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<<May 2015>>
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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Amazon, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 551
1. Amazon Launches Kindle for Kids Bundle

Amazon is looking to get kids into eBooks with a new offer called the Kindle for Kids Bundle.

The bundle includes an ad-free Kindle device with a two-year extended warranty from SquareTrade to cover replacements against accidental spills and drops. The device is outfitted with Kindle Free Time, a tool to help kids, parents and teachers track reading progress and earn badges for meeting reading goals.

The device allows kids to check out books from the library. A parental password is required to purchase eBooks from the store. The bundle costs $99.

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2. Field experimenting in economics: Lessons learned for public policy

Do neighbourhoods matter to outcomes? Which classroom interventions improve educational attainment? How should we raise money to provide important and valued public goods? Do energy prices affect energy demand? How can we motivate people to become healthier, greener, and more cooperative? These are some of the most challenging questions policy-makers face. Academics have been trying to understand and uncover these important relationships for decades.

The post Field experimenting in economics: Lessons learned for public policy appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on Field experimenting in economics: Lessons learned for public policy as of 5/20/2015 3:53:00 AM
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3. Amazon Reveals Prize For Spanish-Language Authors

Amazon is looking for Spanish-language authors to use Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and to help encourage engagement, the company has kicked off its second annual Indie Literary Prize Contest for Spanish-language authors.

Indie writers can submit their own previously unpublished works to the KDP platform for consideration from July 1 to August 31. The winner will get $2500 and have their book published in print y La Esfera de los Libros. In addition, AmazonCrossing, Amazon’s imprint for world literature in translation, will translate the book into English and distribute it worldwide in digital, print and audio formats.

“Books will be reviewed based on several criteria, such as creativity, originality and quality of writing and five finalists will be chosen,” explains the press release.

Follow this link for more details.

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4. Amazon Editors Launch a Young Adult Book Club

I'll Give You the Sun (GalleyCat)The Amazon editorial team has launched a young adult book club. To kick things off, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson was chosen as the May/June 2015 read.

Participants can submit questions for Nelson from now until May 30th; her responses will be posted on June 15th. Discussions are being held at the club’s Goodreads group page.

The editors have also compiled a list of “100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime.” Some of the titles that made the cut include American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

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5. Jim Henson Co. Project Among Four Animation Pilots Coming to Amazon

Amazon’s online television division has ordered pilots for four new animated programs.

0 Comments on Jim Henson Co. Project Among Four Animation Pilots Coming to Amazon as of 5/12/2015 1:28:00 PM
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6. HarperCollins Could Leave Amazon: Report

Amazon’s contract with book publisher HarperCollins is almost up and according to a report in Business Insider, the big five publisher is not going to sign the contract as is.

Check it out:

The contract presented to HarperCollins was the same contract recently signed by Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Macmillan, Amazon confirmed.

If HarperCollins and Amazon don’t come to an agreement, no print or digital HarperCollins books will be available on Amazon once its existing contract runs out “very soon,” our source says.

Last year Hachette fought for months with Amazon over contract terms. During that time, Amazon didn’t carry popular Hachette books and Hachette author Stephen Colbert urged readers to boycott Amazon.

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7. A Dispute May Erupt Between HarperCollins & Amazon

harpercollins200Rumors have been swirling that HarperCollins may enter into a dispute with Amazon.

Here’s more from BusinessInsider: “The contract presented to HarperCollins was the same contract recently signed by Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Macmillan, our source says. If HarperCollins and Amazon don’t come to an agreement, no print or digital HarperCollins books will be available on Amazon once its current contract runs out ‘very soon,’ our source says.”

Last year, Hachette Book Group USA had to deal with a similar issue. The publisher was locked in battle with the internet retail giant due to disagreements over eBook pricing. Several authors spoke out about the situation including Trigger Warning author Neil Gaiman, The Fault in Our Stars author John Green, and David & Goliath author Malcolm Gladwell. (via GeekWire.com)

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8. 3 List Building Strategies for Success in Today’s Market

You've heard it over and over, what worked before isn’t working now. I attended a webinar by online marketer Clay Collins. It was about the newer strategies for successful list building. They've been around for a while now, but many haven't taken that step forward and gotten on board. As with most marketing strategies, once they become overused they become old and tired. What used to work

0 Comments on 3 List Building Strategies for Success in Today’s Market as of 3/11/2015 5:10:00 AM
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9. The Audiobook is Live!!

