Wednesday, February 10, 2010


The e-book Revolution: Publishing Wars, Kindle, and Readers

Until recently, publishers didn't take e-books seriously because they only accounted for less than 1% of books sold. But now, according to Jonathan Kirsch, host of The Politics of Culture radio show, everyone in the publishing industry is paying attention to what he calls the "e-book revolution." He says it started with Amazon's kindle e-book reader--a product that did for e-books what iPod did for music. And last Christmas, e-book sales outnumbered print sales for the first time in history!

In Jonathan Kirsch's radio show yesterday, he interviewed New York Times digital media columnist Motoko Rich, Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital blogger Peter Kafka, and e-book reader/fan and author herself, Dora Levy Mossanen about kindle, e-books, and ibooks.

Early adopters or mainstream?
Where e-book readers used to be for early adopters, it appears they have migrated to the general public. And surprisingly, these adopters are not the young and tech savvy, a lot of them are in their fifties and sixties and simply love books. With over three million sales in e-book reading devices (e-book readers) it's surprising to me that I don't see people using them in the general public. You'd think I'd catch people reading in restaurants on their lunch break, in the doctor's office, or at a bus stop. But although e-book sales represent the fastest growing proportion of the publishing market, they still only represent about 5% of total book sales, according to Motoko Rich. Rich also says that even though e-book sales occupy a lot of mind space and are the leading cause of anxiety among publishers, it isn't the way the majority of the world reads. In fact, three million e-book readers is small potatoes compared to the forty plus million print sales.

So what's the attraction to e-book readers anyway?
Author Dora Levy Mossanen talked about how she loved the ease and speed of the kindle--being able to carry twenty books with her at all times to fill the small pockets of her day by reading, being able to download a book within 30 seconds from any location, and having her newspapers delivered to her each morning. On the downside, she missed having a book cover and an author photo, which she often sought out in her local bookstore.

Will kindle stay on top?
While kindle is the industry leader, Peter Kafka argues that a multi-purpose devise (such as Apple's forthcoming iPad)--with its ability for web browsing and video in addition to book reading--will eventually displace a single-purpose device (such as the kindle). But for readers, committing to one e-reading product is pretty much the only option we have right now. There are many e-book readers--Barnes & Noble's Nook, Sony's Reader, Amazon's kindle, Apple's iPad--but as far as I know, they have format issues and aren't truly compatible with one another.

As far as reading quality, the kindle seems to be far superior except for the fact that it doesn't have a backlight option, like some others, which would be ideal for reading at night, say, in bed, where you'd still need additional lighting without waking up your hubby.

Publishers, Pricing Wars, and Consumers
For the book-buying audience, purchasing a new book at $9.99 as opposed to a hardcover print book at $24.95 is an attractive option. According to Motoko Rich, Amazon was actually losing money because they currently pay publishers a wholesale price that is about half the list price of a hardcover book, which typically ranges from $25-$35. So, Amazon was losing about $2.50-$4 every time they sold one of those $9.99 books. That freaked publishers out because they thought the $9.99 price was an eroding of value of what a new book was worth. NY publishing houses were concerned that they couldn't sustain the current business model that requires editing, copyediting, marketing, overhead, author advances, etc., so they wanted to take control of pricing. But they came to an agreement with Apple so that when the new iPad comes out in March '10, publishers will be able to set the consumer price according to hardcover book pricing. What that means to the book-buying public is that books bought on the iPad will most likely be a little more expensive than the kindle--approximately $12.99-$14.99. It's still less expensive than buying a new print book, but it will be interesting to see how current e-book buyers react to the increase.

From an author and writer's standpoint, Dora Levy Mossanen says, with price points and publishing wars, she feels the pain for her writer friends who have a hard time finding a publisher in an industry that's turned upside down, but at the same time she recognizes the value of e-books and knows that the trend cannot be stopped. She feels that the new digital trends and formats allow authors to tap into an audience they might not otherwise reach.

Another good point for authors and publishers is that with e-books they have very low overhead and no worry of book damage or returns, so that may make up for the reduction in price in the end.

My take?
The e-book revolution is here and in full swing! I'm happy to be on the verge of a change in publishing and can't wait to see the advances in technology. Like anything, there will be a standard model set in place soon and e-book reading devices will become synchronized in formats in the future and, hopefully, will continue to offer low prices and eco-friendly options to hungry book lovers.

Now, I want to know: do you read e-books? Do you have a kindle or another e-book reader? What's your preferred reading device?

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Sunday, September 14, 2008


Free eBook Manifestos!

If you haven't heard of ChangeThis, you should definitely check it out. It's great on so many levels. If you are an author looking to promote your book, you should consider submitting a proposal for a manifesto to buzz your book. If you are someone like me, who simply enjoys free ebooks, then you'll delight in the variety of topics the ChangeThis e-books provide. They're not your typical run of the mill stuff. Yes, they are fairly short, about 5-18 pages, but they are chockfull of information/arguments presented in a gorgeous package. The designers are awesome! I can see why they get a lot of proposals.

