Amazon and Simon & Schuster reach a deal

October 22, 2014

Amazon and Simon & Schuster reach a deal

There is a future for Big Five books in the Kindle store.

That certainly seemed like the most likely outcome, although the day may come when Amazon doesn’t need them any more.

Why even doubt that the biggest bookstore would carry books from the biggest publishers?

Well, Amazon has been in a dispute with Hachette, another of the Big Five…for more than six months. What I call the “Hachazon War” certainly enters another phase with Amazon reportedly reaching an agreement with Simon & Schuster.

It makes it much harder for Hachette to paint Amazon as an “impossible to negotiate with” Big Bad.

It gives authors something to consider…how much of the stand-off is Hachette’s fault? When their deals with that publisher are done, should they be shopping? Douglas Preston, an author who has led the authors who have publicly expressed concerns with Amazon, wants to know the e-tailer has offered the same deal to Hachette. If it has…why didn’t Hachette take it? Retailers don’t have to give the same terms to everybody, of course.

It also changes the dynamic if there is a Department of Justice investigation of Amazon’s negotiating tactics (Authors United has asked for at least a look into it). If nobody can make a deal with you, that makes it a lot worse than a fifty/fifty split.

I’m going to link to stories on this, but I’ve seen both that this will be a return to the “Agency Model”, and that Amazon will be able to discount the books.

Those aren’t exactly contradictory. In the Agency Model, the publisher (not the retailer) sells the books (the former retailer just acts as an “agent”), and sets the customer prices. The publisher could set the price…and still, in some way, let Amazon discount under circumstances. For example, they might allow a three for the price of two deal to be offered. That doesn’t change the actual price of the book.

While we don’t actually know the terms of the deal, it is reassuring that a deal was reached at all. As a reader, I’d like Amazon to carry every book. However, the conditions under which they carry them do matter. I wouldn’t want Amazon to carry S&S books if the prices doubled…well, I guess I would, for folks who would pay that, but I wouldn’t like it for me. ;)

It’s possible that Amazon let the publisher set the customer price within certain constraints…that would be a form of compromise which could work for them both.

My intuition is that Amazon will make a deal with HarperCollins, and I would think they will with Penguin Random House. They’ve had trouble with Macmillan before…we could see a repeat there.

With publishers not standing united, though, I think everybody will deal before the end of the first quarter of next year.

This might also help Amazon’s stock a bit. Investors hate uncertainty.

Here are some of the articles:

Update: there has been a brief

Amazon announcement (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

in the official Kindle forum about the deal. They don’t say much about it, except that they are happy, it’s a multi-year deal, and it involves both e-books and p-books (paperbooks). Interestingly, they chose to make it a ” no reply thread”…they aren’t taking comments on it.

What do you think? Does Amazon need the Big Five? What should they be willing to give up to get their books? Where is the line in the sand? Will this mean Hachette settles quickly? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Comparing the bestsellers: Amazon and Barnes & Noble

October 21, 2014

Comparing the bestsellers: Amazon and Barnes & Noble

There was a time when the bestsellers at Amazon for the Kindle and at Barnes & Noble for the NOOK were pretty similar.

There were some few exclusives which made a difference, but the lists were pretty much the same.

No more.

Amazon clearly impacts its own bestseller list. That may be by publishing their books themselves, or putting them on sale, or making them part of the Kindle First program (which are books both published by them and “on sale”…they are actually free for Prime members ((one book a month)) and yet to be published.

No question: if you are with Barnes & Noble and not with Amazon, you are missing out on some very popular books.

Let’s take a look:

Kindle Rank Title Kindle $ NOOK Rank NOOK $ Diff
1 My Sister’s Grave 4.99 N/A
2 Gone Girl 4.99 1 8.99 4
3 Gray Mountain 11.99 13 14.99 3
4 The Fire Seekers 4.99 N/A
5 The Glassblower 4.99 N/A
6 Leaving Time 4.99 2 12.59 7.6
7 Stepbrother Dearest 3.99 41 3.99 0
8 I Love How You Love Me 4.99 26 4.99 0
9 Sleep Tight 1.99 N/A
10 Ruin Part Two 0.99 345 0.99 0
11 The Best of Me 4.99 7 4.99 0
12 Medicine Men 0.99 N/A
13 The Cycle of Arawn 0.99 6 0.99 0
14 Burn 4.99 13 12.99 8
15 Ruin 0.99 1386 0.99 0
16 The Heroes of Olympus Books Five 9.99 14 10.99 1
17 Yellow Crocus 3.99 N/A
18 Down and Out 3.99 75 3.99 0
19 Captivated by You 7.99 14 7.99 0
20 Blood Magick 6.99 57 8.99 2
Total 25.6

While there have been some excellent NOOK devices, and they have led in some innovations (notably lending and frontlighting), there is no question that if you backed Barnes & Noble against Amazon (and we’ll just treat it as a two horse race now), your money was in the wrong place (as a reader).

