Category Archives: Books

Amazon Unveils New Kindle Highlight and Note System

Amazon has just unveiled a new system that allows you to easy view all of the notes and highlights that you have made in a Kindle e-book. It is accessible via the web and harvests all of the content you have saved on your e-reader, Fire tablet or your favorite Kindle app. It is also optimized for mobile devices, so it displays properly on any Android or Apple smartphone.

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Amazon sent an email to users this afternoon and it stated “We have good news. Customers have been asking for more ways to access their Kindle notes and highlights—especially on their phones. We’ve created a new home for all your notes and highlights that’s easy to access from your phone, tablet, or PC. Now you can easily refer to your notes and highlights wherever you are. Visit the new home for Your Notes and Highlights at read.amazon.com/notebook.”

Source:

http://goodereader.com/blog/electronic-readers/amazon-unveils-new-kindle-highlight-and-note-system

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How One Man Overcame Blindness and Started an Audiobook Show for New Scifi and Fantasy

In early 2015, 33-year-old Chris Herron was declared legally blind, and was told he had an 80-percent chance of losing his sight entirely in three months. Now, he’s almost fully recovered, and has launched an audiobook channel that helps scifi and fantasy authors… just like how they once helped him.

Herron is the founder of Tall Tale TV, a YouTube channel where he makes and releases audiobooks for burgeoning scifi and fantasy works. Before that, he spent almost a year wondering if he would be able to read books again after being diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, the most common cause of blindness for working-age adults. It’s where people with diabetes (Herron’s had Type 1 since he was 7) suffer from leaks or bleeding behind the eyes if they don’t keep their blood sugar low. He was told he’d need surgery in both eyes, and he had a four in five chance of going blind.

“[When I found out], I hyperventilated and they had to lay me down. It came as a major shock, I had never even considered the possibility of not being able to see,” Herron told io9. “I decided I was going to fight it, and I was going to come out the other side regardless what they told me the chances were.”

He immediately set out to change his lifestyle— losing 30 pounds in the first month from diet and any exercise he could do, which started as guided walks with his wife. He described his sight as “like looking through a cloud of ink,” which meant he had trouble with many basic tasks. He also lost the ability to read and didn’t know how to read Braille. Given his lifelong love of fantasy and science fiction, and how they served as an emotional release during bouts of depression, this hit hard.

“It was actually pretty devastating because I loved writing and I loved reading,” Herron said. “It was actually my wife who suggested I turn to audio books.”

The first audiobooks he picked up were from Terry Pratchett’s Disc World series, and Herron said they changed his life. He’d listened to audiobooks before, but it was in passing while commuting to work, so he was worried it wouldn’t be the same. But Herron was amazed at how much he loved them, saying “it gave the book[s] an entire new layer or dimension.” Herron listened to them for several months, using them to help during a difficult time. Then, his sight started to return. Herron said it happened gradually so he didn’t really notice, but one visit to a doctor’s office showed how far he’d come and the odds he’d beaten.

 

“My doctor looked at my eyes and he personally was kind of floored… he told me, ‘Your vision is back at about 80-percent, and you’re going to be fine,’” Herron said. “I was so happy I cried.”

Since then, Herron’s sight has improved to about 90-percent of what it was before the diagnosis. He’s able to read regular books again, as well as use a computer for longer than a minute or two. But, he’s still “obsessed with audiobooks.” More so… he’s making them now.

A couple of months ago, Herron started Tall Tale TV, in hopes he could expose scifi and fantasy writers to a diverse audience, and give readers (especially those who are visually impaired) a new way of experiencing their work. The site focuses on short stories and individual chapters, so people don’t get overwhelmed when listening to them. Right now, Herron narrates all of them by himself in his spare time (he also has a full-time job), but is looking to expand with more books and voice actors in the future.

 
 
 

You can check out Tall Tale TV here, with a new audiobook chapter expected to go up this week. It’s worth checking out. The channel is a new project, but a noble one. Herron’s helping burgeoning writers grow in a genre that many of them have loved during their entire lives, using a medium that helped him during one of the hardest times of his own.