I’m so excited to tell you that the audiobook of WISH YOU WEREN’T is live! I didn’t realize after approving the final version that it would take Audible nearly two weeks to listen to it to make sure the quality was up to par, but I’m glad they did. Because that ensures that anyone who […]

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10. Amazon to Publish Kindle Scout Books

Amazon has listed its first books available through its new crowd sourced publishing platform for pre-order.

Readers from the Kindle Scout community selected the titles. These 10 titles, which include sci-fi novels, romance titles and thrillers, will be the first books published under the digital publishing imprint Kindle Press. The books will be released on March 3. Here is more from the press release:

To date, there have been 21 titles selected for publication by Kindle Press, with more books submitted and selected daily. Today, Kindle Scout also began accepting Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Action & Adventure submissions in addition to Romance, Mystery/Thriller and Science Fiction.

Follow this link to explore the titles.

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11. Kindle Unlimited Hits Canada & Mexico

Amazon’s eBook subscription service, which gives members unlimited access to a select Kindle library, has expanded to Canada and Mexico.

The service costs CDN$9.99 a month in Canada and 129 pesos a month in Mexico, roughly $8 in each country. In exchange for the membership fee, subscribers can read more than 750,000 eBooks, which range from bestsellers to self-published works.

The service launched more than six months ago in the U.S. where it competes with Oyster and Scribd. Amazon brought the offering to the UK a few months back.

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12. Amazon Adds Russian Language Section to Kindle Store

Amazon has quietly added a Russian language eBook section to its site.

While Russian Kindle books were available before, the site now counts 9,500 Kindle titles in Russian which are better indexed for discovery.

In an interview with Russian Beyond the Headlines, Vladimir Kharitonov, C.E.O. of the Russian Association of Web Publishers, said that while Russian language books had appeared on the site in the past, there is now better curating. Check it out:

Russian is one of the eight languages that have the highest number of books. That’s not surprising – for several years e-books in Russian appeared on Amazon in different ways. But there was no concrete place for them and it was difficult to find them through the search function.

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13. Sales Charts: The Best selling graphic novels on Amazon in 2014


By David Carter

[David Carter is the author of our monthly DC sales charts but he also hosts his own site, Yet Another Comics Blog, where he catalogs Amazon’s graphic novel sales each week. Although these are a rolling average, They do provide some clues to what were the best selling books of the year. Take it away, David!]

Here are the top 50 comics from the YACB weekly Amazon Top 50 posts of 2014:

  1. Hyperbole and a Half (paperback)
  2. The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 1
  3. The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 2
  4. Saga Volume 1
  5. Saga Volume 3
  6. Darth Vader and Son
  7. Batman: The Killing Joke, Deluxe Edition
  8. Vader’s Little Princess
  9. The Walking Dead, Vol. 20: All Out War, Part 1
  10. The Walking Dead, Vol. 21: All Out War, Part 2
  11. Can’t We Walk About Something More Pleasant?
  12. Saga Volume 2
  13. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
  14. Hyperbole and a Half (Kindle)
  15. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
  16. How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You
  17. Watchmen
  18. Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History
  19. Star Wars: Jedi Academy vol. 2: Return of the Padawan
  20. The Hedge Knight: The Graphic Novel
  21. The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances
  22. The Walking Dead, Vol. 19: March to War
  23. The Complete Calvin & Hobbes (paperback)
  24. Goodnight Darth Vader
  25. Marvel Encyclopedia
  26. Batman Vol. 2: The City of Owls (The New 52)
  27. The Sword Sword: The Graphic Novel
  28. Batman: Year One
  29. Attack on Titan 1
  30. Star Wars: Jedi Academy
  31. The Walking Dead, Vol. 22: A New Beginning
  32. Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls (The New 52)
  33. Seconds: A Graphic Novel
  34. Saga Volume 4
  35. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
  36. Batman Vol. 3: Death of the Family (The New 52)
  37. The Walking Dead Book 10
  38. The Complete Persepolis
  39. Sex Criminals Volume 1
  40. The Walking Dead, Vol. 18: What Comes After
  41. Attack on Titan 2
  42. V for Vendetta
  43. Understanding Comics
  44. Batman: Death of the Family Book and Joker Mask Set
  45. Batman Vol. 4: Zero Year – Secret City (The New 52)
  46. Dilbert 2015 Day-to-Day Calendar
  47. American Born Chinese
  48. The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye (Kindle)
  49. The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye
  50. The Walking Dead, Vol. 17: Something to Fear

Methodology: I took my weekly (compiled on Fridays over at Yet Another Comics Blog) lists of Amazon Top 50 Comics & Graphic Novels, and for each week assigned a comic a numerical score equal to 51 minus its ranking; e.g. the #1 book got 50 points, the #2 book got 49 points, the #3 book got 48 points, etc., all the way down to the #50 book getting 1 point. I poured everything into a spreadsheet, and voila. You can download a spreadsheet with all of the data here.