You can’t even get six of the top twenty Amazon sellers, and if you did buy all the ones you could, you would pay $25.60 more. On average, that’s $1.60 a book more, but you could pay as much as $8 more.

Well, I’m glad I looked at that!

Originally, when Amazon started  aggressively  pursuing exclusives, I did think it was Amazon versus B&N. Now, I tend to think of it as Amazon versus the traditional publishers…and interesting mind focus, I’d say.

I know some of you have both NOOKs and Kindles (and Kobos, and some others).

Update: one of my regular readers and commenters, Edward Boyhan, asked me what it would look like if I did the comparison the other way…with the NOOK Books top 20. I originally intended to do that last night, but the frailties of the flesh overwhelmed the intent of the will (in other words, I was too tired). ;) I did eyeball it first, and I didn’t see a book on the B&N list that I didn’t think Amazon would have…and that was right (for the top 20). I created the table this morning:

NOOK Rank Title NOOK $ Kindle Rank Kindle $ Diff
1 Leaving Time $2.99 6 4.99 $2.00
2 Cut to the Bone $1.99 37 1.99 $0.00
3 Gone Girl $8.99 3 4.99 -$4.00
4 Day After Night $10.93 4191 9.32 -$1.61
5 Captivated by You $7.99 20 7.99 $0.00
6 The Best of Me $7.99 11 4.99 -$3.00
7 Holland Springs Box Set $0.99 74 0.99 $0.00
8 The Highlander’s Bride $0.99 102 0.99 $0.00
9 Desired: Club Sin $0.99 85 $0.99 $0.00
10 Deadline $11.99 24 10.99 -$1.00
11 Be For Me $0.99 153 0.99 $0.00
12 Someone Else’s Love Story $1.99 193 0.99 -$1.00
13 The Blood of Olympus $10.99 15 9.99 -$1.00
14 Burn $12.99 17 4.99 -$8.00
15 The Cinderella Murder $10.99 609 10.99 $0.00
16 The Circle of Ceridwen $0.99 308 0.99 $0.00
17 The Geneva Trap $7.51 23,400 6.15 -$1.36
18 Gray Mountain $14.99 2 11.99 -$3.00
19 The Pearl that Broke Its Shell $1.99 146 1.99 $0.00
20 Killing Patton $11.04 32 11.04 $0.00
Total -$21.97

Every top twenty NOOK book could be bought at Amazon as well. The price differentials were still overwhelmingly in favor of Kindleers (over NOOKers).

The number one NOOK book is cheaper at B&N than it is at Amazon…but that typically doesn’t last, since people can alert Amazon on the book’s product page about the differential, and they tend to match the prices.

Glancing at it (and I have a pretty good eye at doing that way), it appears to me that when the prices are the same, generally, that book is ranked relatively lower at Amazon. That isn’t always the case, but my intuition is that a book which $0.99 at both Amazon and B&N is pushed lower at Amazon by the presence of the Kindle exclusives.

I would also guess that the number of people who decide whether to buy a e-book at Amazon or B&N based on the price is pretty low. If they have the respective companies’ EBRs (E-Book Readers), they don’t really have that choice. However, they could have both companies’ apps on a tablet, for example, and then they could choose.

What do you think? This holiday season, will people choose to buy NOOKs as their very first EBRs (E-Book Reader), or is it mostly coasting on customers it already? Are Amazon’s exclusives something that has driven you to become more of an Amazon user? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Five things people who have read Dracula know…but most people don’t

October 20, 2014

Five things people who have read Dracula know…but most people don’t

Halloween is coming up, and despite all the options out there, it’s still pretty likely you’ll see some kid dressed as Dracula.

You’ll know it’s Dracula: maybe by the widow’s peak hairdo, the cape, or the toy bat cleverly taped on to a shoulder.

You know who wouldn’t recognize that character as Dracula?

Bram Stoker, who wrote the original 1897 novel.

As is often the case, the adaptations of the book have had a greater impact on the public imagination than the original book…or at least, a more lasting, widespread one.

If you haven’t read the book yet, you might want to do that…right now…before reading the rest of this post. ;)

You can get it for free here, as well as in many other editions:

Dracula by Bram Stoker (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Go ahead…we’ll wait.

Ready?

