With the ebook market basically stuck in neutral, some ebook developers are doing a bit of soul-searching.
In one view, the profession may be losing some of its appeal as publishers pare back their investments in digital production and talented coders seek fatter paychecks in other industries. And it doesn’t help that acquiring professional-grade production skills is often time-consuming and expensive.
But much as others believe a working knowledge of digital publishing technologies is becoming more essential for non-practitioners, Joshua Tallent argues that understanding ebook production is critical for publishers fine-tuning their businesses for the current market.
“Determining what kind of production knowledge best suits your goals,” Tallent writes, “can be a helpful point of departure, even if you aren’t considering a career as an ebook developer.”
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KDP Changes: The End of Short Fiction? (Pub Perspectives)
One indie author reflects on Amazon’s switch to paying writers who place their titles in its subscription programs (Kindle Owners Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited) by pages read, saying that while the change is likely to “have a devastating effect on my current income,” she welcomes the renewed focus on reader engagement. One result of the new royalty model, she predicts, will be the retreat of “scam and junk” short fiction meant only to trigger payouts after clearing the 10% reading threshold Amazon is phasing out.
KDP Changes: The End of Long Nonfiction? (The Atlantic)
Another author muses that “big, kitchen-sink projects will become even less sustainable unless people start truly reading every page” under Amazon’s new royalty model for KDP Select authors. But long works of nonfiction—which many tend to buy but not read all the way through—were never Kindle Unlimited’s bread-and-butter anyway. More apt is the observation that the new “sweet spot…must be books full of cliffhangers that keep people flipping the pages.”
Amazon Overhauls Customer Reviews (CNet)
The e-tailer introduces new machine learning technology to its system for surfacing customer reviews, which weights now more heavily those that are likelier to be relevant for particular users over time.
Related: Facing Down Discovery Challenges in a Reader-Powered World
All Is Fair in Love and Publishing…Right? (Futurebook)
What counts as “gaming the system” in a publishing landscape dominated in so many ways by Amazon? There’s no shortage of authors, publishers and other stakeholders willing to weigh in on the ethics of reading, writing and publishing. But one observer considers Amazon’s antitrust probe in Europe alongside the company’s new payment model, to ask, “Is chopping a novel into chapter-by-chapter pieces to get more per-borrow sales from Amazon’s borrowing programmes technically forbidden? Perhaps no more, it would seem, than an MFN [most favored nation clause] is technically forbidden.”
Erotica Ebooks: Only after Dark, Says Germany (TNW)
Germany begins applying to ebooks a law that prevents booksellers from selling adult-oriented titles before 10pm. Passed in 2002, the measure is designed to shield children from media that’s deemed potentially damaging to them.
Amazon’s Web Clout Outstrips Competitors’ (24/7WallSt)
One recent estimate puts Amazon’s current online audience at 186 million unique visitors, more than twice as many as Wal-Mart’s, whose e-commerce business one industry watcher sees as still primarily designed to attract customers to its physical locations.
Children’s Reading Paces at a Glance (GalleyCat—Infographic)
A children’s book retailer offers a look at the average times it takes kids to complete a range of classic children’s titles. It bears mentioning that the figures in this infographic don’t represent data from an empirical study, just the average reading speed per grade level calibrated to the various lengths of the books included. Still, it’s a helpful gauge of the various time commitments reading content demands of young readers who are increasingly distracted by other media.
Related: Inside New Trends in Children’s Apps
Visualizing Dyslexia (Ink, Bits & Pixels)
As publishers continue to think through accessibility issues, one graphic designer has come up with a compelling way of representing a common reading disability. This typeface approximates how a dyslexic reader might perceive a passage of text.
Related: Five Typographical Tips for Ebook Publishers