Articles tagged "readers"

Social media for book lovers

Social networking meets your reading addiction.

The New York Times recently ran an excellent profile of Goodreads, a super popular book-centric social media platform. The site launched in 2006, and as the Times notes, has over the last 7 years become “the largest source of independent reviews on the Web, with 21 million and counting.” Like all successful social media sites, its popularity springs from the relationships and communities it fosters, and if this article is any indication, these ties are booming.

I was also happy to note that the piece paid special attention to Goodreads’ relationship to independent publishing. It notes the wild success of “Wool,” a series self-published sci-fi books by Hugh Howey that received serious attention after being featured by one of Goodreads’ most popular book clubs (later it mentions that Howey’s series was optioned by 20th Century Fox!).

The Times attributes the particular advertising power of sites like Goodreads to the “membership model.” In short, recommendations or reviews written by friends (be they online or off) tend to be more effective motivators because they’re understood to be trustworthy and personal. Could literature-focused social media platforms provide the non-traditional advertising avenue self-publishing authors need to break through to a wide audience?

Though the Readmill’s iPad app has been around for a while, in early February the company launched an (even more mobile) app for the iPhone. Readmill is a digital reading platform with a built-in social media interface. One part digital marketplace, one part bookworm Facebook, the application – now available for both iPhones and iPads – allows users to purchase eBooks from vendors online and read them via a slick, minimalist interface on their mobile devices. It also lets readers share favorite quotes, track reading stats, and get recommendations from friends and followers.

Competitor apps like Wattpad and BookShout point to a growing market (and hopefully a growing demand). We’ll see if apps like this catch the public interest, but I think they could provide excellent opportunities for self-publishers trying to get the word out as well as serious readers looking for their next page-turner.

Are you a part of any of these book-centric social media platforms?  What has been your experience?

What to Read?

Finding recommendations for independently published books can be difficult. Over at The Guardian, Dan Holloway explains:

“As a reader, I believe life is too short: if I want a great thriller, there’s enough Mark Billingham and Tami Hoag to work through. If I choose to read self-published books it’s because I want something different.”

Holloway also outlines resources for finding well-reviewed self-published books. There’s the Indie eBook Review, which reviews recent self-published books, as well as IndieReader, which does an incredible job writing thoughtful reviews of some really interesting self-published books. All in all, Holloway paints a portrait of a burgeoning literary culture surrounding independently published books, one that’s sure to grow as self-publishing becomes the dominant force in the literary marketplace. As a writer, it’s incredibly important to keep track of who is writing reviews and what kinds of books garner attention, especially if you want your title to find a large audience.

Another great resource is Booklamp.org, the “home of the Book Genome Project. Similar to how Pandora.com matches music lovers to new music, BookLamp helps you find books through a computer-based analysis of written DNA.”

A great way to make sure your own book gets reviewed is to look into some of Lulu’s reviewing services, including options to have your book reviewed by Kirkus or Clarion reviews.

So, where do you find help selecting books to read? What websites or book reviews are helpful? Do you think self-published books are getting the right amount of respect from reviewers? Have you ever reviewed someone else’s book online? Let us know!

Additional Reading:

Hiptype: Analytics for eBooks

I run a website, which means I constantly check Google Analytics to see which stories are being read and how readers are reaching my site. It’s an incredibly useful tool that helps me figure out my audience, what my readers enjoy, and when best to post certain pieces. This type of real-time analytics has been revolutionary for websites, letting media groups find out whether their tweets are making a difference, whether their “tags” are working, and if their highfaluting SEO strategy is working.

Of course, as an author, this might all be gibberish. That is about to change. Hiptype, a young start-up, is looking to bring the wonder of analytics to eBooks. While it’s still in Beta and not yet available to all publishing companies, Hiptype represents a new, inevitable approach to gauging the eBook market. By noting when readers make a comment on a section, or share an excerpt, authors and publishers can see what interests and excites readers.

This leads to some interesting dilemmas and the question of privacy on the internet. Many publishers, authors and marketers would like to use this technology to learn more about their readers. There are two ways to look at it: as an invasion of privacy or as a research tool designed to deliver you the most relevant content. Your internet-surfing experience can be tailored to you based on what your browser knows about you (what words you search, what websites you visit, etc.). With this information, advertisers can target specific ads to you based on your interests. For avid readers, this can mean that when you go searching for eBooks, the eBookstore will recommend books that people similar to you have enjoyed.

Likewise, authors and publishers can use this information to target a specific audience with an eBook and to improve marketing efforts. You can also use the information about your primary audience to create more relevant content for them. For instance, let’s say that you discover that your books are very popular with veterans. With this knowledge you may decide to include a character in your next book who is a veteran.

This is just another avenue of creative possibilities that has been opened by the internet. We imagine that this type of analytic eBook information will become ubiquitous in the coming years.

As writers, how will you use this information? Will you tailor your books to your audience? Are you interested in knowing who reads your books?

The Word on Used eBooks

You walk around the old marketplace, through antique stores and old stacks of records, looking, hopefully, for that one store where you’ll be able to enter entirely new worlds. Yes, you’ve found it! The used eBookstore.

Used eBooks? As outrageous as that sounds, if a new ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union is followed by similar rulings, a used eBook could soon be coming your way. Of course, that all depends on how eBook publishers deal with this paradigm.

