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Amazon Is Recruiting Authors For Its eBook Library

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the sign-on-the-virtual-line dept.

Books 130

Nate the greatest writes "Amazon just announced a $6 million pool of money that it plans to pay authors. All you have to do to get a share of the loot is commit to sell your ebook exclusively through the Kindle Store and agree to let your ebook be lent to Kindle Prime members. Amazon has already signed up a number of authors, including 31 of the top 50 self-published ones (J. Carson Black, Gemma Halliday, J.A. Konrath, B.V. Larson, C.J. Lyons, Scott Nicholson, Julie Ortolon, Theresa Ragan, J.R. Rain, Patricia Ryan, and more). It looks like Amazon launched this to support the Kindle Owners' Lending Library that Amazon launched just over a month ago. When it launched it had around 5 thousand titles as well as some less than voluntary participants. But there's a catch. Authors are required to give Amazon an exclusive on any title in the program. That means they're giving up the rest of the ebook market. Would any authors care to weigh in on the deal?"

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Worth experImenting with (4, Interesting)

rbowen (112459) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313572)

My publishers don't give me stats that distinguish what ebook readers are purchasing my books, so I really don't know what percentage the kindle accounts for. However I also have a few Kindle books (ie exclusively Kindle) and they aren't exactly flying off the (virtual) shelves.

I would guess that with the Amazon marketing machine working for you, any book is going to sell better than without it. I expect that would be strong enough incentive to be willing to experiment with a book or two.

Re:Worth experImenting with (4, Insightful)

cultiv8 (1660093) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313646)

I expect that would be strong enough incentive to be willing to experiment with a book or two.

It took me 16 months to write a book on Drupal [slashdot.org] , the idea of "experimenting with a book or two" doesn't sit well with me, especially if I need to commit to selling it exclusively through the Kindle store.

Re:Worth experImenting with (2)

rbowen (112459) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313666)

I have not read anything by the authors mentioned but I bet their books are not of the scope of yours. I'm guessing 100-200 pages of light reading fiction, not carefully researched tech books, written at the rate of several a year.

Re:Worth experImenting with (4, Informative)

rbowen (112459) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313698)

Also, the "for at least 90 days" in the program description, left out of the summary, rather changes the risk level quite a bit.

Re:Worth experImenting with (2)

cultiv8 (1660093) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313746)

Yes, I just read that, and also this:

For example, if total borrows of all participating KDP Select books are 100,000 in December and an author’s book was borrowed 1,500 times, they will earn $7,500 in additional royalties from KDP Select in December

Not sure how well technical books would fare in this model, but it seems that the 100-200 page fiction books would do quite well.

Re:Worth experImenting with (1)

G4Cube (863788) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314414)

You know there readers for all computer platforms...?

Re:Worth experImenting with (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38314432)

Writing tech books is a waste of time in this day and age. By the time you've complete the first chapter, whatever you're writing about has moved on and your book is out of date. Furthermore, the market is tiny.

If it took you 16 months, this clearly isn't a calling for you. Stick to your day job.

Re:Worth experImenting with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38313648)

so how much do you guys pay slashdot?

Re:Worth experImenting with (5, Informative)

bhunachchicken (834243) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313702)

My publishers don't give me stats that distinguish what ebook readers are purchasing my books, so I really don't know what percentage the kindle accounts for.

Based on what I've gleaned so far from my own effort, I'd say that Amazon outsells the other ebook retailers by a considerable amount.

In one month, I might sell 1,000 ebooks on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. In the same month, I will sell about 100 copies through the iBookstore, Smashwords, Kobo and Barnes and Noble combined.

Amazon is a juggernaut that is unlikely to be stopped any time soon. I have to wonder how this will leave publishing in the next ten years. If hardback and paperback sales are slipping as much as people say, and book stores closing at the same rate, then people will end up reading more and more ebooks.

Which means they'll probably buy a Kindle. Which means they'll then probably not want to pay $9 for a book. Which means they'll turn to the free and $2 / $3 books.

Which might mean that you'll start to see traditional publishers outputting less, because they simply can't afford to compete at such a cost level.

But that's just my prediction of the next 10 years. It's probably very wrong.

Re:Worth experImenting with (1)

slyrat (1143997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313880)

My publishers don't give me stats that distinguish what ebook readers are purchasing my books, so I really don't know what percentage the kindle accounts for.

Based on what I've gleaned so far from my own effort, I'd say that Amazon outsells the other ebook retailers by a considerable amount.

In one month, I might sell 1,000 ebooks on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. In the same month, I will sell about 100 copies through the iBookstore, Smashwords, Kobo and Barnes and Noble combined.

I am curious if it is all types of books or just particular types of books that sell better on Amazon. For instance, I try to buy any sci-fi or fantasy books from places outside of Amazon. It also would be neat to see how the four device centric stores (sony/B&N/amazon/apple) compare to each other along with how independent ebook stores (fictionwise/smashwords/baen/wowio/etc) are doing.

Re:Worth experImenting with (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314408)

I'm not as worried. Print-on-demand has been around for a while and it's only getting cheaper. I'm sure that the individual could buy an out-of-print book, or real "book stores" would end up being a novelty carrying actual paperbacks in stock that they themselves ordered.

