Monday, May 12, 2014

Amazon Strong Arm Tactics Result in Delayed Shipping of Hachette Print Titles


Amazon regularly employs strong arm tactics when negotiating better book deals from  publishers. This normally occurs when the existing contracts expire and its time to renew it. Amazon is the largest seller of digital and print titles in the world and this gives them tremendous bargaining power. Publishers simply cannot afford to not do business with them and give up heavy concessions. Amazon and Hachette are currently redoing their contract and in order to gain a better deal, Amazon is delaying the shipping of physical titles.

Popular bestseller authors David Baldacci, Malcolm Gladwell and James Patterson print titles are experiencing massive shipping delays. Other affected Hachette titles include  Kate Adie’s memoir The Kindness of Strangers, Antony Beevor’s The Second World War and Cressida Cowell’s How To Train Your Dragon.  Hachette said that, “for reasons of their own,” Amazon is holding minimal stock and restocking some of its books slowly, causing “available in 2-4 weeks” messages to appear when customers try to order.

Hachette said that it was “grateful for the patience of authors and all Amazon readers as we work to reach an agreement and to encourage Amazon to be back to offering Hachette Book Group’s books within normal shipment times”.

Amazon is well known for their heavy handed negotiating tactics from past cases. The company pulled 5,000 eBook titles from the Independent Publishers Group in 2012.  In 2010 they pulled all Macmillan eBook titles over a storm that brewed for over a year. Macmillan wanted Amazon to  increase digital prices from $9.99 to $15.99  and needless to say it was easier to pull the titles than set a precedent for expensive titles.

Amazon Strong Arm Tactics Result in Delayed Shipping of Hachette Print Titles is a post from: Good e-Reader

Sony DPT-S1 PDF Reader Selling for Ridiculous Prices Online

Sony is one of the most perplexing companies sometimes. They led the way into the dedicated E Ink ebook reader market; they opened ebook stores in several countries—now just a few years later they’ve decided to back out of the ebook industry almost entirely. Sony may have given up on ebooks, but they are still […]

OverDrive, MediaDo Partner to Bring Japanese eBooks to Libraries


An announcement today from the world’s leading provider of digital content to libraries just made foreign language texts more accessible to US readers. Through a partnership with Japanese publishing aggregator MediaDo, OverDrive announced the launch of OverDrive Japan, which will put 9,000 Japanese book and manga titles into the OverDrive catalog.

In addition to the ability for OverDrive members around the world to access these Japanese-language ebooks, the formation of OverDrive Japan means that the Japanese library market can now benefit from OverDrive’s one million title catalog.

"We are honored to join MediaDo in forming OverDrive Japan," said Steve Potash, OverDrive's CEO, in a press release. "Japanese content has proven popular throughout the world, and we are delighted to lead the world in making it available to libraries and schools around the world, initially in the Japanese language and ultimately in English and other languages via translation."

This is exciting news not only for patrons who may wish to enjoy Japanese-language titles, but also for OverDrive’s academic and K12 library partners. With an increased focus on foreign language instruction in grades as young as elementary school, many institutions currently offer Japanese as a foreign language course. This partnership will make native language titles accessible to teachers and students for a more immersive learning experience. The manga titles can offer students not only the entertainment factor that the genre commands, but also a visual to accompany the Japanese text in order to make it more understandable.

According to Yasushi Fujita, MediaDo's CEO, "We are extremely pleased to form a strategic alliance with the world's No. 1 digital lending system platform company, OverDrive, and are excited to work with them to making the best lending system available in Japan. In addition to strive for making eBook reading most convenient to users in Japan, we are looking forward very much to provide 'cool Japan content' together with OverDrive to all the readers in the world."

OverDrive, MediaDo Partner to Bring Japanese eBooks to Libraries is a post from: Good e-Reader

The first book that truly changed me

Books, whether they are paper and ink or files on a device, have the power to change us. These changes can happen on a grand scale, like when someone says how a motivational book inspired them to turn their lives around. But they can also happen on a smaller scale, changing our emotions one sentence at a time. Countless times, books have moved my emotions in ways few things can (The Fault in our Stars, anyone?) but I will always remember the first book that truly broke my heart: Where the Red Fern Grows.

redferngrows1All throughout grade school I read books filled with adventure and whimsy, titles that had beautiful imagery and rhymes. I didn't discover the true power of books, however, until I read Wilson Rawls' tale about Billy's dogs Old Dan and Little Ann. I remember being captivated by their loyalty, drawn to their escapades and absolutely devastated when they both passed away. I can't recall exactly what grade I was in but I will never forget the tear-soaked pages in my hands as I tried to grasp what had just happened.

I read this book around the same point in my life that I dealt with death for the first time. My best friend and I, barely ten years old, were in his family room when his father passed away suddenly from a stroke. I remember it like it was yesterday. I couldn't possibly comprehend what was happening around us. Despite having adults to talk to and counselors to help work through what I felt I don't think I truly grasped what loss meant. This book helped me cope.

redferngrows2Even today this book shapes the person I have become and the life I live. I am not a hunter but I do find a comforting symmetry in the fact that my dogs look incredibly similar to Billy's (see right). Where the Red Fern Grows helped me deal with with unbearable sadness and taught me that grieving helps you heal. It also showed me that family members can come in the four-legged variety.

