In what’s turning out to be quite the week for internet-based publishing innovations, Amazon has brought its Kindle Unlimited service to British shores. The subscription service, billed as a literary equivalent to Netflix and Spotify, allows users unlimited access (as the name implies) to over 650,000 Kindle books and an extensive library of Audible audiobooks for £7.99 a month (at current exchange rates nearly £2 more, incidentally, than the $9.99 a month charged by the American service, which launched earlier this summer). Amazon is offering a free 30 day trial of the service to all those who sign up.
Posts Tagged ‘ebooks’
Penguin Random House today launched My Independent Bookshop, a combination social network and e-commerce platform that hopes to benefit independent booksellers whilst providing a virtual counterpart to browsing their shelves. The site allows users to create their own ‘bookshops’, selecting 12 titles they would recommend to others and giving them space to tell other users why, hoping to capture the feeling of a personal recommendation that might be found in brick and mortar bookshops, outside of the standard Amazon algorithms. Those 12 titles can be rotated as often as desired, and the bookshop containing them can also be personalised to users’ own tastes.
One of the more common complaints of those who have held out against eBooks thus far is the comparative difficulty (and subsequent lack of charm) of presenting a book as a gift digitally rather than physically. Gift an eBook, however, launched this past week, is a venture that aims to level the playing field between the two.
Clearly feeling threatened by others edging in on its whole ‘selling books at unsustainably low prices’ thing, Amazon has started to price-match Sainsbury’s October e-book promotion, which sees the supermarket selling a shifting variety of popular titles digitally for 99p each. The promotion, which began last week, features a selection of one day only special offers that changes every weekday, alongside a stock of dozens of other titles that will remain at the reduced price for the whole month. Yesterday’s (October 9th) daily titles included David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, Sarah Winman’s When God Was A Rabbit and John Banville’s Booker-winning The Sea, all of which were subsequently brought down to 99p on Amazon too. The title with the largest discount was Bridget Asher’s The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted, down £6 from its usual Sainsbury’s retail price of £6.99.
‘I do not like my books in print
I do not like having to squint
I only read my books on Kindle
Anything else seems like a swindle’
…might be the weird Green Eggs and Ham-influenced manner in which a particularly bright yet techno-snobbish child would care to tell the world that it had not yet been exposed to the iconic works of Dr. Seuss due to their only being available in print and not digitally. Although in that case, if it hadn’t actually read the book, how would it be able to make a reference like that? Let’s not think too deeply about this. The point is, as of this month, Random House will be filling a void in that delightfully uppity child’s life, with the first batch of a planned 41 digital releases from the erstwhile Theodor Geisel’s bibliography.
The phrase can’t see the wood for the trees is most often used in a reflective situation framed by the word ‘I didn’t, or ‘we couldn’t’, rather than ‘we can’t’ or ‘we don’t’, because it’s generally only after we mess something up beyond repair that we realise we were focussing on a small and perhaps unimportant element of a larger whole the entire time.
It’s difficult in publishing, perhaps, to identify what constitutes the wood and what are the trees. Bookshops, authors, readers: all these avenues vie for the top tier of our attention, and at different points someone is always willing to tell us which of them are the most important to our business and how. But when I think back to why I got into publishing in the first place, the thing that remains are the stories.
I do love a good first. The first t-shirt day of the summer; the first beer on a night out; the first time you wear a new hoodie. Last week saw the announcement of the first digital-only literary list in the UK, Blackfriars from Little, Brown. The list promises to curate 9 to 12 titles a year from new or established authors, and is launching in June. Now there’s a first to get out of bed for.
In the last two years, a lot of publishers have been buying into self-published ebook successes in a big way. There’s the Amanda Hocking trilogy, John Locke (the first man to really “crack” the KDP system and sell one million kindle ebooks), 50 Shades of Grey, and, quite recently, Wool by Hugh Cowey to name a few of the main deals. Some of these have earned seven-figure advances, something debut authors would only dream of. But are they worth it?
A few weeks ago Eric Huang kindly answered some questions about his role at Penguin and how they are working and collaborating with new companies to strengthen their offer as a publisher.
There is no doubt that Penguin is going through an interesting transition, attempting to re-define and break the mold, while bringing content to their audiences in new ways and with new people…
Last week saw the release of a new Kobo range, and (not to be outdone) the yearly release of the new Kindle line. Despite Bezos’ insistence that he doesn’t need his customers on the ‘upgrade treadmill’, Amazon released an upgrade to pretty much every single one of their devices, including two new Kindle Fire tablets and the predicted backlit eInk reader. So, as readers, what are we looking at for Christmas this year?