Source:

http://io9.gizmodo.com/how-one-man-overcame-blindness-and-started-an-audiobook-1796402123

Twenty years of Harry Potter

1 Some first editions can appreciate in value pretty fast. There were only 500 hardback copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone printed in the first run in 1997, of which 300 went to libraries. If you find one of these knocking about in your downstairs loo – the print line on the copyright page is 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 – it’s worth a small fortune. Expect upwards of £30,000 for it. Fun fact: there was one of these in the Daily Telegraph’s books cupboard for many years, but it mysteriously went missing in the early noughties. If you’re the bastard who stole it, please have a word with the paper’s former literary editor, Kate Summerscale.

2 Even Homer nods. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry is fighting a duel with Voldemort when he accidentally does something (Priori Incantatem) that causes the Dark Lord’s wand to spit out, in reverse order, spectral images of the people he has killed. Harry’s father, James, comes out before his mother, Lily – when, according to the established story, he died in the process of trying to help his wife and child escape. Fans feverishly speculated as to whether JK Rowling was setting up some crafty plot twist. She eventually admitted it was a mistake (Erratum Cockupis Normalis), due to “late-night writer’s fatigue”; the text was corrected in later editions.

3 Hindsight is a wonderful thing. The release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, on 26 June 1997, passed practically unnoticed. That day, people were more interested in the news of the election of Bertie Ahern (remember him?) as taoiseach of the Irish Republic. They were still making a fuss about Cool Britannia (remember that?) and the fresh-faced, new prime minister, Tony Blair (remember him?); going bananas about the Spice Girls (remember them?), and wondering about Diana, Princess of Wales’ love life. The bestselling novel of that year was a John Grisham.

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4 Children’s books can be political. Rowling’s brilliant decision was to have her characters grow up at the same rate as her readers. Each book was set in one school year, and grew longer, darker and more adult in theme. By the time we reached book four, Goblet of Fire, we were seeing do-gooding Hermione’s Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare formed in response to the bond slavery of these sock-loving poppets. In the person of the hack journalist Rita Skeeter, Rowling sent up the tabloid press. The ministry of magic sent up Whitehall bureaucracy. And, as any fool could plainly see, the story’s master narrative – with purebloods fighting a war of annihilation against “mudbloods” – is about the struggle against your basic blood-and-soil fascism.

5 Academics can give us all a laugh. Harry Potter studies is a flourishing corner of the humanities and theory industry. See “The Hippogriff in Harry Potter As a Prime Example for Intertextuality”, “No Grace for James: James Potter and the Noble Heathen”, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: A Psychoanalytic Viewpoint”, and “From the Holocaust to 9/11: Harry Potter and the Contemporary Struggle with Evil” for details.

6 Some people can be as dumb as stumps. In several places in the US, copies of Rowling’s books were burned by fundamentalist Christians who believed they were encouraging children to take up witchcraft. “Behind that innocent face is the power of satanic darkness,” said pastor Jack Brock of the Christ Community church in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in 2001. “Harry Potter is the devil and he is destroying people.”

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Source:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jun/26/twenty-years-of-harry-potter-the-20-things-we-have-learned

Audiobooks Continues Double-Digit Growth

The Audio Publishers Association released the results from their annual sales survey, conducted by the independent research firm Management Practice, as well as the latest consumer study conducted by Edison Research, which revealed that the strong growth the audiobook industry has seen in recent years continues. Based on information from responding publishers, the APA estimates that audiobook sales in 2016 totaled more than $2.1 billion, up 18.2% over 2015, and with a corresponding 33.9% increase in units. This is the third consecutive year that audiobook sales have expanded by nearly 20%.

The increase in sales is driven in large part by a listening audience that continues to grow. According to the new study from Edison Research, 24% of Americans (more than 67 million people) have completed at least one audiobook in the last year, a 22% increase over the 2015 survey.

Edison Research’s national survey of American audiobook listeners features new data on audiobook consumption patterns, purchasing behavior, podcast listening, and audiobook content. In addition to measuring the size of the listening audience, the study also revealed:

Who listens to audiobooks?

  • Nearly half (48%) of frequent audiobook listeners are under 35.
  • Audiobook listeners are often also podcast listeners. Respondents who consumed both podcasts and audiobooks listened to twice as many audiobooks in the past 12 months as non-podcast consumers.
  • Avid readers are also listening. Audiobook listeners read or listened to an average of 15 books in the last year, and 77% of frequent listeners agreed or strongly agreed that “audiobooks help you finish more books.

How and where are they listening?

