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1. Southwest Airlines Brings Free E-Books to In-Flight Entertainment Offering

southwestWe’ve often wondered when books would be offered as in-flight entertainment here at GalleyCat. For years, Virgin America had books listed on its entertainment module only to be greeted with a “coming soon” note, before it was removed altogether.

But the promise has finally come true thanks to a new partnership between Southwest Airlines, e-book company Kobo and Bauer Communications. Together the companies are making free e-books available to passengers on Southwest planes while the planes are in flight.

Hundreds of digital titles will be available to fliers from Kobo’s digital reading platform via the airline’s inflight entertainment portal. The offering includes full books and extended previews bestsellers and new releases from publishers including: Penguin Random House, HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Simon & Schuster, Inc., Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers, and Open Road Media, among others.

Travelers can use their own WiFi-enabled devices to connect to the entertainment portal and access the titles. After the flight, readers will get a follow up email with information on how to purchase the e-book if they want.

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2. Poetry in motion: Celebrating moving, grooving and jumping outside (ages 3-11)

I love sharing poems with kids that create a sense of motion and play through the way they twist words, create movement and bounce to their own rhythm. Newbery winning author Kwame Alexander called basketball "poetry in motion", and today I'd like to flip that metaphor around to celebrate two collections that celebrate sports with poetry in motion.

Good Sports
by Jack Prelutsky
illustrated by Chris Raschka
Knopf / Random House, 2007
Your local library
Amazon
Google Preview
ages 6-11
Prelutsky celebrates sports from baseball to soccer to gymnastics, gleefully swinging and catapulting through motion and emotions that will resonate with kids. They'll love his playful rhymes, and they will connect with the way these short untitled poems can get to the heart of how they feel.
"I'm at the foul line, and I bet
The ball will go right through the net.
I'm certain I will sink this shot,
For I've been practicing a lot.

I concentrate, then let it go...
I know it's good--I know, I know.
It makes an arc, I make a wish,
Then hear the soft, sweet sound of SWISH!"
Share these short poems with kids and ask what they notice -- do they like the rhythm and rhyming of the first two lines, or maybe the use of the "s" sounds (alliteration) in the last line, emphasizing the sound of SWISH of the basketball. Rashka's illustrations are loose and impressionistic, especially appealing to 3rd through 5th graders because they don't feel too young. I love how he incorporates diverse kids throughout--the player making the shot above has long wavy red hair, maybe a girl or maybe a boy.

For poems that celebrate all sorts of outdoor playing, definitely look for A Stick Is an Excellent Thing, with Marilyn Singer's playful poetry and LeUyen Pham's joyful illustrations.
A Stick is an Excellent Thing
Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play
by Marilyn Singer
illustrations by LeUyen Pham
Clarion / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012
Your local library
Amazon
ages 3-8
Kids will love the way these short poems celebrate all types of playing outside, whether it's balancing on the curb, running through a sprinkler, making stone soup with friends. Use these poems to make kids smile and also use them to show how poetry can create a freeze frame, its own small moment. Here's one that my students will definitely relate to:
Edges

I like to walk the edges--
   the curbs, the rims, the little ledges.
I am careful not to tilt,
  to stumble, lump or wilt.

I pay attention to my feet
  so that every step is neat.
I am dancing in the air
  but I never leave the street.
Pham's illustrations are full of bouncing, running, smiling kids, in both city and suburban scenes. Kids are playing in large and small groups--I love how she shows how much kids like to play together. Her kids are modern and multicultural, and full of smiles on every page. My older students will relate to Singer's poems, but the illustrations make this collection best suited for younger kids.

Both review copies were borrowed as ebooks from the San Francisco Public Library while I was on vacation. Hooray! I especially appreciate the way SFPL has ebook tutorials for first time users. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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3. Draw!

Draw!

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4. Trends in Digital Publishing — Ebooks are Changing Publishing

Once, books were painstakingly copied by hand, then, in […]

The post Trends in Digital Publishing — Ebooks are Changing Publishing appeared first on aksomitis.com.

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5. Reading on-screen versus on paper

If you received a book over the holidays, was it digital or printed on paper? E-books (and devices on which to read them) are multiplying like rabbits, as are the numbers of eReading devotees. It’s easy to assume, particularly in the United States, with the highest level of e-book sales worldwide, that the only way this trend can go is up.

Yes, there was triple-digit e-book growth in 2009, 2010, and 2011, though by 2014 those figures had settled down into the single digits. What’s more, when you query people about their reading habits, you find that wholesale replacement of paper with pixels will be no slam-dunk.

Over the past few years, my colleagues and I have been surveying university students in a variety of countries about their experiences when reading in both formats. Coupling these findings with other published data, a nuanced picture begins to emerge of what we like and dislike about hard copy versus digital media. Here are five facts, fictions, and places where the jury is still out when it comes to reading on-screen or on paper.

Cost is a major factor in choosing between print or the digital version of a book.

True.

College students are highly cost-conscious when acquiring books. Because e-versions are generally less expensive than print counterparts, students are increasingly interested in digital options of class texts if making a purchase. (To save even more, many students are renting rather than buying.)

