Round up #306: Overdrive “page turners”, KU gets a Big 5 publisher (slightly)
The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.
A tradpub tests the KU waters
In my The Year Ahead: 2015 post, I speculated in a “shaky” way that at least one of the Big 5 traditional publishers would test the waters by putting some books in Amazon’ subser (subscription service…a flat fee, “all you can read” membership),
” I do think this is possible, especially if it is in a limited way. For example, Macmillan might just make some backlist titles, but not the frontlist.”
Well, in this
it’s pointed out that Simon & Schuster has done just that…but in a really limited way.
Two of Vince Flynn’s popular Mitch Rapp novels (the oldest and the most recent) are available for KU readers to borrow at no additional cost.
This is an important “philosophical” breaking of what felt like an embargo. I’m sure they’ll look carefully at how it affects the sales of those two titles, and other inspired sales (more books by Flynn, for example), but whether it is good or bad, it’s still a quantum shift.
My guess? We’ll see more Big 5 titles in KU by the end of the year, although I’d be surprised by any really large scale participation.
Changes in the video streaming market
Many of my readers watch streaming video…both on Amazon devices, such as my
and as part of Amazon Prime.
Amazon spends a lot of money on licensing video, and what happens there will affect Amazon generally.
Recently, there have been major changes!
Amazon previously enabled Prime members to download some videos to their Fire tablets (I’ve watched Warehouse 13 that way, for example). Now, some other Android and IOS users can also download them.
That’s a big deal! You can’t do that with Netflix…download some movies and TV shows to watch offline (when you are on a plane, or for your kids on a car trip, for example).
One important question: does this mean that pushing the hardware of the Fire tablets is now less important to Amazon than getting people to be Prime members even when using other company’s devices? I think yes. I don’t think Amazon is abandoning tablets or EBRs (E-Book Readers), but hardware development may be becoming more focused at Amazon, as I mentioned recently.
There are a number of players (so to speak) in the streaming video market, but let’s mention four and the changes for them recently:
- Amazon has just expanded downloading, as above…which is a competitive advantage
- Hulu just announced a new plan: for $4 more per month ($11.99 from $7.99), you can watch almost all videos commercial free! This is huge for me…we watch some currently running series on Hulu, and it was irritating to have the same sort of commercial breaks you would have on ad-supported TV. We upgraded immediately, and watched So You Think You Can Dance without commercials last night…glorious! I have nothing against advertising (my Significant Other and I have gone to the Clios, the advertising equivalent of the Oscars, more than once), but when I’m paying specifically for TV, it feels like I’m paying twice to watch ads. I’ve taught Project Management, and one of the things to consider is that your time is worth money. If you take your annual salary, you can get it down to minutes…and you should count that when, for example, you need to walk over to printer and perhaps wait in line for it. Let’s say you make $50,000 a year. Even if you figure you work every minute of every day of the year, you can still figure your time is worth maybe ten cents per minute. Will I save 40 minutes a month not having commercials on Hulu? you betcha! At roughly eight minutes per half hour, we saved about 24 minutes last night, I think (I think it is a ninety minute show). All of that is very rough calculation…let’s just say it was so much more pleasant. 🙂 Hulu may have about the same number of commercial minutes as a traditional broadcast, but not the same number of commercials…you see the same ones over and over again
- Netflix: very significantly, they are going to let a deal lapse with Epix. Basically, they are going to stop carrying a lot of major movies, like The Hunger Games series. Variety might think this is a good idea, but I don’t. Netflix is becoming an original content network in some ways. While original content can be great (I am enjoying the Daredevil series), it’s a far bigger risk. I sometimes just want to watch a major movie…even if it’s older. Those movies are going to Hulu…and it also gives Amazon a positional advantage
- Apple is reportedly looking at getting into original content…that’s part of why it’s scary for Netflix to count on original content
Netflix has been the powerhouse (people use it as a way to define other things…literary subsers are often called the “Netflix of books”), but I think this is a move in the wrong direction. Prime is many, many things, but even if you got it just for video, it’s only $8.25 a month. Prime video will rise with the downloading, Hulu will rise with ad-free and Epix, and Apple will rise if it introduces original content in the rumored way. What’s going to be new and different for Netflix?
Amazon never stops innovating…and there will likely be some very interesting announcements before the end of the year.
Overdrive is now listing most borrowed e-books from public libraries
I’m not really a user of the public library for e-books.