  • Far more listeners are saying they use their smartphone most often to listen to audiobooks than ever before – 29% in 2017 vs. 22% in 2015.
  • A majority of audiobook listening is done at home (57%), with the car being the second most frequently-cited location (32%).
  • 68% of frequent listeners do housework while listening to audiobooks. Other multitasking activities among frequent listeners include baking (65%), exercise (56%) and crafting (36%).
  • The 2017 survey asked about voice-enabled wireless speakers (such as Amazon Echo or Google Home) for the first time, with 19% of all listeners reporting using them to listen to an audiobook in the last year. Among frequent listeners, that rises to 30%.

Additional Key Findings

  • Libraries remain major access channels and important drivers of audiobook discovery. 27% of people said borrowing from a library/library website was very important for discovering new audiobooks.
  • Of the more than 50,000 titles produced on audio in 2016, the most popular genres were Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Science Fiction/Fantasy and Romance.
  • The top three reasons why people enjoy listening to audiobooks are: 1) They can do other things while listening; 2) Audiobooks are portable and people can listen wherever they are; and 3) They enjoy being read to.

According to Tom Webster, Vice President of Strategy for Edison Research, “The audiobook market continues to grow, with more people than ever before indicating that they have listened to the medium in the past year. That growth, combined with the growth of the podcast market and the strong relationship between the two, are all part of a renaissance for spoken word programming.”
“It’s another banner year for audiobooks,” says Anthony Goff, VP and Research Committee Chair for the APA, and SVP, Publisher at Hachette Audio. “It has been exhilarating for everyone involved in audio to see such healthy growth maintained, year in and year out. Learning more about audiobook listeners by digging deeper into the metrics of consumer behavior is one of the key ways we can help that growth continue.”

Source:

http://goodereader.com/blog/audiobooks/audiobooks-continues-double-digit-growth

Buying houses in cash and selling millions: meet self-publishing’s ‘hidden’ authors

When Keith Houghton bought his four-bedroom detached house earlier this year, he did a rare thing for an author: he paid cash, with earnings from his books.

Keith who, you may ask? Houghton is one of a handful of so-called “hidden” bestsellers: his self-published crime thrillers are ebooks, sales of which are not monitored by the UK’s official book charts (if they don’t have ISBNs, which self-published titles often don’t).

Houghton made his money over the past six years by selling more than 500,000 books, chiefly through his Gabe Quinn series of thrillers. In a world in which traditionally published authors struggle to make £7,000 a year from their work, it is no wonder Houghton says: “I feel like I have won the lottery.”

And he is not alone. A handful of writers who top the Kindle charts, including LJ Ross and Rachel Abbott, have also defied rejections from publishers and agents to knock out seven-figure sales for their brand of crime and thriller writing. This, in a market where it only takes around 3,000 sales to top the hardback charts.

Houghton’s story is typical of many self-published writers: after notching up more than 100 rejection slips, the Lancashire-based computer repairman decided to self-publish his first Quinn novel, Killing Hope. Mending computers in Leigh may have made him seem an odd fit for hardboiled crime set in LA; at first, readers seemed to think so, as he struggled to sell even a handful of copies online. So Houghton gave them away instead. Within a day, Killing Hope had been downloaded 25,000 times.

“I was stunned,” he recalls – although his shock was as much at the thought that he had given away £25,000 in profits. “But once it reverted back to being paid for, it started to get traction in the charts and within three months, it had sold in to six figures,” he says. “I’m still quite shocked.”

For avid reader and former City lawyer Ross, writing was a distraction during her maternity leave. After she contacted 12 agents with her genre-crossing crime novel Holy Island, she had a couple of potential offers on the table. “But when I looked at the terms of the contract, my husband asked if I had thought of publishing through Kindle, because the terms for authors seemed far more favourable,” she says.

Source:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jun/08/buying-houses-in-cash-and-selling-millions-meet-self-publishings-hidden-authors

Medium Is the Solution If You Want to Blog Without Any Overhead

If you’re considering blogging but don’t want to deal with hosting, design issues and building a new audience, Medium is here to help with your content marketing efforts. Medium is a sleek, beautiful social blog-publishing platform that allows users to start blogging right after registering. A lot of companies that were slow to add a blog to their websites found Medium an easy way to begin. 

Medium was launched in August 2012 by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams (who also co-founded Blogger) and Biz Stone. The interface boasts a full WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) in all its glory. After posting an entry, the service encourages sharing content to Twitter and Facebook.

