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Writer Inc: Month 2
July 6, 2015 | 10:51 am

51WUm3MYn2L._AA324_PIkin4,BottomRight,-60,22_AA346_SH20_OU15_It has been an exciting first month for me on the Kindle store. I sold 5 books, and released my latest title just before the weekend. I am learning a lot about the eBook business as I go! Here are a few insights from my second month on the Kindle store: 1) Kindle Unlimited has its uses. After selling 3 copies in one day, then nothing for a week, I put my book into Kindle Unlimited. Under the new algorithm, I am not seeing borrows anymore. It is just showing page reads. I think I had my first borrow because a...

New e-book software on the way from New York Public Library: Relief ahead for DRM-tortured patrons in your city, too?
July 6, 2015 | 5:36 am

NYPL_Lion"Tired of DRM and customer log-in schemes used to sell you more stuff? Simply enter your library card number...once...and start reading, from your library, for free. If you don't have a library card…just sign up for one with the app!" The TeleRead take:  The Library Simplified project aims to "employ technology, innovation in library policies, and the full range of library offerings to deliver a better experience to more patrons." Funding will come from the New York Public Library and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The project, inspired by the goals of Readers First, a group working toward more usable digital tech for...

Morning Links: Death to passwords? Who the Big Five publishers REALLY are. ALA conference.
July 6, 2015 | 3:24 am

incorrectPWHow to kill the password: Don't ask for one - Read/Write Web Streamlined blogging platform Medium rolled out a new login process...that throws the trusty old password out the window. Instead, you simply enter an email address or phone number, and a temporary login link lands in your inbox or phone---just like password reset or account verification links used by sites when you first sign up. The TeleRead take: For something as sensitive as an e-mail account, I'd still feel safer with a user name, a password and two-step verification. That said, yes, for less important kinds of accounts, I love the idea of doing away...

What ails Sweden’s book world?
July 5, 2015 | 3:06 pm

IMG_20150704_110920After several very in-depth discussions with publishers, booksellers, and writers in Sweden, I can report an industry in crisis - and one which is stumbling towards possible solutions, frequently in the wrong direction. The situation was typified, according to my sources, by recent reports that Hedengrens, Sweden's most widely respected bookshop and something of a cultural institution, was complaining of ever more difficult trading conditions, citing showrooming and general competition from online book ordering services. Some insiders feel that Hedengrens has long enjoyed and exploited its market dominance, and is simply grumbling about loss of its privileged status. But pretty...

What e-reading gadgets and software should Sony crowd-source under the new First Flight program?
July 5, 2015 | 12:05 pm

Sony - Showcase (3)Liliputing and Nate report Sony is experimenting with crowd-sourcing in Japan. A remote control device with an E Ink display will be the first goody to come out of the experiment, if it goes into production. Here are details from Sony itself. In crowd-sourcing, I see a great opportunity for Sony not just in Japan but also elsewhere, including the U.S., where it no longer even sells an e-reader for the masses. The Digital Paper productivity tool (video here) shows that e-reader-related tech at Sony isn't all dead. Alas, however, Sony so often has been tone-deaf toward e-booklovers and others. Why did B&N, Amazon and Kobo get there first with front-lit displays, for...

The pros and cons of buttons on e-readers (for page-turning)
July 5, 2015 | 9:47 am

Kindle Voyage e-reader – Amazon’s Official Site – Learn MoreText to speech isn't the only AWOL feature on the newer Kindles and many other devices. Full-sized controls for page-turning would also help, and at MobileRead, button boosters are debating the apathetic and the antis. No, the Kindle Voyage's pathetic page-change sensors, shown in the image, do not count in my opinion. I owned a Voyage for a stretch. I found the sensors to harder to work with than buttons big enough for grown-ups. "Having buttons means I can eat potato chips or buttered popcorn while I read without leaving grease on the screen," says Cromag, cutting to the chase. "Could I do this with...

‘Nearly all American educators are using digital content’—but the news isn’t all good
July 5, 2015 | 9:29 am

Interactive white boardThe big challenge of tech in education isn't just getting the gadgets out there. It's actually using them to foster learning. And in that regard the news isn't all good. From Business Reporter in the U.K., via Ingram's Wayne Keegan on LinkedIn: "Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s survey" of U.S. educators "found that 97 per cent use digital content, while more than half use apps, websites or digital games in classrooms." Yes---97 percent or nearly all American educators! "However," the article says, "two thirds say digital tools are used infrequently for learning purposes, with only 23 per cent using the most prevalent form of classroom technology on a daily basis. "And...

Furor over Amazon review policy probably signifies nothing
July 4, 2015 | 11:58 am

I love the smell of manufactured outrage in the morning. As posted on her blog and recounted in a Gizmodo story, writer and blogger Imy Santiago bought an independent novel, read it, and tried to post a review of it to Amazon. But Amazon rejected her review, and held firm on the rejection through two rounds of appeals. Amazon said that they had looked at Santiago’s account activity and from it determined Santiago actually personally knew the author of the novel she was trying to review. Hence, Amazon rejected the review on the grounds that there could be a...