ChangeThis encourages readers to pass it on. Their manifesto states they don't have a business model. Their goal isn't to make money. They state, "The goal is to make a difference." And, I think they are doing just that.

Here are three of my Manifesto picks! You can download them right here, see if you like them, and then head over to ChangeThis to pick up some more. Sign up for their newsletter and they'll notify you when new ones come out.


Escaping Corporate America
Changing Your Career Can Change Your Life
By Pamela Skillings

If you're like most Americans, you're going to spend more than 100,000 hours at work over the course of your lifetime. That’s probably more time than you'll spend with your best friend, the love of your life, or your cherished offspring. So, wouldn't it be a shame to waste the majority of those hours on work that annoys you or, even worse, makes you downright miserable?

This Is Not My Beautiful Life

Over the years, I've talked to a lot of disgruntled corporate employees. I worked in the corporate trenches myself for more than a decade and spent several more years interviewing and coaching corporate escapees. I've learned that people tend to stay stuck in jobs that don't inspire them for one of five common reasons (and sometimes it's a combination of a few). Do any of these scenarios ring a bell for you?

You believe that it isn't possible to actually love your work.
Some of us have been taught, by conservative parents or disapproving guidance counselors, that jobs are strictly ways to earn money. You're not supposed to enjoy your time in the salt mines, really. As a result, you may have ended up in a career that looked good on paper, but offers little fulfillment.

You're not sure what you want to do with your life.
For many of us, our careers just sort of happened. We took a "temporary" gig until we could figure out what we wanted to do for our "real" careers. Then, we woke up years later to realize that we were stuck in careers and lives that we never planned or wanted.

You're having a mid-career crisis.
Maybe you once loved your career, but the thrill is gone. You've stopped learning and growing, lost interest in your current field, or are otherwise ready to move on. But you're afraid to take a chance on something new--or you're confused about which direction to take from here.

You're too busy working to make time for a career change.
If one of your complaints is that your job is overly demanding, it can be difficult to carve out enough time to eat and sleep, let alone start working toward a new career. Instead, it can be tempting to put off change until some imagined day when you will magically have plenty of time.

It's all about the money.
There is no shame in caring about money. We all need money to live--some more than others. It isn't shallow to enjoy what money can buy. We all have different priorities and different ideas of what makes life good. You may value a high salary because it gives you the ability to put your kids through college, support your favorite charities, or just take nice vacations and see the world. The problem comes when you trade too much for a high salary. There are ways to make money that don't require selling your soul.

Did any of these ring a bell?
Download the solutions and the full ebook here.


Mini Sagas: Bite Sized Lessons For Life and Business
By Rajesh Setty

I love this! Both visual and inspirational. Each story is comprised of 50 words with a picture. I love the tight word limit. What a great exercise! We should do our own mini-sagas sometime.

In this photographic manifesto (the first in ChangeThis history) Rajesh Setty has compiled 15 mini sagas from his collection. Each 50 word story is packed with a lesson on life and/or business.

#13 The Missing Piece

I was at a writers' conference earlier this week. The moderator asked for people to list their expectations from the conference. The expectations ranged from wanting to sell more books to building a good network.

What was strikingly missing was that nobody said "I want to become a better writer."

#10 Lost

Bob was totally lost. He was frustrated. His problem was simple. He couldn't figure out where exactly he was. Naturally, he was clueless on the direction or the distance of his destination. After struggling a bit, Bog realized what the real problem was--he was carrying the wrong map!

#2 The Book

John loved the library. That day, he was engrossed in a book. He hoped to finish reading it completely. It was almost the end, and then...there was a surprise--the last section was missing. Alas, John thought, this book is close to real life. You don't know what happens next...

Okay, while you can tell the guy that wrote this book isn't exactly a writer, I love the concept, and the design. A photo-journal, or "mini-saga," as he calls it. Super idea. I'd love to see more of this!
Click to download the full ebook manifesto here.


How to Sell a Book (or Any New Idea)
By Seth Godin

My friend Fred has a new book coming out and he was trolling around for new marketing ideas. I think he’d be surprised at this:

Sell one.

Find one person who trusts you and sell him a copy. Does he love it? Is he excited about it? Excited enough to tell ten friends because it helps them, not because it helps you?

Tribes grow when people recruit other people. That’s how ideas spread as well. They don’t do it for you, of course. They do it for each other. Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work. If Fred’s book spreads, then he’s off to a great start. If it doesn’t, he needs a new book.

You don’t get to take step 2 if you can’t do step 1.

Click here to download Seth Godin's latest manifesto.


These are just a sample of some of my picks. I haven't had time to read them all--there's quite a lot! If you are an author and want to submit a proposal, follow this link: If you just want to see what's available for download, go to:

What a fun find!

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