Yet when you remove price from the equation, the choice is generally print. My survey question was: If the price were identical, would you prefer to read in print or digitally? Over 75% of students in my samples from the United States, Japan, Germany, and Slovakia preferred print, both for school work and when reading for pleasure. (In Germany, the numbers were a whopping 94% for school reading and 90% for leisure.)

The “container” for written words is irrelevant.

False.

There’s a lot of talk these days about “content” versus “container” when it comes to reading. Many say that what matters in the end is the words, not the medium through which they are presented. The argument goes back at least to the mid-eighteenth century, when Philip Dormer, the Earl of Chesterfield, advised his son:

Due attention to the inside of books, and due contempt for the outside is the proper relation between a man of sense and his books.

When I began researching the reading habits of young adults, I assumed these mobile-phone-toting, Facebooking, tweeting millennials would be largely indifferent to the look and feel of traditional books.

I was wrong. In response to the question of what students liked most about reading in hard copy, there was an outpouring of comments about the physical characteristics of printed books. Many spoke about the aesthetics of turning real pages. One said he enjoyed the feel of tooled Moroccan leather. They enthused about the smell of books. In fact, 10% of all Slovakian responses involved scent.

E-books are better for the environment than print.

Unclear.

Debate continues over whether going digital is the clear environmental choice. Yes, you can eliminate the resources involved in paper manufacturing and book transport. But producing – and recycling – digital devices, along with running massive servers, come with their own steep costs. The minerals needs for our electronic reading devices include rare metals such as columbite-tantalite, generally mined in African conflict-filled areas, where profits often support warlords. Recycling to extract those precious metals is mostly done in poor countries, where workers (often children) are exposed to enormous health risks from toxins. The serried ranks of servers that bring us data use incredible amounts of electricity, generate vast quantities of heat, and need both backup generators and cooling fans.

Today’s young adults are passionate about saving the environment. They commonly assume that relying less on paper and more on digits makes them better custodians of the earth. When asked what they liked most about reading on-screen – or least about reading in hard copy – I heard an earful about saving (rather than wasting) paper. Despite their conservationist hearts, internal conflict sometimes peeped through regarding what they assumed was best for the environment and the way they preferred to read. As one student wrote,

I can’t bring myself to print out online material simply for environmental considerations. However, I highly, highly prefer things in hard copy.

Users are satisfied with the quality of digital screens.

False.

Manufacturers of e-readers, tablets, and mobile phones continue to improve the quality of their screens. Compared with devices available even a few years ago, readability has improved markedly. However, for university students who often spend long hours reading, digital screens (at least the ones they have access to) remain a problem. When asked what they liked least about reading on-screen, there was an outpouring of complaints in my surveys about eyestrain and headaches. Depending upon the country, between one-third and almost two-thirds of the objections to reading on-screen involved vision issues.

It’s harder to concentrate when reading on a screen than when reading on paper.

True – by a landslide.

My question was: On what reading platform (hard copy, computer, tablet, e-reader, or mobile phone) did young adults find it easiest to concentrate? “Hard copy” was the choice of 92% (or more) of the students in the four countries I surveyed. Not surprisingly, across the board, respondents were two-to-three times as likely to be multitasking while reading on a digital screen as when reading printed text. It goes without saying that multitasking is hardly a recipe for concentrating.

How does concentration relate to reading? There are different ways in which we can read: scanning a text for a specific piece of information, skimming the pages to get the gist of what is said, or careful reading. The first two approaches don’t necessarily require strong concentration, and computer-based technologies are tailor-made for both. We search for specific keywords, often using the ‘Find’ function to cut to the chase. We jump from one webpage to the next, barely reading more than a few sentences. When we wander off from these tasks to post a status update on Facebook or check an airfare on Kayak, it’s not that hard to get back on track.

What computer technology wasn’t designed for is deep reading: thoughtfully working through a text, pausing to reflect on what we’re read, going back to early passages, and perhaps writing notes in the margins about our own take on the material. Here is where print technology wins.

At least for now, university students strongly agree.

Headline image credit: Books. Urval av de böcker som har vunnit Nordiska rådets litteraturpris under de 50 år som priset funnits by Johannes Jansson/norden.org. CC-BY-2.5-dk via Wikimedia Commons.

The post Reading on-screen versus on paper appeared first on OUPblog.

0 Comments on Reading on-screen versus on paper as of 2/4/2015 8:14:00 AM
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6. Comic: Another Advantage Of Print Books

I do most of my reading on my iPad and my Kindle; it's easier for traveling, especially since I always have multiple books on the go and angst too much about which one to take with me.

However, I still strongly prefer print when it comes to picture books.

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7. Odilo Allows Libraries to Sell eBooks

unnamedLibrary eBook distribution services firm Odilo has unveiled OdiloPlace a digital content marketplace.

OdiloPlace launches with more than 60,000 title from publishers including: Diversion Books, Encyclopedia Britannica, HarperCollins Publishers,Macmillan, Open Road Media, Simon & Schuster, among others. Librarians can shop the platform to purchase eBook licenses for their libraries.

