eBook Notes For Monday, November 2, 2009

The Next Hot e-Reader: The iPhone

Unless the Apple Tablet becomes a reality, I think there is going to continue to be a market for dedicated e-readers, mostly because it is impossible to read large amounts of text on a smaller screen.

Emphasis added by me.

What century is Om Malik living in again?

After Playing Games, iPhone Gets Serious about Books

The data in this report is computed from a sample size of over 2,500 applications …

Um, what? There are near one-hundred thousand in the App Store.

In October, one out of every five new apps launching in the iPhone has been a book.

But what kind of book? If it’s the tenth incarnation of Think and Grow Rich, it’s meaningless!

Do-It-Yourself iPhone Apps

Book-app maker eBookApp.com charges nothing to create apps that help authors and publishers promote books through the App Store but receives 50% of sales of books sold through the apps.

The thing about these places is, in some — if not all — cases, they are listed in the App Store as the publisher, not you. This could also mean having to go through that intermediary in order to do things like promotional price changes and other modifications to the App Store listing.

Caught in the Middle: Publishing’s Other Customers

In most cases, the days of monstrous advances are over. Publishers can’t afford them and the few superstar authors who can command them will at some point recognize their ability to self-publish and distribute far more profitably (and quickly) than their current publishers can. Stephen King is a brand. Nora Roberts is a brand. They don’t need a publisher’s imprimatur or antiquated logistics to sell truckloads of books. Those folks will be fine.

By the same token, writers who do not rely exclusively on income to pay the bills can also self-publish. Tools and services are readily available and mostly easy to use so that the aphorism, “We’re all publishers,” is true. Some will use self-publishing as a stepping stone to more traditional publishing. Others will master it and create work comparable to the best traditional publishing has to offer. A thousand flowers will bloom.

In Comments there, someone brought up the “price vs. value” argument. Like Moriah Jovan, I bit my tongue. Here, I don’t have to: Look at real estate, what is that telling you? And there’s this:

Why advertising needs behavioural economics

Price perception

In theory, price should be a consequence of the value people attach to something. We should be willing to pay what we think something is worth. In practice, this causality runs backwards. The price that is demanded for something makes us value it more.

Blind taste tests have long alerted us to the fact that consumers do indeed “taste the brand” with many food and drink products.

However, behavioural economics has gone further.

– Studies have shown that the efficacy of a soft drink that claimed to help mental acuity was affected by price. People who paid more for the drink performed better on mental acuity tests, benefiting not just from a trivial taste effect, but apparently gaining extra mental powers.

– Similarly, people who paid more for the same over-the-counter pain- relief products reported more effective pain relief despite price being the only variable.

– The effect is also observed with cultural products. In a notorious example, a violinist who could sell out concert halls above ground struggled to gain a few dollars underground busking in the subway. The context determined the value.

Price-cutting can, and does, reduce perceptions not just of product quality, but of experienced efficacy.

Emphasis added by me.

The race-to-the-bottom pricing for eBooks will doom them. If you haven’t read Predictably Irrational, buy it today and schedule it to read for this coming weekend.

9 simple words to live by in the digital age

I do know that if you live by a few simple principles, no matter what trend, tool or technology comes next, you will have a good chance to succeed. By keeping the following words and concepts in mind, you’ll be able to navigate whatever twists and turns lie ahead for you and your brand.

And three words to live by too: Never sell out. Plus this advice.

The ePUB Format for E-Books – Everything You Wanted to Know
Under How to Create ePub eBooks he has spectacularly ridiculous advice. All you need to know is Atlantis, period.

Could Vook Be the Future of Publishing?

With people reading more on electronic devices, extra information doesn’t have to be static.

Precisely why digital books will win and ePub will die.

Entelligence: Of ebooks and suburban moms

3. Higher refresh rates. Electronic ink has gotten a lot faster since my first Sony Librie, but it’s still not good enough and I continue to find the pageturn flash distracting. So will most mainstream users.

Not just that, but its limitations too. Just let them get a glimpse at a Vook and they’ll want that capability.

Six Implications of Digital Vertical Niches

One of the ways to react is to develop vertical niches in product categories where you are, as Dominique Raccah put it at TOC, “Essential to the conversation!”. A vertical niche is a community organized around a particular type or genre of content, for instance, Irish History, Military History, Science Fiction or Cookery. I’ll leave it up to you to find the niches and communities that suit your market, you might even decide that you can do better than the existing ones (if there are existing ones), or indeed you may need to create some because they do not exist yet.

Months ago, I would have agreed with that. However, there are already so many niche publishers that are well-known. I believe that brilliant Ayn Rand observation: “The smallest minority is the individual.” Thus, Stephen King, James Patterson, Tom Clancy, create their own niches. When writers such as those — or others on the edge of similar prominence — break away from the dying dinosaurs of print, the rupture will be irreparable. I don’t see the current in-denial snobs of print rallying around to promote writers. They haven’t and they won’t. Ask any Hollywood director how they had to hustle to score — and they’ll tell you the bottom line is the bottom line: money talks. No studio (“publisher”) promoted them or rallied behind them. This is the future of publishing in one — literally one: the writer. And there’s this too:

Niche Publishing Math And Trashing Art

Large trade publishers can’t afford to develop a deep understanding of a market that won’t support the salary of the editor assigned to learn it.