  • As has happened for every year but one since I’ve started tracking these Amazon charts, the book that was #1 during the first week of the year ends up being the #1 item for the entire year. In this case it is Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half. (Note that’s just for the paperback edition; the Kindle edition came in at #14 for the year.) And that’s after having placed #9 in 2013. Hyperbole and a Half is a massive mainstream hit.
  • The Walking Dead places four collections in the Top Ten. The two Compendia, placing #2 & #3 in 2014, were #1 & #2 back in 2013. Again, a massive sales success, which is something that can be achieved when the TV show based on the comic is a top drama on television.
  • Without the benefit of any media tie-ins, two Saga collections take up the #4 & #5 spots for the year. Another collection comes in at #12, and Volume 4, not released until near the end of the year, charts at #34. Another mainstream sales success, all the more remarkable for there not being a movie or television show, just comics that people want to read because they’ve heard they’re good comics.
  • In all, 357 different items made the Amazon Top 50 chart for one or more weeks. Of those, six were on the chart for all 52 weeks in 2014: Hyperbole and a Half, The Walking Dead Compendia 1 & 2, Saga vols. 1 & 3, and Batman: The Killing Joke Deluxe Edition. Another five were on the chart for all but one of those weeks.
  • A whopping 227 items only showed up on the chart for just one week, including four items who spent their only week in the #1 position (all four were sale-priced Kindle editions).
  • DC’s presence on the 2014 top 50 is basically Batman titles, plus two Alan Moore works: Watchmen & V for Vendetta. Their top seller, Batman: The Killing Joke, is the perfect storm of a Batman comic written by Alan Moore.
  • Marvel doesn’t place any items in the 2014 Top 50 (note that the Marvel Encyclopedia is put out by DK, not Marvel). Their top book is the Kindle edition of Marvel 1602 (on sale price for several weeks in April & May) at #54, followed closely by the first Ms. Marvel collection at #56. Ms. Marvel didn’t come out until late in the year, and early indications in 2015 are that it will be a strong seller, perhaps finally giving Marvel a strong mainstream success in the book market.
  • The best-selling Manga title for 2014 was Attack on Titan, with two volumes ending the year in the top 50.

Publisher Count for the Top 50:

Image Comics: 16
DC Comics: 10
Andrews McMeel: 4
Touchstone Books: 2
Chronicle Books: 3
Pantheon: 3
Jet City Comics: 2
Kodansha: 2
Scholastic: 2
Ballantine: 1
Bloomsbury: 1
DK: 1
Mariner Books: 1
Square Fish: 1
William Morrow: 1

A few notes on the validity of all this: There’s very little. Amazon doesn’t release actual sales data, so we’re stuck with their relative sales rankings. I’ve written a somewhat lengthy missive on the gathering of the data and its meaning (or lack thereof) over at my regular blog here. But in short, this annual compilation is an abstraction of an abstraction of a surrogate for sales and should be taken with a sizable grain of salt.

Bonus to The Beat! Here are the next 50 items in the 2014 annual accounting:

  1. The Harlem Hellfighters
  2. The Walking Dead Book 1
  3. Attack on Titan 3
  4. Marvel 1602 (Kindle)
  5. NYC Basic Tips and Etiquette
  6. Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal
  7. Civil War
  8. Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Trouble Began
  9. How About Never–Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons
  10. Big Nate: I Smell a Pop Quiz (Kindle)
  11. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  12. Dilbert 2014 Day-to-Day Calendar
  13. Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 1: Legacy (Kindle)
  14. Locke & Key: Alpha and Omega
  15. Saga Deluxe Edition Volume 1
  16. xkcd: volume 0
  17. Guardians of the Galaxy by Abnett & Lanning: The Complete Col. Vol 1
  18. The Hedge Knight: The Graphic Novel (Kindle)
  19. The Walking Dead Book 9
  20. Serenity: Leaves on the Wind
  21. Batman Vol. 5: Zero Year – Dark City (The New 52)
  22. Infinity Gauntlet
  23. Attack on Titan 12
  24. Stephen King’s N. (Kindle)
  25. Godzilla: Awakening
  26. The Walking Dead Vol. 20: All Out War, Part 1 (Kindle)
  27. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1: Cosmic Avengers
  28. The Essential Calvin and Hobbes
  29. The Ultimate Minecraft Comic Book Vol. 1: The Curse of Herobrine
  30. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Kindle)
  31. Forever Evil (The New 52)
  32. Amazing Spider-Man: Spider-Verse
  33. X-Men: Days of Future Past (Kindle)
  34. Snoopy: Cowabunga! (Kindle)
  35. Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Rift Part 1
  36. The Forgotten Man Graphic Edition
  37. The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale
  38. Maxine Boxed Calendar (2015)
  39. Injustice Year Two #3 (Kindle)
  40. Attack on Titan 13
  41. Snowpiercer Vol. 1: The Escape
  42. Attack on Titan 14
  43. The Complete Far Side (paperback)
  44. Attack on Titan 11
  45. My Dog, the Paradox
  46. Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass & Sorcery
  47. The Walking Dead Vol. 2: Miles Behind Us (Kindle)
  48. Injustice Year Two #2 (Kindle)
  49. Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Rift Part 3
  50. Injustice Year Two #4 (Kindle)

(A version of this article previously appeared on Yet Another Comics Blog.)

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14. Comparing Reviews of MOSQUITOLAND at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

A lot of people use the reviews at Amazon to make decisions about books. I don't know how the specific content that is used at Amazon is selected, but it is worth noting that it is selectively used. No surprise there, really, because Amazon is a business, and so are the publishers.

Case in point: David Almond's Mosquitoland 

Amazon includes this from School Library Journal:

Three sentences. They say "Debut author Arnold's book is filled with some incredible moments of insight. The protagonist is a hard-edged narrator with a distinct voice. There is a lot for teens to admire and even savor." 

The full review was much longer, as seen at Barnes and Noble:

In the full review, Angie Manfredi pointed out that the protagonist uses lipstick to paint her face and calls it "war paint" or that the protagonist is "part" Cherokee. She described these as "deeply problematic elements" of "cultural appropriation." 

She's right. 

I haven't read the book yet but will as soon as I get a copy. 

For now, though, I think it important to note the difference in what gets excerpted at Amazon versus what gets used at Barnes and Noble. If you are a person who is mindful of problems related to depictions of Native peoples, Amazon would lead you astray. 

0 Comments on Comparing Reviews of MOSQUITOLAND at Amazon and Barnes & Noble as of 1/21/2015 5:19:00 PM
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15. Some Authors KO’d by Amazon’s New KU Program

HMWardSelf-published—and to an extent, traditional—writers who owe much of their reading audience to Amazon’s publishing platform are upset with the retailer’s new Kindle Unlimited program, notes the New York TimesDavid Streitfeld.

The KU subscription service offers 700,000 self- and traditionally published books for $9.99 per month. While this new model may continue to draw readers, writers are earning less. Successful romance author Holly Ward, writing as H.M. Ward, saw her income drop 75% after two months in the program. She wrote on the site kboards under the topic “KU Crushed My Sales,” “I couldn’t wait and watch things plummet further,” and left the program.

Streitfeld writes, “Amazon, though, may be willing to forgo some income in the short term to create a service that draws readers in and encourages them to buy other items. The books, in that sense, are loss leaders, although the writers take the loss, not Amazon.”

Authors’ responses have included calls to unionize. As the Times points out, “since the payment is the same whether the book is long or short, other writers are taking the hint,” and adapting by writing in shorter forms, with serial novels and short stories, and publishing more frequently.

E-Book consultant and publisher Bob Mayer split his book on failures of technology and leadership into seven different Kindle Unlimited volumes. Ward’s first novel was 500 pages; some of her recent works average 100 pages. Volume 17 in her “The Arrangement” series pubbed in early November; she brought out “Life Before Damaged Vol. 1” at November’s end, following it with “Life Before Damaged Vol. 2” two week later.

