Smashwords’ Mark Coker and Advice for the Indie Author

Smashwords’ Mark Coker and Advice for the Indie Author
BookExpo America ’s preshow event, uPublishU, kicked off what will become a week of breakout sessions, author and expert panels, and publishing industry networking. This year’s event, while already shaping up to be larger than ever, incorporated an entire day-long event for self-published authors and anyone interested in how to put their manuscripts in front of readers in a variety of formats.

Mark Coker, founder of ebook distribution platform Smashwords , led a full breakout session for attendees on the nuts and bolts of ebook self-publishing before stepping out for an interview with GoodEReader . Throughout the session, Coker explained key concepts and terminology but also offered veteran advice for authors considering ebook publication.

One of Coker’s strangest pieces of advice, at least when taken at face value, was that  digital publishing affords the indie author the ability to take massive risks, some that many traditional authors aren’t able to risk. For example, Coker encouraged indie authors to experiment with their price points in order to discover what their core groups of readers are willing to pay, something that traditionally published authors aren’t permitted to take liberties with.

On a more instructionally serious note, Coker did admonish authors who post their manuscripts before they’re ready. Books that are poorly edited and not formatted to conventional standards and practices contribute significantly to the furthering of the stereotype against self-published books.

Coker explained to GoodEReader that Smashwords has recently made some changes in a program called, “Faster Faster Faster,” that will let authors change information about their books—including price—in very nearly real time. Looking ahead to a feature that is slated to become available as early as tomorrow, Smashwords users will be able to update pricing and book information nearly instantly through some retail outlets.

Smashwords’ Mark Coker and Advice for the Indie Author

The Hugh Howey Booktrack Competition Open to Entries

The Hugh Howey Booktrack Competition Open to Entries
Technology and art are blending in two exciting new contests, hosted by Booktrack with sponsorship from Wattpad, Writer’s Digest, and Indaba Music. Booktrack, a music overlay platform that engages readers by allowing creators to add ambiance-style music of their choosing over the text so that music plays as they read, is holding two contests around Hugh Howey’s work, Half Way Home.

The first is a contest for fan fiction writers, who will craft their own original take on the structure, characters, setting, or more, before adding their own immersive soundtrack to accompany the work. Sponsored by Wattpad and Writer’s Digest, the winner will receive $5,000 and editorial feedback on the submission by Hugh Howey.

The second concurrent contest is a soundtrack competition which invites participants to use the Booktrack Studio platform to build their own soundtracks to accompany one chapter of Howey’s work. The winner of that competition will win $5,000 and the chance to create the full sound track to accompany Howey’s novel The Hurricane.

In order to get a feel for the competition, all users are invited to enjoy part one of Howey’s work Sand for free to experience an immersive music-based reading opportunity. For details on both competitions and to enter, visit Booktrack.com/HughHowey .

Booktrack has already encouraged a strong user base, particularly in classrooms where teachers can craft their own isolated bookshelves for their students to use; moreover, their students can also create their own soundtracks to accompany their writings, leading to cross-curricular teaching units which combine English, music, history, and other subjects. Studies have already shown that reading comprehension and engagement with the text increased dramatically when students were allowed to use Booktrack, and opportunities for special education students are already in place.

The Hugh Howey Booktrack Competition Open to Entries

Bilbary Set to Launch eBook Rental, Agency Titles

Bilbary Set to Launch eBook Rental, Agency Titles
GoodEReader has already profiled the pending launch of ebook sales and rental site Bilbary , founded by the former head of Waterstones, Tim Coates. With the recent US launch of the company and the site’s plans to begin renting ebooks as soon as the end of this summer, Amy Riach was on hand at BookExpo to increase the company’s exposure, focus the brand, and work on growing the already impressive list of agency contacts that has already led to over 400,000 ebooks on the Bilbary site to date.

While there are already sites that exist to loan ebooks, including some that use a Netflix-like freemium model for subscriptions, Bilbary’s plans for ebook rental are to cut out the commitment by simply loaning books on a per-rental fee basis. With the level of DRM necessary for the ebook, it will simply be removed from the device when the checkout period is over.

Bilbary has also developed two other features for upcoming incorporation: a global expansion with the plan of offering foreign language titles and a cloud book borrow system to allow browser-based reading in order to maintain a complete device neutrality.

GoodEReader is on location this week in New York for BookExpo America and the individual conferences that fall within the multi-day event, including tomorrow’s IDPF conference and the Digital Show and Tell on Thursday.

Bilbary Set to Launch eBook Rental, Agency Titles

Kobo Launches “Read on” Program – Offering $10 Million in Community Funds

Kobo Launches “Read on” Program – Offering $10 Million in Community Funds

Kobo has been making waves lately with their new Kobo Touch e-Reader , launched at Book Expo 2011. We also caught up with the CEO of Kobo Michael Serbinis yesterday in an exclusive interview on the future of the company. Today Kobo announced that they were taking part in a $10 million dollar program offering people who love to read the chance to have money donated to schools and charitable causes.

