When it comes to bestseller lists, the average reader will base their decisions on what to buy through them. The New York Times started to include ebooks in print and online editions back in 2011 when the Kindle and Nook first became popular. The dominate force in bestseller lists is Nielsen BookScan, who harvests their data from major online booksellers. Many of the top newspapers in the world, such as the Wall Street Journal, use Nielsens book data in their own lists. Sadly, Nielsen is capitalizing on faulty sales data from online sellers and is abusing the public trust .
Nielsen BookScan gleans its online sales data from companies such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million. The offline data comes from a myriad of non-traditional bookselling outlets such as big department stores or supermarkets. Nielsen condenses the information and then publishes it to their affiliate list, such as major newspapers and then back to the online retailers.
So how exactly is Nielsen providing faulty sales data in their reports? The crux of the issue is authors using services such as ResultSource to inflate their sales figures, effectively buying their way onto the bestseller lists. Since authors do this over a period of a few weeks, it provides falsified data to Nielsen and then they distribute it worldwide.
Mark Driscoll pastors a large church in Seattle and recently paid a marketing firm, more than $200,000 to get his book onto the New York Time bestseller list. The scheme included hiring people to purchase 6000 copies of the book in bookstores, then ordering another 5000 copies in bulk. They even made sure to use more than 1000 different payment methods, so Nielsen BookScan couldn’t track all the purchases back to a single source.
Soren Kaplan, a business consultant and speaker, hired ResultSource to promote his book "Leapfrogging." Responding to the WSJ article on his website, Kaplan breaks out the economics of making the list. “With a $27.95 list price, I was told that the cost of each book would total about $23.50 after various retail discounts and including $3.99 for tax, handling and shipping. To ensure a spot on The Wall Street Journal's bestseller list, I needed to obtain commitments from my clients for a minimum of 3000 books at about $23.50, a total of about $70,500. I would need to multiply these numbers by a factor of about three to hit The New York Times list.”
Amazon bestselling Author Norm Schriever explained on a basic level how all of these companies operate. ”The formula is simple – pre-order enough of your own books from the right book stores (albeit at a discount) and you will rank high enough to show up on the list. Then you can re-sell the books to recoup some of your costs. To avoid transparency, the firms break up the orders into purchases from smaller corporate entities with different names. It might cost you $50,000-$80,000 to get on the Wall Street Journal's list, and triple that to be in the big-daddy NYT list.
So it should now be obviously quite clear that a bunch of authors are buying their way onto the bestseller lists. Book sales are the main component, but Amazon is now employing other factors such as book reviews. Todd Rutherford ran a website called GettingBookReviews.com that reviewed books for $99.99 a pop or arranged 20 reviews for $499 or 50 reviews for $999. He would post them on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other self-publishing websites to help authors get noticed. It certainly helped indie darling John Locke, who ordered 300 reviews and went on to sell over one million ebooks on Amazon. Before this website was shut down, it was generating $28,000 a month from authors looking for a competitive advantage.
So how many books do you need to sell to get on Amazons bestseller list? Normally you need to get between 500 and 1,000 sales of your book within the first few days following its release then you are on your way to making it on the top 100. If you're really ambitious and your aim is to hit the list of Top 5, you're going to have to be a lot more aggressive in getting higher sales numbers. It seems that a title in Amazon's top five averages 1,094 print copies sold across all channels, including other retailers, on a typical day. Amazon controls close to 70% of the US eBook market and 30% of selling physical books.
Many authors are abusing the bestseller lists using the above methodologies. They understand the prerequisites of what constitutes a bestseller from the online merchants and brick and mortar stores. Since Nielsen pulls its data primarily from these two companies, you can see how their data is falsified on a regular basis. Many authors can then add the title “bestselling author” to every book they publish and will automatically garner more attention than someone else without the credentials.
Is it legal to buy your way onto the list? Of course, all it takes is a few hundred thousand. If your goal is to be a professional author, this can be seen as an investment into your future. It might be an a really good idea to start your own real world botnet of people willing to buy other authors books. Either way, the very definition of a bestseller list is being bastardized and its being increasingly harder to trust indie authors, who are often the most guilty parties.
Friday, March 21, 2014
Some great apps from Disney and other companies have been released this past week. Rovio also dispensed an update for their seminal Angry Birds Go racer. Today, we look at the top 10 new apps of the week from our own Good e-Reader App Store.
FarmVille 2: Country Escape – Farm at your own pace, whether you have 30 seconds or 30 minutes. Play with friends or on your own in our new Anonymous Mode: Facebook not required. You can also play when not connected to the internet. Join a Farm Co-Op to trade and share, and go on Farm Adventures to collect rare goods. Now, you can finally play FarmVille anytime… anywhere. Best of all, it's free!