If not, then I guess I’ll just have to put up this

SPOILER ALERT

;)

Here, then, are five things people who have read Dracula know…that most people don’t:

1. Dracula has a mustache!

Stoker describes Count Dracula like this:

“Within, stood a tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhere.”

Why the mustache?

Stoker is explicit: Dracula is a specific historical figure, and that figure had a mustache:

“He must, indeed, have been that Voivode Dracula who won his name against the Turk, over the great river on the very frontier of Turkey-land.”

Here is a picture of Vlad:

Vlad

The term “Voivoide” that Stoker uses is a title, which evolved a bit over time…you can think of it like “Warlord” or maybe “Prince”, to give you an idea.

So, yes, Dracula has a mustache.

2. Dracula doesn’t only turn into a bat

In Stoker’s novel, Dracula can also turn into a wolf…or even a mist. Does that make Dracula a werewolf, in addition to being a vampire? Well, there is a suggestion that they may be the same thing:

“I could hear a lot of words often repeated, queer words, for there were many nationalities in the crowd; so I quietly got my polyglot dictionary from my bag and looked them out. I must say they were not cheering to me, for amongst them were “Ordog”—Satan, “pokol”—hell, “stregoica”—witch, “vrolok” and “vlkoslak”—both of which mean the same thing, one being Slovak and the other Servian for something that is either were-wolf or vampire.”

The wolf is actually much more important in the book than the bat…and it isn’t the bat that bites anybody (which we often see in the movies).

Here is Van Helsing describing Dracula’s powers of transformation:

“He can transform himself to wolf, as we gather from the ship arrival in Whitby, when he tear open the dog; he can be as bat, as Madam Mina saw him on the window at Whitby, and as friend John saw him fly from this so near house, and as my friend Quincey saw him at the window of Miss Lucy. He can come in mist which he create—that noble ship’s captain proved him of this; but, from what we know, the distance he can make this mist is limited, and it can only be round himself. He come on moonlight rays as elemental dust—as again Jonathan saw those sisters in the castle of Dracula. He become so small—we ourselves saw Miss Lucy, ere she was at peace, slip through a hairbreadth space at the tomb door. He can, when once he find his way, come out from anything or into anything, no matter how close it be bound or even fused up with fire—solder you call it.”

That’s right: “elemental dust”. You can not board up the doors and windows to keep out Dracula…it’s not like fighting zombies!

3. Dracula doesn’t sleep during the day

It’s a bit complicated, but Dracula can move around during the day…the vampire doesn’t “sleep” all day in a coffin, and disintegrate if exposed to sunlight. In fact, Dracula can even transform during the day…but exactly at noon. Here, Van Helsing talks a bit about Dracula’s limitations:

“His power ceases, as does that of all evil things, at the coming of the day. Only at certain times can he have limited freedom. If he be not at the place whither he is bound, he can only change himself at noon or at exact sunrise or sunset.”

4. A wild rose can defeat Dracula

While we all know about garlic (and yes, that’s in the book) affecting Dracula, it isn’t just the “stinking rose” (a term for garlic) which works. Let’s hear from the Professor again:

“Then there are things which so afflict him that he has no power, as the garlic that we know of; and as for things sacred, as this symbol, my crucifix, that was amongst us even now when we resolve, to them he is nothing, but in their presence he take his place far off and silent with respect. There are others, too, which I shall tell you of, lest in our seeking we may need them. The branch of wild rose on his coffin keep him that he move not from it; a sacred bullet fired into the coffin kill him so that he be true dead; and as for the stake through him, we know already of its peace; or the cut-off head that giveth rest.”

5. Dracula hasn’t been undead and unchanging for centuries

I’ve written about this more extensively in my blog, The Measured Circle:

Dracula…race against mind

To me, one of the coolest elements of the book, and one which I don’t think I’ve seen exploited on screen, is that Dracula has just awakened when encountered by Van Helsing. The master tactician Vlad is not fully awake…doesn’t have it all mentally together yet.

When the Voivoide does, Van Helsing will be facing one of the greatest military minds in history.

As a proud geek myself, I completely see the fear this gives Van Helsing.

Van Helsing is a geek…an intellectual with an interest in odd things.

Physically, unlike some interpretations (quiet down there, Hugh Jackman), Van Helsing is not a competitor.

When that’s the case, we geeks count on our mental superiority to give us a chance in the “sport”.

Imagine that Dracula was, oh, a great football quarterback. Living in the Bay Area, I’m going to go with Joe Montana.

Count Montana has just awakened…slowly, the intellectual capacities are returning.

Van Helsing has to play football against the Count.

The first person who scores, wins.

Van Helsing, being a terrible football player, has to score…now. Four or five plays from now, there will be no chance whatsoever: the Count will be back to full capacity!

