Articles tagged "e-books"

Opinion: Is there an eBook “eZone?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other day, I was encouraged via Twitter to view the following video of New York Times bestselling author Seth Godin. The video is a sneak peak for the documentary PressPausePlay in which Godin describes his reasoning for self-publishing an eBook that took him 10-12 days to write. Godin raises a lot of interesting questions about modern publishing in this short video. An interesting question he raises is one that all self-published authors have to address at one time or another, namely: “I finished the book … ‘now what am I going to do with it?’”

As Authors today, we have many choices for delivering our content. We can try our luck and go the traditional route; we can self-publish it as a paperback; we can upload it to a blog; we can publish it as an eBook and distribute it to places like the iBookstore℠ or NOOK Bookstore™, etc, etc, etc. With all these choices, it can be hard to decide where and how to distribute your work.

Having published in different formats, I recently asked the question: is there an eBook “eZone?” Inspired by the “Goldilocks Zone” in planetary astronomy, the eBook eZone represents the length of written content that is too long for a blog post but too short for a printed book. It is the length of content that seems “just right” to be published electronically and made available for download at a minimal fee (or even made available for free). Keep in mind that any length of content can be made into an eBook (with at times unwieldy long books being easier to read electronically, as described here). When I talk about the eZone, I mean college papers, short stories, poetry, magazine articles – content that you’re proud of that didn’t really take you that long to write (relatively speaking) and when you see it sitting idle on your hard-drive you ask: “what am I going to do with it?” From a reader standpoint, eZone eBooks are those titles on your eReader that you can finish on a short train ride, regional flight, or in the time it takes to fall asleep.

Besides content length, the eZone also represents a sort of “sweet spot” between timeliness of content (how current the topic may be) and the time you have invested in writing and researching the content. The above infographic is what I believe the eBook eZone may look like. This infographic is by no means scientific nor does it take into account variables like genre, type of content, etc. The infographic exists to help visualize a point, namely that there may be a confluence of content length, content timeliness, and the amount of time one can devote to writing a title that makes eBooks the ideal vehicle for distributing content.

I figured it would also be helpful to point out some of my reasoning behind this infographic. Problogger.com reports that a typical reader “spends 96 seconds reading the average blog” – giving writers a “96 window of opportunity” to capture a reader’s attention. If the average American Adult has a reading speed of 300 words per minute, then it is reasonable to assume that a typical reader will focus his/her attention, on average, to around 450 words on a typical blog (I have just pasted that threshold, so congratulations loyal reader for being above average). The page length I selected for printed books was less about attention span and had more to do with printing requirements. A U.S. Trade perfect bound paperback book can have a page length of between 32 and 740 pages – anything above that would require a different format. Timeliness of content and the time invested in writing a book are very subjective criteria and are hard to measure. Everyone writes and researches at different rates. Some people like Seth Godin who are content machines can hammer out five best-sellers in the time it would take me to write one sub-par manuscript. So the intersection where timeliness of content and time invested is subjective – but a reality worth addressing nonetheless.

In short, the eBook eZone is a theory. If may turn out to be completely wrong. I just hope that authors test it out, find their writing comfort zones, and publish their content in as many formats as possible. You have many choices, make sure to find the format that’s “just right” for you!

“Christmas Has Begun Already” – What’s Your Q4 Book Marketing Strategy?

This morning, I read a great article in The Telegraph entitled “Book discount frenzy as Super Thursday arrives.” Within the article, a quote that resonated with me comes from Mike Jones, the non-fiction director at Simon & Schuster, who states “Christmas has begun already.” In an effort to capture the attention of the “constantly connected consumer,” the holiday sale season seems to start earlier and earlier each year. For major publishers looking to promote titles within “a declining market, a tough economy and [a market with] structural changes – such as ebooks,” the holiday marketing season has to start early. As self-published authors, we are not immune to the same market realities that major publishers are currently facing. As such, we too need to start our holiday marketing efforts now too. Thus, I have to ask “what’s your Q4 book marketing strategy?

Given the diversity of our author base, many of us will have different strategies. However, I’ve outlined some holiday book marketing tips below that should help many of us. I would also encourage you to post your own tips and ideas on this blog or on our Facebook page to help your fellow authors gear up for Q4 and sell as many books as possible.

Discounting your book – when and by how much?
You don’t need a PhD to know that discounting is a major part of the holiday shopping season. The real challenge is figuring out when to discount and by how much. Prior to the 2010 holiday season,
Forrester Research forecasted that “deep discounts will also be in play, but key dates such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be of utmost importance … [r]etailers must expect heavy price-based competition this season and be prepared to play.” I would encourage Lulu authors to plan on offering deep discounts of their books, at the very least, during the pillars of the holiday season – Black Friday and Cyber Monday. To do so, use our Discount Manager that lets you set your book’s list price as you always have and then set a discount to that list price to be shown alongside your regular price. To find out more about our Discount Manager, please click the following link. Please note that, due to distribution requirements, you cannot discount eBooks.

Remembering Michael Hart, ebook pioneer and founder of Project Gutenberg.

Electronic book pioneer and founder of Project Gutenberg, Michael Hart, passed away on Tuesday at his home in Urbana Ill.  Long before eReaders became a prevalent part of our society, Hart, who is described as “an ardent technologist and futurist,” sought ways of making electronic versions of books available to the masses.

In an obituary posted on the Project Gutenberg website, Dr. Gregory B. Newby writes:

Hart was best known for his 1971 invention of electronic books, or eBooks. He founded Project Gutenberg, which is recognized as one of the earliest and longest-lasting online literary projects. He often told this story of how he had the idea for eBooks. He had been granted access to significant computing power at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. On July 4 1971, after being inspired by a free printed copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, he decided to type the text into a computer, and to transmit it to other users on the computer network. From this beginning, the digitization and distribution of literature was to be Hart’s life’s work, spanning over 40 years.

In 1998, Mark Frauenfelder wrote a profile of Hart for Wired in which Hart is quoted as saying, “there’s going to be some gizmo that kids carry around in their back pocket that has everything in it – including our books, if they want.”  Early pioneers like Vannevar Bush envisioned electronic devices as far back as 1945 that would store massive volumes of books electronically.  Hart, however, possessed that rare mix of both foresight and gumption to help make this vision a reality.

As expressed in his obituary, making literature “available to all people” was something Hart wished to help others strive towards.  Perhaps the truest expression of Hart’s wish is a commitment to the distribution of ideas across countless platforms, i.e., eBooks, print, blogs, spoken word, etc.  Personally, I feel that in order to make literature available to all people the distribution mechanisms should work in concert with one another and never be limited to one source.  Learning, I believe, should remain impartial to any one file format or distribution mechanism – eBook or otherwise.

With that said, I think that as we enter a new age marked by the proliferation of electronic books and a growing host of eBook reading “gizmo[s],” let’s not forget to take a few moments to honor pioneers like Michael Hart who have remained steadfast in their commitment to the distribution of literature and ideas.