Re:Worth experImenting with (4, Informative)

david.given (6740) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314640)

My publishers don't give me stats that distinguish what ebook readers are purchasing my books, so I really don't know what percentage the kindle accounts for. However I also have a few Kindle books (ie exclusively Kindle) and they aren't exactly flying off the (virtual) shelves.

You can't tell us these things!

No, seriously, you can't. Term 7 of the KDP terms and conditions is:

7 Confidentiality. You will not, without our express, prior written permission: (a) issue any press release or make any other public disclosures regarding this Agreement or its terms; (b) disclose Amazon Confidential Information (as defined below) to any third party or to any employee other than an employee who needs to know the information; or (c) use Amazon Confidential Information for any purpose other than the performance of this Agreement. You may however disclose Amazon Confidential Information as required to comply with applicable law, provided you: (i) give us prior written notice sufficient to allow us to seek a protective order or other appropriate remedy; (ii) disclose only that Amazon Confidential Information as is required by applicable law; and (iii) use reasonable efforts to obtain confidential treatment for any Amazon Confidential Information so disclosed. "Amazon Confidential Information" means (1) any information regarding Amazon, its affiliates, and their businesses, including, without limitation information relating to our technology, customers, business plans, promotional and marketing activities, finances and other business affairs, (2) the nature, content and existence of any communications between you and us, and (3) any sales data relating to the sale of Digital Books or other information we provide or make available to you in connection with the Program. Amazon Confidential Information does not include information that (A) is or becomes publicly available without breach of this Agreement, (B) you can show by documentation to have been known to you at the time you receive it from us, (C) you receive from a third party who did not acquire or disclose such information by a wrongful or tortious act, or (D) you can show by documentation that you have independently developed without reference to any Amazon Confidential Information. Without limiting the survivability of any other provision of this Agreement, this Section 7 will survive three (3) years following the termination of this Agreement.

Note that section (3) indicates that all sales data is confidential and therefore you are not allowed to disclose it. You don't even seem to be allowed to say anything about Amazon, including 'I spoke to Amazon today about the misprint in my latest book.' Luckily, as the T&Cs themselves are publically available without having signed the T&Cs --- naturally enough --- it's possible to discuss them (see (A)).

I was intending to sign up for this, but the above clause seems unusually draconian to me.

Re:Worth experImenting with (1)

Raenex (947668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38316310)

More 1984-style crap from Amazon and their Kindle, except that it isn't imposed on you by the government. Instead, consumers and publishers accept it in a Faustian agreement. I'm never going to buy a Kindle or electronic books from Amazon.

Re:Worth experImenting with (1)

anyGould (1295481) | more than 2 years ago | (#38316550)

And that section would clinch why I wouldn't recommend this plan to my wife (who's the author in the famiy).

If they don't want you to talk about your sales data, it's because they know the number is going to be bad or disappointing.

Re:Worth experImenting with (1)

arkenian (1560563) | more than 2 years ago | (#38316904)

Note that section (3) indicates that all sales data is confidential and therefore you are not allowed to disclose it. You don't even seem to be allowed to say anything about Amazon, including 'I spoke to Amazon today about the misprint in my latest book.' Luckily, as the T&Cs themselves are publically available without having signed the T&Cs --- naturally enough --- it's possible to discuss them (see (A)).

I was intending to sign up for this, but the above clause seems unusually draconian to me.

I took that to mean that if they, as part of the program, share sales data with me on OTHER books, and/or overall sales of amazon ebooks etc. etc. etc. I can't provide that information. The amounts of my own royalty statements would not be covered. That would put it pretty much in-line with standard non-disclosure agreements.

Re:Worth experImenting with (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 2 years ago | (#38316730)

What books did you publish?

Summary is Silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38313586)

Sure, it's an exclusive commitment, but only for 90 days. The summary makes it sound like it's forever.

Re:Summary is Silly (3, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313802)

For some books, time to market is important. Getting the first three months @ 100% of that market is taking the cream from the top, and helps Amazon as a goto-place for new fresh titles. There's a lot of money in that space.

I don't see, however, how this means (as the post indicates) that Amazon is getting out of the rest of the eBook business; that inference doesn't make sense. And as an author, I'll put my books through ALL channels at eBook publishing point, especially the lucrative alternate channels. There is no need to make Amazon exclusively rich. They're going to have a hard time pulling the entire program off, IMHO.

WHY (2)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313598)

This is the 21st century. Why do we still have book publishing?! Everything should by indie and self marketed.

Re:WHY (4, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313628)

Why do we still have book publishing?! Everything should by indie and self marketed.

For the same reason that most people don't fix their own plumbing. It is easier and safer to pay a professional to do it.

Re:WHY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38313700)

Hate to break it to you but the publisher model isn't like the publisher is a work for hire at a fixed or hourly fee, as any other professional is. In return for getting a *cough* "professional" to do it, you're giving up the lion's share of revenue from the work.

You can self-publish and get professionals to do your advertising and marketing and it's a different story completely. Then you just need to find investment or (better) borrow money off the back of pre-orders, and at least you're sharing revenue on an honestly negotiated and truly reciprocal basis.

Re:WHY (3, Insightful)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313790)

If you do it yourself, you also take the risk.
Publishers can pay a some money up front, and then a certain crappy percentage per book later... if it sells bad, that's a good idea for the author, and if it sells well the publishers win. If you're an author, do you want to take the risk?

In addition, the authors often wish to see their books in book stores. And guess what? The publishers have contracts with those.