Here are more details from the press release: “Titles from HarperCollins Publishers are available for 26 lends, and can be renewed afterwards. Titles from Macmillan are available to libraries for two years or 52 lends (whichever comes first). Titles from Simon & Schuster are available for one year. All other titles are available on a perpetual one-user, one-copy license.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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8. How Many Pages in a Children’s Picture Book? Printing Methods Determine the Answer


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. Full info here.
COMMENTS FROM THE 2014 WORKSHOP:
  • "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


I recently watch Miss Potter, the movie based on the life of children’s book author and illustrator Beatrix Potter. It’s a fascinating look at the life of one of the all-time best selling authors of children’s books. When my children were small, I read The Tale of Peter Rabbit to them so many times that I’ve memorized it.

One line in the movie caught my interest, though. When the publishing company was first discussing her book, Beatrix had definite opinions on how it should be published: black and white illustrations so that the price could be kept low. However, the publisher had another idea on how to keep the price low. If the book’s interior pages could all be printed on a single sheet of paper, it would be economical and the price could be kept at an attractive low price.

That decision–to design the book for an economical printing model–was genius and partly responsible for its huge popularity. That model is so popular that today, children’s picture books that are offset printed are still designed for printing the whole book on one sheet of paper. That means 32-pages.

Standard offset printing places a children’s 32-page picture book on a single sheet. 32 page books are the standard in the industry, not because it’s the best length for a story, but because the printing was economical.

However, because that length became a standard, there’s now, more or less, a standard type story told in children’s picture books.

RedCover250x400-72If you have a title page, half-title page, copyright page and dedication page, that takes up 3-5 pages of “front matter,” leaving 27-29 pages for the story itself. Stories usually start on page 5 (though it could be page 3 or 4). Then illustrations are laid out in double-page spreads. That gives you about 14 double-page spreads (give or take). When I write a children’s picture book, I divide my story into 14 sections. Each section must 1) advance the story, 2) make the reader want to turn the page, and 3) give visual possibilities to the illustrator. For more on writing a children’s book, see How to Write a Children’s Picture Book.

Many conventions have grown up around the 32-page picture book: the page 32 twist, the character opening, the use of double-page spreads, and so on. All that is good. Writers and illustrators took the restricted format and made it into a thing of beauty.

Print on Demand and eBooks: How Many Pages in a Children’s Book?

But the question for today is this: what is the most economical way to produce a children’s illustrated story today? That answer varies because of print-on-demand and eBook technologies.

Print-on-demand (POD) means that your book is stored on a printing company’s computers. When a book is ordered, the book is printed, bound and delivered. This eliminates the need for warehousing, and has the advantage of bundling the fulfillment (mailing the book) with the printing. Instead of buying 1000 copies of a book, publishers/authors/self-publishers can set up a book with a POD company with very little up-front investment. It’s perfect for the self-publisher or small publisher who don’t want to invest a lot in stock.

However, POD’s biggest disadvantage is price. Because you print one book at a time, the until cost is often two or three times that of offset printing. This is usually fine, because selling online eliminates the extra cost of wholesaling to a bookstore.

POD also means that the 32-page picture book is no longer mandatory! For example, Createspace.com requires a minimum of 24-pages, but after that you can add as many or as few pages as you like. 26 pages? That’s fine for a POD printer.

Likewise, digital books can be any length you want. 2 pages? Well, most of us wouldn’t all that a BOOK! But if can make the case for it, it is possible.

The 32-page illustrated picture book made sense for years because the offset printing presses could accommodate huge sheets of paper that would hold 32 pages EXACTLY. The process made sense economically.

The options are open.
Offset printing: Much lower unit cost are possible if you stick to the 32-page standard book.

POD printing: You accept higher per-unit costs because you don’t have to warehouse. The length is up to you.

eBook: You accept that this is only delivered and read digitally. Page length is variable.

I still design my books for 32-pages because I do both print and eBooks and because I’ve learned to write to that length. But also, it leave me open to short-run offset printing for special orders where it makes sense to go for a smaller per unit cost. By sticking with the industry standards, I have even more options.

Picture Books by Darcy Pattison

Here are some of my picture books.

2015 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book.

2015 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book.

The story of the oldest known wild bird in the world.

The story of the oldest known wild bird in the world.

Coming February 17

9781629440323-Case.indd

9781629440118-ColorPF-alt.indd

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9. ‘The Hunt For Nazi Spies’ is Free eBook of the Day

9780226438931The Hunt For Nazi Spies is today’s Free eBook of the Day.

Check it out:

From 1940 to 1942 Vichy France, collaborating with their Nazi occupiers, sent Jews to camps in Germany and executed members of the French Resistance. But the Vichy regime also arrested more than two thousand German spies and executed several dozen of them. This contradictory state of affairs is a previously untold chapter in the history of World War II and the gripping subject of The Hunt for Nazi Spies: Fighting Espionage in Vichy France by Simon Kitson. Embrace complexity in the new year with our free e-book for January, The Hunt for Nazi Spies.

The University of Chicago has the free download for the month of January.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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10. Scribd Secures $22M in Financing

Scribd Logo 2The executives at Scribd have managed to raise $22 million in financing.

