Category: e-books

Japan Digital Books; Berenstain Bears’ App; Self-pubbed Bestseller DBW

Japan Digital Books

The other night while watching an installment of HGTV’s House Hunters I saw a young professional woman who works as a mortgage broker looking for a small apartment in Manhattan. When she entered one apartment and saw vast walls of built-in bookcases she said the bookcases would be the first thing she took down if she bought the place. Her reason was, “Who reads print books anymore? Didn’t these people ever hear of e-books or Kindle?” And this article about how e-books are moving forward in Japan is interesting because it seems to go along with the way reading habits are changing…not to mention the significance of e-books.

The Diet enacted a bill Friday to revise the copyright law to recognize publishing rights for electronic books. Under the revised law, which is set to take effect in January 2015, rights holders will be able to file suits to stop pirated digital books from being distributed on the Internet. Copyright holders of books and other publications have already been allowed to file such suits over electronic versions. The revised law is also designed to promote the distribution of digital books, whose market is growing due mainly to wider smartphone use.

You can read more about it here.

Berenstain Bears’ App

For those who have followed my Chase of a Lifetime series the Berenstain Bears are a favorite with Jim and Len’s son. The author of the children’s books also came from Solebury, PA, which is where I live (New Hope is the main post office for everyone.) And now there’s a BB app for Mother’s Day.

We Love Our Mom! is designed for 4-8 year olds. The interactive app includes tools to help teach vocabulary, as well as a feature that lets readers record their own narration.

It’s interesting to me mostly because I once read on a literary agent’s blog that technology and children in publishing would never come together. What that agent failed to understand is that most children between the ages of 4 and 8 can run circles around her when it comes to technology.

You can read more here.

Self-pubbed Bestseller DBW

Divergent has been holding its own on the DBW bestseller list, but it recently slipped in the ranks thanks to a self-published digital book.

Divergent is this year’s runaway top best-selling ebook in the U.S. — but it’s not the best-selling ebook this week. (In the UK, at the London Book Fair, the buzz around HarperCollins is about why Divergent is selling comparatively well abroad.)

The juggernaut has been stopped and sits at No. 2 on the Digital Book World Ebook Best-Seller list, making way for Fixed Trilogy Bundle, a collection of titles by self-published author Laurelin Paige.

It kind of has a Fifty Shades look to it, but I don’t know much about it. I just hope it didn’t reach this bestseller point due to more gaming. I don’t mind a little author/publisher subterfuge, within reason. I don’t think anyone selling anything commercial can claim sainthood. But I’m not fond of the all out vicious race we’ve been reading about and hearing about recently.

More here.

Weather Hurts Book Sales; Catherine Ryan Hyde Now Hybrid

Weather Hurts Book Sales

This is a interesting article for me because we lost power last week for five days and I read a lot. Although we have a generator, it can only be used at certain times for the most important things. So even though I was able to work for about four hours each day with the generator I still had a lot of down time next to the fireplace without full power and I caught up on a lot of reading. I purchased six books online that week, in digital format…e-books. I read them on my iPhone. (It took a better charge with the generator than the iPad.) I know others in the same powerless situation who did that same thing. So I can’t help wondering what the numbers are for e-book sales last week, too, because this article only talks about how brick and mortar bookshops lost money with print books due to the weather.

Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Ashville, N.C., tried to keep its regular hours, but closed at 2p.m. on Wednesday ahead of the snow storm. Thursday it opened two hours late and closed at dark. The cold was also a problem, and the store canceled its Mystery Book Club meeting on Monday night because of it. Weather forced it to cancel its Sci Fi YA panel yesterday as well, which was to have included Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman, authors of These Broken Stars; Jodi Meadows, author of the Incarnate series; and Lissa Price, author of Enders. Bookseller/book buyer Caroline Christopoulos described yesterday as “reflectively quiet” and said that business was “quite slow.”

You can read more here.

One more reason why I doubt I could ever go back to reading print books again.

