who’ve already sold well over one hundred thousand books through self-publishing like Quinn has, are in a better position to negotiate because they already know what they can achieve on their own. Several authors have spoken out recently on their refusal to accept traditional deals due to their own confidence in their ability to sell books and retain up to seventy percent royalty, as opposed to the seven to twenty-five percent that is typical of the industry.

One obvious area where self-published authors still benefit from traditional publishers is in international rights’ deals such as this one. While not impossible for authors to market and sell their own titles outside of their home countries, many authors have negotiated deals with publishers strictly for these international rights. This particular deal also demonstrates Amazon Publishing’s interest in building their presence in Germany.

Amazon Publishing Wins Auction of Self-Published Author’s New Thriller is a post from: E-Reader News

Talking Book and Braille Center Offering Free Home Delivery of Reading Material


The South Brunswick Public Library (SBPL) has teamed up with the New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center (TBBC) to offer free home delivery of reading materials to the residents of South Brunswick, New Jersey. The services include audio books and magazines, audiobook players, and Braille books. In addition, patrons also have the option to download audiobooks and magazines. The library also offers the BARD mobile app and news-reading services available 24/7. The audiobook players and audiobooks are made available by the Library of Congress.

“The Talking Book and Braille Center provides wonderful services for our patrons and residents throughout New Jersey who need assistive means to read,” said Chris Carbone, director of the SBPL. “South Brunswick librarians are on hand to help introduce those in need of these services to what TBBC can offer and help them connect to this very important partner in reading.”

The move to offer books right to the doorsteps at no extra cost will be of immense help to people with visual impairments or other forms of reading disabilities.

Talking Book and Braille Center Offering Free Home Delivery of Reading Material is a post from: E-Reader News

Daily Deals & Freebies – February 12

Kindle Daily Deals Middle Men by Jim Gavin In this widely acclaimed story collection, Jim Gavin delivers a hilarious and panoramic vision of California, in which a number of down-on-their-luck men, from young dreamers to old vets, make valiant forays into middle-class respectability. Each of the men in Gavin's stories is stuck somewhere in the […]