One new backer and three previous investors have contributed to this pool of funds: Khosla Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Charles River Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank. In addition, Khosla Ventures partner Keith Rabois has signed on to join the company’s board to serve as a board observer.

Scribd CEO Trip Adler gave this statement in the press release: “We had a fantastic 2014 at Scribd. We launched audiobooks with 30,000 titles from publishers like Blackstone and Scholastic. We also doubled our e-Book titles, adding content from 1,000+ publishers – including Big 5 publishers Harper Collins and Simon & Schuster – along with industry leaders like Harlequin, Houghton Mifflin, Lonely Planet, Perseus and Wiley. This new funding round will enable us to work towards achieving our goal of creating the most comprehensive library of the future for our millions of users around the world.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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11. Smashwords’ Mark Coker Shares 2015 Publishing Predictions

Mark-Coker-HeadshotMarc Coker, CEO of self-publishing site Smashwords, has outlined his predictions for publishing this year.

He expects the self-publishing stigma to continue to go away; indie authors to face more competition from traditional publishers in 2015; and free eBooks to lose their cache. Here is an excerpt from his blog:

Many indies will quit in 2015 – Authorship is tough work.  Discouraged by weak or slumping sales, many indie authors in 2015 will either give up on publishing or will decrease their production rates.  With the rapid rise of anything – whether we’re talking tulips, dot com stocks or real estate – bubbles form when the market becomes too frothy, too optimistic, too euphoric, and too crowded.  All markets are cyclical, so this boom-to-bust pattern, while painful for many, is healthy for the long term, especially for authors who stick it out.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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12. 18 Months of Indie Publishing


MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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.
COMMENTS FROM THE 2014 WORKSHOP:
  • "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


About eighteen months ago, my writing career pivoted: I decided to commit to self-publishing my work. I’ve not talked about it much because I’ve been so busy being an author and publisher, but I’m going to take time to reflect on the experience and look toward the future.

WHY INDIE PUBLISH?

There are many reasons why I decided to go this direction but in the end, it’s a question of creativity. For many years, I’ve felt hobbled by the traditional publishing world because I can and do write a lot. Independent publishing offered me a chance to write and publish many titles in a short time period. It’s also offered me the possibility of creating a steady monthly income.

Setting Up an Indie Publishing Company

When I committed to funneling all of my work though my own publishing company, I had to make business choices.

What type of company? Self-proprietorship, C or S Corporation. Name of company?
Buy a domain, set up a website, open a business bank account, get a local business license, get a sales tax ID, etc. Don’t discount the business side of indie publishing; but don’t fear it, either. There’s lots of help for these business decisions. In the end, I set up MimsHouse.com — go take a look; I’m excited about this opportunity.

Then, to work! The first eighteen months have been about three things: production, distribution and accounting. I’m assuming that writing is always happening in the background, for it is, in fact, the foundation of everything else.

Accounting. I’m using QuickBooks and this is the hardest thing I do. I just keep plugging away at learning good business accounting and long for the day when I can afford an accountant.

Production. The first question to answer is formats. I decided to try every format possible: paperback, hardcover, eBooks. That sounds easy enough. Ha! It’s complicated. After 18 months, here’s my current configuration.

  1. Createspace.com paperback in two versions. One version is with my own ISBN and is for general distribution; a second version is with a Createspace ISBN and I only enable it for distribution to Baker and Taylor.
  2. LightningSource.com (NOT Lightning Spark which is the only section of the company currently open to newcomvers). I currently do paperback and hardcover books here.
  3. eBooks. OK, this is where it gets tricky because each platform wants a version for their proprietary platforms. Currently, you’ll find my ebooks on Kindle, iBook, Nook, Kobo and various educational publisher’s platforms.

File production for the print and ebooks varies depending on the type of book. Also, technology changes every six months or so, which means that each time I come back to produce files, I have to reevaluate previous production methods to see if they are still the best, are compatible with the current ebook and print standards, and are the most cost-effective.

  1. Novels that are mostly text-based or short chapter books with b/w drawings. I create the book in MSWord, making sure to be very strict on the style sheets. Word exports to print quality Adobe pdfs for printing on paper. I use Jutoh to convert these to ebooks.
  2. Color picture books are laid out in Adobe InDesign, which a access via a $20/month subscription; the October, 2014 update to InDesign has made export to ebooks simple. I mean VERY simple. I tried the mid-year release of Kindle Kid’s Book Creator program and found it easy to use; however, there are two main problems with it. First, it only creates the .mobi files for Kindle, and I still had to create epub files for other distributors; second, it creates a bloated file which means you have huge download costs from Kindle. At 70% royalty, they charge the publisher $0.15/MB download fee, which amounts to a “printing cost.” A file created with the Kindle Kid’s Book Creator program is easily 6-8 MB, or $0.90-$1.20 per download. You have two choices: charge a lot for the book or drop to the 35% royalty which doesn’t charge a download delivery fee.

    Examples:
    $2.99 at 70% payment, 8MB file
    $2.99 x 70% = $2.093 – $1.20 delivery fee = $0.893/book
    $2.99 at 35% payment
    $2.99 x 35% = $1.0465/book (NO delivery fees at this rate)

    InDesign, on the other hand, takes the same book and creates files of 3-4MB.
    $2.99 at 70%, 4MB file
    $2.99 x 70% = $2.093 – $0.60 delivery fee = $1.493/book

    My choices, then are to profit $0.89, $1.05, or $1.49 for each eBook priced at $2.99.