The Professor better get it all right, right away. No mistakes…every mistake costs valuable time, and Count Montana becomes less vulnerable.

That, to me, is where some of the strongest drama comes in the book. It’s not just Van Helsing versus Dracula…it’s Van Helsing versus Van Helsing’s own weakness.

There you go! All kidding aside, if you haven’t read the book, I recommend it. I like a lot of the movie versions, too…Bela Lugosi (who is the inspiration for that Halloween costumer) is very different from Christopher Lee in the part, but they both have their fascinations.

You can love the movies (and the TV shows, and comic books, and videogames, and…) and you can love the book (and the other books written about the Count), but they aren’t the same.

Now, about Frankenstein… ;)

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Cheap Reads for Kindle: Free Books and Low Priced Reading Options

October 19, 2014

Cheap Reads for Kindle: Free Books and Low Priced Reading Options

You know, sometimes Amazon.com seems like Doctor Who’s TARDIS**: it’s bigger on the inside. ;)

It just seems like you can’t possibly know it all…it’s constantly changing, and every once in a while, I’ll turn left at an aisle I know and end up in something I’ve never seen before.

I’ve written before about a number of these “Amazon aisles”, but I just ran into this one when answering a question for someone:

Cheap Reads for Kindle: Free Books and Low Priced Reading Options (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

They’ve subtitled it “From free classics to great deals, there’s a book for every budget on Kindle.” and I think we know that’s true.

There are over 50,000 free books in the USA Kindle store, typically.

Read a book a week, and that would keep you going for about a thousand years (assuming they didn’t add more to it…which they do).

Read a book a day, and you still have well over a hundred years.

The trouble, of course, is something I write about quite a bit: discovery.

How do you find “good books” to read for free? I put that in quotation marks because I don’t tend to make that kind of distinction. I usually find something of value in every book I read…so I would say that there are “better books” for me, but not usually a duality of “good” and “bad”.

The navigation on this page includes:

Popular Ways to Save

  • Kindle Daily Deals
  • Monthly Deals, $3.99 or Less
  • Kindle Unlimited

Top Rated Free Books

  • Biographies & Memoirs
  • Business & Money
  • Literature & Fiction
  • Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Teen & Young Adult

They also link to

Kindle Book Deals (at AmazonSmile*)

where books are on sale, but not necessarily super cheap.

On the “Cheap Reads” page, they feature and link to free public domain (not under copyright protection) books at Amazon.

It’s interesting because some of those books are featured in Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s subser (subscription service…you pay by the month for an “all you an read” program), and some aren’t.

I think the Kindle Unlimited ones may be ones with added material (a foreword, new illustrations) which creates a new copyright.

Regardless, this is a good Amazon aisle to use to pick up the least espensive books at Amazon…and Amazon promotes getting free books.

Why would they do that, when it costs them something to provide a book to that customer?

Simple…it likely makes people spend more money on those higher profit items, which they might be buying through Prime.

I think that’s why we get a lot of free stuff from Amazon…to make us loyal, and to make Amazon the place to which we turn to buy, well, pretty much everything.

Enjoy!

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

** The TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space) is a time and space craft use by the Doctor on the Doctor Who TV series. In that case, it literally appears to be bigger on the inside…the outside looks like a police call box, but the inside is huge…and bit mysterious.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

New: set your default delivery device for Kindle books

October 18, 2014

New: set your default delivery device for Kindle books

===

NOTE: if you are reading this on a site called


Kindle Updates
Your source for the latest Kindle updates and news

they have reproduced my copyrighted material without my permission. They are infringing on my copyright.

They are also reproducing posts from other sites, I presume again without having obtained authorization (although I do not know that for sure).

If you are able to contact them, please ask them to stop. I would be satisfied with that outcome, and would rather not take additional action (I have already alerted Google’s AdSense to the situation, and they appear to have removed their sponsorship).

Thank you for your consideration of the rights of authors.

===

Well, this should reduce the questions which get asked in the Amazon Kindle forums!

For years, people have been confused by where a book goes when they order one from the USA Kindle store.

In the past, there were two answers to that:

If you ordered from your device (from a non-Fire Kindle, a Fire, or a Kindle reader app), it would first go to that device. That’s if you are ordering from within the Kindle store…not using your browser to go to Amazon.com.

If you were at Amazon.com (on your desktop or laptop, for example, or in your browser), you could choose which device got it first…but it would default to your first Kindle (including Fires) alphabetically.

That led to people naming their Kindles in special ways, to drive one up to the top of the list. Instead of “Bufo’s Kindle”, for example, it might be “AAA Bufo’s Kindle”.