Ah, welcome to the nightmare world of Jules Verne’s Paris in the Twentieth Century — a book everyone should read for what’s up ahead.

The small beauty of Tindal Street Press

Unlike many London publishers, Tindal Street Press always has launch parties and knows that a band of loyal supporters will turn up and buy books. There’s a ready-made local market with regional newspapers and radio programmes willing and keen to do interviews. I suspect that many authors with big publishers do not necessarily receive as much publicity or even sell more books.

Notice: this is a small publisher. They choose what they like, what they think will matter.

Why Twitter “Lists” Change Everything

People can then follow those lists, which really is more like “bookmarking” them, as they do not appear in your Twitter stream. Those lists in turn keep track of how many “followers” they have, and you can see how many people “follow” the lists you create.

There’s a lot here about Twitter lists I didn’t know.

Jane Friedman is on Twitter via her OpenRoadMedia account.

And Dave Winer has created a Twitter List Browser.

10 Responses to eBook Notes For Monday, November 2, 2009

  1. Moriah Jovan says:

    The thing about these places is, in some — if not all — cases, they are listed in the App Store as the publisher, not you. This could also mean having to go through that intermediary in order to do things like promotional price changes and other modifications to the App Store listing.

    That. Ask me how I know. I will not do that again, or at least with that company. I emailed for revenues a week ago and have heard nothing.

    All you need to know is Atlantis, period.

    And/or Sigil. It’s very sweet, especially its latest update. I would not create an EPUB from scratch with Sigil. Create in Atlantis, edit and prettehfy in Sigil.

  2. Moriah Jovan says:

    Okay, on the How to Create EPUB Files you linked:

    1. Stanza Desktop is crap.

    2. Calibre is crap.

    3. Sigil is not crap. It’s the only thing he got right.

  3. Don Linn says:

    Yes, the price/value argument makes me crazy as well. Value isthe equilibrium point between a willing seller and a willing buyer with perffor a specific good or service. Price should reflect that but often it does not. Consumers can be trained to think 1400 square foot houses are worth a million dollars and that a novel is worth $2.99.

    How we teach them that books have value beyond physical production costs is an urgent question. Even enhanced books will be devalued if ‘comparable’ content is available for free or near free on the web.

    The clock is ticking.

    • Ask anyone who’s sold advertising over the past 2-3 years about price vs. value! It’s a buyers market these days — in advertising, in real estate, increasingly so in content — and everyone’s looking for the cheapest deal they can find.

      The New Yorker article from earlier today nailed it: “The best way to win a price war, then, is not to play in the first place.” http://bit.ly/3umMBG

  4. Mike Mc says:

    “because it is impossible to read large amounts of text on a smaller screen.”

    It’s possible, it just sucks.

    “The race-to-the-bottom pricing for eBooks will doom them.”

    Provided the mythical iTablet ever comes to market the Apple app store will doom digital books. The popularity of the app store and the huge number of free or near free apps will kill any attempt at premium pricing. People have come to expect rock bottom prices, good luck trying to get them to pay a premium. Not to mention the fact that hundreds of millions of people will pass on any future iDevice based on price alone. As it stands an iPhone 3GS and service plan will cost you ~$2,700 before apps and accessories. I shudder to think what the tablet will cost.

  5. jenn topper says:

    yeah, me, coming in late and spilling everyone’s drinks as i trip over the couch again.

    so much to digest in this post (and bravo, mike, for such a pithy one), and yet we’re at such an early stage. early enough for shitty technologies and approaches to die off before they have a shot.

    fuck the devices. we’ll figure that out eventually. can’t focus on medium more than content. we can’t let devices cloud the important stuff, which is content.

    WE are not the mass marketplace. we are early adopters. we are the elite. we are exactly who publishers don’t give a shit about…because, you said it, as “influential” as we may be in the chattering classes, we are not going to make or break james patterson, or whoever the bigshot author is these days. in that respect, we are the guinea pigs (or canaries).

    i’ll continue in my own post on don’t publish me, but in a nutshell, my background is in DIY punk rock records and when i released an album, i’d literally go knocking on doors and beg stores to put a copy on their shelves, and nearly prostitute myself to hang a poster in the store. same goes for distributors. my life became one big hunt for distributors to consign my releases for which they’d maybe get around to cutting a check 6 months later.

    where are the writers going out and doing that for themselves? fuck the publishers, whether they are bigboy pubs, imprints, indies, or applications calling themselves publishers. we are our own brand, you’re exactly right, and if we don’t fight for our motherfucking piece of sand, we will be eaten alive.


    • mikecane says:

      >>>where are the writers going out and doing that for themselves?

      They’re doing it via their own sites, own blogs, blog book tours, YouTube vids, intermediaries (grrrr) such as Smashwords, and co-ops like Backword Books.

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