    InDesign’s smaller file sizes mean money in my pocket, AND flexibility in what I charge. I could drop prices to $1.99 for a sale and still make a profit of $0.79/book; it’s my choice.

Math. It runs the business and it affects production methods!

Illustrations. Another problem of production has been obtaining illustrations for my color picture books. Fortunately, the first couple books were done in a joint business arrangement with Kitty Harvill. Since then, I’ve had to find funds to pay illustrators. Behance.net has been a great place to find new illustrators. That is Adobe’s social media site for artists, where they post their portfolios. Ewa O’Neill’s debut books will be out in February; and Rich Davis, a local longtime friend and amazing illustrator, struck a deal for b/w line drawings for my short chapter series. So, I drew from friendships and from an artist’s social media site to find quality, exciting art. This has been one of the most creative and fun parts of the process, to work with some great talents to produce amazing books. I’ve learned a lot about being an art director and working with artists—it’s just fun.

GGG-ACXCover250x250


AudioBooks. Amazon’s ACX program is in its infancy, but it offers authors an entre into the audiobook world. By hooking you up with a group of narrators who will audition for your book, you have control of the process and can end up with some exiting audio books. It’s hard to say which is my favorites: I love the actress Paula Bodin’s reading of my novel, The Girl, the Gypsy, and the Gargoyle; she truly brings the story to life. Monica Clark-Robinson brings her acting skills to the production of Saucy and Bubba, which is especially exciting because she’s a local actress and author. Josiah Bildner knows how to crack a joke! His narration of the Aliens Inc, Series, Book 1: Kell, the Alien shows his genius in timing of comedy.

Distribution. The third piece of the puzzle for the last eighteen months has been distribution. This means I’ve had to think hard about where my books might sell. Who is my customer? Where does that customer already buy books? What price points do they want/need/like?

Because I mostly write children’s novels and picture books, eBooks haven’t been as big a factor (though, I think that is changing in interesting ways). My customers are parents, teachers, and school librarians. Teachers and school librarians buy from education distributors, rather than from the trade markets. They can and they do buy from Amazon, B&N and other online places, of course. But the bulk of their budget is spent at places that cater to their needs.

I’ve picked up distribution from Follett School Solutions, Mackin, Permabound, and Child’s Plus. The first three also have emerging eBook platforms which I think will become increasingly important. It means more production work because they want yet another format! It’s just a different type of pdf to export, but it means another step.

Pricing. Also, this sales channel brings some challenges in pricing. 1-to-1 pricing means a school building buys one ebook and has the rights to put it on one device only. 1-to-many pricing means a school building buy one book and has the right to put it on an unlimited number of devices.

Naturally, educators prefer the 1-to-many pricing structure; but this is so new that there’s no best-practices standards on how much extra to charge. You don’t want to leave money on the table; however, you want the pricing to be attractive.

I’m told that some publishers are asking 2x, 5x or even 15x the 1-to-1 price. But no one really knows what price structure will work. For a Newbery Award winning book, you could likely charge 20x—which in effect gives a full class set to a school building—and educators will gladly pay it. In other words, the popularity of a title, the likelihood of its use as a class set, and factors such as this should determine the 1-to-many pricing.

Also interesting is that the school pricing tends to stay at or near the suggested retail pricing, with few discounts. Translation: you’ll make more per book.

The first eighteen months have been busy. I’ve learned to pace the writing with production and marketing efforts. I’ve set up production protocols that allow me to be efficient in putting the books into multiple markets. And I’ve picked up distribution from education publishers, while also making sure I cover the digital and print distribution channels.

2015 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book.

2015 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book.



Marketing. Because I come from the traditionally published world, I also decided early on that I would submit books for awards. That meant Mims House joined the Children’s Book Council, which gave me access to a variety of programs. In November, 2014, I learned that my nonfiction picture book, Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma: The True Story of an Orphaned Cub was named a 2015 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book.

I was ready. I already had the book in distribution to all major channels, including education distributors. Immediately, I sent press releases to those channels—and sales have picked up. I expect that early next year will bring even more sales for this award-winning book.

Someone once said that marketing means you produce demand for your books. You do that first and foremost by writing and publishing a great book. After that, you have to break through the noise and get noticed; and then you need to keep the book in the foremost of your customer’s mind for as long as possible.

Marketing is what I’ll focus on for the next year. I’m trying everything from online ads to awards programs to social media blasts. Ask me at the end of 2015 what I’ve learned about marketing.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED IN THE LAST 18 MONTHS

  1. Indie publishing is refreshingly creative. It’s not about control for me, though, I hear that sentiment often. Instead, it’s about creativity. It’s opened creative channels for me in the production of the books; and it will continue to challenge my creativity in marketing. Both of those have challenged the foundation of selecting stories to write: I now start out with a stronger consideration of audience. I like how the creativity builds as I engage in more aspects of the book production, distribution and marketing. Working with creative artists and audio narrators is inspirational, too.
  2. Patience is crucial. I went into this with a long-term perspective. As an indie publisher, I am a small business owner. In the U.S., most small businesses fail in the first year; most don’t make a profit until their fifth year. From day one, I had books in distribution so I’ve made money. I sold a website domain for a nice profit and that added to my reserves. Financially, the cost to enter this business is extremely low, and it’s been easy to build up the income levels.