Since you can only sign up for Medium using Facebook or Twitter credentials, your followers on those platforms are automatically notified of your Medium. Every new blog on Medium comes with a nice “built-in” audience of your own.

Medium also borrows some great features from Reddit and Tumblr in that posts can be “upvoted” by “recommendations” (similar to Facebook’s likes) and tagged to show under specific categories. When a reader highlights a portion of the article, they can leave a comment right next to it (it won’t interfere with your writing but will help to have truly relevant conversations) or tweet that text snippet out (kind of like “Click to Tweet” button).

Medium’s minimal design and capabilities force writers to focus on quality content without hiding behind calls to actions, fancy videos and color choices. Readers appreciate that the experience is easy on their eyes.

Medium is a good and growing platform. The audience is more focused and appreciative, kind of like Reddit of the past when the Reddit community was not keen of self-promotional posts. You can have occasional promotional posts. Medium allows you to import stories from other places on the Web (but please share your own content), so it might help you to give your main blog’s content a boost. Yet, if this is all you’re publishing, don’t waste your time on Medium.

Source:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/294583

 

Scribd says it has over 500,000 subscribers paying $8.99/month for ebooks, audiobooks, and now news

Scribd’s $8.99/month subscription service started out with only ebooks. Over time, it’s expanded to audiobooks, sheet music, documents, magazines — and, as of Tuesday, newspapers. “Select articles” from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian, as well as some archival content from the Financial Times, will now be available to Scribd subscribers.

And Scribd says there are quite a lot of subscribers: The service now has over half a million paying subscribers, paying $8.99 a month, and the company is profitable. I was so surprised by the subscriber number that I asked CEO Trip Adler to repeat himself; it’s true, he said: “We have a $50 million revenue run rate.” The San Francisco–based company now has more than 110 employees.

Newspaper content was a “natural addition” for Scribd, Adler said. The most popular forms of the content on the service are, in order, ebooks, audiobooks, and documents. Magazines were added last fall. Scribd used to also include comic books and graphic novels in its service, but stopped including them because there wasn’t enough reader interest. It also switched from a completely unlimited content model to one that offers access to three ebooks and one audiobook per month. (Documents, magazines, and newspapers are unlimited.)

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Judging by Scribd’s stated membership numbers, the switch in business model appears to have worked. The numbers seem impressive and are not something that I would have predicted a couple years ago when the ebook subscription site Oyster shut down — especially considering that Amazon keeps adding more reading offerings to Prime.

Scribd won’t be focusing on breaking news from the papers it partners with. Instead, it’s looking for longer, more evergreen content that “fits in with a book kind of experience,” Adler said. “We’re going for the longer-form content that might actually take a few minutes to read, has a longer shelf life, and will be interesting beyond the first day it comes out.” The newspaper content — along with Scribd’s other content — is organized by interest.

Each of the newspapers is making a fixed number of articles available to Scribd; Scribd editors choose which ones to include on the service. Some of the publishers are being paid a flat licensing fee; others are paid by the read.

“People have been talking for a long time about how to monetize journalism and we think we’ve come up with a really interesting answer,” Adler said. The newspapers included for now are the big names that aren’t having as much trouble monetizing as smaller papers, but Scribd may include more papers in the future. “We think, if we can offer all these different newspapers together for one subscription price, we can return more money to journalists that way.”

Source:

http://www.niemanlab.org/2017/05/scribd-says-it-has-over-500000-subscribers-paying-8-99month-for-ebooks-audiobooks-and-now-news/

Bill Gates told new grads to read this book. Now it’s surging on Amazon

Since stepping down as Microsoft’s chief executive in 2000, Bill Gates has seen his reputation transform from that of a hard-nosed businessman intent on shutting out the competition — which produced comparisons to oil magnate John D. Rockefeller — to that of a wise, inspiring philanthropist seeking to solve some of the world’s toughest social challenges.

Now, Gates regularly dispenses the wisdom he’s gained over the years in an effort to get people to dream bigger, think more positively and be a force for good. He’s even willing to give all this advice for free.

On Monday, Gates delivered what seemed like an entire graduation speech in the span of 14 tweets.