The problem has become that publishers+stores+the whole industry has become quite large. They simply cost a lot more money than strictly necessary, which means that the authors get less.

It's like a giant overhead cost: the production line is the author writing the book, and the printing shop, and the product is a book. And everything else (except transportation) is overhead. If you look carefully, it is scary how much overhead our world has got. Not so strange then that we're in a crisis. (Yes, I am going off topic quickly).

Re:WHY (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314218)

Publishers can pay a some money up front, and then a certain crappy percentage per book later

Technically, publishers lend some money up front. An advance is just that - an advance on royalty payments. If the book doesn't sell, then they can demand the royalty back (I've not seen this happen - my books have sold enough to cover the advance in the first few months, but it's possible).

if it sells bad, that's a good idea for the author, and if it sells well the publishers win. If you're an author, do you want to take the risk?

They are taking some risk in that they front the money to do the printing, but only after they've done some market research to believe that the book will sell. In the case of my third book, there was almost no risk - they sold the entire first print run to a big-name book store in the first week and had to rush a second print run.

If they consider it a high risk, then the simply won't accept the book. As an individual, you can go through a print-on-demand service, but then you don't get the bulk rates. If you use print-on-demand then you'll probably not get much more than you'll get in royalties from a publisher, because the printing costs will be much higher per unit (as will the distribution costs - my publisher can chuck a container with 1,000 copies at B&N or Amazon and let them deal with the last mile, while a print-on-demand service has to package and ship each book individually).

For eBooks, this is a bit different because the incremental costs are effectively zero. There are still some up-front costs. I do my own layout and typesetting, but getting a book copyedited takes about a week of someone's time.

In addition, the authors often wish to see their books in book stores. And guess what? The publishers have contracts with those.

Sure, it's nice, but I'm not sure how much it translates into actual sales. Books in shops tend to cost 50%+ more than online, so the only physical bookshops I visit these days are second-hand ones. I'm not sure how many actual sales I get from having the printed copy available.

For something that's likely to be low circulation, doing it yourself is probably a good idea. I have a couple of things that my publisher won't be interested in that I'm working on. When they're finished I'll probably self publish.

Re:WHY (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38315808)

Publishers can pay a some money up front, and then a certain crappy percentage per book later... if it sells bad, that's a good idea for the author, and if it sells well the publishers win. If you're an author, do you want to take the risk?

Uh, dude... if your book sells bad, guess what? No publisher will want to buy your next book unless you have a long history of producing books that sell well; Stephen King can release a clunker once in a while, but Joe Nobody can't.

So the idea that an advance is good because you'll get more money if your book doesn't sell is just silly; if your book doesn't sell, you'll have to write the next one under a pseudonym and start at the bottom again.

Re:WHY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38314028)

This just in: Person/company who fronts your money and does all the editing, marketing, typesetting, printing, shipping, etc. of your book takes the lion's share of the profit. zOMG THE BASTARDS!!!

Re:WHY (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314250)

So you just need to come up with several month's mortgage in advance so you can spend some time focusing on your book rather than working to pay those pesky bills... All I need to do is go down to the bank, explain that I want to write a book, they will give me a loan, and voila! If only I had known how easy it was!

Re:WHY (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314842)

So you just need to come up with several month's mortgage in advance so you can spend some time focusing on your book rather than working to pay those pesky bills...

Most trade-published writers in America have day jobs because they can't live off 8% royalties on their paper books. Few writers in America can get money from a publisher before they've written a book; who's going to give $20k to an unknown who's thinking of maybe writing a book?

Re:WHY (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317192)

Typically when you go looking for a book deal, you have an existing portfolio of previous work (short stories, essays, etc) and a proposal (general idea for the book and some sample chapters). The publisher evaluates all this and determines if it's worth the risk, etc. So, no, you cannot just say "I want to write a book, give me money" and expect money. You can, however, make a case that you can pull a finished product out of the air and ask for money to support it.

Re:WHY (1, Flamebait)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313704)

It's much more than plumbing analogy. Your analogy is about quality, publishing is about quantity.

The difference between doing plumbing yourself and hiring a professional in terms of monetary value is insignificant part of your budget, while the difference between self publishing and publishing via powerful marketing house could be between you being set up for life and you continuing as an English teacher in Camden.

I wish people stop using superficial analogies that do not add anything to the discussion.

Re:WHY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38313776)

Exactly! You can read all about this in my eBook about Value and Quality [amazon.com] !

Re:WHY (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38317142)

Can anyone come up with a car analogy? There have been too few of those on /. recently.

Re:WHY (4, Funny)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313642)

This is the 21st century. Why do we still have book publishing? Everything should by indie and self marketed.

FTFY
You threw an extra punctuation mark in there... That'll be US$0.99 for proofreading services rendered.

I'll bill you at the end of the month.

Re:WHY (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314290)

But you missed "should by" instead of "should be".

Re:WHY (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38315592)

What do you expect for $.99?

Re:WHY (3, Insightful)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313656)

"Everything should be by indie and self marketed."

You make an ironic case for why editors are needed in the process.

Also, self-marketing means that your book sales will be in the low 1-digits.

Re:WHY (5, Insightful)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313788)

Heh heh I love the irony! I have to agree, I tried some of the $3 books on Amazon and probably won't try any more. The books were sorely in need of not only basic error correction but some professional editing. Contradictory plot elements, repetitive characters, and other nightmares were common. I wouldn't look forward to self-published world, unless 'edited by xxxx' became a valuable marketing tool where people shopped editors as well as authors. Meanwhile, I don't begrudge a few extra dollars for the added service of a professional editor.