    Still, patience is crucial because as an indie publisher I can’t afford the book launch splash; instead, I must rely on a slow growth of a title as word-of-mouth grows. You hear stories of fantastic sales of ebooks—but that’s rarer for children’s books. It’s just a different market, and I constantly remind myself that I am building for a future so I don’t need to be impatient.

  3. Try everything. Test everything. This year, I’ve said YES to everything I could. I’m testing to see where and how I can reach an audience that likes and will buy my work. I’ve done Facebook ads, GoogleAdwords, displayed at various local and regional events, set up a sales channel on my own website, and much more. I don’t have lots of capital, so I’m careful in choosing where to put effort; but my attitude is to try something new if at all possible. Take risks.
  4. Write. Through all of this, the writing remains. It’s the foundation for everything else.

CHALLENGES AND PREDICTIONS FOR 2015: Indie Books for Children

  1. Pay attention to the education market. The education market for ebooks is poised to explode; I hear of more and more schools going 1-1, or one ipad/tablet for each child. I think the education distributors such as Follett, MackinVIA, and Permabound are going to be players, but also look for the sleeping giant, Apple, to come on strong. Since the iOS8 update this fall included iBooks as a native app, I’m moving many more books on Apple than on Kindle. It’s going to be a wild ride as companies jockey for position and as the pricing structures shake out. I’m working hard to put more books on the iBook platform; see my author page on iBooks.
  2. Hard work. Indie publishing will continue to expand, but I think the boom of 2008-2014 has played out. Now, you’ll have to dig in and work harder to get noticed. It’s only limited by your imagination, your work ethic and a bit of luck. And beware of rip-offs who promise to make your book a best seller!
  3. Change is inevitable; be ready to adapt or pivot. 2014 saw a rise in the subscription model of selling books and a host of startups that touted one way or another of promoting, marketing and selling books. Inevitably, most of these will fail; but no one knows which will fail and which will succeed. You’ll have to pay attention to the unfolding events and take advantage of sales opportunities as they arise.
  4. Global media company. One interesting idea is to consider myself a global media company. This year, I did an online video course of 30 Days to a Stronger Novel to accompany a book’s launch. And illustrator Kitty Harvill, who lives in Brazil half the year, is working on a Portuguese translation of Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma. (If it goes through that will be my 9th language! English, Spanish, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Arabic, German and Taiwanese Chinese.) Will the digital world allow for an expansion into other media and a global market? Of course. It’s a question of how to approach it. It’s one area I’ll be paying attention to in 2015, whether or not I actually make direct moves on either front. I’ll be reading anything possible about the expanding German market, and perhaps experiment (Try anything!) with more video or audio.
  5. One key to success: own your own audience. You’ll see less emphasis on social media activity such as growing a Facebook Fan page. As the major social media companies work to expand income, they continually change the rules. In essence, they own your audience, not you. Instead, smart authors will build their own mailing lists of loyal fans who want to hear about new releases. Get the Fiction Notes newsletter and the MimsHouse newsletter here.

In the end, all of us in publishing are asking one question: How can I put more of my books into the hands of the right audience in the most profitable manner? We’re answering that in a myriad of ways. How do you answer that question?

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13. eReaders Are Bad For Sleep

books and ereader_webDo you read eBooks before bed? It could be having a negative effect on your sleep, according to a new study from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers looked at the sleep quality of people who had read on a light-emitting eReaders before bed and compared the results with the quality of sleep achieved by people who read print books. The report revealed that using devices before bedtime delays the circadian clock and suppresses the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin in the body.

Check it out:

Participants reading an LE-eBook took longer to fall asleep and had reduced evening sleepiness, reduced melatonin secretion, later timing of their circadian clock, and reduced next-morning alertness than when reading a printed book. These results demonstrate that evening exposure to an LE-eBook phase-delays the circadian clock, acutely suppresses melatonin, and has important implications for understanding the impact of such technologies on sleep, performance, health, and safety.

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14. Three Predictions for eBook Sales in 2015

Ebook sales–will they remain stable, go up, or as […]

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15. Oyster Adds 1,000 Bloomsbury Books to its Library

BloomsburyOyster now carries more than 1,000 books from Bloomsbury.

Subscribers to this service can access the eBook editions of Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn WardKitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. The full Oyster library contains a selection of more than 500,000 titles.

Here’s more from the Oyster blog: “There’s a lot to choose from, so we’ve selected some more of our favorites to feature in today’s Spotlight. We’re excited to partner with such an incredible publisher to make these titles available to our readers and make our library better than ever.”

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16. Google Play’s Most Read News Sources of 2014

googlelogoGoogle Play has published “The Year in Entertainment,” a list of the most popular content downloaded from its store in 2014.

