Round up #281: Arthur, Hugh, and John

Round up #281: Arthur, Hugh, and John

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

Hugh Howey: Where Do We Go From Here?

There have been a lot of posts looking at publishing in 2014 and where it might go in 2015 (I’ve done them myself).

Author Hugh Howey (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) has one of the most interesting reviews in this

blog post

Howey was in the news, even in the mainstream, as one of the leading author defenders of Amazon during what I call the Hachazon War (the dispute between the retailer Amazon and the publisher Hachette). That can be a difficult position: everyone understands when you are a defender of the weak, but they can be less sympathetic to a defender of the strong.

That particular issue is an example of why this is a strong article. Howey says:

“2014 was the year the first of the major publishers was able to resume its squabble with Amazon over the price of ebooks. Hachette drew the short straw…”

Yep…all of the traditional publishers were going to negotiate with Amazon this year, and it happened to be Hachette that got into the public over the fight. It wasn’t necessarily something intrinsic to Hachette, something that made them different from the rest of the Big 5. It was even more public than the dispute Amazon had with Macmillan some time back.

I strongly recommend the article, for some of the best observations on issues including subsers (subscription services).

I will say that Howey doesn’t answer the title question, but that doesn’t lessen the value of this piece.

Well done, Hugh!

Dish will offer Sling TV on Fire TV and Fire TV Stick

There is a lot of buzz over Dish Network’s announcement of a new service…one pretty good analysis is this

Washington Post article by Brian Fung

but there have been many.

In this

press release

Dish calls it a “game changer”, and it’s certainly an interesting move.

For $20 a month, users will get the following networks (initially):

ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family and CNN

The big one, in terms of draw, is ESPN: live sports without a cable contract (there is no contract for Sling TV).

They will also offer “add-on packs”:

  • “Kids Extra” add-on with Disney Junior, Disney XD, Boomerang, Baby TV and Duck TV for $5
  • “News & Info Extra” add-on with HLN, Cooking Channel, DIY and Bloomberg TV

A “Sports Extra” add-on pack is also coming.

I’ve mentioned before that we are largely using a

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

and a

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

for our TVs at this point, and are looking at dropping cable video altogether.

One channel I would really miss if we did that was CNN, which is part of this…but I don’t think we’d pay $20 for it at this point.

For under $20, we have both Netflix and Hulu+, and that works pretty well.

However, many people will buy Sling TV for the sports…and they are really trying to attract the New Millennial generation (born roughly from 1982 through 2004, but different people define it differently). Adult Swim is probably also a draw for them.

One thing this doesn’t have is the big four broadcast networks. You can get quite a bit of that through Hulu+, but not live. Oh, and you do have ads on Hulu+ (but not on Netflix).

CBS has “All Access” for $6 a month, although it isn’t everything.

The perfect “cord cutting” solution isn’t here yet, but it seems clear that more flexibility in TV programming options is coming.

John Scalzi on Kindle Unlimited

One of my readers, Peter Willard, alerted me to this

blog post by John Scalzi

Scalzi is a good writer. We have seen things differently in the past, and that is still the case here, but I think it is worth reading the article.

This is not a flat condemnation of

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

as one might guess. I do think it will be good for some authors (many, actually), not good for others…just like any other distribution channel.

One place where we disagree is this statement by Scalzi:

“That said, the thing to actively dislike about the Kindle Unlimited “payment from a pot” plan is the fact that it and any other plan like itabsolutely and unambiguously make writing and publishing a zero-sum game. In traditional publishing, your success as an author does not limit my success — the potential pool of money is so large as to be effectively unlimited, and one’s payment is independent of any other purchase a consumer might make, or what any other reader might read.”

As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, that’s a bizarre concept. One author’s sales don’t affect another author’s sales because there is such a large pool of money?

That certainly wasn’t my personal experience, or my perception of what my customers thought.

Customers generally had only so much money they could spend (although they might exceed it, of course). Certainly, there were a lot of people not spending much money on books, and they are hypothetically a potential audience, but I don’t think that’s what Scalzi is suggesting.

Let’s say there were ten alternate history books available in my store. Customers chose which one or two to buy, usually…they didn’t buy all ten. That wasn’t because that customer didn’t want to read all ten: it was because they had to be selective due to budgetary restraints.