Today, for the first time, I was asked to set a default delivery device.

Before I tell you how, it’s important that I point out that you might not have it yet.

Amazon is big on A/B testing: in other words, some people get something and some people don’t while they experiment with it.

A new feature might work for me, and not for you…or vice versa.

It might work in one browser and not another.

It might work in one way for one person (a button might be on the left side of the screen or the choice might be in a menu) and a different way for another person (button on the right, for example).

That said, here is what I am seeing.

When I go to

http://www.amazon.com/myk…formerly called “Manage Your Kindle” and now called “Manage Your Content and Devices

and click or tap on

Your Devices

I see a

Set as default device

link under a selected non-Fire Kindle or Kindle reader app.

For Fires tablets, it’s in the Device Actions menu.

It isn’t available for my Fire Phone or my Fire TV, although they both show on this page (my Fire TV doesn’t have a Kindle app, but my Fire Phone does).

When you set that,

Default Device

appears under the device’s name.

That’s it. :)

As far as I can tell, you can change it whenever you want.

Once I’d done that, the “deliver to” dropdown on a book’s Amazon product page changed to showing the default device first.

Opening the dropdown, the choices looked like they did before…same order, with hardware Kindles and Fires alphabetically first, followed by apps alphabetically.

It did not change the behavior when ordering from a device…when I ordered from my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

(through the Kindle store, not the browser), it went automatically to that device, not the default device I had designated.

Even those this is a little thing, it’s a big improvement!

A device we don’t use much happens to come alphabetically first…I had sometimes been forgetting to change that, and the book would just sit as a pending delivery forever.

Oh, I could still get it on another device by downloading it from the Cloud/archives, or sending it from that MYK page above, but I really don’t like having those pending deliveries out there (maybe they’ll let us cancel them at some point).

One other tip.

I often get books, and would prefer that they not be on any of my devices right away. I’d rather read them some time in the future, and don’t need them taking up local memory (I usually only keep about ten Kindle store books on any of my devices at a time).

While we can get apps and have them go only to the Cloud, that’s not currently an option for Kindle books.

However, you can get the free Kindle Cloud Reader

http://read.amazon.com

and set that as your default device (I checked…yes, you can do that).

That way, by default, it will go to that Cloud reader, which means the book won’t take up memory on your Kindles and Fires…until you download it.

Remember, that’s only if you order in a browser…if you order it in the store on one of your devices, it will go to that device first.

I’m very happy to see Amazon still making these kinds of asked-for improvements!

If you get a chance, take a look and see if you have the option. If you don’t, I’d be interested to hear that. If your interface is significantly different from what I described above, I’d be interested to hear that as well.

What else would be on your list of tweaks (minor changes) you’d like to see? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

No First Sale doctrine outside the USA?

October 17, 2014

No First Sale doctrine outside the USA?

Update: thank you to several readers who pointed out something I had missed. I’ll comment on that after the original post.**

I finished reading

Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 – 5) (Silo Saga) (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shoppiing*) by Hugh Howey

when I was work today, and had quite a long drive back in front of me.

I decided to listen to

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer (at AmazonSmile*) by John Grisham

with text-to-speech in the car on the way back.

This is a childrens’ book by the famous legal thriller author…my Significant Other read it a while ago, and I figured I’d try it. I as in the mood for something light.

In this case, the TTS actually did read me the rights statement in the beginning of the book.

I do tend to read those (I usually read all the words in a book…acknowledgements, index, and so on).

Something in this one caught my eye…er, ear. ;)

It said:

“Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.”

Penguin says what? ;)

According to this, it sounds like you couldn’t sell your copy (obviously, not of your e-book…I assume they just copied this from the p-book…paperbook) of Theodore Boone in England without first getting permission from the publisher (Puffin, an imprint of Penguin).

Not in a used bookstore…not at a garage sale…and you couldn’t even lend it to somebody in your family, from the way I read it.

I was curious, so I did a search for this book on

http://www.usedbooksearch.co.uk/

Limiting the results to the UK, there were plenty of copies available.

Gee, it must have been hard for all of those people to get permission to sell theirs from Penguin. ;)

Publishers are not allowed to do this in the USA, thanks to something called the “First Sale doctrine”.

It basically dates back to 1908, and a case where Macy’s discounted a book (I’m simplifying things here, legal scholars). The publisher had put a statement in the book that it couldn’t be sold for under a dollar. Macy’s did, and the issue got all the way to the Supreme Court.

The Court essentially said that the copyright only covered the first sale of the copy of the book (in this case, from the publisher to Macy’s), not subsequent sales.

That was codified in 1976.