Re:WHY (1)

N7DR (536428) | more than 2 years ago | (#38315048)

Heh heh I love the irony! I have to agree, I tried some of the $3 books on Amazon and probably won't try any more. The books were sorely in need of not only basic error correction but some professional editing. Contradictory plot elements, repetitive characters, and other nightmares were common. I wouldn't look forward to self-published world, unless 'edited by xxxx' became a valuable marketing tool where people shopped editors as well as authors. Meanwhile, I don't begrudge a few extra dollars for the added service of a professional editor.

Blatant self-vertisement. Try mine: http://www.sff.net/people/N7DR [sff.net] or http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001HD36FU [amazon.com] . You will not find the kind of errors you mention. I work very, very hard on the content of my books and the formating for the hard-copy versions (I use plain TeX). The weak point is formatting for the e-book versions. I hate the lack of control. It's still better than most of the others I've seen, but it's far from the perfection I seek in other aspects of my creations.

The huge problem is how to distinguish oneself from the dross that, as you say, fills the self-published universe. I haven't got that figured out at all.

Re:WHY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38316248)

It's funny, because it's not just the indies. I'm reading Timescape by Gregory Benford. A great, award-winning book, but... The ebook version I'm reading is riddle with so many errors I feel like I bought a bootleg in Asia rather than an officially published ebook version from a major retailer.

Re:WHY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38313692)

Because most people are cock suckers who love the app store model

Re:WHY (4, Insightful)

rbowen (112459) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313754)

Having gone both ways I think I can answer this.

1. Editing services
2. Typesetting and layout
3. Marketing

Most authors, even good ones, need these and don't do them well themselves.

Most folks can figure out the first to but it's very hard to market a book yourself, especially for a first book.

Re:WHY (1)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313852)

Then we need a ModDB style site for authors to collaborate on, market, and distribute books.

Re:WHY (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314304)

I'd agree on 1 and 3. I can do editing quite competently, but I can't edit my own work because my brain automatically corrects what I said to what I meant. The most helpful feedback from my most recent book has been from the person doing the Japanese translation. If anything isn't completely clear then having someone who isn't a native speaker reading it will usually spot it - I had a German person doing a review of my last book for the same reason.

Marketing is something I would have no clue how to do well. My publisher, in contrast, got B&N to do a big splash when my third book was released and shifted the entire first print run within a month of publication.

Typesetting though is something anyone can do easily. LaTeX and Lout can produce beautiful output. My last two books have both had to match an existing house style, but LaTeX has been equal to the task.

Re:WHY (2)

willaien (2494962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314788)

There needs to be independent editors that will work for a set fee or on contingency... And Amazon needs to promote these editors and get them to work with the authors to bring up the quality of the works being sold on there.

Re:WHY (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314886)

I made much the same comment the other day, in the "DoJ investigates..." story - the responses were interesting to say the least, including this little gem:

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2563648&cid=38302818 [slashdot.org]

I don't think this guy really understands what a good editor does, that good proof reading is an art and not something that you sell to the lowest bidder (and should never be done yourself - you are the most likely person to miss mistakes you made in the first place) nor that typesetting is still required even for an ebook.

A decent editor can make or break a book - and a really decent editor isn't afraid to slash a books content over the protestations of the author. I've read far too many books that could have had significant swathes of content removed and not have it had any effect on the storyline, but made it a much better read. Again, thats something that you wouldn't do if you took the editing on yourself.

Re:WHY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38313786)

OK so you don't want us to call this stuff a Book since it's electronic. But I guess calling it "File saleing" cheaps things.

Re:WHY (1)

RogerWilco (99615) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313978)

I'm not sure. I think we'll go the way of libraries, where you get access to everything for a certain fee/month. Basically Spotify, Netflix like models.

Re:WHY (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38315182)

kindle store is as self publishing as it gets.

unless you thought about creating your own website and payment portal and all that shit..

Horrible idea (4, Insightful)

Augusto (12068) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313600)

I'm sure the money is tempting but I really dislike this. I'm trying to imagine a future where publishers stop printing books, and we end up with an all eBook world that requires you to have a particular platform or device to read said books!

Do we really want to follow an "exclusive for this platform" model like consoles for books?!?!?

Re:Horrible idea (3, Insightful)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313724)

Do we really want to follow an "exclusive for this platform" model like consoles for books?!?!?

Why not when "made for Internet Explorer" and "best viewed in Netscape" were all the rage not long ago? We are condemned to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again (see: DRM, religion, politics).

Re:Horrible idea (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314854)

Not that I'm defending those practices--they were silly then and they're downright stupid now--but I don't think they're quite the same thing.

"Made for Internet Explorer"-style "exclusives" were about the fact that browsers refuses to play nicely and render things the same way. Even insofar as a site could be made to look right in disperate browsers, it was a question of time/effort/cost versus reward. Especially for hobbyist sites that just wanted to toss something on the Web, that was often a real challenge. If there's no money involved, spending tons of effort on it makes little sense. And with few exceptions, websites in those days still worked pretty well in the other browsers, there were just a few, usually visual, things off about it.

