Baen To Kindle More Sales?

Baen, a pioneer in ebook marketing, is about to relent and begin selling ebooks outside their own store – presumably through Amazon, predicts Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader.

Some of the early clues, says Hoffelder, were the shrinking Baen Free Library, and a request made to one webmaster to stop offering files of Baen books once given away free in CD format because of an imminent “new ebook distribution deal with an ‘unnamed third-party’.”

[Via Andrew Porter and Paul Di Filippo.]

Distributors Feud Over DC Graphic Novels

Paper editions of DC Comics’ graphic novels won’t be sold in Barnes & Noble bookstores while Amazon has exclusive rights to distribute the digital versions reports the LA Times:

DC Comics’ efforts to expand digital distribution of its graphic novels has gotten it caught in a battle between two book-selling giants.

Barnes & Noble said Friday it will not stock physical copies of 100 of DC’s graphic novels that the Warner Bros.-owned unit is making available exclusively on competitor Amazon.com’s Kindle platform, including the upcoming Kindle Fire tablet.

DC agreed to give Amazon exclusive digital distribution rights for the books, which include “Watchmen” and graphic novels featuring Batman and Superman, for four months starting with the launch of the Kindle Fire on Nov. 15.

F&SF on Kindle

Kindle customers who subscribe can receive all of F&SF’s editorial content and one short story at no cost. This includes editor’s recommendations, “Curiosities” (odd books of enduring interest), film reviews, book reviews, cartoons and humor, and “Coming Attractions” (highlights of each issue).

The complete content of each issue is available for $12 a year — with everything in the digest edition plus several additional short stories and novelettes. Individual issues of the extended edition are available for $2.99. F&SF publishes six times a year.

Stephen King, in his capacity as a long-time fan of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, applauded the arrangement: “This is the best fiction magazine in America. Kindle readers are in luck.”

[Thanks to Michael Walsh for the link.]

Cheap E-books, Boon or Bane?

Or both?

Discussing 99-cent e-books here the other day, Michael Walsh concluded YMMV.

Author Jeff Carlson tells readers of the SFWA Blog he is getting high mileage — he has sold 13,000 copies of his novella “The Frozen Sky”. To celebrate he’s giving away freebies of his other short story collections as Mobi or ePub files.  

However, users of the Amazon Kindle are being forced onto 40 miles of bad road warns the Globe and Mail, because there’s “Spam clogging Amazon’s Kindle self-publishing”:

Spam has hit the Kindle, clogging the online bookstore of the top-selling eReader with material that is far from being book worthy and threatening to undermine Amazon.com Inc’s publishing foray.

Thousands of digital books, called ebooks, are being published through Amazon’s self-publishing system each month. Many are not written in the traditional sense.

Instead, they are built using something known as Private Label Rights, or PLR content, which is information that can be bought very cheaply online then reformatted into a digital book.

These ebooks are listed for sale – often at 99 cents – alongside more traditional books on Amazon’s website, forcing readers to plow through many more titles to find what they want.

Casting this as a crisis may be the smart play for the Globe and Mail‘s news editor, but who is really doing any plowing? As a rule people don’t browse Amazon’s zillions of titles at random. Forcing Amazon’s search engine to sort through more titles is not my idea of a public emergency.

Independent Publishing and the Kindle

Nancy Fulda offers interesting and persuasive advice about self-publishing in “Kindle Starter Kit” on the SFWA Blog.

Fulda analyzes the impact of content (yes, quality writing matters – shock!), covers, reviews, the blurb, Amazon’s “Customers Who Bought” algorithim, promotion and pricing.

For example, she makes a provocative argument in favor of setting a low price:

That purchasing urge gets stronger the lower the price goes. Get down into the $0.99 range, and you are in Happy Impulse Purchase Land. People won’t think twice about buying; if the book looks remotely interesting, they’re likely to just toss it in the shopping cart.

Here’s something I didn’t know a month ago: The kindle market is not primarily populated by early adopters and techno-geeks. The Cheap Book Crowd — the customers who never even made it onto most publishers’ radar because they go to libraries and shop in used book stores — has fallen in love with kindle. Buyers have been known to spend up to $200 per month on $0.99 books.

Price matters.

Amazon Invents the Novella

Amazon is bringing another amazing product to market, reports eBookNewser. Hold onto your hats. Amazon now will sell short fiction in digital form – and for less than what it charges for a novel (gee, thanks!)

These new books [Kindle Singles], which are categorized as between 10,000 and 30,000 words –or about 30-90 pages– will have their own section in the Kindle Store and be priced less than a typical eBook.