“I’ve started working with four co-authors,” Ward told the New York Times. “If you’re not constantly putting out new material, people forget you’re there.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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16. FOLLOW Darcy Pattison on Amazon


PB&J: Picture Books and All That Jazz: A Highlights Foundation Workshop

Join Leslie Helakoski and Darcy Pattison in Honesdale PA for a spring workshop, April 23-26, 2015. It's a great Christmas present to yourself or a writer friend! Full info here.
  • "This conference was great! A perfect mix of learning and practicing our craft."Peggy Campbell-Rush, 2014 attendee, Washington, NJ
  • "Darcy and Leslie were extremely accessible for advice, critique and casual conversation."Perri Hogan, 2014 attendee, Syracuse,NY

Did you know that Amazon.com now has FOLLOW buttons for authors?

Amazon now allows customers to FOLLOW authors.

Amazon now allows customers to FOLLOW authors.

Indie authors have been lobbying for a SUBSCRIBE button on Amazon, which would allow a customer to essentially authorize a purchase of any new book from a particular author. That’s probably going too far for Amazon!

It works well for services like Patreon.com, which allow people to authorize a certain payment, say $1.00, every time a musician uploads a new video. This type of patronage is an interesting new business model that is as old as the arts, but is new in being codified online. Authors are using it to fund podcasts, short stories and other writing. It’s only limited by the author’s imagination and the fan’s ability/desire to help the author achieve certain goals which remaining financially stable.

Amazon’s FOLLOW button won’t go as far as a SUBSCRIBE, but it certainly gives authors incentive to develop their fans and audience on Amazon. Right now, I might boast about 1355 Pinterest followers, 469 Facebook Fan Page followers, 1205 Twitter followers, and a readership on this blog of over 350,000+. But none of those are directly tied to selling your book. 1000 Amazon Author followers, though, would mean that 1000 people are emailed whenever you have a new book come out. Amazon has done a great job of giving authors access to their book listings through AuthorCentral. Allowing fans to Follow an author on Amazon is a new and very interesting twist. So far, I haven’t seen any counts, so I don’t know if the number of your Followers will be shown publicly. Have you see that yet?

Will Amazon’s FOLLOW button replace an author’s mailing list?

It shouldn’t replace your efforts to build your mailing list. The main difference is the question of who owns the list. Using the Amazon FOLLOW button, Amazon will own the list of names and will use it according to their policies–and whims. If you build a mailing list–people who give you permission to contact them–then YOU own the list and can use it according to your policies–and whims.

So, I have to ask! Please FOLLOW Darcy Pattison on Amazon.

And I have to ask: Please sign up for my newsletter, which emails new posts as they are posted. You’ll also receive occasional other messages about new books, events, etc.

Get FICTION NOTES updates by email and receive a free eBook: AFTER THE FIRST DRAFT

Quick tips on revising your story.

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17. Amazon Kindle Sales Up 4x on Black Friday

amazon304Kindle sales were up this Black Friday, as compared to sales of the devices last year, Amazon revealed this week.

According to the Seattle-based giant, sales of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet were up 3x this Black Friday as compared to last year and Kindle eReader sales were up almost 4x that of comparable sales from last year.

“This holiday there are going to be a lot of customers opening up new Amazon devices,” stated Dave Limp, Senior Vice President, Amazon Devices. “We’re energized by the year over year growth of tablet and e-reader Black Friday sales on Amazon.com, plus the success of the new product categories we’ve launched this year.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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18. Amazon Christmas Boycott Gains Steam

Amazon-Free-holding-banner-4An anonymous group of activists are calling on consumers to boycott Amazon this holiday shopping season, and take their money elsewhere.

The campaign is in response to complaints about how Amazon treats their workers. Here is more from the website: “They don’t pay their workers a Living Wage. They dodge their tax. They take money away from our local shops. So this year, let’s take our money away from them.”

Shoppers can sign up to take the “Amazon Free Challenge” and promise not to shop Amazon for this year’s gifts. Shoppers are asked to mark just how much they would normally spend this holiday. So far, the website reports that shoppers have pledged that £3,069,320 (almost $5 million) will not to be spent onAmazon.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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19. Art and commerce - by Cecilia Busby

Like most published writers, I spend much of my time wondering why I'm not paid more than I am. I'm not sure I signed up for this, I think, as I contemplate my meagre royalty cheques. Of course, it's wonderful to have your books out there, but 'out there' is a bit of a vague designation, encompassing as it does a range from the cramming of multiple copies into every branch of Waterstones to the presence of one lonely copy in an independent bookshop in your home town. And if the surveys are to be believed, more of us find ourselves in the latter position than the former.