Exclusives for consoles or, potentially, books isn't about the difficulty or cost/benefit of porting the works to some other platform. Particularly with books, the effort is nearly nil (and while there is a distinct effort for games it is done by the vast majority of major titles--meaning the cost/benefit is typically there). Rather, it is about the profits of one vendor over the others and whether or not they can pay you enough for the exclusive that the cost/benefit no longer works.

In other words, one "exclusivity" is because of technical and time limitations and the other is because someone handed you a big enough bag with dollar signs on it. They may have similar results, but I wouldn't say they're similar things.

Re:Horrible idea (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 2 years ago | (#38315588)

I agree with your every word, but we are looking at the issue from different angles. You are looking at it from the developer / content producer's point of view. I am looking at it from the consumer's point of view. The public has already been trained to expect incompatibilities as natural, instead of expecting compatibility as natural. That is the real problem.

Re:Horrible idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38313726)

They can try, it will only increase piracy. Because unlike console games, ebooks can be read on any device with a large enough screen.

Re:Horrible idea (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313734)

Any deal that says: we are going to advertize your book, but only in paperback, which we are going to sell for the price of hardcover, because we are greedy bastards and we want to screw you and your readers for our bottom line.. It looks like did not even need to finish the previous statement.

Re:Horrible idea (2)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313834)

consoles for books... hmmm.... ...now if amazon could get most school books into this deal, it would mean governments would have to buy amazon devices for all school kids :-/

Not so horrible! (1)

WileyC (188236) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314042)

In the full article you'll see that it's only a 90-day exclusivity contract. A good book has more staying power than a mere three months so the author gets a bit more money, possibly some good exposure, and then they are free agents again.

Re:Horrible idea (3, Insightful)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314174)

Actually, a small number of widely-used DRM methods is exactly what is required to ensure freedom from DRM. Ten years ago, there were a ton of different content protection strategies and very little content. It wasn't worth the effort of cracking every method in use. Now we've boiled it down to two major DRM methods and both have a ton of mainstream content. It's no surprise that both methods can be thwarted with a few clicks of the mouse.

Content I bought ten years ago is long gone because authentication servers no longer exist, the computers the content was tied to are long gone, the software doesn't run in Win7, etc. But the content I buy today gets stripped of DRM and copied to my array. From there, I can convert it to any format I want and read it on any device I want. That's only possible because Amazon (azw), Sony (epub), Barnes and Noble (epub), Apple (epub), etc. have created their "exclusive platforms" while failing to understand that content can't be controlled that way.

Re:Horrible idea (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38315368)

Ah, but they don't care so much about the odd pirates as which products can claim official support. And those products are hooked to a DRM license agreement, even though DVDs are broken as shit you will still get in trouble if you make a DVD player without a CSS license. Does Amazon care that you free your ebooks? Not really as long as none of the other competing eReaders can put that on their feature list. As the music industry discovered, DRM is power even though mp3s were everywhere long before iTunes.

Re:Horrible idea (1)

chrish (4714) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314792)

This is exactly why I made a point of buying an e-reader that supports ePub; I don't want my content tied to anyone's specific platform. (In my case, I went with Kobo [kobobooks.com] because they're a Canadian company, they've got their reader software on every platform I care about, and they use ePub.)

Sure you can use handy tools like calibre [calibre-ebook.com] to convert between formats, but it can't always do it cleanly... sometimes you get confused tables of contents, or headings are formatted as regular text, for example.

Amazon's moving rapidly towards having monopoly power over ebook sales; this exclusive deal just makes it worse.

What if one of the books becomes a "blockbuster"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38313612)

A share of a fixed pool of money doesn't sound like an adequate replacement for royalties. Suppose one of the books hits it big and ends up selling a cumulative total of 75% of all the books covered by the pool (maybe Stephen King or Rowling get involved for shit and giggles, or somebody wins a big literary prize, or a book is made into a best-selling film). That would only leave $1.5M to share amongst the rest of the authors, which wouldn't seem very fair ......

Re:What if one of the books becomes a "blockbuster (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313670)

If it works out to $100k-$200k per author, that's a much larger number than the expected value of sales royalties from no-name authors.

Not a big incentive (2)

GeneralTurgidson (2464452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313640)

Good authors would incredibly stupid to do this. All this will do is draw unknowns/not established authors.

Re:Not a big incentive (3, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313664)

All this will do is draw unknowns/not established authors.

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Re:Not a big incentive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38314094)

Good authors would incredibly stupid to do this. All this will do is draw unknowns/not established authors.

You say that like it's a bad thing.

I think that instead of "unknown/not established authors" he really meant to say "crappy writers." A bit of sloppy writing there.

Re:Not a big incentive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38314934)

Read JR Rain and tell me he's a crappy writer fool.

Re:Not a big incentive (2)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314242)

Good authors would incredibly stupid to do this.

Looks like you to pay your editors there.

Well at least are asking first... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38313682)

Not like that other publisher of digital goods did it. Download.com just went ahead and wrapped the hard work of others into their own little Spyware spreader by automatically enrolling the software of developers.