Like the best commencement speeches, Gates’s tweetstorm is a personal reflection on the ways he’s grown since he was a young adult. He admits that it took him “decades” to learn about inequality, and he says he no longer believes there is only one way to measure intelligence. He also articulates a philosophy that drives what he does: the notion that the world is steadily getting better, not worse.

The argument for that, Gates said, is laid out in a 2011 book called “The Better Angels of Our Nature.” Written by Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker, the book attempts to explain why, as the New York Timesput it, “our era is less violent, less cruel and more peaceful than any previous period of human existence,” despite headlines that may scream to the contrary.

“That matters,” Gates tweeted, “because if you think the world is getting better, you want to spread the progress to more people and places.”

So it’s probably no surprise that, in light of Gates’s recommendation, “Better Angels” is surging on Amazon. As of Monday afternoon, it had risen in Amazon’s sales rankings by more than 6,000 percent in the previous 24 hours. (Update: As of Tuesday morning, the book had risen 605,000 percent to claim the number-two spot on Amazon’s movers-and-shakers list.)

Source:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/05/15/bill-gates-told-new-grads-to-read-this-book-now-its-surging-on-amazon/?utm_term=.ae3deca17786

Simon and Schuster Audiobook Sales Increase by 35% in Q1 2017

Simon and Schuster has reported that their audiobook unit saw a 35% increase in sales in the first quarter of 2017. S&S is bullish about their audiobook growth because Brad Thor, Ruth Ware, Vince Flynn & Kyle Mills, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Stephen and Owen King, and Walter Isaacson all have new audiobooks that are coming out later this year.

Revenue at Simon & Schuster rose 11% in the first quarter ended March 31, 2017 over the comparable period a year ago, hitting $161 million. S&S pointed to a string of bestsellers for the strong first quarter performance, including Unshakeable, A Man Called Ove, All By Myself, End of Watch, Dork Diaries 11 and Baseball Genius. The purchase of Adams Media late last year also gave a boost to sales as did the release of the first books in two new imprints, Gallery 13 and Salaam Reads, which focuses on Muslim characters and stories.

One of the most interesting aspects about the recent quarterly report is that there is no e-book data. The company did disclose that e-book sales are down, but did not mention by how much or even what type of revenue their digital department generated.

Source:

http://goodereader.com/blog/digital-publishing/simon-and-schuster-audiobook-sales-increase-by-35-in-q1-2017

What Does Amazon Owe to Authors?

Amazon is once again ruffling the feathers of publishers and authors alike, this time for a change in its policy that allows the “buy button” to redirect to the seller with the best customer service rating and pricing for the item. That’s all well and good if you’re purchasing a kayak from a third-party seller–after all, lower prices and faster order fulfillment are what keep customers coming back–but this change also extends to books.

This change means that the very publishers who sell their own works–whether they are the authors themselves, fully operating publishers, or authors with their own imprint for business purposes–can now be undersold and therefore not be the actual seller when a consumer (oblivious to the rule change) clicks “add to cart.” Unless the consumer takes the time to notice who will be fulfilling the order and then bothers to click for further options in order to find the actual content owner, one of the many “bookshop” sellers who buys a book, undercuts the price, and then makes up for it in outrageous shipping fees can get that sale.

The middle-of-the-fence conundrum is this: what exactly does Amazon “owe” to authors? Yes, it was arguably the authors and small presses who’ve propelled Amazon to its current earning status by selling their content and bringing in customers, otherwise Amazon could have just been another B&N, Borders, or Books-A-Million. But who is Amazon’s favored demographic, writers or consumers?

When Goodreads (owned by Amazon) was facing near-daily backlash for allowing abusive reviews that ultimately ended up on retail channels due to API agreements, the site had a simple message for the victims: “we’re not here for authors to feel good, we’re a site for readers to express their opinions.” Basically, the answer was suck it up, buttercup, and Goodreads refused to take the requested drastic action against members who were seen as unfair in their behavior.

Now, the same is true of Amazon’s retail practices. Their end goal is providing the best possible outcome for consumers in order to retain customers, and less about making sure authors earn as much money as they can. The only recourse at this time for authors who don’t agree is to stop allowing Amazon to be their only retail channel, something that might actually hurt Amazon enough to force a change to this rule. Perhaps it’s time to help the next retail channel grow too big.

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Source:

http://goodereader.com/blog/indie-author-news/winning-the-buy-box-what-does-amazon-owe-to-authors