When I opened this book for the first time twenty years ago I was prepared for a great adventure – a story of a boy and his dogs. I was not prepared for the lifelong impact that it would leave on me. That's what is so great about books though. They change us.

What was the first book that changed you?

Adam Sockel is a Marketing and Communications Specialist with OverDrive and completely obsessed with his pups.

Gallery Books’ Belles on Wheels Book Tour Crosses US

Gallery Books‘ seven-city Belles on Wheels book tour kicked off on Friday, and already the romance-branded bus carrying ten of the imprint’s bestselling romance authors to bookstores across the Southeast has met up with fans in five different cities, allowing readers to meet as many as ten of their favorite writers for autographs, photos, and questions. Good e-Reader met up with the tour along the way and spoke with the authors, as well as with Kristen Dwyer from Simon&Schuster, about how an opportunity like this one helps both readers and authors.

The tour includes authors Emma Chase, Alice Clayton, Kresley Cole, Kyra Davis, Lisa Renee Jones, Christina Lauren, Jennifer Probst, S.C. Stephens, and Kristen Proby.

“A tour like this introduces us to new readers,” explained Jennifer Probst, author of the Searching For… series. “Kresley (Cole) might have a lot of fans who haven’t heard of us yet, and vice versa.”

One of the interesting aspects of a “whirlwind” tour such as this one is the authors spend a lot of time interacting with each other as they travel from city to city, allowing them the opportunity to recharge and spend time immersed in an atmosphere where others understand the challenges of being a bestselling author.

“And we get to meet new friends,” explained Kresley Cole, New York Times #1 bestselling author of series in erotica, romance, and young adult paranormal. “And they’re such cool people, too.”

Too often, the world of publishing means authors are singular entities, especially in terms of self-publishing and hybrid publishing, in which they feel somewhat isolated in terms of genuine interaction with readers and fellow authors. Events like book signings and tours and writing conventions can be some of the only times that authors get to enjoy the actual social aspect to their work.

“I was on my own little solitary island,” said Kyra Davis, author of Just One Night, as well as other romance and mystery titles, of the opportunity to join with other authors for a mass event to promote each others’ work.

Organized events like this one can be costly and logistically difficult to prepare for, but Dwyer spoke about the benefits of collaborating on a large-scale event like this, which can even have implications for indie authors who wish to pool their resources in order to promote their works.

“This is a way for our authors to meet each other and meet their readers, and a lot of these conferences help that same way,” Dwyer said. While a major conference can expect to have attendance in the thousands, though, a smaller scale event like a book signing or book tour gives authors a chance to connect in a little more personal way with their fans.

In conjunction with the Belles on Wheels tour, which will end in New Orleans on May 14th at the RT Booklovers Convention, Gallery Books is hosting an Instagram contest. “One of the great things we’re doing is getting all of the social media on board. People can use the #BellesonWheels hashtag to post to Instagram their favorite road trip reads, and we have a sweepstakes at the end for a grab bag of goodies we’ve collected at every stop. We’re also hosting a Twitter chat and getting Facebook activity going, all around the book tour.”

Gallery Books’ Belles on Wheels Book Tour Crosses US is a post from: Good e-Reader

Heston, we have a potato.

Heston Blumenthal’s production team got in touch last year to talk to us about an idea they’d had for his new series, the first episode of which was going to be based around pies. Given that we are a well-known British manufacturer of something that sounds a lot like pie, they thought we might like to get involved; we had a chat about what they might be able to do with a Raspberry Pi, and after having discounted sous-vide cooking as being insufficiently visual, we put them in touch with someone I thought might be able to help do something that’d look spectacular on TV.

The Pie episode of Heston’s Great British Food aired two weeks ago on the UK’s Channel 4, and we did manage to get a Raspberry Pi on it; sadly, you didn’t see it or hear it mentioned, but you did get to see what it was doing. Namely, this:


Slightly shonky photo a result of taking snaps of the TV with my phone.

I’ll let our friend Dave Akerman, high-altitude balloon record holder and immoderately scary driver, explain what was going on. You can read this post where it was first published, and learn much, much more about high-altitude ballooning with the Raspberry Pi and how to get started yourself, at Dave’s website.

This fun project started with a call from a TV production company who were working on a series for Heston Blumenthal. They'd heard that I fly the Raspberry Pi and wanted to include it in their Pie episode. The idea was to fly a potato as that was the first vegetable to be grown in space.