First Steps (5, Insightful)

DonJefe68 (533739) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313756)

This is only partially about cornering the eBook market (or should I say peripherally). The Amazon Prime lending library's main drawback is the lack of established authors and more current works. I'm just betting this is a trial program to test the waters. Mr. Bezos' next step will be to extend such an offer to a big name author. Ultimately, I believe his goal is to essentially dismantle the existing infrastructure of publishers and agents, with Amazon, of course, being the corporate entity to jump in and allow authors more or less direct access to the market without those middlemen taking a cut. In the short term, I like this plan. Any time a layer of middlemen can be eliminated it is simply a matter of the market making a process more efficient, which is a good thing, both for authors (less cuts out of their royalties) and for Amazon (larger pool of renowned authors). The issue is the long term implication. If this process leads to all authors being locked into a proprietary tech, that is bad. So, in short, authors should be happy, but tread carefully and be sure to be aware of what the motives are for these moves. If handled carefully, authors can still win this battle in the long term - they have the truly irreplaceable commodity here, their words.

Re:First Steps (2)

rbowen (112459) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313954)

Mr. Bezos' next step will be to extend such an offer to a big name author.

Note that Stephen King (perhaps you've heard of him) released the book Ur exclusively on the Kindle. Granted, it's *about* the Kindle, so that sort of made sense.

Then, the 90 day exclusivity clause ran out, and it was re-released on paper, and did quite well there, too.

Please, please, please (4, Insightful)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313824)

Please spend that money to hire editors!

I've been reading a decent amount of self-published stuff over the past year and I've come across a lot of material that would be pretty darn good if only it had been given just the most basic pass by a competent editor. Misspellings, partially revised sentences, incorrect punctuation, etc. I'm hoping that, one of these days, I find a story compelling enough that I'll offer to pay for the services of a good editor. Then I could call myself a patron of the arts.

Sales comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38313846)

As a small-press author, I've been able to watch my sales of my own ebook. Kindle sales far, far outpace Nook sales.

I have also discussed this issue with fellow authors, who report that Kindle outweighs the rest of their ebook sales combined. Even Kobo sales keep up with or overtake Nook sales.

If one were exclusive to Amazon, it would only eliminate less than half of their total revenue at the worst. If the money they get from Amazon would compensate for this loss, then they would do well to take the deal.

Barnes & Noble and the Kobo should learn the lessons of Borders, and not wait around while Amazon dictates the market. They need to respond and improve upon the current market, or Amazon will eventually be the sole commercial provider of ebooks to ereaders.

Re:Sales comparison (1)

dwillden (521345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314386)

But how certain are you of what qualifies as a Nook sale? When buying through the B&N store, it's pretty obvious that I'm buying for a Nook, but elsewhere (Google, Baen, etc...) all you have is the format to indicate device and epub is not exclusive to the Nook by any means. I don't doubt for a second that Kindles are selling more, just wondering how you differentiate that an .epub file is going to a Nook versus a Kobo or other epub native reader?

Re:Sales comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38315568)

It is by looking at the store sales themselves. I have direct access to see the sales from my Nook and Kindle books. I'm not setup on Kobo myself.

The authors I have spoken to get a breakdown of general ebook sales, and from each of the stores that sell direct (Kobo, Kindle/Amazon, Nook/B&N). I have yet to hear any author say that when a book is across Amazon and at least one other ebook vendor, the sales are close, or that Amazon isn't the top selling store.

Experimental authors may like this (4, Interesting)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313914)

I'll come clean and admit it: I wrote a novel, and it was soundly rejected by over a hundred agents, 90 of whom didn't even look at it (this is very common.) A dozen requested either partials or even the full manuscript, but the final verdict was that although the store was good and entertaining, it was too strange. Traditional publishers are risk averse these days and anyone who wants to do something out of the mainstream is best off looking at non-tradional publishing. Amazon could be come the niche marketplace for people who like weird or controversial subjects that don't really have a mainstream market out there.

Re:Experimental authors may like this (3, Insightful)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313920)

*Story - and there's an example of why even a good writer needs a better editor to watch their back!

well, your post sucks.. (0)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314100)

and if it's an example of your writing, I want to steer clear.
~ I hate crap 'boy fell outta bed'' endings.
Let me dissect your post.
you wrote a novel, it was enjoyed if not accepted by professionals in the field- amazon is the way to go for such- great- now do you have an actual and on topic message to throw in or were you just being autobigraphical for the hell of it?

seriously, you raise this issue of your own experience, posit a determination of fact concerning amazon, and then don't even have an anecdote or result relevant to the entity at hand to share?

Re:well, your post sucks.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38314312)

You have a serious burr in your ass. They wrote something on topic and relevant. Its not like they said "Amazon for the winz!!!11".

Re:well, your post sucks.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38314518)

They are claiming author status, which implies a decent level of writing skills. Their appalling grammar in that single post doesn't exactly help their case.

Giving them feedback may actually be beneficial. If the writing is that bad, they stand zero chance of generating a readership.

Re:well, your post sucks.. (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38315228)

We had a server down alert in the middle of writing that post. You'd probably have a few errors in that case as well.

I disagree (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38315388)

on topic yes, relevancy fails to appear (my opinion/my whole point) the post author that I bitched out started out with an on topic and ended with having added nothing but an assertion with no backing from the details shared.

if I start off telling you about me, then make a statement of opinion on topic- the personal point is excrement unless you tie the two together at the end in support of the personal details.