Ustream – Watch live video and broadcast live on your phone or tablet – anytime, anywhere!
Smash Hit – Take a surreal journey through an otherworldly dimension, move in harmony with sound and music and smash everything in your path! This experience requires focus, concentration, and timing to not only travel as far as you can, but also break the beautiful glass objects that stand in your way.
Vinylmation: Create Your Own – Unleash your inner artist when you design and decorate a custom Vinylmation character! Paint, accessorize, and apply decals to blank Mickey or Minnie molds. Then save your creation to build your own Vinylmation collection.
Crazy Taxi Free – Hey hey, come on over and have some fun with Crazy Taxi! Barrel through traffic packed streets, hurdle off parking garages, and crazy combo your way to crazy money in a wild frantic race to scare up the most fares. In Crazy Taxi, time is money, and only the craziest cabbies come out victorious.
Catch the Candies – A group of lovely pets are given a tour in your mysterious candy factory and it is your job to feed them the candies and make them happy. The goal of the game is very simple but how you do that is what makes the game a treat in its own right. The candy will bounce off multiple pegs, each hit adding up points and changing the direction of the candy to the bottom pets.
Atari’s Greatest Hits – Relive the Golden Age of Gaming with a collection of the most popular retro games from the 70s and 80s. This extensive catalog pays homage to each of the originals, with controls designed to mimic what Atari fans remember from 30 years ago! For those who love the classic gaming experience, this handheld breakthrough is sure to guarantee hours of fun.
Squiggle Racer 8 Bit Race Game – Do you like games that are REALLY hard, yes REALLY hard?? Did you find the Flappy Bird game / clone WAY too easy… good, this game is for you! Don't think it's as easy as it looks! Yes, it's that hard, you might not get a single lap in without a bit of practice, but once you do, its just oh sooooo sweet!!
Episode – Choose Your Story – Welcome to Episode: your home for interactive, visual stories, where as the player YOU choose what path your character takes!
Shaw Go: Movie Central – With Shaw Go and the Movie Central app, Shaw and Shaw Direct Movie Central subscribers can now get instant, on-the-go access to recent box office hits, popular HBO and Showtime series and more. Over 800 titles available – anytime, anywhere.
Top 10 New Android Apps of the Week – March 21 2014 is a post from: Good e-Reader
Apple is considering making an Android version of their iTunes Store. This
Billboard has stated that “Apple has opened exploratory talks with senior label executives about the possibility of launching an on-demand streaming service that would rival Spotify and Beats Music, according to three people familiar with the talks. Apple is also thinking about adding an iTunes App for Android phones, the Google rival that has been growing faster than the iPhone, these sources said.”
iTunes is currently available for Apple TV, iOS and Windows 8. Moving to the only other ecosystem of note would make sense. It would allow people who invested themselves into the Android ecosystem to make purchases from Apple and give them a valid alternative to dealing directly with Google.
Alex Eames started doing amazing things with the Raspberry Pi very shortly after we launched. He runs RasPi.TV, and he’s become a good friend of the Raspberry Pi project over the last couple of years. RasPi.TV is a really terrific blog and YouTube channel dedicated to all things Pi, and in recent months Alex has also been branching out into Raspberry Pi peripherals: you may well have seen his extremely successful HDMIPi Kickstarter last year.
The latest addition to Alex’s stable is a range called RasPiO: at launch, it’s a selection of three new expansion boards for your Pi.
There’s a GPIO labeller; an expansion board that takes male or female wires; and another expansion board with a protection circuit for each GPIO port. We think they’re great: extremely simple, phenomenally useful, and very keenly priced. Here’s Alex to explain what it’s all about.
You can read more about RasPiO at RasPi.TV. We’ll be ordering some ourselves for Pi Towers, once we’re all done with the work on our new website (coming real soon now - we’re very much on the final stretch!) and have some time to play again.
Home-based publishing businesses are on the rise, and unfortunately, many have created a niche for themselves that falls somewhere between legitimate publishing and vanity press. While still taking submissions of manuscripts–often unagented submissions, which has been attractive to authors who’ve been rejected by the first level of gatekeeper to the industry–the numbers of rejected manuscripts from these new publishers are surprisingly low.
Once a manuscript is accepted, publishers work in one of two ways: the traditional royalty model in which the author fronts none of the costs associated with editing, art design, layout, or publication, or the pay-upfront model in which the author pays for his services, and the completed product is his sole property.