Among many blogs and comments on making a living from writing, I found one recently from Emma Darwin which gave me pause for thought. The median income from professional writing - that is, for those who spend the majority of their time writing - is down, according to the ALCS, from £15,450 in 2005 to £11,000 a year in 2013.

That's people who spend the majority of their time writing. Even if they spent only half their working hours writing, that's the equivalent of an annual wage of £22,000, and the likelihood is that they spend less than half not writing, so their annual wage is likely to be nearer £15-20,000. Currently, the UK median wage for full-time workers is £27,000. Advances, as Darwin notes, have steadily fallen over the last ten years, and royalties are squeezed by the sheer number of published and self-published books competing in the marketplace, as well as discounters like Amazon, whose sales result in mere pennies per book for the writer.

So what made it easier to make a living from writing ten or twenty years ago? In trying to fathom out the economics of publishing, I have been haunted by a quote from Andrew Wylie - the jackal of literary agents - who once said that if one of his writers got paid royalties, he hadn't done his job properly. The implication was that he aimed to get such a high advance from the publishers that the book couldn't possibly earn out. Ever.

What makes that an attractive proposition for publishers? It can surely only be the prestige of publishing a well-known and highly respected literary writer. Well, I imagine the commissioning editor saying as he joins his fellow publishing mates for a drink, we've got the latest Martin Amis. And they all turn green with envy while rapidly increasing their offer to Ian McEwan.

Is that how it works? Or worked?

It implies a goal, for publishers, that is not necessarily that of making a profit. Rather it's something to do with having a part in producing the most respected art. (I leave aside whether you think Amis or McEwan represent the highest pinnacles of writing - but undeniably there are literary critics who would claim this to be so...) Certainly, however inflated the big-names' advances got, there was a willingness to support the middle tier of good but less commercially successful writers that argues a focus on quality writing rather than solely on profit.

At some point in the recent past, Amazon (and perhaps Harper-Collins) changed all that. A recent book (One Click: The Rise of Jeff Bezos) on Amazon had some fascinating things to say about Bezos's attitude to the publishing industry. Basically, as the slick young tech-geeks of Amazon started to investigate publishing they realised that the industry was run by editors, who were primarily interested in the writing and didn't pay a great deal of attention to the money. Art trumped commerce.

As a consequence, Amazon started to take them down - and lo and behold, ten or fifteen years later, publishers have had to respond. Now, generally, commerce is starting to trump art - something Ursula le Guin has criticised fiercely in this wonderful recent speech at the National Book Awards.

As le Guin points out, "the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art", and when profit (sales and marketing) starts to rule what will and will not be published, then literature suffers. But how to counter this? Can what le Guin calls "responsible book publishing" exist any more in an era where market profit appears to have triumphed over every other measure of worth?

I think it still does, in little niches here and there and in the efforts of editors to circumvent sales and marketing and still get great books published. I think there are still stupendous works of art being produced out there.  But undeniably this is at the expense of authors, who are holding fast to their principles but being paid less and less for what they do.

So what can we do, as writers, in a society that does not value the art of writing?

We can give up writing - and some of us will simply have to, because we can't pay the bills. Or we can try and play the game, and aim our writing closer and closer to what le Guin calls "the production of a market commodity". Or we can carry on being artists, knowing that what we do, interrogating received truths, challenging people's beliefs, encouraging the imagination, has immense value for many people. But not for enough people to pay us a living wage.

There is, however, another kind of perspective on what is happening in publishing.

Some would dispute that the sort of distinction between art and commerce that le Guin posits is valid. Notions of art, in this view, are not universal, they are culture-bound and generally elitist. The upper strata supports 'art' that it enjoys and appreciates (opera) while denigrating commercial art (soap opera), yet commercial art exists precisely because it is the favoured art of the majority. Thus it would be fundamentally wrong and undemocratic to claim elite art as somehow of greater worth or value. From this perspective the actions of sales and marketing teams who refuse to cross-subsidise experimental or literary fiction with the profits from mass-market romance are fundamentally democratic. Money is the arbiter of worth. "Currency", as Lord Cutler Beckett says in the second Pirates of the Caribbean film, "is the currency of the realm."

It's an argument with merits. For the French sociologist Bourdieu, the upper echelons prefer 'high' to 'low' art because of the way class acts as a 'learned' practice, rather than because of any universally valid aesthetics. There is certainly something very elitist about the state subsidising opera when 90% of the population would consider it nothing but caterwauling in costumes. Equally, should the government fund grants for small touring theatre companies whose audiences are in their hundreds?