This is essentially the length of a novella as defined in the Hugo Award rules (between 17,500 and 40,000 words). The science fiction genre has been marketing novellas in electronic form for some time now. So what immediately came to my mind were the Cold War-era jokes about the Soviet Union’s latest announcement that a Russian really had invented some appliance or technology the West credited to Thomas Edison or the like.   

Yet it will be news if Amazon has learned to use its Kindle platform to sell short fiction, having deemed the original Amazon Shorts program too unsuccessful to continue.

[Thanks to John Mansfield for the story.]

Konrath’s Kindle Success

Curious about the sales of self-published books? Wonder about the effectiveness of different ebook marketers? Good luck, because that kind of information is seldom made public. Whenever somebody pulls back the curtain that’s news in its own right.

Thriller author Joe Konrath told readers of his blog that he sold 5,850 ebooks and made over $4200 on Kindle in March 2010. And later this year he expects to be doing a lot better:

In June, Amazon is switching to the agency model, which means ebooks priced between $2.99 and $9.99 will earn the author a 70% royalty, minus a 6 cent delivery fee. Instead of making 70 cents per ebook sale like I’m currently doing, I can make $2.04 per sale.

Konrath also speculates about selling a book to a conventional publisher but holding back the ebook rights.

“This is a very interesting blog post,” says Francis Hamit. “My own results with e-books have not been anywhere near this, but Mr. Konrath obviously has a following.  I will have to think anew on this.  My concern is that a lot of people are going to jump in and expect similar results but miss the fact that he is probably in the levels of what makes a “best seller” in volume sales in this niche.  However his points about keeping the rights and the impact of that on the bottom line are compelling and a real argument in favor of self-publishing.”

[Thanks to Francis Hamit for the story.]

Digital Outsells Paper on Christmas Day

Amazon reports that it sold more books in digital format than in paper form on Christmas Day.

Just coincidentally — Diana gave me a Kindle for Christmas. Honestly, I did not mortgage the house to buy the entire Boxcar Children series for Sierra! I only bought Patrick O’Brian’s Navy and accidentally bought something else they quite readily cancelled with a second click of the Kindle. I’m enjoying it a lot so far.

Also in e-book news — Borders has joined the digital bookselling gold rush via an investment and business relationship with Kobo. 

[Thanks to John Mansfield for the story.]

Snapshots 10

Seven developments of interest to fans.

(1) There’s a wacky music video tribute to John Williams making its way around the web, where a fellow sings four parts a capella while combining some of Williams’ memorable movie themes with filk-style lyrics.
 
(2) Follow this link to NBC News’ excellent summary of the Clark Rockefeller case, “Famous name, infamous life.” From the interview:

Natalie Morales: Did you kill John and Linda Sohus?

Clark Rockefeller: My entire life, I’ve always been a pacifist. I am a Quaker and I believe in non-violence. And I can fairly certainly say that I have never hurt anyone.

(3) Bob Baker, whose marionettes performed in a Star Trek episode, now is 84. Just like the big corporations, his LA puppet theater for kids could use a bailout. (Which episode? It was Baker manipulating Beauregard, the highly animated plant spooked by the “salt-vampire” in the first Star Trek episode ever broadcast, “The Man Trap.”)

(4) The New York Times discovered “An Otherworldly Opera That Speaks Klingon“:

Mr. Schfeld, 26, who speaks English, German, Dutch and what he calls basic Klingon, started creating the opera in the summer of 2007 as his masters thesis at the Interfaculty ArtScience program, affiliated with the Royal Conservatory, in The Hague, where he lives. With a group he founded, the Klingon Terran Research Ensemble, he performed parts of the opera at the Zeebelt Theater in The Hague, most recently in July. They can be seen on YouTube clips linked to his Web site, www.ktre.nl

(5) David Klaus recommends an article for its revelation of “a new twist on ‘they’re out to get me’ – ‘they’re out to watch me,’ as paranoid schizophrenia manifests itself as a belief they’re in The Truman Show or The Matrix.”

One man showed up at a federal building, asking for release from the reality show he was sure was being made of his life. Another was convinced his every move was secretly being filmed for a TV contest. A third believed everything — the news, his psychiatrists, the drugs they prescribed — was part of a phony, stage-set world with him as the involuntary star, like the 1998 movie “The Truman Show.”

(6) Aaron Ross Powell tells about his experience selling a draft novel on Amazon’s Kindle.

(7) The economic crisis has killed a manga publisher:

In what looks to be a reaction to the economic downturn, manga publisher Broccoli Books, the U.S. branch of Broccoli International, a Japan-based international producer of anime, manga, games and pop culture merchandise, will close at the end of this year.

Broccoli Books is based in Los Angeles.

[Thanks to David Klaus, Francis Hamit, and Andrew Porter for these links.]