Fast forward a few weeks, we had the challenge of finding a day that had good wind predictions and good weather, and would fit in with the filming schedule and Heston's diary. Not easy, as you can imagine. However we did find such a day, with Heston available throughout, and I prepared a payload to fly. That needed to contain 3 GoPro cameras, including one looking down and one out sideways, plus a Raspberry Pi to send telemetry and live images from the flight:



On top of this I placed some foam blocks to hold everything in place, then a further camera to record the balloon burst:



On launch day, the first to arrive was Jon who'd made this wonderful retro-styled rocket, piloted by a King Edward with a familiar face:



We worked together to mount his rocket to my payload, using a shaped piece of balsa wood fixed to the underside of each:

kitchen table development


With the main payload finished, plus a spare back tracker, we waited for everyone else to arrive. Julie served bacon butties to all. Heston was a bit late, and his bacon was sad and solid by then, but he still ate it :-). Here he is posing next to my BaCoN shirt :-)

heston bacon


… and with Julie …

dave julie heston


After this it was time to go and launch. The film crew were very unobtrusive so I found it easy to just get on with the launch, chatting with Heston and explaining how it all works.



There was little wind so the launch was easy. After feeding up the balloon and payload …

dave launch


… I just stood back to let Heston do that to camera:

chef launch


Next job of course was to chase the flight. The prediction had it going from Berkshire to Essex, so there would be little chance of getting there before it landed even without a film crew so slow things down!

We saw some great images throughout the flight from the SSDV system, and had good telemetry also. Here's an image (from a GoPro) during the flight:

spuds in space


When we got to the area, some time after the flight landed, we got a very strong signal from near the road, and my direction-finder swung round rapidly as we passed the landing spot. Someone in one of the other chase cars saw it in a field as we passed! We then stopped to check maps and find the easiest way to get close to the payload. It was then a short drive to get to the field, where we donned wellies and made our way to the potato before it took root!



Heston had gotten more and more attached to the potato during the day, and he genuinely seemed unwilling to mash the thing up by the time it was recovered!

heston and friend

This was all back in October 2013, and the show didn't go out until May 2014! If you missed it, watch for repeats on Channel 4 or 4Seven, or watch it on 4oD.

Here’s the flight video from the show:

And here’s Heston talking about the potato on Alan Carr’s Chatty Man.

Kobo is Considering a New Social eBook Club


Kobo has slowed down their torrential pace of international expansion and is now focusing on software and hardware development. The company has received a dramatic influx of new customers, due to them taking over Sony’s entire eBook business in North America, Europe and Australia.  Could a virtual book club be next on Kobo’s agenda?

A new survey has been dispatched to select Kobo e-reader owners and people who typically buy a ton of eBooks.  It is worded as if the Book Club will be launched and they are asking key questions about the social media aspect. Most of the queries centered around connecting it to various social media networks like Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.  A number of other questions asked if social was even important at all, or if you merely want to discuss books with like minded souls.

Kobo has experimented with community based programs in the past with Kobo Pulse. It was a short lived initiative that was only implemented in their iOS apps. It let people know how many people were reading the same book as you were and how many people have completed it. The intention was to foster community based discussion and to prevent spoilers from ruining the experience. They even brought in Gena Showalter to talk about her book to the community, but engagement was low and Kobo abandoned it.Could Kobo make a virtual book club succeed in the modern era? The company sorely needs a competitive edge against GoodReads, which Amazon purchased last year. Digital reading is a solitary endeavor, you buy and read the books in the comfort of your own home. Being able to socialize with fellow readers is a very compelling value proposition. If done right, it could be integrated into all existing and future Kobo e-readers and their official apps for Android, iOS, Blackberry and Windows.

Kobo is Considering a New Social eBook Club is a post from: Good e-Reader

Smashwords Authors Benefit from B&N eBook Pre-Orders

One of the truths we’ve been hearing from forward-thinking publishing industry experts, namely where Amazon is concerned, is that we have to stop trying to compete. There are enough readers for every genre and every retailer, but offering an identical product in the same cookie-cutter way will drive consumers to go where the price is cheapest if all other factors are the same.

But a new post from Smashwords’ founder and CEO Mark Coker explains that authors have an option that gives them a leg up on booksales and bestseller rankings, one that Amazon only makes available to select indie authors and publishers: pre-orders.

“In a nutshell, here’s how the dynamic works at B&N, Apple and Kobo: Let’s say your book is listed on preorder for 60 days in advance of your official onsale date. Let’s say that at B&N (or iBooks or Kobo) your book accumulates 15 orders per day. After two months of order accumulation, you’d have 900 orders. These 900 orders would credit all at once on the first day when your book goes onsale.

“Since every retailer’s bestseller charts are based upon unit sales, and all charts give greater weighting to sales credited during the most recent 24-hour period, it’s like selling 900 copies in a single day. And that’s before counting the additional sales that come once the book goes onsale. With 900+ sales at any retailer in a day, you’re going to land near the top of your book’s genre or category list, and probably also within the store’s top-10 or top-20 store-wide bestseller list.

“You don’t need to accumulate 900 orders to receive a boost from preorders. Even 10, 20 or 30 accumulated orders will give you an incremental discoverability advantage.”

That advantage that Coker mentioned has been in place since Smashwords launched its pre-order feature, but until now it wasn’t understood that all three of those major retailers could incorporate the pre-orders as sales rank on the day of the book’s release.

With the ease of launching a pre-order platform for a specific title, there’s no reason not to take advantage of the potential for discoverability and the possibility of increased initial sales ranking as a way to stand out.

Smashwords Authors Benefit from B&N eBook Pre-Orders is a post from: Good e-Reader