The top 9 News Sources of the Year were:

1. The New York Times

2. TMZ

3. Forbes Now

4. The Verge

5. The Huffington Post

6. The Daily Beast

7. The Wall Street Journal

8. Gizmodo

9. Android Central

You can read the complete list of the top content downloaded in 2014 at this link.

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17. The Fault in Our Stars Claims No. 1 Spot on the Google Play ‘Books of the Year’ List

Google Play LogoWhat were the most popular books at the Google Play store? According to a post on the Official Android Blog, these bibliophiles “loved reading stories — real and imagined — of love, adventure, and, OK, sometimes lust.” John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars was named number one on the “Books of the Year” list.

Veronica Roth captured two spots; Divergent landed at number three and Insurgent landed at number five. E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey came in second and Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave came in fourth. Below, we’ve collected free samples of all the books for your reading pleasure.
(more…)

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18. New App Features Every One of Dr. Seuss’ 55 Books

screen520x924Oceanhouse Media has been putting out digital versions of Dr. Seuss apps for the past few years.

Now the company has built the ultimate app for fans of the children’s book author: the Dr. Seuss Treasurythe entire classic Dr. Seuss book collection in one app.

The app includes 55 digital books. Each book includes the original text along with interactive features that were developed for the story. There is also a tool that allows parents and teachers to track a young reader’s progress.

The app is available through a subscription or you can buy the entire collection for one payment. It costs $14.99 per quarter or $49.99 per year for a membership or $99.99 to buy the whole thing.

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19. HarperCollins Releases an Enhanced eBook Edition of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

To Kill a MockingbirdHarperCollins has published an enhanced eBook edition of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

The company released the normal To Kill a Mockingbird eBook back in July 2014. The enhancement features on this digital book include a radio interview with Lee, footage from the 1962 film adaptation, audiobook clips performed by Sissy Spacek, and snippets from the Hey Boo documentary with appearances from Oprah Winfrey, Tom Brokaw, and Anna Quindlen.

According to The Associated Press, “HarperCollins spokeswoman Tina Andreadis says the new Mockingbird edition had received 6,500 pre-orders, far more than for the usual ‘enhanced’ book. She says the publisher has sold 80,000 copies of the regular eBook, a figure comparable to print sales. Total worldwide sales exceed 30 million copies since the book’s 1960 release. Both eBook editions are priced at $8.99.”

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20. NOOK Launches The B&N Sync Up! Program

nookNOOK Media LLC has announced the launch of B&N Sync Up! The executives have curated a selection of paperbacks for this new in-store program.

Customers who buy one of these books can purchase the NOOK eBook edition of that same title for $4.99. The price for the digital copy has been reduced by 70%. Some of the books that have been made available through B&N Sync Up! include Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

Here’s more from the press release: “The B&N Sync Up! program was created to offer Barnes & Noble customers the convenience of owning both print and digital formats of a great book at a great value with the benefit of being able to easily gift one or both of the versions to a friend or family for the holidays. Now customers can read and enjoy the same books together with their loved ones. The eBook version can be read on any NOOK device and on a multitude of smartphones and tablets via the free NOOK Reading App (available at www.nookapp.com).”

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21. Me and My Kobo

Have you all been wondering how my Kobo and I have been getting along? It’s okay if you haven’t but I’m about to tell you anyway.

Kobo Touch is so much smaller than the two keyboard Kindles I managed to kill. As a consequence it is also lighter. I didn’t think it would matter that much but my bag feels weirdly light these days and when I leave for work in the morning it kind of freaks me out because I think I am forgetting something. I worried that not having a real keyboard would hinder me in taking any kind of notes, but you know what? I don’t really do much in the way of notetaking to begin with so it hasn’t been an issue. The highlighting, that’s where it is at.

Since it is a touch screen all I have to do is put my finger on the screen and slowly drag it across the passage I want to highlight. When I lift up my finger, Kobo asks me if I want to highlight the passage or write a note. I tap highlight and it highlights. I tap note and I get a text box and a touch keyboard. Easy. Because Kobo Touch is eink the dragging my finger to highlight is a bit slow. I also find highlighting with my finger to be imprecise. This is not Kobo’s fault, this is also the case with any other touch screen I’ve used including my iPad. I find I tend to have extra words at the end of my highlighted passages but that’s ok. I’ve not yet tried to access my highlighted passages so I don’t know how easy that will be, but so far so good.

Turning pages is pretty easy. The screen is divided into thirds. The left and right third of the screen is for turning pages. A finger swipe to the left to turn the page forward. A swipe to the right to turn the page back. I’m still getting the hang of just the right pressure and speed. Sometimes I swipe too fast and nothing happens. Sometimes, I don’t know how, I manage to turn several pages at a time. Turning more than one page at a time happened so often at first that I somehow convinced myself that the right side of the screen was for paging forward and the left side for paging back. It took me a week to figure out this wasn’t the case.

A tap on the middle third of the screen pulls up the main menu. The menu screen is a lot different that Kindle. Kindle just listed my books in my choice of a few different orders. If I wanted anything else, I had to press the menu button and then a popup menu would appear from which I could select search, settings, etc, etc. Kobo has all this stuff on one menu screen in tiny blocks of various sizes that I find hard to read and confusing. But since I don’t spend much time on this screen, it is just an annoyance I have to put up with when switching books.