The problem comes in due to these so-called publishers who are operating under both systems. Authors are charged for their necessary services upfront–sometimes to the tune of thousands of dollars–and then are also charged a portion of their book sales in royalties. The publisher controls the sales of the book even though the rights to the book are still legally the author’s due to the arrangement. The author (and still rights holder) has no access to the sales data or royalty payments, and instead has to request that information from the publisher in terms of quarterly sales reports and quarterly royalty checks, which often include as much as 55% of net sales deducted for the publisher.
Sadly, only moments after digital publishing and print-on-demand allowed anyone to become a published author, the process allowed nefarious business operatives to dangle the dream of being published in front of desperate authors. Authors who are offered contracts by companies who do not have a well-known presence in the industry must still do the legwork of checking out the company, browsing through some of the publisher’s previously released titles, and reaching out to authors who’ve worked with the publisher in the past.
Small presses and independent publishers are very real, very vital parts of the publishing industry, but only if they’re legitimate. With the rise in popularity of the hybrid publisher and publishing consultants, however, the lines between legitimate and scam have become very blurry, and plenty of authors have felt the pinch of an unsatisfactory and expensive mistake. One of the most important contract negotiation steps is to demand that no royalties be withheld by the publisher if there are upfront costs to the author; of equal importance is the need to retain complete control over sales data and retailers’ accounts, ensuring that the rights holder (in this scenario, the author) still has that level of control over his own work.
The newly opening Books&Brews seeks to combine the best of both worlds, books and the camaraderie of your favorite neighborhood bar. Sadly, bookstores and restaurants are possibly two of the highest-risk ventures for a private owner to take on, but founder Jason Wuerfel and the support of a Kickstarter campaign raised enough capital to launch the concept, which is set to open today.
But unlike typical incentives for Kickstarter backers, Wuerfel took the gamble a step farther. As the Books&Brew is also a brewery and will make its beers on site, those backers who pledged $500 or more were given the rare opportunity to be a part of the brewing and naming process.
As part of the founder’s dedication to the local economy and craftsmanship, the beer isn’t the only thing handmade at Books&Brews. All of the tables, chairs, bookshelves, and even the bar were handmade from locally purchased materials, allowing Wuerful to funnel backers’ donations into the overall startup operation. Even the barware and menu ingredients are sourced from local businesses.
Wuerful’s plans for the business include a used book section, a local authors section, book signings and readings, and even a parents’ section where their children can play while the parents browse and relax, but the real draw may be in the novelty of the concept and the avid adherence to the increasingly popular “localism” movement. As he stated on his campaign, “Where else can you trade used books for craft beer?”
Now, Wattpad has announced not only the return of the Wattys peoples’ choice-style awards for different categories of work posted on the site, but has also introduced a new award this year, this time established by jury selection.
The Wattpad Prize is “a juried award to recognize the best original fiction and non-fiction on Wattpad. Winners will be chosen by a jury of expert Wattpadders who are active in the community.”
While the Wattys submission period opens in October and winners were announced last month, the Wattpad Prize will open on April 2nd, only a little less than two weeks from now.
According to a post on the new prize, “This April we are doing something completely different: we will ask a jury of Wattpadders to help us recognize original works of fiction and non-fiction. Winning stories will be chosen by theme, rather than by category or genre, and the jury will be made up of experienced readers and writers who are active in the Wattpad community.”
Wattpad Announces Two Writing Contests for Its Authors is a post from: Good e-Reader
Pebble is off to a solid start, if the over 400,000 smartwatches it sold in 2013 is any indication. Unofficial estimates has put revenues earned to an impressive $60 million, something that is expected to double by the end of the year.
One of the factors of the success of Pebble is the robust development team comprising of 1,200 developers that continue to make and refine apps. Currently there are around 1,000 apps available for Android and iOS.
Pebble might have their work cut out for them to really shine in the wearables market. Google recently launched the Android Wear, a version of Android dedicated for smart watches. The launch of the new Google SDK is showing up already in the new LG G Watch and nifty Moto 360, which has turned a few heads with its visual aesthetics.
Pebble has Sold a Staggering 400,000 Units in 2013 is a post from: Good e-Reader
Medium, the popular blogging platform has made its iOS debut today. The app is fairly simple and users can read articles from the site. After signing in, the app presents you with a list of stories based on what’s popular and what you have already chosen to follow from the main website. It tells you about how long it will take to read each story, and if you get bored partway through, you can swipe to the next story. The app also lets you share articles through Twitter, Facebook and email. Users can also bookmark, share or recommend stories on their social circles.
The primary way to login to the Medium app on their iPhones is using their Twitter account. This is understandable, considering Medium founder Ev Williams is also the one who had started Twitter in the first place.