Catherine Ryan Hyde Now Hybrid

I’ve posted about Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of bestselling novel, Pay It Forward, (and many others I’ve loved)several times here on the blog. Even though we write in completely different genres I’ve always been a huge fan of her fiction, and she inspired me to branch out on my own to indie publish a few books. That wasn’t an easy decision for me because I’m the kind of author who craves the input from publishers…and from the whole publishing process. I’d rather just write and let them worry about everything else. I truly do let them get away with anything just so I don’t have to deal with it. I’ve always been that easy to work with.

But times are changing and I had to see what indie publishing was like for myself. One reason is that I have four completed novels ready for release at this time and I have NO idea when they will be released. I submitted them as far back as August and the ONLY book I’ve had released since September has been Cowboy Christmas Miracle. One romance novel is over 100,000 words long. Why the books haven’t been released I don’t know. But I’ve learned in my years in publishing not to ask. Publishers…all publishers…do what they want and authors have very little control in that respect…especially unagented authors like me. I indie published because I wanted control, for my readers and for me. It wasn’t because I’m unhappy with publishers. I have no regrets and I’ve always had good relationships with my publishers. So I did a little research and saw that authors like Catherine Ryan Hyde were now experimenting in the indie world of publishing themselves and that made me feel more comfortable about it.

For those who don’t know, the term hybrid is an author who is published by trad publishers and also indie publishes his/her own books. Why this article makes it sound so surprising is a little interesting to me, because Ryan Hyde has been open about her indie publishing and she even wrote a book with author/blogger Anne R. Allen titled, How to Be a Writer in the E-Age and Keep Your Sanity. I posted about that here back in 2012. I’ve also posted about Anne R. Allen many times. I read their book and loved every word of it. In fact, I still revisit sometimes to check things out.

The article in PW about Ryan Hyde discusses what motived her to get into indie publishing.

Agent Laura Rennert, at Andrea Brown Literary, who represents Hyde, said the idea to self-publish her client came out of both curiosity and necessity. Although Rennert said that “99.9%” of her clients are traditionally published, she and her fellow Andrea Brown agents wanted to know how to self-publish, so they could “optimally help [their] authors… if this was something they wanted.” The trial with Hyde, who Rennert noted is very prolific, was with a book called Second Hand Heart, which is published by Transworld in the U.K. Although it was a test—Rennert approached Hyde with the idea of self-publishing wanting authors with “a sense of adventure, a willingness to experiment, and [who] are active on social media”—it wound up laying the groundwork for a turning point in Hyde’s career.

You can read more here. If you are an established or new author thinking of indie publishing it’s a worthwhile read.

CrossFit Men; Bookshops vs. Amazon; What Makes People LGBTI

CrossFit Men

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2007_CrossFit_Trainer_certification.jpg

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new fitness craze sweeping pop culture called CrossFit training. I know a few people who do it, I’ve looked into it personally, and there’s a long, interesting piece about it in Time Magazine this week. I can’t link to Time because they have paid content and I know a lot don’t have subscriptions. But here are a few interesting things about CrossFit I thought were worth mentioning.

From CrossFit Journal:

2:57 Colin Clark’s Iron Oak CrossFit started when he and a few friends started working out together in his garage. As the results came, the word spread, and soon he had to affiliate and move into a larger facility. Clark described the systems he put in place as he went from a garage training group to a business, and he detailed how he helps individuals accomplish their personal goals in a group setting. He talked about how he approaches nutrition with members and explained how that approach has changed over the years. Clark also described his on-ramp program and explained why classes at his affiliate are 75 minutes rather than the traditional 60.

You can read more here and check out the entire web site. In this particular piece there’s a very cute guy, which seems to be something that follows everything CrossFit related. The men are gorgeous and I’m not posting about this by accident. I’ll be adding a main character to a book who is a CrossFit trainer in the next installment of the Glendora Hill series.

And if you just do a simple search you’ll find all the info you need. From what I’ve learned so far, the basic concept behind CrossFit training is pushing your body, with repetitions, to lengths you wouldn’t normally do with cardio or weight training. Don’t quote me on that, though. Here’s a better definition.