Section 109 (a) of U.S. copyright law says:

“Notwithstanding the provisions of section (3), the owner of a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title, or any person authorized by such owner, is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy or phonorecord.”
http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#109

Without that, you would legally be under the same restrictions as the rights statement I quoted suggests.

With e-books, I’ve seen people up in arms because they can’t resell them.

That’s not a “natural right” that’s always been true (in practice)…it’s a specifically granted right.

It’s possible at some point that it would be taken away, of course. Not likely (it’s survived more than a century), but not impossible.

I wonder if Penguin actually expects anybody to follow this, and if they ever try to enforce it.

People say a lot of things just hoping it scares people into compliance…but they might not want the issue to get into court and have some precedent decided that doesn’t benefit them going forward.

For a birthday, I gave my SO a parachute jump (this was some time back).

My SO is in insurance claims, and laughed at the release they had to sign…and let them know it would never hold up.

One provision was that nobody in your family could sue if something happened to you.

Of course, my SO doesn’t have the authority to sign away my rights! That paper would never have had legal standing to stop me from suing.

However, I would guess it works as intimidation…and to impress upon people how serious the activity is, which is a good thing.

Anyway, if you are outside the USA (and I have readers all over the world), I’m curious: do you have used bookstores? Are you aware of any kind of restriction like this, or an equivalent of  the First Sale doctrine? I’m especially interested in hearing from you if you are an intellectual property lawyer outside the USA. Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

** Thanks to Dragi Raos, Denis, and Harold Delk (so far) ;) who pointed out that I had missed this part of Penguin’s statement: “… in any form of binding or cover other that in which it is published”. I had incorrectly took that as “or in any form of binding or cover…” In other words, I understood it as saying that even if you put it in a different cover it wasn’t okay to resell it, when it actually reads as the injunction being against putting it in that other cover and selling it, not selling the original.  This may be an example of how we process differently when using text-to-speech…I do think I perhaps fill in more gaps with TTS than when sight-reading. That said, this still raises some questions for me. Why is it okay to put it in another cover in the USA, and not in the rest of the world? If you can turn books into art and tsotchkes (which always makes me shudder…do you really want to eat off a serving platter made up of books which have been torn to pieces for that purpose?), what’s wrong with creating your own cover for a book when you resell it? If I understand this correctly, if I put a book into a library type binding (putting a clear, strong layer on the original cover), I might not be able to sell it? Anyway, this is one of those cases where I will openly admit to having been wrong…I misheard what the statement said, and then didn’t re-read it when I put it into the article. Thanks again to the readers who helped make this blog more accurate!

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Google takes action on infringement?

October 16, 2014

Google takes action on infringement?

I’ve run into situations before where someone has infringed on my copyright.

About three years ago, after an alert and kind reader let me know about running into some of my work in a book purchased in the Kindle store (not one of my books), I let Amazon know and the book was removed:

Infringement, plagiarism, and Amazon to the rescue

As I said then, “…I’m not a big person for punishment, public shame, or revenge.  I usually just want the situation fixed.  :)”

I mentioned recently that my posts (in their entirety…and every one of them in sequence, at least the latest ones) were appearing on a site without my authorization.

I named the site then, because I couldn’t see any way to contact them…and I figured, hey, if they are publishing my material, they are probably reading it. :)

I gave them a couple of days to remedy the situation (and a way to contact me privately, if they wanted to arrange permission…I have allowed some things before, even without compensation).

That didn’t happen.

I saw that they had ads (making this a commercial enterprise), powered by Google’s AdSense.

I clicked the link for AdSense, and they nicely had a specific way for me to report the infringement…it even automatically linked back to the website. I stated I was the copyright holder: I am…I obviously don’t register the copyright before I publish these posts, but copyright in the USA is automatic. You don’t need to register it to have protection, although registering it gives you more options. I have registered some copyrights in the past.

Google said, in part in this short excerpt: “We will promptly review this website to ensure that it complies with our policies and, if necessary, take the appropriate action.”

Well, I’m pleased to report that while the infringement is still happening at this point, the ads are gone from the site.

Hopefully, this will get them to remove my material, or contact me for permission. Since they aren’t profiting from it via the Google ads any more, and they’ve been informed of the infringement (I think the vast majority of infringers are simply ignorant of the relevant law), I’m hoping  the situation is fixed soon.

I’d really rather not take additional action…that’s no fun for anybody.

I see at least one post from someone else I (virtually) know on there…I’ll alert that person, although, of course I’m only assuming that they didn’t get permission.

I’m quite confident that Google removed the ads…thanks, Google!

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Harlan Ellison has had a stroke

October 14, 2014

Harlan Ellison has had a stroke

I wish Harlan Ellison the best, and am saddened to hear of this acute health situation.