I'd be fine with a post opining the opportunity and niche self publishing that Amazon may or may not provide.
it's just a bit of fluff.. but when you start of with a statement about personal experience- you gotta relate it.

extreme example: (note, while I do have a wife & 2 kids, the rest is fiction)
I work at a steel mill. I have a wife and two children. You should vote for Obama!

fixed example:
I work at a steel mill. I have a wife and two children. I think you should vote for Barack Obama. Thanks to certain trade agreements promoted by our president I expect I'll still have work for the next 5 years, and that's why I support and suggest you vote for Obama in his re-election bid.

do you see how in the first example the personal details are extraneous?
in the second example it's relevant to the topic?

if the original poster is a writer, then they belong on the slush pile.
sorry if I ruined "sandytaru's" day- but I'm not being pedantic about spelling or grammar but about the genuine need for relevancy in the entire post.

Re:well, your post sucks.. (1)

Glarimore (1795666) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314562)

Wow, you try really hard to be a dick.

Maybe you should spend more time making constructive posts and less time insulting people.

Re:well, your post sucks.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38314892)

Fail. You should consider suicide.

Re:Experimental authors may like this (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314768)

An agent is not mandatory in order to sell a novel. Typically (at least in the genre I work in, which is SF), the steps to selling a novel are (1) build your chops with short fiction until you get to the point where you are regularly selling your work, (2) write a novel and submit it directly to publishers, (3) get offered a contract by a publisher and then use the offer of a contract to get an agent, who then helps you negotiate any changes you are hoping for in the contract. I'm not saying this is the only way to do it. Some people do these steps in order 1-3-2, or 3-2, like you've been trying to do. Others start selling novels without ever bothering with an agent. You can also send queries to agents simultaneously with submitting a novel to publishers.

You seem to feel that it's an injustice that 90% of agents didn't read your ms or sample chapters. I would actually take it as a very good sign that 10% did. Many of them probably have full client lists and are busy making a living by representing and promoting those clients.

The trouble with your idea of using Amazon to bypass slush piles and acquisitions editors is that being a slush reader or acquisitions editor is a hard, miserable, boring job that nobody will do without being paid money. If you want to bypass them, then you're essentially asking the reader to pay money for the privilege of doing the job of the slush reader, which is to figure out whether your writing is any good. Readers don't want to have to do the job of filtering out the crap. Remember Sturgeon's law, which is that 90% of everything is crap.

Re:Experimental authors may like this (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38315306)

Not an unjustice at all - 10% reading it means I caught the attention of those people, which is more than many authors ever will see. I stopped querying because I started graduate school, and I took their suggestions and comments and decided to set the manuscript aside for a while until I could look at it with the critical eye that it really needs. I firmly believe that once it's cleaned up a bit more, there will be a market for it, even with its weirdness. In the meantime, there are other stories, and like a good artist, a writer only gets better by writing more.

How is this different from traditional publishers? (2)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313936)

Authors are required to give Amazon an exclusive on any title in the program. That means they're giving up the rest of the ebook market.

Does the agreement preclude any physical book being made? Or does Amazon also have exclusive rights to the hardcopy, and what happens if Amazon chooses not to publish a physical book? Does the copyright revert after a time?

Re:How is this different from traditional publishe (1)

rbowen (112459) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314154)

They have exclusive for 90 days. That's all. After that, you can do what you like. 90 days isn't very long.

With a traditional publisher, you typically have an exclusive contract for a much longer time, but of course you can sell the resulting book in any venue.

Re:How is this different from traditional publishe (2)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314158)

From what I have read on J.A. Konrath's blog the royalties and terms are better. The big downside is the exclusive ebook rights. Your book won't appear in the nook store. Konrath deal included physical book publishing with Amazon. So his books will be printed by Amazon. Personally I think Amazon is making a mistake with the exclusive books. This kind of thing will keep some people from buying digital. If they gain enough market share from it they could be looking at a Anti Trust suit.

Re:How is this different from traditional publishe (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314488)

If they gain enough market share from it they could be looking at a Anti Trust suit.

Already there: http://www.dailytech.com/US+Justice+Department+Climbs+Aboard+EBook+Antitrust+Investigation+/article23466.htm [dailytech.com]

Re:How is this different from traditional publishe (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314672)

Amazon isn't named in that suit. The European Commission's investigation specifically targets five e-book publishers who may have been practicing anticompetitive tactics with the help of Apple and its e-book store iBooks. The five publishers in question are Hachette Livre (Lagardère Publishing France), Harper Collins (News Corp., U.S.A.), Simon & Schuster (CBS Corp., U.S.A.), Penguin (Pearson Group, United Kingdom) and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holzbrinck (owner of inter alia Macmillan, Germany).

So they've handed every author a shovel (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38313942)

and told them all the dirt is worth ONE MILLION dollars per foot deep dug?

as soon as the hole is dug to the appropriate depth-- amazon will fill it in?
(no need to remove the author)

Amazon invited me to take part in this... (4, Insightful)

Pembers (250842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314212)

I'm an indie author (see sig) with a couple of books on sale at Amazon, among other places. On the one hand, Amazon already accounts for about 90% of my sales, so I wouldn't be giving up much revenue by offering a title there exclusively, and it wouldn't take much borrowing to make up the loss. On the other hand, everyone and his dog will jump on this programme, so that $6 million pie is going to be cut into a lot of very thin slices, to the point that the likely reward doesn't seem worth what I have to give up in order to participate. If someone manages to challenge Amazon as an ebook retailer, I don't want to be locked out of them. On the gripping hand, I've seen what companies do when they become monopolies, and I've no desire to help build another one.