CrossFit, a trademark of CrossFit Inc., is a strength and conditioning program with the aim of improving, among other things, muscular strength, cardio-respiratory endurance, and flexibility. It advocates a perpetually changing mix of aerobic exercise, gymnastics (body weight exercises), and Olympic weight lifting. CrossFit Inc. describes its strength and conditioning program as “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad modal and time domains,” with the stated goal of improving fitness, which it defines as “work capacity across broad time and modal domains.”

Bookshops vs. Amazon

There an informative piece at Huff Po where someone talks about experiences with small brick and mortar bookshops vs. Amazon. It’s commentary that comes from personal experience and I can back up almost everything written there.

And that’s OK, I can rise to a challenge, make it work — except for one thing: book snobbery. The kind of snobbery that prompted a local bookseller to require a $100 fee for shelf space to carry five of my books. He had never read my book or even looked at it; he was merely responding to the fact that it was published by a small press and wouldn’t be arriving through the traditional distribution method. I declined his offer.

Aside from the fact that I believe all people will be reading digital books eventually, I can support this comment through my own personal experience with a bookshop I once contacted about carrying print versions of a few of my books. Some don’t even want to work with smaller genre authors, which is a shame, most of all, to readers who aren’t yet familiar with digital books. They are missing out on so much and they don’t even know it.

The author of the piece even discloses she’s not a romance fan, but also knows and understands there is a market for it.

You can read more here.

 What Makes People LGBTI

This one bothers me a little because it’s a look at twin boys, and one is “all boy” and the other has “highly feminine” traits. It doesn’t bother me in a literal sense. The highly feminine boy could be transgender, or he just identifies with women. No problem there. I just get confused when they tend to link gay with feminine traits. But I’ll explain more about that below.

As identical twins, Patrick and Thomas began as genetic clones. From the moment they came out of their mother’s womb, their environment was about as close to identical as possible – being fed, changed, and plopped into their car seats the same way, having similar relationships with the same nurturing father and mother. Yet before either boy could talk, one showed highly feminine traits while the other appeared to be “all boy,” as the moms at the playgrounds say with apologetic shrugs.

The piece discusses a few more complicated reasons for what makes people gay. It’s very long, so be prepared. We all should know by now that having feminine traits doesn’t necessarily make someone gay, nor does the lack of feminine traits mean someone isn’t gay. But, in all fairness, it’s really the title of the article that’s more misleading than anything. They do get into gender nonconformity, too. So a better title would have been what makes people LGBTI, which would cover more ground and tone down the stereotypes that often mislead people who don’t know much about the LGBTI community.

You can read it in full here.

Gabourey Sidibe’s Revenge; Full Frontal Nude Shots; Simon & Schuster E-book Rise

Gabourey Sidibe’s Revenge

The unfortunate thing about this is that when you put yourself in the public eye you are open to all kinds of criticism and some of it’s not constructive and can be downright mean-spirited. This recently happened to Gabourey Sidibe after an appearance at the Golden Globe Awards. I’ve had that happen to me before on a much smaller scale than what recently happened to Sidibe when another author on a comment thread made fun of my name and also made reference to athletic fields. But it comes with the territory, and we all do make these choices consciously and criticism is to be expected. It’s how we respond to mean-spirited criticism, and with what kind of creativity we take our revenge, that matters the most. And Gabourey Sidibe should be complimented for a job well done in the revenge department. It is best served cold.

This is what she tweeted to those who made fun of her:

To people making mean comments about my GG pics, I most def cried about it on that private jet on my way to my dream job last night.

You can read more here, with photos.

Whether you like Sidibe or not, she does add something interesting to anything she’s ever done. It’s that something special you can’t train for or even work for. You either have it or you don’t.

10 Male Full Frontal Nude Shots

Someone sent me this link yesterday and I thought I’d share simply because male full frontal nudity in films always seems so shocking. Even in this article it’s explained that way, and I’m not always sure why.