Harlan Ellison (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Ellison is an important writer…period.

That’s not just in the case of science fiction, or TV, or however you choose to define this unique voice.

No, we don’t approach the world the same way. Harlan Ellison is famously confrontational, and I’m not.

That doesn’t mean I think any less of Ellison’s writing.

If you needed no other reason to join

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

the Ellison books available there would be enough.

According to this

Oregonian article by Douglas Perry

visitors report that the author’s mind and will are still strong…that not even a stroke and partial paralysis will stop Harlan Ellison from thinking you under the table…and making sure that you know it. ;)

If you are a fan, you may want to visit

the author’s official site

and leave a comment in the Art Deco Dining Pavilion.

Thank you, Harlan Ellison, for all you have done for us so far…and may the future give you at least as much as you have given us.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Amazon announces Kindle Scout

October 14, 2014

Amazon announces Kindle Scout

Amazon’s newest program is a traditional publishing effort with a non-traditional twist.

It is aimed directly at disintermediation. It wants to make readers the arbiters of what books get published.

This is different, and significant.

In traditional publishing, the publisher decides what actually gets published (made available to the public).

An author submits a book (through an agent, again this is traditionally) and the corporation weighs its value. There will be strategic elements to the decision…it won’t just be what will be the best book, but what will best fit the publishing strategy of the company.

Let me give you an analogy for this.

I’ve always been good at trivia. When I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, we had a publisher’s representative (they would come around to the stores and pull books from their publisher they thought were past their sales cycle, and suggest new ones) who was a five-time Jeopardy champion (that was the limit back then)…and in casual trivial sparring, I could beat that person.

My Significant Other used to like the TV game show, The Weakest Link.

Once, it was doing auditions at the Metreon, which is near where we live…so I went to audition (it would have been fun for my SO if I got on the show).

Some people waited eight hours to get in, but we were there pretty early.

In line, I was chatting with some other would-be contestants. One thing I told them was that there would be a written test…and I advised them to miss a couple of questions on purpose. Game shows don’t want people who get everything right: there isn’t enough drama in that.

I followed that strategy, and so did the people with whom I spoke.

We all advanced to the next level.

In that level, there were about 300 of us in a room. Everybody in turn stood up and did maybe fifteen seconds on why they wanted to be on the show.

That eliminated about 90% of the people…it’s how they could tell how you would present yourself, and if the audience would like you.

I got through that level.

The next thing was the mock show. We played the game.

I got through that one, too.

I was then told that I had qualified to be on the show.

However…

They also said they wouldn’t have two people on from San Francisco (the San Francisco area, in my case) on the same show. They wouldn’t have two people on the same show with hair like mine.

They need distinct people, so the audience can immediately pick their favorites…and who they don’t like.

I was good enough to be on the show: it was just the luck of the draw as to whether or not there were too many other people similar to me.

If they didn’t call me in a certain period of time (a year, I think?) I could audition again.

They didn’t, and I didn’t.

That’s part of how traditional publishing works.

You can have written a terrific novel…but if someone else wrote one on a similar subject, or has your personality “hook”, the publishing slot might go to that person instead.

If you are very promotable to a particular market, and so is that other person…well, a talk show (a huge promotional tool for books) isn’t going to want to do two shows on the same basic topic too close together.

That was one path: the publisher decides.

Then, there is independent publishing.

In that case, the author simply publishes the book directly (a process that has become a realistic way to go, thanks to the low investment cost and equal distribution process of e-book publishing).

Those two choices still exist, and will continue to exist (although their market share may be shifting, with indies getting a bigger share).

Amazon’s new way to do it is to have readers largely make the choice.

That’s new.

Arguably, readers have had an influence in the past for brand name authors. If they show they’ve liked somebody in the past, that increases the chances that author can get another book published. Even if one publisher turns them down, another publisher would likely be interested in a proven moneymaker.

What about someone who isn’t as well known? Amazon refers to them as “…today’s aspiring authors”.

That’s really the focus of

Kindle Scout

As an author, I just got an e-mail from Amazon. Authors can start submitting completed but unpublished novels to the program today. In “…a couple of weeks”, readers will be able to start nominating books for publication.

Readers should take a look at this page:

https://kindlescout.amazon.com/about

and in particular, watch the video.

You can have up to three books in your “nomination panel”…and if one of them is actually chosen by Amazon for publication (the readers’ “votes”, based on an excerpt”, are really advisory), you’ll get the book for free.

I think this could be really popular.