Bricks-and-mortar libraries don't tell authors and publishers, "We'll stock your books if you promise not to sell them anywhere else." Then again, no library is anywhere near as big or influential as Amazon...

Re:Amazon invited me to take part in this... (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314578)

Except, here Amazon is acting more like a publisher of its own (given that its the one that promotes, sells and distributes your books for you). In that case, there are *plenty* of publishers who have such restrictions on their authors, which is why big-name authors can't chop-and-change between publishers at will, are often "forced" by their contracts to write X amount of books a decade, etc.

Amazon isn't just a library. It used to be. Now it's branched out into everything from gardening tools to publishing and hardware creation to groceries. If you agree to this offer, they are effectively your publisher, and exclusive publisher agreements are far from unheard of.

Re:Amazon invited me to take part in this... (1)

Pembers (250842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314872)

Good points, and if they actually were my publisher, I wouldn't have (as much of) a problem signing an exclusive agreement with them. But they're not my publisher - or I don't consider them as such, anyway. They're a retailer. If they were my publisher, I'd expect them to do some of the things a publisher traditionally does, like exercising some discrimination over what they publish and making some effort to market the books to readers. One of my books that's eligible for the programme was uploaded the day before, and had sold two copies at the time I received their offer, so I don't think they're being in any way choosy over who they invite.

Re:Amazon invited me to take part in this... (2)

glop (181086) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314704)

The article says
"any of their books exclusive to the Kindle Store for at least 90 days:"
So you get your freedom back in 3 months.

Re:Amazon invited me to take part in this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38314832)

They invited me to join it as well, although I have not yet published a book with Amazon or anyone else. I am simply registered with their Kindle Direct Publishing program.

I have a series I'm about to start putting up on Amazon and Smashwords (still waiting on cover art for the first book). I don't think I'll go exclusively with Amazon for those books, but I've got a few other things I've written that I might experiment with.

Anti-Trust? (1)

AdamJS (2466928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314336)

There are lots of other e-book players but the Kindle store far and away blows them all out of the water in terms of popularity and success.
Could this not raise the ire of regulators? It seems like a pretty heavy-handed attempt to lock in an emerging and potent market by stopping them from utilizing competing services.

Of course, it's optional, but still seems pretty dickish. At least it'll piss of the larger assholes (book publishers).

I suppose it's good for me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38314358)

I honestly am happy to give away my book FREE. It's actually available on my website, in PDF form among others. http://shayaanf.com/?p=35

I just want people to read it and review it. The Amazon push for me, just helps me do that... I don't have the time or effort to promote it on my own, so if I can have Amazon advertise it free, then I'm fine with it. Sorry I can't make it free on Amazon, the minimum price is $2.99.

That said, if you read my book, leave a review for it on Amazon. It would be appreciated. I don't care if you buy it or not, it's kind of irrelevant, but I'd like to see if people like it. Warning, political subject matter :)

http://www.amazon.com/Succumb-ebook/dp/B003HNNHGG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1323441234&sr=8-1

Re:I suppose it's good for me... (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314696)

I tried it. I had to skip the introduction. I got through to the second chapter before the repetition and tedium got to me. Ruined setups like "X reached for the Y without using the tongs", immediately followed by Z telling them off for not using the tongs really destroyed the flow of the text for me and I couldn't bear it.

While it wasn't slow, the focus was on the mundanities rather than the plot, and it seemed to crawl by - the characters were pretty lifeless and spoke only in children's-book sentences of everyday things. People being driven from their daughters house by soldiers as it's demolished is an extreme and powerful image but it didn't come across as that.

I skipped through a few pages after that and it didn't seem to improve. Every chapter seemed to have to end with some sort of dramatic statement that failed to deliver.

Honestly... it needs work. I'm sure loads of people will get it from Amazon or download it but it's really in dire need of some editing (and even in some places, that random flicks through it found, typesetting) and more spark.

I don't claim to be an editor, proofreader, author or publisher myself, but it was lacklustre, even if there probably was a good story hidden away there somewhere.

More real than real? (0)

Shoten (260439) | more than 2 years ago | (#38314516)

Look at it this way...the computer-generated models are more likely to pass a Turing test than the real live ones, right?

I just signed up with one of my novels (1)

Spacejock (727523) | more than 2 years ago | (#38315252)

I have nineteen titles on amazon [amazon.com] : four novels in my science fiction comedy series, one novel in a junior science fiction series, and a bunch of short stories and collections. They're all on Kindle/Smashwords/Apple/etc except the junior SF novel, which is Kindle only. So, I just switched that one over to Amazon Kindle Select just to see what happens.

It's still available in print, and the only reason the junior novel didn't make it to Smashwords is because they insist on DOC files.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch on Publishing (3, Informative)

johnalex (147270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38315486)

Anyone wanting to know how the publishing industry works, including the reasons why and why not to use traditional publishing, should read Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog "The Business Rush: On Writing." [kriswrites.com]

How to evaluate a traditional publishing company [kriswrites.com]
The dangers of self-publishing with Amazon [kriswrites.com]
Negotiating with publishers [kriswrites.com] (read the second part, too)
How to make traditional publishing writer friendly [kriswrites.com]

In short, if you want to publish your work, read Rusch first. She's worked in the industry for 30+ years. BTW, you may want to buy some of her sci-fi books, too. :-)

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