There’s nothing quite as shocking as seeing male genetalia in a film. Trust me, I’ve had to research for an article on it. There may still be some gasps at the female equivalent, but we’re certainly more accustomed to their appearance (sometimes even popping up in a 15). A stray knob shot can still cause gasps of horror or ripples of laughter.
Read more at
http://whatculture.com/film/10-most-shocking-male-nudity-shots-in-cinema-history.php#hYIOjd0AeWrQoLpz.99

I don’t get the shocking part. Maybe I’ve seen too many “knobs.” In any event, if you check out the link you can see 10 of the most “shocking” full frontal nude shots in film history. But like with most everything else related to male full frontal nude shots you’ll also have to do a separate search to actually see these “knobs.” The article finds them too “shocking” to publish.

Simon & Schuster E-book Rise

You know how you read about the way e-book sales are going flat and how those nasty old e-books might even disappear completely. Or how people are still more interested in print books than e-book and e-books are most likely a passing trend. Well, this article is interesting because big publisher Simon & Schuster had huge growth with e-book sales on a global level. Those of us who have been pioneering in the digital market for a decade are not surprised by this. A good deal of our readership comes from a variety of international readers who only read in digital format, from the UK to Asia.

The publisher’s international eBook business is growing at a faster rate than US eBook sales, because these countries are catching up, she said. Last year, the publisher sold eBooks in 200 different countries including a copy of The Sun Also Rises in Antarctica. Reidy said that the publisher is seeing an opportunity in these digital sales and that it is not affecting physical sales. She said that there is a great opportunity for foreign book retailers to sell English-language titles in non-English speaking countries, but they have yet to capitalize on this yet.

Through feedback I get from my readers outside of the US, a large part of this interest in e-books has to do with the fact that e-books are more easily accessible and print books are not. In many cases, especially with LGBTI content, e-books have changed the lives of readers. They can now read books they never would have been able to read ten years ago. And this includes classics like the book mentioned above. Or harmless, smutty love stories with naughty guys who have strong stories like the ones I write.

You can read more here.

Smashwords Teams with Scribd; Indie Authors

Smashwords Teams with Scribd; Indie Authors

This is big news for indie authors and readers. Smashwords signed a global deal with Scribd. Smashwords is the largest distributor of e-books globally, and Scribd is an e-book subscription service with over 100,000 titles that includes bestsellers and new releases. There are so many benefits to this deal I’m going to post what I found in my inbox, and link to a detailed article about the deal. I would also imagine this is going to benefit all small e-presses as well, especially the part about Smashwords authors getting their own bio pages on Scribd.

From my inbox:

Smashwords Author/Publisher Alert – December 19, 2013

Inside:

1. Smashwords announces global distribution deal with Scribd

2. Smashwords unveils web site redesign

3. Apple tickets help speed distribution to Apple iBooks

4. How smart navigation can help you sell more books

5. Retailer holiday schedules

6. Helpful author/publisher resources

Your Smashwords page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/RyanFiield
________________________________________

1. SMASHWORDS DISTRIBUTION TO SCRIBD
________________________________________

I’m excited to announce a new global distribution agreement today with Scribd, an online reading community that boasts 10 million readers visiting their site each month.

There are two parts to the agreement:

1. Smashwords will distribute books to their subscription ebook service, where readers pay $8.99 to read an unlimited number of books (read below for the great terms Smashwords authors receive!).  2. Smashwords to sell books on their site.

And this article makes things clearer:

“I’m thrilled to learn about the partnership between Smashwords and Scribd,” said Quinn Loftis, a USA Today-bestselling Smashwords author of nine young adult paranormal romance titles, including the seven-book Grey Wolves series. “I look forward to distributing all my titles to Scribd via Smashwords because I appreciate the opportunity to reach more readers. My fans will appreciate the incredible value represented by Scribd’s subscription service.”

I’m looking forward to it, too. I already use Smashwords because I get distributed in so many other places. I’ve always had mostly good experiences with Smashwords and some that have been interesting and unexpected in a good way.

I also think this speaks loudly for e-books in general. I read a lot lately about how e-books have balanced out and some seem to think they are going to disappear. I don’t get that mindset and these people leave me gaping in wonder sometimes. And news like this global deal confirms what most of us who have been pioneering e-books have believed from the start. I also think it’s a huge boost for indie authors simply because for the first time in a long time I didn’t see them lead the article with term self-published authors. And from now on I’m sticking to indie author as a rule.