When you buy an eBook, you buy the license to use that file. The ruling declares that you have the right to resell that license to a third party, but only if you cease to use that file (and not make duplicates of it). Whether eBooks will now come with the ability to be resold, or if new software will create a whole market of secondhand books, remains to be seen. But if this ruling gains traction, it appears that publishers will at least have to make this option available. Or not — it’s also quite possible that a publisher would slap on a “no resale” protection to their eBooks.

As a writer, does it make sense to allow your eBook to be resold? You don’t make any money on a resale (at least not traditional ones), and it’s possible your eBook could just be traded around until it’s sold for mere pennies. Still, it never seemed like used bookstores were to be the downfall of the publishing industry in the pre-digital days.

However, Digital Book World paints a very positive picture of this new development:

“If eBooks could be easily resold by readers, the effects on the growing e-book industry would be great. Used eBookstores could pop up; new, exotic forms of digital rights management (DRM) software could be developed; and the price of eBooks, facing upward pressure from their new-found resale value and downward pressure from a used book market, could change.”

Do you think the idea of a used eBook is a good one? As a writer, will you offer the option for used copies of your eBook to be resold? Is this a good alternative to piracy?

Expand Your Business with Custom Publishing Solutions

I had an interesting conversation with an up and coming author recently who has a very specific vision.  She wants to cut out any potential for a “middle-man” to distract her readers from finding and buying her works.  She eventually even wants to run her own publishing business directly from her website starting with her own titles.  This would enable her to maximize her profits and directly tap into her fan-base while helping other aspiring authors share their works too.  The problem is she didn’t have an easy means of distribution, eBook creation, or order fulfillment.  She needed someone to help her do all the heavy lifting on the backend, so she could focus on creating a successful business.  That’s where Lulu and our Open Publishing APIs (Application Programmer Interfaces) come in.

An API is kind of like a Lego® block that makes a website or application work.  All the “blocks” that make Lulu’s great self-publishing site function are available to the public so that anyone can use them no matter their needs or their market.  With Lulu APIs, authors, publishers, businesses, and developers alike can take whatever pieces they need from Lulu and use them on their own websites to instantly produce, manage, and sell content.  The best part? They are absolutely free.

Suddenly this up and coming author has a completely customized publishing solution to start that business she dreams about.  She can sign up other authors but can relax while she uses Lulu’s global print-on-demand network to cut on shipping costs.  She gets to offer her authors distribution through Lulu’s retail partners like Amazon, iBookstore(SM), and NOOK Bookstore – where many readers already shop. It’s all under her own imprint and designed for her to be more profitable than ever before possible.

Lulu is constantly rolling out new APIs too.  Coming soon Lulu’s eCommerce APIs will be released for general availability, enabling customers to buy directly through an author or business’s own website. Also be on the look out for general availability of our Creator Revenue APIs which allow a business or imprint to easily keep track of an author’s earnings.

Indeed, the Lulu APIs are empowering people and organizationslike our friends at campus bookstores across the nation – to grow and monetize content in exciting new ways while diversifying revenue and expanding their businesses – all under one roof.  Be sure to check back in the coming weeks for some more exciting news about how our APIs are helping to break down even more barriers for authors, for businesses, and for everyone in between.

 

Lulu.com – Number 1 in eBooks

2011 was an exciting year for independent publishing – new technology, devices and formats are changing the way people create and consume content. By far the stand out this year happened in the eBooks space. Creators published a stunning 115,517 new eBooks on Lulu.com in 2011, up 22% over 2010.

The surge in eBooks published has helped make Lulu the #1 source of independent content on the iBookstore(SM) and Nook Bookstore with 60,000+ titles available in these channels right now. This number is growing rapidly every day thanks to Lulu’s continued commitment to developing the best eBook publishing tools available.

With 10 years of experience helping over 1.1 million creators in 200+ countries and territories bring their content to the world, we have grown our eBook catalogue to a whopping 620,000 titles.  Your content is making a difference in the world of publishing and Lulu is proud to be your partner.

While eBooks are clearly gaining strength in numbers, the future of eBooks is still being defined, with Lulu investing heavily in that future. For instance right now we are hard at work paving the way for the next generation of eBooks. Please stay tuned for exciting updates as we embark on this next chapter in independent publishing. And next week, we’ll take a look at where print books fit into the mix.

From the Vault: More Social Networking Sites for Authors

There are number of other websites and tools besides Twitter, FaceBook, and Google+ that are ideal for establishing relationships online. Many of these sites allow writers to find a highly targeted segment of Internet users to share ideas and get feedback. The sites can also be used to reach people who might be interested in purchasing your books, photobooks and other Lulu.com content.

Plurk is a great site to find people with similar interests. The service is similar to Twitter, but enables conversations to be followed much more easily.

Tumblr is another micro-blogging site to share text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos, from your browser, phone, desktop, or email.

Pinterest is a digital bulletin board that you can post likes and interests to for seamless sharing with others.  This is a great place to recommend titles you like yourself, and casually mention your work.

StumbleUpon is a perfect site to find sites that match your exact interests. You can surf sites on any topic and easily add your own favorites and your own Lulu content easily. It is not uncommon for StumbleUpon to generate thousands of views of a single web page.

These are just a few of the many sites and tools available to promote your Lulu.com projects. Feel free to add any other ones you like to use, or links to your pages, in the comments section.