It might be my imagination, but Kobo has more graduated font sizes and a wider selection of fonts than Kindle did. I like that. Because of the confusing menu it took me a bit to figure out how to change my font and its size, but it is all good now.

An awesomely awesome thing about Kobo is that is uses actual page numbers and has no percentage bar. I didn’t think the percentage bar on Kindle ever really bothered me until I got Kobo and had page numbers again. The page numbers make me so very happy. Sometimes it is the little things that matter most.

Last weekend I dragged Bookman out in the cold and snow to look for a cover for Kobo. Kobo is the same size as a Nook Touch so I figured I could go to Barnes and Noble and find something acceptable. Nope. All they had were covers for HD Nooks and Samsung Galaxy tablets. When we asked about Touch covers they were supremely unhelpful and didn’t appear to really care about whether or not I bought something from them. Fine. So we didn’t even stay to look at books even though we had a 20% off coupon. The irony, of course, is that I ended up buying a lovely, inexpensive cover from Amazon, the very place I was trying to avoid buying from to begin with.

Kobo's coy sweater

Kobo’s coy sweater

The cover has not yet arrived. It is being delivered by dog sled apparently. I had been wrapping Kobo in a tea towel to protect the screen. Want to feel like a big dork? Sit down on the metro train and pull a towel-wrapped ereader from your bag. Bookman took pity on me and Kobo and crocheted Kobo a sweater. I like the Kobo sweater so much I almost cancelled the fabric cover order. But it will be nice for Kobo to be able to change clothes now and then. Perhaps Kobo might end up with all sorts of fashionable outfits, something for any and every occasion!

Kobo and I are still getting to know each other, but so far we are getting along pretty well. One of these days we will try and borrow an ebook from the library and see how that goes. For now, I am reading Jane Austen’s Emma on Kobo and having a lovely time.


Filed under: Books, ebooks Tagged: Kobo

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22. We Like What We Like

When he was little, one of my husband’s favorite Christmas movies was “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.” I laughed out loud the first time he told me the title, sure he was making it up. But no, it’s a real movie starring a young Pia Zadora as a martian child. The acting is terrible, the […]

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23. Simon & Schuster Modifies its Library eBook Program

SimonSchusterlogoSimon & Schuster has made some changes to the rules for its library eBook program.

Henceforth, all the digital books from the publisher’s catalog (this includes both frontlist and backlist titles) will be made available to all libraries throughout the country. Prior to this, a library could only access these titles with participation in the “Buy It Not” merchandising program.

CEO Carolyn Reidy gave this statement in the press release: “Since we first began offering ebooks to libraries, we have been gratified by the enthusiastic response and valuable feedback we have received from our partners in the library community. We very much look forward to serving the broadest possible segment of the library community in order to bring our ebooks to their patrons, while at the same time we hope libraries will consider ‘Buy It Now’ as a new and viable option to generate revenue for the library and provide a service for their patrons.”

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24. Hey indie ebook authors, here’s how to succeed

Smashwords

Smashwords

Attention, indie ebook authors. Mark Coker at Smashwords wants you to know that there’s never been a better time to be you. He writes, “Thanks to an ever-growing global market for your ebooks, your books are a couple clicks away from over one billion potential readers on smart phones, tablets and e-readers. In the world of ebooks, the playing field is tilted to the indie author’s advantage.”

Then, the wake-up call. Coker goes on to report that “the gravy train of exponential sales growth is over,” with indie (self-published) authors seeing “significant” sales decline at Amazon, especially since the July launch of Kindle Unlimited. He had predicted the slowdown and attributes it to the glut of high-quality low-cost ebooks, the increasing rate of ebook supply outpacing demand, and the slowing, much-discussed transition from print to ebooks.

However, all is not lost. He offers tips on how to succeed in this new ebook environment. You’ll want to see his entire piece at Smashwords, as space constraints require editing them down. Here is a short take on Mark Coker’s 20:

1. Take the long view; focus on aggressive platform building.
2. Good isn’t good enough. Are you bringing your best game?
3. Write more, publish more, get better.
4. Diversify your distribution.
5. Network with other indie authors.
6. Publish and promote multi-author box set collaborations; you can build your base.
7. Leverage professional publishing tools, like preorder, to your advantage.
8. Best practices; there are seven, and Mark gives a good summary in his blog. Your fellow indie authors pioneered these practices, so listen up.
9. You’re running a business: be nice, ethical, honest, and humble. It pays.
10. Pinch your pennies; practice expense control.
11. Manage your time.
12. Take risks, experiment, and fail often.
13. Dream big dreams; aim high. Salvador Dali said: “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.”
14. Be delusional.
15. Embrace your doubters.
16. Celebrate your fellow authors’ success. Their success is your success.
17. Remember that past success is no guarantee of your future success.
18. Never quit.
19. Own your future.
20. Know that your writing is important.

I’ll just repeat that last one: Know that your writing is important.

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25. Step-by-step Guide to Assigning Free ISBNs for ebooks through CISS

CISS is the Canadian ISBN Service System that’s f […]

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