The debate is not dissimilar to the one we recently had on ABBA about children's reading. Is it right to censure children for reading commercial pap, to see the mere act of reading as not in itself enough, or is this elitist? Should we instead respect the idea that many children prefer undemanding commercial fiction and that it has as great a worth as more carefully crafted children's books? In the money world of Amazon, popular commercial books clearly have inherently greater worth than that those that sell less well, regardless of any judgements of the quality of the writing.

Well, to continue the Pirates of the Caribbean theme, let me nail my colours to the mast.

I believe some writing has more merit than others. Writing as art aims to interrogate the status quo, to provoke questions, to encourage readers to think about the world they live in. It draws on carefully honed craft and on a deep and wide imagination. I believe the more people that are encouraged to read or have access to this kind of writing, the better for society as a whole. I believe commercial considerations do not always favour writing as art, because it is often challenging, unsettling, difficult and it takes time to get right - but it changes readers, and inspires them, and once they 'get' it they will seek out more of that kind of art in all areas. They will be more questioning in their daily lives, more open, more imaginative, and they are more likely to challenge received wisdoms. This is a good thing.

Let me just make it clear though - when I say writing as art, I am not upholding the 'high'/'low' art distinction, which would see le Guin's science fiction/fantasy novels as a poor second to literary fiction. I am not condemning you all to reading Kafka or Joyce! (Excellent as both authors are). What I would consider 'art' in writing is intelligent, thoughtful, honed writing, aiming to be the best it can be, whether that's the best sort of comic book story or the best fantasy or the best romance. Writing that aims to make its readers engage completely in the world it presents and hence inevitably reflect on the world they live in. Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses is a good example; but also less overtly political books that just give free reign to the imagination - Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines, or Diana Wynne Jones's Hexwood. Luckily, in children's fiction there are some great examples that are both commercially successful and works of art - but it's still the case that the rewards for that great writing are not as high as they were.

So, in the end, maybe we writers have to accept that we are not going to be top earners under the conditions of global financial capitalism. But we can contribute to sowing the seeds of imagination, thoughtfulness, empathy and a questioning intelligence in our readers that will hopefully one day contribute to undermining the dominance of that economic system.

As le Guin points out in her speech,  market-driven capitalism seems triumphant and unassailable. But so did the Divine Right of Kings, once.

Cecilia Busby writes humorous fantasy for children of 7 upwards. Her latest book, Dragon Amber, was published in September by Templar.



"Great fun - made me chortle!" (Diana Wynne Jones on Frogspell)

"A rift-hoping romp with great wit, charm and pace" (Frances Hardinge on Deep Amber)

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20. Amazon’s Bestselling Books of the Year

amazon130The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is the best selling book of the year on Amazon, according to the e-comemrce company.

Amazon has revealed its list of bestselling books for the year, as well as the top selling kids & teens books and the most gifted books. The Heroes of Olympus Book Five: The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan is the bestselling Kids & Teens book. The Long Haul was also the Most Gifted book this year. These lists were complied by looking at the sales of first editions that were published in 2014. We’ve got the list of Amazon’s Top 20 Bestsellers after the jump.

“This year’s best seller lists include a lot of familiar authors and characters–over half of the books on the lists are part of a series,” stated Sara Nelson, Editorial Director of Books and Kindle at Amazon.com.  (more…)

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21. Jeff Bezos Feels That Books Should Be Less Expensive

jeffbezos304Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos sat for an interview Business Insider.

Throughout the conversation, some of the topics that came up included the Fire phone, how his role at Amazon has changed over the years, and his personal vision for bookselling. He revealed that the aim of the Kindle team is to make books as accessible as possible. For him, part of that means reducing the current $30.00 price point that is typically assigned to hardcover books. Bezos explained:

“Books are the competitive set for leisure time. It takes many hours to read a book. It’s a big commitment. If you narrow your field of view and only think about books competing against books, you make really bad decisions. What we really have to do, if we want a healthy culture of long-form reading, is to make books more accessible. It takes many hours to read a book. It’s a big commitment. If you only think about books competing against books, you make really bad decisions. You’re competing against Candy Crush and everything else. If we want a healthy culture of long-form reading, you have to make books more accessible. Thirty dollars for a book is too expensive. Part of that is making them less expensive. Books, in my view, are too expensive.”