 

Rock Hudson Alleged Gay Confession; Barry Eisler on .99 E-books

Evidently, there’s new information about an alleged gay confession from Rock Hudson. This alleged confession was something Hudson told his wife at the time, Phyllis Gates. This is from Huff Po.

Back in 1958, Hudson’s wife, Phyllis Gates, confronted the Hollywood legend about being gay, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That confrontation was secretly tape-recorded by Detective Fred Otash, a private eye who had dirt on everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Judy Garland. Gates had hired him to keep tabs on her husband.

“Rock, your great speed with me, sexually. Are you that fast with boys?” Gates asked Hudson, according to a transcript of the discussion obtained by THR from Otash’s family.
“Well, it’s a physical conjunction [sic],” he replied. “Boys don’t fit. So, this is why it lasts longer.”

It’s also been alleged that Rock Hudson’s wife at the time, Phyllis Gates, was a lesbian who was constantly trying to blackmail him. This is a fascinating article  Fred Otash is mentioned here, too. It really does get into a few details you don’t read about often, and mentions a list of close friends in Hudson’s circles that were just as closeted as he was.

Outing Mrs. Rock Hudson: the obits after Phyllis Gates died in January omitted some important facts: Those who knew her say she was a lesbian who tried to blackmail her movie star husband Advocate, The, Feb 28, 2006 by Robert HoflerPhyllis Gates, the former Mrs. Rock Hudson, died January 4 at age 80, and the Los Angeles Times commemorated her passing with an astonishingly long, 1,000-word, half-page obit a week later. (Would Katie Holmes ever get so much ink?) To read that and other newspaper whitewashes of her memory, you would have to believe that Gates was a loving Brokeback Mountain wife who had been duped into marriage by Rock’s equally gay agent, Henry Willson.

I doubt we’ll ever know the complete truth, and I don’t think that matters anyway. Rock Hudson was a victim of his time and he couldn’t come out. But I think this line in the Huff Po article bothers me the most:

“He was basically a very romantic man. He was like a woman;

This comes from a biographer, Sarah Davidson, who went to the University of Douchebaggery where they obviously taught Gay Male Stereotypes 101.

Barry Eisler on .99 E-books

I post openly about the indie books I have out and how I price them. I’ve found a good deal of success in keeping the books priced at .99 for now. I’ve also mentioned I’ve been on the fence with the Amazon lending program because it makes it impossible for me to distribute the books for three months because Amazon makes me sign an exclusive to be in the program. I have a good readership at places like ARe and I like to accomodate them. But I will be releasing my next indie on Amazon, Internal Desires, and I will do the lending program for the first three months. I want to see how it works out, and I haven’t done it for a while.

In this next article to which I’m linking below author Barry Eisler discusses his thoughts on e-book pricing, promotions, and .99 E-books. I thought it was interesting. I also think that what works for him might not work for me or another author. As I said, I’m always afraid of taking a hit by NOT releasing in places like ARe. But that’s always been the case with anything like this. What I do think is important is that you try everything you can try to see what works for you. I really never have a set plan, and when I think I do and I try to repeat something it always turns out differently than it did the first time. I think the secret is to keep trying and to keep doing different things.

I’ve done a couple of free promos of individual titles through KDP Select, advertising the sales using BookBub and EbookBooster, and the results were good — the #1 free spot for my first novel, A Clean Kill in Tokyo, and the #2 slot for my second, A Lonely Resurrection. I like the free promos because if things go well with the giveaway, the title in question tends to bounce back much higher in the paid store, with more visibility and more sales. Possible shortcomings of the free promos, though, are: (i) the people you’re initially reaching are by definition a demographic that is motivated to download books for free, and that might therefore be less interested in buying them; and (ii) people who get books for free are probably less motivated to read them, meaning fewer new customers and less word of mouth. So I started wondering what would happen if I tried a 99-cent promo instead… and what would happen if instead of doing it for only one title, I did it for my entire backlist.

You can read more here.

E-Book BEA Debate; Michael Douglas on Oral Sex; New Fight Against AIDS

E-Book BEA Debate

When I post about this topic now, I start to feel as if I’m living in an altered universe sometimes. And yet this article from PW talks about e-books as if they were just invented.

