With Amazon’s recent move to limit outside organizations’ promotion of free ebooks it may be that we are seeing the very beginning of the end of “free” as a viable business model for indie authors.
Amazon announced to its affiliates this week that they will not earn any income in a month when 20,000 or more free Kindle ebooks are downloaded using their affiliate links and 80% or more of ebooks downloaded using the links are free. For big, free ebook promotion sites that survive on affiliate income, this is bad news. One proprietor of a prominent free ebook site called the move in an email to Digital Book World “a big blow to the company.”
On the author side, there is a belief that giving away ebooks for free is a great way to ultimately generate sales. (Here’s one post of many detailing how this works – and how it has worked less recently.)
Is this move by Amazon part of a larger effort to get people to pay more for ebooks? To limit the number of free ebooks downloaded on Kindle?
If so, established publishers should welcome the development: Ever since ebooks began their rise to prominence, the bottoming out of prices for books has been a concern – and there is nothing lower than free.
But what do authors think? Will this make the Kindle platform less attractive to them? It’s one thing to offer your ebook for free and it’s quite another to do so and make sure it’s linked to by dozens of “free ebook” sites. At least one prominent indie author thinks it won’t have much of an effect on him.
Perhaps a rival ebook retailer will make an effort to take on the mantle of being the best place for indie authors to “sell” their wares.
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The rest of the day’s top news:
Kindle iOS App Trouble (Mashable)
Readers who updated their Kindle iOS app yesterday found that their ebook libraries had been erased from their iPhones and iPads. Amazon has already pushed out another update that does not have the same problem.
Pew: How Schools Are Using Digital Tools (DBW)
A new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that schools are now using digital tools widely but that there are major discrepancies between rich schools and poor schools. For instance, 56% of teachers students from higher-income households say their students use tablet computers while learning while only 37% of teachers of students from lower-income households say the same.
Random-Penguin Reckoning (Reuters)
EU antitrust regulators will say “yay” or “nay” (or perhaps something in between) to Bertelsmann and Pearson on whether they will be allowed to merge Random House and Penguin.
What Trade Publishing Can Learn From Advertising (The Shatzkin Files)
Book publishing is unlike other kinds of media in myriad ways. However, it is like advertising in one important way: both try to gather disparate audiences to sell one thing. This lesson could be a path forward for trade publishers.
Avoiding Ebook Casualties (DBW)
More than five years into the ebook revolution and we still can’t quite figure out how to consistently present mistake-free ebooks to readers. Big publishers and indie authors alike have problems. Well, there is a simple solution: quality assurance.
‘Solutions’ For Publishers’ Discoverability Problem (Forbes)
For most readers, finding their next book isn’t that hard. About three quarters of Americans have read a book in the past year and the median number they’ve read is about half-a-dozen. For that level of reading, best-seller lists and ebook retailer recommendation engines are enough. For publishers, however, with more books being published than ever before and the places one can discover and buy them fracturing, the problem of surfacing new books for readers is getting worse. According to one blogger, under the radar businesses like NetGalley, Goodreads and Bookish might be the solution.
New UK Book Discovery Platform (Pub Perspectives)
The Nudge List is an iOS app offers a different experience from the recommendation engines that you may be used to, favoring less over more.
Erudition: Enhanced Ebook Start-up (DBW)
This new digital publishing start-up will only published enhanced ebooks and will only sell direct or through author websites.
Cengage: Dealing With Huge Debt (Pub Lunch)
Educational publisher Cengage has a $5 billion dollar debt to deal with. The company is also not making enough money to pay it off on schedule – and the financial results keep on getting worse. Options are dwindling for the concern.
Another Reason Barnes & Noble Will Never Catch up to Amazon (The Digital Reader)
In short, the usability of the Nook products is inferior to the competition. This morning as this newsletter was being sent out, Barnes & Noble announced its latest quarterly results. We’ll keep you posted.
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Image Credit: Nook HD+ image via Nook Media Kit