I don’t see how that means that if they bought Author A’s book it didn’t affect whether or not they bought Author B’s book.

Yes, there is a difference with Kindle Unlimited…although, I’d say it’s less about one author being chosen over another than traditional publishing is.

Take those ten alternate history books, and say they are all in KU.

It seems much more likely to me that a KU member will read all ten…or at least, will read at least 10% (the payment threshold) of all ten.

Why not? It doesn’t make a difference in what they pay if they read one or ten…unlike traditional publishing.

However, the more borrows there are, the lower the individual payment.

If the pool of funds is one million dollars, and there are a million borrows that month, each borrow gets $1.

What this does do, I suppose, is mean that it is a benefit for authors/publishers if people read less. That’s new. If there were only 100,000 borrows, each borrow would be worth $10, not $1.

For traditional publishing, the more somebody buys to read, the more money is going to authors/publishers…not necessarily more to a specific author or publisher, but more altogether.

With KU, the more people read, the less goes to individuals, although the pot is the same.

That is, of course, unless Amazon raises the pot.

That’s what I think may happen…if KU proves to be a good way to get people to become and stay Prime members, or in other ways integrate more deeply with Amazon.

That’s where the money is from consumers: “diapers and windshield wipers”, not e-books.

I also think Amazon is going to make an increasing amount of money from suppliers.

I could even see a scenario where they charge big publishers to be in KU or to have their books featured in it, as another revenue stream.

Interesting times…

Marc Brown’s Arthur e-books on Kindle for the first time

Seven of Marc Brown’s Arthur the Aardvark children’s books are available on Kindle for the first time.

Arthur in the Kindle Store (at AmazonSmile*)

These are very popular books which have been around for years…you may also be familiar with the TV series.

Note that text-to-speech is unavailable on these books…not, I believe, because it has been blocked by the publisher (in which case I  would not be linking), but because these are picture books and the text is part of the image, inaccessible to the TTS software.

Yes, they are available through Kindle Unlimited.

Bonus deal: I know this is late in the day, but Amazon is continuing to offer many more than four titles in the

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

They have “15 First-In-Series Mysteries and Thrillers, $1.99 or Less Each”, and there are some good titles there. I added Eric Van Lustbader’s The Ninja to my Kindle Unlimited wishlist. 🙂

Amazon Echo update

More invitations have been going out, but nothing for me yet. Still waiting patiently. 🙂

What do you think? Are authors talking more about the publishing business because they are becoming more in control of it with the additional power of indie e-distribution? Do authors generally want other authors to succeed, thinking a rising tide raises all boats, or is there competition for readers? Do you choose between similar books when you buy? 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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

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.


4 Responses to “Round up #281: Arthur, Hugh, and John”

  1. Lady Galaxy Says:

    That “cable” line doesn’t appeal to me a whole lot. Out of the ones you mentioned, the only ones I watch regularly are CNN, TNT and Food Network. I know analysts say if we could subscribe to only the cable channels we actually watch, it would end up costing more, but I resent having to help subsidize the high cost of ESPN since it is something that I never watch.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      I never watch ESPN either. 🙂 I’ve seen a bit, perhaps, and I do watch some sports…but when I do, they are available on other outlets.

      Let’s see…

      ESPN: pretty much never
      ESPN2: pretty much never
      TNT: I have watched, but not regularly…I’m okay without it
      TBS: I watched King of the Nerds, and would watch it again…but not a regular watcher
      Food Network: we watch this…a lot
      HGTV: rarely
      Travel Channel: I’ve watched quite a bit of it in the past, but can live without it
      Adult Swim: I’ve seen it, but haven’t had it in years
      Cartoon Network: same with Adult Swim. I’d watch them some if we had them, but not going out of my way to get them
      Disney Channel: even though I’m a pretty big Disney fan, I’m not a watcher
      ABC Family: sometimes
      CNN: every day

  2. D. Knight Says:

    Hi, Bufo,

    This is just to let you know that delivery of the blog to RSKs has stopped again. This is the last post that I received and I had to go to a web browser to see that you have made two more posts since this one.

    BTW, the same thing happened to one of the AP news blogs, but I have no one to contact for that.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, D.!

      Sigh. I’ll check into it! Thanks for letting me know…and this is one of the benefits I get by being accessible to my readers. 🙂

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