Round up #160: good news for authors, Jeff Bezos writes a letter

Round up #160: good news for authors, Jeff Bezos writes a letter

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Burning the Page

Just wanted to let you know that I’m currently reading Burning the Page: The eBook revolution and the future of reading, by Jason Merkoski. I’ll write a full review when I finish, but Merkoski was the Product Manager during the development of the Kindle, and no longer works for Amazon.

That’s definitely allowing the author to give us the inside scoop on what it was like, and there are some interesting tidbits so far. It’s good that Merkoski can really write…I loved the evocative speculation of what it might have been like working in Gutenberg’s place back in the old days. 🙂 Please don’t comment and give away anything until I’ve finished, but I thought some of you might want to read it before I wrote about it. 🙂

PW: “What was the first book that made you love books?”

This was an interesting

Publishers Weekly article

in which the staff lists books that first “made them love books”.

I couldn’t come up with something…I can’t ever remember not loving books. 🙂 It would be like asking, “What was the first air that made you want to breathe air?”

I suspect that’s because my parents read to me before I could read…and I have older siblings, so reading was modeled for me.

Reading was valued and important in our house.

I could name some important books to me, but not the first one.

Hollywood Reporter: “Literary Agent Roundtable: ‘Even the Bad Movies Sell Editions'”

Do you have much of an image of a literary agent? I’m guessing most people don’t. I certainly think there would be a possibility for a movie (or even TV series) featuring an agent…perhaps there has been one. Remember, I’m saying literary agent…Jerry Maguire doesn’t count. 😉

For the reason that most people don’t really know agents or what they do, I found this

The Hollywood Reporter article


It’s literary agents discussing selling books to be turned into movies or TV shows, but it is more than that…it also talks about how the business is changing, and how the newer generation of agents finds things in the new media world (blogs and such).

I’m working on something that I think could actually make a good movie, although I’m not holding my breath on that. 🙂

Me: “Fun or money?”

It’s the second Saturday of the month, so I have my rotating post in The Writers Guide to E-Publishing:

Fun or money?

Those posts are aimed at authors, and I talk there about how I’m a bit torn about writing something that is fun for me, but isn’t like to make much money, or writing something that isn’t as fun, but that will.

The Scholarly Kitchen: “What the heck does a book cost?”

I think it’s often confusing for people the way that libraries purchase books. For example, some publishers restrict sales of e-books to libraries…how does the publisher even know who is purchasing the book?

Well, this

The Scholarly Kitchen article

goes into a good description of the options…but it may make your head spin.

The article by Joseph Esposito is inside information…it’s just that it’s complex stuff.

Jeff Bezos: “… our energy at Amazon comes from the desire to impress customers rather than the zeal to best competitors”

I like Amazon and Jeff Bezos a lot, and tend to trust what the say.

I do find it hard to believe that some of their actions weren’t taken in response to the actions of other companies, but simply from an internally driven desire to provide the best for their customers.

Barnes & Noble dropped prices on devices; Amazon followed. Barnes & Noble had a frontlit reader; Amazon followed. Barnes & Noble had a limited borrowing system; Amazon followed. Apple introduced the iPad; Amazon eventually introduced the Fire.

Amazon even has price-matching: tell them about a lower price elsewhere (with the specifics) and they’ll typically match it.

That said, this

letter from Jeff Bezos

to Amazon investors is really worth reading.

I absolutely agree with Bezos’ assessment of Amazon as being atypically proactive in helping customers. For example, a customer may get a refund without even reporting a problem…that’s cool!

I also appreciate that they started paying royalties for Kindle Direct Publishing books monthly…that’s very unusual.

Bezos’ also addresses the criticism by investors (and perhaps more pointedly, by non-Amazon-investors who write about investing) that Amazon simply gives away too much.

They spend a lot on us customers. That doesn’t translate into big profits, and while a lot of traditionalists thought that eventually it would, that’s not really clear. Amazon can sell the heck out of something, can make people into very loyal customers…but that doesn’t mean that they make a lot of money.

Don’t invest in Amazon expecting them to say, “Today’s the day we put profits first!” 😉 Just as Amazon takes the long view in development, you have to take the long view in them making money.

That, though, is part of what makes me think they’ll be around for a long time…

All Things Digital:

I’ve written before about Google GLASS, and I think they will affect how we do a lot of things, including reading. Of course, before the Segway was released, we were told that cities will be rebuilt around them, and that just hasn’t happened. 🙂


All Things Digital article

is a nice lengthy piece by  Jan Chipchase that really looks at the societal issues.  Might be a good one to send to your Kindle to take the time to go over it.

One warning: it does use the “F word”. I do recommend the article, but wanted to alert you to that.

Good news for authors: take that, Scott Turow*! 😉

Barnes & Noble and Amazon are both introducing services that improve things for independently-published authors.

B&N introduced

NOOK Press

which is essentially an upgrade of PubIt!

Take a look at the services offered.

This is the NOOK equivalent of Kindle Direct Publishing, and they have brought some nice features.