The new Kobo program is encouraging people to read and not be mindless zombies in front of the TV or just watching HULU on the computer. For every 10 million minutes of reading by their 3.6 million readers using the Kobo platform, Kobo will make a contribution of eReading valued between $1,000 and $20,000 to a recipient chosen through the Read On program. Recipients will receive Read On kits including eReaders, eBooks, and the materials needed to start digital reading programs in their community.  Kobo is contributing the first million dollars and will work to enlist additional partners inspired by this innovative new program.

You can find out more about this great new program kobo.com/ReadOn .

Kobo Launches “Read on” Program – Offering $10 Million in Community Funds

Book Expo America Aids Self-Published Authors via Author Hub

Book Expo America Aids Self-Published Authors via Author Hub

Book Expo America is introducing new programming to assist self-published authors.  The new Author Hub project will run in parallel with a conference introduced in 2012 called  uPublishU.

The Goal of Authors Hub is to “to further integrate the self-publishing community into the publishing mainstream by providing platforms where entrepreneurial authors may interact and share the spotlight at North America’s leading book industry event.” This year’s uPublishU day-long conference is set for Saturday, May 31.

The event will focus on two different types of authors and will provide guidance and assistance. The first will focus on an author’s first book and exactly how they bring it to the market. The second will give more specialized knowledge to indie authors who have been in the game for a few titles.

Book Expo America Aids Self-Published Authors via Author Hub

English Bookstores are Thriving in China

English Bookstores are Thriving in China

There has been a steady tide of new bookstores opening in China in the last few years and English titles are selling at a rapid pace. This is primarily attributed to foreignness and the rising middle class looking to learn the language.

Research data shows that there are ten million English-language speakers in China, and three hundred million English-language learners. This might sound like big numbers to a Westerner, but in the grand scheme of China, that’s a drop in the bucket.  Still, there is an emerging market for this type of content and sales are thriving.

One of the big success stories in China in recent years is Page One Bookstore. Zhang Ying, chief of Page One’s marketing department, said English-language books account for 65% of the books on sale at the three Beijing stores, with most patrons being people aged 20-35, who hold at least a college degree and have medium-to-high incomes.

Page One Bookstore is focusing on the Chinese market because their Taiwan businesses are not doing so well. The company has just announced they are closing their Taipei 101 outlet, the largest bookstore in Taiwan which opened in 2004, as it has suffered from a continuous decline in sales in recent years. The store will follow in the footsteps of Page One’s Fuxing Road outlet at Sogo Department Store in Taipei, which closed in 2009 not long after opening.

China is a huge market and many publishers from the United States and Europe are trying to break  into the market. This has proved challenging in the past because most of the publishing is done by the State and they limit the number of imports that can be brought in.

English Bookstores are Thriving in China

This year at Book Expo America there was a very large Chinese publishing delegation that had almost 500 people and they had a massive 25,000 square feet pavilion  which was an “unprecedented” amount, according to BEA director Steve Rosato.  It was led by Wu Shangzhi, deputy director of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) – the body that oversees books and other media in the country, answerable ultimately to the State Council and Central Propaganda Department. Their goal was to learn more about the way publishers in the US operate and to talk about relaxing restrictions on some imports.

The Chinese book selling market is massive, in 2014, approximately 446,000 books were published.  This generated over $8.7 billion dollars, which makes it the second-largest in the world, after the US.

There are hundreds of bookstores in Beijing alone that serve English books, so what’s selling? According to the New York Times Genre fiction is exploding. In bookstores, crime stories and romantic fiction rub alongside wuxia, adventure stories of chivalrous martial heroes, and so-called “officialdom” fiction , tales of political intrigue that double as how-to guides for aspiring officials.  Popular nonfiction books include self-help tracts on how to get rich or find love. Publishers at the Beijing Book fair last year described a growing children’s book market propelled by the one-child policy: Chinese parents are eager to pour their resources into their single offspring. And English-language books — from novels to learning aids — are in demand among those who want to improve their language skills.

English Bookstores are Thriving in China

Copia Takes Social Reading to the Next Level

The newest reader-driven trend in digital reading is the ability to utilize apps and platforms that allow the reader to interact with an online community of fellow readers while they enjoy a good book. Kobo’s Reading Life app, now the highest rated e-reading app in the iTunes store and enjoying the highest user ratings from any reading software, allows its readers to track their statistical reading data, as well as earn badges and awards for their reading habits that can be shared on Facebook and other social networking sites.

Copia is taking the social reading trend a step farther with author-annotated texts. Essentially, Copia readers have the option to open a side-margin with notes from other readers, including the authors of many of the titles in their catalog. The author can literally add notes and comments for his readers, even after publication, that contain tidbits of pertinent information such as what he was thinking when he wrote this scene or how this character was actually based on a specific person. This anecdotal information can enhance the reading experience by giving the readers insight into the thought behind the art.

And it’s not only authors who can manipulate the texts. Readers can also choose to allow comments and information from fellow readers. While to some this information may be superfluous content at best, readers can assign the comments into specifically labeled groups, basically forming virtual book clubs and lecture groups.

To preview this new feature, Copia is giving away a free author-annotated text today (through May 29) through its site entitled Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb by George Rabasa. Click here to be taken to the site for download. Copia is also celebrating Bob Dylan’s birthday today (May 24) through June 5 with free downloads of Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan, 1957 to 1973, by Clinton Heylin. Click here for the site.

Copia Takes Social Reading to the Next Level