Polishing The Crystal Ball

Cross my palm with silver. Or Visa. Or Mastercard.

Cross my palm with silver. Or Visa. Or Mastercard.

Book Plug Friday — the Saga continues

There is an old saying about how if you want to make G-d laugh you should tell Him your plans.  This goes doubly so, with cheese and fries on the side, if you tell Him your predictions, particularly when your predictions are for what lies ahead for ebooks and ebook marketing.

We’re both old enough to remember when Amazon was a passing fad.  It wasn’t so long ago all the bien-pensants were talking about how it would never sell more than “a bookstore in Manhattan” and also how much people loved — just loved — the smell of books.  [If this is true, why don’t they sell book-smell in a can? Inquiring Sarahs would like to know.]

Then Amazon brought out a kindle that didn’t look like it was drowning in green, and … and the rest is history.

As people who are in the thick of it — very thick at times —  we both can get immersed in our stuff and become a wee-bit dense  — we can tell you that the prediction thing routinely baffles us and that the ebook/indie book business takes turns on a dime that leaves us going “What, we must have a paper edition to sell the e-book at decent levels?” or “What do you mean if I double my prices I’ll sell better per unit?”

So in no particular order here are the predictions that baffled us or amused us the most.

From Forbes:

Publishers create or license their own e-reading apps: Bluefire, the white-label e-reading app company, is gathering more and more clients as more companies want to engage with readers outside of the Amazon, AppleAAPL -1.41%, Barnes & Noble and Kobo ecosystems.

Amazon starts playing nice with publishers: This prediction directly contradicted other assertions in the article and while interesting just didn’t seem likely given Amazon’s current relationship with publishers and its overall historical business practices.

The first one utterly puzzles us.  Unless we’re reading it wrong (possible) the person who wrote this must have had a severe blow to the head.  No, seriously.  If anything we think we’ll go towards a more open ap, not an ap-licensed-by-publisher.  The only publisher I can think of who could get away with that is Baen, because they have such a dedicated readership.  The other guys?  Oh, please.  I just bought three ebooks today (all research, but some days it’s novels.)  They’re from three different publishers.  Do I want to juggle all those aps?  Please.  I just want to read the book.

As for Amazon playing nice with the publishers… why would they? They have those people over the barrel

Oh, they also predict that switch to phones or tablets means … fewer… ebooks sold…  WHAT?  Both of us have friends (and occasionally ourselves) who read mostly on phones or tablets.

From Digital Book World:

2. Amazon will go the way of Barnes & Noble… and open its own physical stores in 2014.

Amazon dabbled in physical retail over the past few years, opening up several locations where customers could have orders shipped to storage lockers for easy pick up. Retailers like Staples and RadioShack rented Amazon the space, reasoning that it would help generate foot traffic. When executives at some of these physical retailers realized that it wasn’t helping them, they gave Amazon the boot.

The company also opened up a pop-up store in the middle of a mall in San Francisco. Clearly not meant to be permanent, the store recently closed. But Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has long been in favor of having a physical presence.

“Bezos and colleagues have always said they’ve considered physical locations, but that it would have to meet their requirements for return on invested capital,” said Stone.

Hello, 2004!  No?  Why not?  It’s when people kept saying that brick and mortars would win out over this e-shopping thing.   We don’t know.  Maybe it will work this way in some really large markets like NYC and LA, but elsewhere… we’re just not feeling it.

7. More publishers will launch magazines and websites catering to reader interests and start selling ebooks directly to customers. 

Some publishers have already started down this road. To name a few: Earlier this year, Simon & Schuster launched a romance-focused multi-platform online portal called Hot Bed; vertical publisher Demos Health has publicly eschewed traditional marketing and poured resources into a new health-focused portal; and F+W Media is deeply invested in this strategy, as mentioned above.

“Publishers are going to find they have content around which to publish magazines and websites,” said Shatzkin.

Maybe.  Thing is the people predicting this seem to be completely unaware that most publishers have TRIED this to a resounding fail.  Maybe it will succeed now, but we doubt it.  Again, the mistake here is thinking the reader loyalty is towards the publisher. It isn’t.  It’s towards the author when it’s towards anyone. Publishers (Other than Baen, always) who think they can count on loyalty to their brand will find they don’t have a brand and will get burned.

(If you feel a need for a more in depth post, our friend Amanda does that over at Mad Genius Club.)

And that’s our predictions on their predictions.  Our other predictions is that for good and bad 2014 will rock your reading world.

Administrivia: We have just a few books this week, in part because I used up a lot of late entries last week to get a special offer through. But another reason is that even though we send the guidelines out with each and every email to [email protected], we still get submissions that don’t have what we need. Here’s the list:

  • The TITLE of the book. Don’t make me look for it.
  • The AUTHOR’S NAME. If you’re using a pen name, this is doubly important.
  • The BLURB. I should probably do something more on effective blurbs, like for example hooks, but for now, remember, the soul of wit is brevity. Even War and Pease can be described in a couple of sentences.
  • The AMAZON LINK. Notice what that says: AMAZON LINK. Notice what it doesn’t say: It doesn’t say “link to your promo website”, it doesn’t say “link to your publisher’s website”, it doesn’t say “link to a cute cat picture”, it doesn’t even say “link to CreateSpace.” It says AMAZON LINK. If it doesn’t have an AMAZON LINK it doesn’t get plugged.

So remember, if you want a free book plug, send TITLE, AUTHOR’S NAME, BLURB, and AMAZON LINK to [email protected].


Freedom’s Fury
By Francis Porretto

Althea Morelon, highest child of the anarchic world of Hope, has returned from Eridanus cluster. The Loioc have infected her with a self-replicating nanite that destroys the sentience potential of male zygotes, filling her with a lust for vengeance. But she has more to cope with than a nanite infection.

Interclan warfare has broken out on Hope. Though Althea must remain on the Relic, the orbiting husk of the planetoid-ship that ferried the original Spoonerites from Earth to Hope, until she’s certain she’s free of the Loioc nanite, only she can save her kin from subjugation. And there’s more and worse to come.

The State is rising again.

Freedom’s Fury, the third volume of the Spooner Federation saga, completes the tale of struggle and survival begun in Which Art In Hope and continued in Freedom’s Scion.


The Silent Saga: Desolate
By David Whelan

The Silent Saga: Desolate is the first chapter of an adventure saga that tells the story of the last survivors of an all out assault on the universe by a powerful enemy. Nobody knows who is responsible only that the universe was silenced and the colonies of Mandrania are thrown into disarray as they blame each other. The Silent Saga delivers old style action and clichéd fun with plenty of thrills.