I have borrowed a couple to test it, but there two main reasons for my lack of use:
- The selection just isn’t that great. Bestsellers might have a waiting list of months (libraries have a limited number of licenses, meaning that only so many people have the book at the same time…just like with p-books ((paperbooks))). Other books I want to read are often not available. I have lots of books available to me, especially as a Kindle Unlimited member. The public library just doesn’t have anything that draws me into the additional complication necessary to get one from them, as opposed to getting books from Amazon or that I already own
- I don’t want to take away from people who can’t otherwise afford books. Yes, public libraries are for everyone…I got massive and perhaps not undeserved pushback when I suggested that tradpubs might be willing to make e-books available to people for free on a needs-tested basis. In other words, the books would not be available for general public library check-out, but would be available to people who could show that they are below the poverty line or otherwise unable to purchase. That sort of plan was announced, as I reported earlier this year: Obama’s plan for needs tested library books…where have I heard that before? 😉. However, since that isn’t generally the case, I feel bad taking using up one of the library’s licenses to read something which I could otherwise afford, becoming an impediment to someone who can’t afford it
It’s about e-books and audiobooks…neither of which actually have pages, of course, but you know…it gets the point across. 😉
The five most borrowed in August were all major bestsellers (including Go Set a Watchman and Grey). Hopefully, that’s a message for publishers: lots of borrowing from public libraries doesn’t meant that your book won’t be a bestseller.
Dash! Ah-ah…ruler of the universe!
That headline was a reference to the Queen theme from the Flash Gordon movie with Sam Jones, and…never mind. 😉
While it’s going to be a bit of a stretch to tie this into e-books (don’t worry, though, I’ll do it…I’m much more mentally flexible than I am physically flexible) 😉 it shows part of Amazon’s direction.
They sent me this in an e-mail:
Amazon Dash Button – Program News:
- We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from both customers and partners.
- We’re moving into the next phase of the program today.
- We’ve come off the invitation platform, making the program more broadly available—it’s open to all Prime members now.
- We’re kicking off a new pricing offer – Prime members can purchase each Dash Button for $4.99 and with their first button purchase we’ll give back $4.99 to their account.
- Of course, Dash Button customers also get the same low prices that they see online sold by Amazon.
- We’re adding new brands and products – we will launch 11 new brands for Dash Button with new categories like gum and trash bags, table wear, and nutritional supplements.
- We are being thoughtful as we scale the program and we’re focused on increasing the breadth of the categories for customers.
- With these new additions, Dash Button is now available for 29 different brands, representing more than 500 products for Prime members to choose to purchase with the press of a button.
- New brands:
o Ice Breakers Mints
o Orbit Gum
o GREENIES Dental Chews and GREENIES Pill Pockets Treats
o Hefty Trash and Storage Bags
o Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day
o Ziploc Brand
o Finish Dishwashing Detergent
o Digestive Advantage Probiotic Supplements
o Dixie tableware products
o Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein
- We’ve heard customer usage feedback including:
o I like how easy it is to order commonly used items quickly. In my case, baby wipes. When I notice I am getting low on the wipes I can very easily and quickly order more by simply pushing a button. A simple push button is much easier to operate than getting the computer or phone out, especially when holding a baby in the other hand. Additionally, I also like that the button has color coded LEDs to tell me whether or not the order went through. It makes it so much easier.
o I can put it anywhere, which means that I can have it where I’m most likely to notice that I need to reorder. My Gillette dash button is on my bathroom mirror where I shave. When I put the last blade on my razor, it’s right there for me to place the next order immediately, before I forget.
o I’ve placed the Dash buttons where I normally place the toilet paper and cleaning products to remind me when to order the items. Whenever I’m low on the product I just press the Dash Button and it’ll arrive in a couple of days. My girlfriend and I announce when we get the chance to press the button because we’re excited whenever we get the opportunity to press it…it’s fun and efficient.
It’s the opposite of a multifunction device, like the Amazon Echo. One button, one function…sort of like Amazon’s very successful 1-click way of buying things online.
How could this relate to e-books?
I could see having something like a virtual dash button for e-books (or perhaps a physical one). You push (or click or tap) one labeled “Stephen King” or “Romance”, and you get a new one delivered to your account. It could even be a virtual button on the Kindle/Fire homescreen. It might have to check the price with you first (although you could just review it in your confirmation method), it might have to be configured for your tastes and cost parameters, and it would only be able to eliminate books Amazon knows you already own…but I certainly might use it! That’s especially true if it was curated in some way…tap a button for a J.K. Rowling recommended fantasy book, for example.
I’m not sure I made the stretch there, but I tried. 😉
My sibling’s book now has over 50 reviews on Amazon…and a 4.8 star average
I just want to congratulate my sibling, whose first novel
50 hardback copies of which are also being given away through Goodreads right now
for getting over fifty customer reviews on Amazon…with a remarkable 4.8 star average out of 5!
None of my books have gotten anywhere close to that, of course. 🙂
The Kindle edition is now $4.99.
To broaden this out a bit, it’s worth noting that the book is sales ranked #289,949 paid in the Kindle store. Great reviews, blurbs from top selling authors…and still, I think I can objectively say it hasn’t really broken out (although that number is very respectable…easily top ten percent).
If that’s going to happen, it could still happen at the holidays. For a first time novelist, it can take more than a year for a book to build momentum. This is also the first in a series…and it sometimes takes several books in a series for it to find an audience.
An Echo/Alexa article
I told you I’d let you know about Amazon Echo/Alexa articles I publish in The Measured Circle. I hope to do a big round-up soon (there have been a lot of things happening), but I did do this one recently:
Shopping with your Amazon Echo
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* 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.