In a question from the audience, Ed Conklin, buyer at Chaucer’s Books in Santa Barbara, Calif., said, “I’m not real interested in e-books.” That’s because there’s no way for a customer to buy an e-book in his store. In a follow-up question, Emily Pullen, manager of Word Books in Brooklyn, N.Y., pointed out how little money booksellers make on e-book sales. “If I sold an e-book to every customer who came in my store, I’d be out of business in a week.” To which Friedman responded that e-book pricing is going to level out at higher than $2.99.

While I do often think that e-books are either too expensive or too inexpensive to be realistic, and I would like to see publishers focus more on fair pricing, I can’t help but always take into consideration the near future. And when I say the near future I mean watch kids in grade school, or even in middle school and high school. The tech devices they own would most likely turn someone like Ed Conklin from Chaucer’s Books upside down. If past is prologue, and if history does repeat itself, than all these debates are absolutely pointless.

I saw an interesting TV commercial last evening. I forget what the commercial was about in detail, but at the end there was a young woman holding a record in her hands and she says, “I know what these are. I read about them in books.” The main focus was that records are obsolete, and most kids don’t even know what they are. Frankly, I don’t even know what records are because my generation had cassette tapes and CDs. I never had a record collection. My mom and dad owned records. But the underlying irony in that commercial is that in the real world the odds are that the young woman either read about old fashioned records online somewhere, or she read about them in an e-book. And whoever put that ad together didn’t even realize they were being ironic.

Michael Douglas on Oral Sex

Update: Here’s a link that will lead you to a web site that talks in depth about HPV. There’s also a vaccine available, which I didn’t know about.

Actor Michael Douglas talked openly about his ordeal with throat cancer and the kind of cancer it was. According to this article, it wasn’t caused by smoking or alcohol. It was caused by engaging in oral sex. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard something like this. It’s actually more common than most people know.

 In a candid new interview with U.K.’s The Guardian, Douglas admits that his illness was caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

“Without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV, which actually comes about from cunnilingus,” the “Behind the Candelabra” star, 68, explains.

For those who haven’t heard about this, it’s an interesting article with more links.

New Fight Against AIDS

This comes from Lambda Legal.

As the nation marks the opening of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, executive directors from 35 LGBT and HIV/AIDS organizations from across the United States have released a joint letter committing themselves and their organizations to re-engaging the broader LGBT community in the fight against HIV. While issues like marriage equality and employment protections for LGBT workers have taken center stage, HIV continues to ravage the LGBT community. Despite making up just two percent of the population, gay and bisexual men accounted for more than 63 percent of new HIV infections in 2010. In fact, gay men are the only group in which HIV infections are increasing.

With all the information out there, the numbers in gay men getting HIV should be declining, and yet that’s not the case. I’ve read that a lot of younger gay men hear that HIV is a chronic disease and there are now medications that can keep them alive so they don’t think they have to be as careful anymore. This is true about HIV in a general sense. Those with HIV don’t get a death sentence anymore. It is treated as a chronic disease.

But that’s not the bottom line, not by any means. The HIV meds have side effects that you may not see for years to come. These side effects can appear in a variety of ways. And none of them are pleasant. I know this first hand because I’ve been acting POA for a friend who is HIV+ and I often go to his doctor’s appointments with him at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The other factor is the cost of HIV meds. They run into thousands of dollars each month and if you think Obamacare is going to help you you’d better start reading more. The fact is that if you don’t have a great medical insurance plan you’re going to have to figure out a way to get those meds and it’s not going to be simple.

This is the goal. I think it’s realistic if everyone takes the time to read this information.

“The LGBT community always has been at the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic. As the community most impacted in the nation, we are the ones who must step-up and recommit to ending future transmissions. To have a new generation of LGBT young people grow up free from HIV and AIDS will be a fitting legacy to those we have lost to this disease.”

I also think it’s time we took the stigma away from AIDS. Michael Douglas talked about his ordeal with cancer and oral sex in the above article without a hint of shame. We need to be able to do the same thing with HIV as gay men.