My guess is that Amazon is going to get significantly good books…that there will be a much higher standard than there is in the indie publishing through Kindle Direct Publishing (there are some really terrific books there…and some that could have used stronger editing, proofreading, and formatting).

I’ve read through the terms, and I think they are good for newbies and yet-to-break mids. The reversion rules (under which circumstances the author gets the rights back) seem reasonable, as do the compensation rates.

You can read them here:

https://kindlescout.amazon.com/agreement

and I’m thinking of writing a more thorough analysis of them for an audience more specifically of authors.

I should point out that I am not a literary agent, and except for magazines, haven’t been traditionally published.

Right now, though, I want to highlight that this does not impact you selling the book as a p-book (paperbook). This may turn out to be the way that some authors are discovered by the traditional publishers, and become household names. Of course, nothing stops Amazon’s traditional publishing paper imprints from going after the book as well, if it’s a success as a Kindle Scout e-book, and Amazon would likely have an emotional edge in that case.

For readers, I think you are going to find this a great way to discover and get tradpub quality books.

I do think we’ll see some known authors participate with books which perhaps don’t match their market expectations…and that could be exciting as well.

Right now, Amazon is looking for “…English-language books in Romance, Mystery & Thriller and Science Fiction & Fantasy genres.”

That makes sense: as I’ve mentioned before, books with a strong genre identification rely less on who the specific author is. If you like time travel paranormal romance mysteries (I’m guessing that’s a thing) ;) , you want to read one, even if the author is unknown to you.

I hope that this succeeds well enough that they expand it. Specifically, I’d like to see this get into non-fiction. Prove that there is an audience for your political book, or pop culture reference, and we’ll see things on Amazon’s front page that would never have been traditionally published, or noticed as an indie.

As you can tell, I’m excited about this one. I don’t expect to participate as an author…I don’t have unpublished novels sitting around. The way my life works, I’m not likely to write one in the near future…writing at 4:30 in the morning before work is fine for a blog like this, and for non-fiction reference, but wouldn’t lend itself to getting on a roll and writing fifty pages in a sitting.

What do you think? Will authors embrace this, or stay away from it? What type of author will tend to do either? Would you “nominate” a book, hoping to get a freebie? Would you do it just because you think it’s a deserving book? How does this potentially shift the publishing world? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Who doesn’t have this e-book thing figured out?

October 14, 2014

Who doesn’t have this e-book thing figured out?

Some authors do very well in both e-books and p-books (paper books).

I was curious if there were authors who were doing very well in paper, but not so well in e-books.

I decided to make this simple, and just look at the authors of the bestselling books at Amazon.com.

The authors (and their agents) do have an impact on this decision, by the way. The author owns the e-book rights, separately from the p-book rights, and can sell them separately. Hypothetically, they could sell the hardback rights to a tradpub (traditional publisher) and keep the e-book rights for themselves…even sell them to a different publisher, if they wanted.

Most likely, the publisher of the hardback would frown on that, and might even have a clause against it…but the author/estate would most likely need to be compensated for not using those e-book rights.

  1. Rick Riordan: #8 e-book
  2. B.J. Novak: #2,450 e-book
  3. Gillian Flynn: #3 e-book
  4. Cary Elwes: #71 e-book
  5. Bill O’Reilly: #23 e-book
  6. Thug Kitchen: #915 e-book
  7. Rush Limbaugh: #861 e-book
  8. Atul Gawande: #173 e-book
  9. Jeff Kinney: #386 e-book
  10. Walter Issacson: #65 e-book

Interesting! I think this might confirm what some people would think. With the exception of Rick Riordan, I think the books intended for children are doing worse in e-book. There is a reasonable argument that a lot of the books bought for kids to read are bought as gifts (even if the gifts come from within the immediate family)…and that p-books might seem better as a gift, literally more substantial.

I also think there might be some negative impact on digital with a book being a pre-order. It may be that people feel it is less necessary to pre-order an e-book. They aren’t going to run out of it, and you can typically have it within sixty seconds of deciding to buy it.

However, you can pre-order e-books (and I know many people do), so it’s not as simple as that.

I suppose it isn’t surprising that Walter Isaacson, who write on tech related subjects, does well in e-books. I should be clear, I’m not convinced that the e-book market is really techies (I think that’s what Amazon did differently that made the Kindle go mainstream when many other EBRs…E-Book Readers hadn’t managed it in the USA…they designed them for readers, not techies).

Still, there is a significant minority of people who just read e-books…I think as an author going into the future, you’ve pretty much got to make that market work for you. That is, of course, unless you are selling relatively expensive books, where you don’t have move as many units.

What do you think? Could an author live by paper alone? ;) Are some authors just a better read for you in either digital or paper? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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