‘Dune, 50 years on: how a science fiction novel changed the world’
July 4, 2015 | 9:46 am

dunePlanet hacking---in the era of climate change? Who knows? But when it comes to eco issues in sci-fi, Frank Herbert went there fifty years ago with the publication of Dune. A new Guardian article reflects on the importance of the book. Excerpt: "Though Dune won the Nebula and Hugo awards, the two most prestigious science fiction prizes, it was not an overnight commercial success. Its fanbase built through the 60s and 70s, circulating in squats, communes, labs and studios, anywhere where the idea of global transformation seemed attractive. Fifty years later it is considered by many to be the greatest novel in the SF canon, and has sold...

Self-published? Here’s how to get into libraries—via SELF-e, Smashwords and ebooksareforever
July 4, 2015 | 9:23 am

SELF-e — Connecting Libraries, Readers & Self-Published AuthorsWith perhaps as many as 600,000 indie books appearing each year, the library market is a tough nut to crack for the self-published. But what if Library Journal vetted your e-book and---let's be optimistic---pronounced it library-worth? That's the idea of  SELF-e, and in a guest post in Jane Friedman's blog, publishing consultant Porter Anderson explores the pros and cons. One negative of SELF-e, he says, is that the program does "not pay you a royalty when your ebook is checked out by a library patron. It costs you nothing to get into this arena for discovery but it also will not pay...

Etsy and Review Extortion
July 3, 2015 | 12:33 pm

etsyI wrote last year about an experience I had on Amazon with a seller trying to game the review system by offering cash prizes to people who left only five-star reviews. Well, now I have had the opposite experience: a seller on Etsy who has not use reward, but punishment. I ordered a crafting stamp from her earlier this year, and it was fine. It turned out that the stamp was a little big and unwieldy for me. I am not the best crafter in the world, and I am not blaming her for this. But when Etsy prompted me to...

Beware of Kindle Fires catching fire. Similar hazards on other devices with lithium-ion batteries
July 3, 2015 | 10:38 am

Exploded or almost-exploded Fire battery - from the Homeless in Vancouver blogWho says firecrackers are the only things that may explode July 4 (that's Independence Day here in the United States)? Fires and explosions of lithium-ion batteries, aka li-ion batteries, are rare. But they do happen. Check out some wisdom from Stanley Q. Woodvine, a homeless man in Vancouver. He wrote of a Fire whose battery either exploded or "was overheated to a point just short of exploding." Here are two ways to help reduce the threat: 1. Go for batteries from known sources. 2. Try to use the right chargers, with precautions against overcharing. The safest bets would be the same as the chargers that came with...

In Stockholm’s Strindberg Museum
July 3, 2015 | 9:56 am

IMG_20150701_190620Polymath playwright, novelist, and painter August Strindberg is the one Swedish author that everyone knows (until Stieg Larsson, perhaps), and so he naturally enough is commemorated by the Strindberg Museum, housed in the so-called Blue Tower at the top of Drottninggatan, Stockholm's Piccadilly, where he spent the last years of his life until his death in 1912. The Museum includes Strindberg's fourth-floor apartment, reconstructed with its original furnishings, as well as his private library on the sixth floor. And the Blue Tower itself, though only blue in its interior plasterwork, is a beautiful period building worth seeing for its own...

Amazon revamps its rating calculations, favoring helpful, recent reviews of verified purchases
July 2, 2015 | 7:48 pm

Passing by almost unnoticed in the barrage of recent news are these pieces from the last couple of weeks on changes Amazon is making to its review system. Effectively, Amazon is using machine learning to change the way it calculates the aggregate star ratings on its reviews. (Found via Reddit.) Amazon is adding more weight to reviews from verified purchasers (that is, people who actually bought the product from Amazon), people who were voted helpful, and people who reviewed it recently. This is getting a lot of play on Facebook lately, including complaints from authors concerned about how this...

Barnes & Noble taps new CEO as revamped B&N e-commerce site hinders access to e-books
July 2, 2015 | 7:02 pm

Earlier today, Fortune reported that Barnes & Noble has tapped Sears Canada CEO Ron Boire to take over as B&N's CEO. Boire has been the CEO of the struggling Sears Canada for just 10 months, but before that he was the head of the USA Sears & Kmart chains for three years. Before that, Boire had worked at Sony, Best Buy, and Toys’R’Us—not exactly a list of winners in the recent economy. And now they expect him to turn Barnes & Noble around? [Update: As Nate pointed out in the comments, the Fortune article is really badly constructed. It...

TeleRead podcast commences at 3 p.m. Eastern
July 2, 2015 | 2:17 pm

teleread-podcastIn just under an hour, we’ll be going live with our next TalkShoe episode of the TeleRead podcast! We hope some of you will be right there with us to tune in! Today, Juli and I will be discussing the recent hot news stories to hit the site in the last few days, including but not limited to: The appeal court decision upholding Judge Cote’s verdict in the Apple anti-trust case. Scribd’s decision to cull most romance and erotica titles from its subscription service. The great “Kindle Unlimited...

Are the new Kindle Unlimited rates good or bad? It depends on who you ask
July 2, 2015 | 12:28 pm

Now that it’s July, the new chapter of Kindle Unlimited has begun. No longer paying per book (of which at least 10% was read), it’s now paying per page. According to one estimate, a bit over half a cent per page, though it remains to be seen how close to accurate this guess is. Is this good? If you listen to Hugh Howey, it is. Howey holds that the overall effect of the change is really not as bad as people think. It might have been that KU under the old system was weighted in favor of short story...

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