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22. Self-Published Kindle Book Removed For Hyphen Misuse

51C7oL0cU0L._SL160_Self-published author Graeme Reynolds had his book High Moor 2: Moonstruck removed from the Kindle store after a reader complained about the book’s use of hyphens.

The book had been out for 18 months now and had about 123 reviews at the time it was removed. Here is more from Reynolds’ blog:

Apparently Amazon had received a complaint from a reader about the fact that some of the words in the book were hyphenated. And when they ran an automated spell check against the manuscript they found that over 100 words in the 90,000 word novel contained that dreaded little line. This, apparently “significantly impacts the readability of your book” and, as a result “We have suppressed the book because of the combined impact to customers.”

The problem has since been resolved and his book is now back in the store.

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23. Free Kids Books to Download by David Chuka

It’s the season of Giving and I have two special gifts for you today.

You can download Kojo the Sea Dragon Gets Lost and Billy and Monster’s Golden Christmas to your kindle or kindle app today, tomorrow and Thursday.Sea Life Books

Just in case you’re wondering what in store for when you download a copy, feast your eyes on the short blurb below

Kojo the Sea Dragon Gets Lost – this is a fun, illustrated picture book about a one-eyed, buck toothed and multi-tailed sea dragon called Kojo who lives in the Zakari River. While playing a game of hide and seek with his friend, Kofi – the sea turtle – he wanders towards the South side, a part of the River his Mum has told him never to venture to. Kojo is sick and tired of losing to Kofi and just this once, wants to win. Discover what happens when a powerful force pulls Kojo towards a dark hole. Young children will learn the importance of following instructions and the love of a community. I wrote this book many years ago while on a train journey. The intention was never to get it published. It was more an exercise in doing something creative on a journey where I had nothing to read. I only discovered it last year and I’m really proud of the reviews from fans, readers and bloggers about the book.

Billy and Monster’s Golden Christmas – this is the fifth and latest book in the Billy and Monster series. In this episode, Billy finds out what really makes Christmas special. Fans of this series will be delighted to know that I reveal the origins of Monster in this episode.Billy and Monster's Golden Christmas I think the springboard to writing this book was trying to address that awkward situation at Christmas time when you get a present you really don’t like or want. What do you do? You know, when I wrote that first book, I never knew I would write another, much less Number 5.

You don’t need a Kindle tablet to enjoy these books. If you have a tablet, PC or smartphone, then all you have to do is download the Kindle app, set up an account and begin enjoying a world of books including David Chuka’s funny, colourful and insightful tales.

Grab your copy at the links below

Kojo the Sea Dragon Gets Lost – US

Kojo the Sea Dragon Gets Lost – UK

Billy and Monster’s Golden Christmas – US

Billy and Monster’s Golden Christmas – UK

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24. Amazon Now Delivers Books in an Hour in Manhattan

unnamedAmazon is testing a new delivery service that is practically real time. So called “Prime Now” promises one-hour delivery on certain Amazon products within Manhattan.

Amazon Prime members can order the items through the new Prime Now mobile app. The service is available from 6 am to midnight every day of the week. One hour delivery costs $7.99 but if you are willing to wait two hours, the service is free for Prime members. Amazon’s new building on 34th Street will be the epicenter for these orders.

“There are times when you can’t make it to the store and other times when you simply don’t want to go. There are so many reasons to skip the trip and now Prime members in Manhattan can get the items they need delivered in an hour or less,” stated Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations.

Expect to see this available in more cities next year.

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25. Macmillan Has Made a Deal With Amazon

macmillanMacmillan has reached a multiyear distribution agreement with Amazon to distribute its print and eBooks, beginning on January 5, 2015.

John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan, revealed the news in a blog post earlier this week. “All our other retailers will also be on the agency model, leaving Apple as the only retailer who is allowed unlimited discounting. Irony prospers in the digital age,” he wrote. “This odd aberration in the market will cause us to occasionally change the digital list price of your books in what may seem to be random fashion. I ask for your forbearance. We will be attempting to create even pricing as best we can.”

Under the new terms, authors will continue to earn the same net percentage of the proceeds they always have from eBooks, based on the sale price of their book.

Macmillan will also begin testing a new eBook subscription in the coming weeks. “Several companies offer ‘pay per read’ plans that offer favorable economic terms,” wrote Sargent. “We plan to try subscription with backlist books, and mostly with titles that are not well represented at bricks and mortar retail stores. Our job has always been to provide you with the broadest possible distribution, and given the current financial and strategic incentives being offered, we believe the time is right to try this test.”

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