One is the ability to edit your book in a browser. It is a bit clunky to have to go to a file just to make a couple of changes (maybe typos reported by readers), and then re-upload the file to a website. This sounds like it will make that process much simpler.

They also are introducing collaboration tools that will make it possible for others to help you with your work. You might think writing is solitary, but it really isn’t…especially as we enter a world of more multi-media type books.

I give credit to B&N for making these improvements.

Amazon’s new feature is one I’ll certainly consider.

As regular readers know, I’m not a very visual person. Quite simply, the covers my books are unattractive, or even generic.

Amazon has now introduced

KDP Cover Creator

It says in it’s beta (test mode), but I have played around with it.

It’s a huge step forward! For one thing, you can choose from a bunch of stock images…you don’t have to upload one of your own.

It looks like the design part is pretty easy…

Yep, things are looking better for authors!

* I recently wrote about author Scott Turow (the President of the Authors Guild) op-ed bemoaning the “Slow Death of the American Author”. I tend to be pretty upbeat: I think the world is generally better than it was, and is likely to get better in the future (not that there aren’t risks and darksides, especially for some people). I remember being shocked when I had that discussion with some employees of mine when I managed a bookstore. These were young people, and they all thought the world was worse than it had been. I pointed out to them how much worse their lives would have been a hundred and fifty years ago…some of them would not have been legally allowed to learn to read, for example. Somehow, that wasn’t convincing. 🙂 When our now adult kid was young, and said, “This is a bad day!” I made it a rule…you could only say, “Up until 10:30 (or whatever time it was then), this has been a bad day.” You couldn’t decide that the rest of the day would be bad before it happened. So, I’m happy to point out these good things for authors…now Turow can cheer up. 😉 I know, neither of these are for traditionally published authors like Scott Turow, but still, for authors as a larger population, these are good things.

Have any comments on any of these stories? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

6 Responses to “Round up #160: good news for authors, Jeff Bezos writes a letter”

  1. Phink Says:

    The ‘What Book Made You Love Books’ section is right up my alley. You see, believe it or not I read my first book at 27 years old. I was not illiterate till then but rather lazy when I was a child and had no idea the wonders I was denying myself. In school I actually faked my book reports by skimming the book reading probably 10% of it and throwing something together getting a C or D. If I could maintain a 65% (the lowest D in the 70’s-80’s) by getting a 0 I simply would refuse to do the report and get a 0. Unfortunately I had no punishment waiting on me at home.

    Anyway, I was in the car one night tired of music and turned on the AM station and ran across a NPR show where some guy was reading a book. I listened the rest of that show and tuned in the next couple of shows and then decided I had to read the book and I turned the show off so there would be no more spoilers. That book was Harry Turtledove’s ‘the Guns of the South’. In this novel General Lee gets ahold of 100,000 AK-47’s in 1863. I loved that book and will always be thankful to Harry Turtledove for what he gave to me. Like I said, for 27 years I had no idea of the wonders I was denying myself and what really sucks is I can never get those years back. 20 years later I am still an avid reader and some times wish I were a vampire just so I would not have to waste 6-8 hours a night sleeping. You have any idea how many more books I could read in a year if I did not require sleep?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      That’s a great story!

      I suspect that the way that literature was taught in your school(s) might have something to do with your lack of embrace of it until you were well out of it. I really felt like high school slowed my reading speed, and I wasn’t happy about it. 🙂

      Well, let’s see…if you can read a book in six to eight hours, I’d say 365. 😉 Vampires do, in much of pop culture, sleep, by the way…they just do it during the day.

  2. beccadi Says:

    “What was the first air that made you want to breathe air?”

    this. exactly this.

  3. Jennifer J. Martin (Gran Jen) Says:

    At age 71, I have no memory of not reading. I grew up reading my Daddy’s books, as he bought the books, so that’s what the family read. The were probably too old for me, but thankfully no one ever censored my reading. We had a big dictionary on the coffee table, and any word I didn’t understand was to be looked up. If I didn’t understand the gist of the book, Daddy would patiently explain it to me. Sometimes we would have family discussions about books. I tried to raise my daughter the same way, and she is a readaholic as well.

  4. Phink Says:

    Hey Bufo, turns out one really cannot edit a Nook Press book in the browser nor any other way. I have my book for sale in both Amazon’s store as well as B & N. I had a disaster just a few months ago when my computer crashed and my backup drive also would not work. I had pictures and other stuff on a 3rd backup drive thank goodness but I lost a lot of stuff including all 3 of my eBook items I had for sale. When Nook Press was announced I was hoping badly that I could download my items for sale because I no longer have a copy of my own book. Today, I tried and could not get it to open where it said ‘Download Manuscript’. I did a search on how to do it and got the following web site that states it cannot really be done. I just thought you might would like this info. I am eventually going to have to retype the entire book I guess.

    Now that I think about it, why would it even say download manuscript if you could not. I think I will call Customer Service Monday and ask them.

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