Copyright Infringement Rampant on CreateSpace

piracy

I don’t think it’s any secret that Amazon owns CreateSpace. I also don’t believe it’s any secret—especially after the author uproar that occurred in April—that CreateSpace no longer offers “creative services” such as interior book formatting, cover design, editing, or the like. When they ceased offering those services, they severed the one last component that identified them as a “publisher” instead of a “content curator,” which is the role CreateSpace now plays, and is a far cry from meeting the goals of writers who dream of publication.

A perfect example appears in a recent article on the Publishers Weekly website, written by Kenny Brechner and titled “Pirating on CreateSpace,” in which he identifies very specific examples of flagrant copyright infringement by individuals (I wouldn’t call them writers) sharing (I wouldn’t call it publishing) content through the CreateSpace platform.  One objective of a publisher is to protect their authors, and also prevent circumstances like the ones reported by Mr. Brechner. Unfortunately, the exact opposite objective is true for a content curator like CreateSpace.  Since it’s “free” to “publish” content there, CreateSpace and Amazon value neither the content nor the authors who created it. Instead, their goal is to compile as much content as possible for the purposes of offering it—usually by giving it away or encouraging their authors to give it away through thinly-veiled “marketing promotions”—to lure new Amazon members into its Prime, Prime Video Streaming, and KindleUnlimited memberships (all of which require monthly/yearly dues, and none of which reward the content creators for their contribution).  

Since CreateSpace/Amazon uses content and its creators as loss-leaders for subscriptions, they are hardly compelled to prevent copyright infringement or acts of piracy. In fact, as you can see from Brechner’s Publishers Weekly article, it was only after the article appeared on a highly respected industry website that Amazon bothered to do anything about it … and the author himself was unable to get CreateSpace to take any action at all, though not from lack of trying.  And as you’ll see from the comments already piling up below the article, this wasn’t an isolated case, nor is it something that authors are willing to tolerate. Comments include phrases like:

“I’d say, Createspace should be embarrassed – beyond measure.” – GISELA HAUSMANN

“…this article is a wise word of caution to us writers.” – Carol Johnson

“Same thing happened to me. I discovered one of its CreateSpace books had pirated both some text and several of my photos from my website that included those texts and those photos selected from my traditionally published book.” – Mark Mathew Braunstein

In fact, the same thing happened with one of my own books, too: Publishing Gems. I discovered that it had been copied in its entirety through the CreateSpace platform without my knowledge or consent. Not only was CreateSpace selling the pirated version, but so were a vast number of Amazon Marketplace booksellers. When I contacted Amazon about the infringement, they were quick to remove it. When I asked them the name of the individual who was responsible for this act of piracy, they ignored me entirely. Then I started receiving emailed requests from all the Marketplace booksellers, notifying me that they had removed the stolen book from their virtual shelves, and asking me to “approve them” for continued business under the threat of cancellation from Amazon.  Here’s the interesting part – all their emails were nearly identical, as if someone from Amazon’s legal department provided them with the exact verbiage to use to request forgiveness.

Do you know what that tells me? It tells me that copyright infringement happens so frequently through CreateSpace that Amazon’s legal department has come up with an actual procedure to cope with it.

Is that the kind of publ—er, algorithm, you want handling your books?

computer piracy


brent sampson
In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list.

Demystifying the Digital Census : E-Readers are OUT, Mobile is IN

As promised in last week’s “News from the Self-Publishing World,” I’m going to take a closer look at the results of FutureBook‘s Digital Census of 2015 and break down just what the implications are for you and me, indie and self-published authors.  FutureBook, an offshoot of the well-known institution, The Bookseller, is now in its fifth year and rapidly becoming a litmus test for the emergence of digital technologies and their assimilation into common usage across the developed world.  The conference, which self-advertises as “bring[ing] together more than 50 speakers from across the media world for a day of reckoning, realisation and revivification,” may well come to guide these emergences as well as reflect upon them at some point in the future–it has become so important.

futurebook

This year, according to the FutureBook, the five main takeaways from the conference are as follows:

1. Mobile overtakes tablets and dedicated e-readers as the device of choice […]

2. Digital sales are still growing, but they are also slowing […]

3. Self-love levels recede as many indie authors report lower satisfaction levels […]

4. Publishing remains very much divided on matters digital […]

5. … And the majority believe publishers remain unprepared for what is coming [….]

I’m going to take these points one at a time, break them down, and hopefully unpack the important details.  Here’s what the final FutureBook publication says about mobile tablets and e-readers:

futurebook

This little summary is, of course, useful in its own way for delineating the boundaries of the conversation at hand–a conversation in which self-publishing authors have a great vested interest.  The stakes are high for those of us who depend upon ebook sales for our income, and so knowing where to focus our attentions (and, let’s face it, our money) is handy.  (And as we have suspected for a while, we should be focusing on the Kindle Store as a marketplace although perhaps not on the Kindle as a piece of hardware.  For more on that, take a look at my post on Kindles in the e-reader-related series I wrapped up last week.)  But there’s an aspect of the conversation that this summary neglects: why.

Why are e-readers diminishing in appeal?

Is it something to do with a lack of novelty (they’ve been around for a while now), or because the function of reading ebooks can be better performed with other hardware (like the iPad or iPhone), or because of something else entirely?  Reports from industry experts seem to suggest a little of all of the above.  One TechRadar article cites “multifunctionality” and “age” as driving the market these days, with readers under 25 reading far more ebooks than the national average but doing so with the devices they’re always carrying with them anyway–their phones.  This puts “a demographic bomb” under the e-reader, and as the devices’ primary user base ages out of the buying population, so too will the devices themselves.  And this Christian Science Monitor article argues that the whole system has been “top-heavy” from the beginning, with only a handful of companies getting in on the e-reader market in the first place and therefore rendering it fragile and dependent on sales figures that can swing dramatically from one quarter to another.  We can’t ignore those other voices, too–like this one from the Independent–that the act of turning a page on an ebook simply isn’t rich enough to edge out the superior experience of holding a print book in hand.

All this to say, we can’t afford to forget that any entry into the canon of Great Technologies can be supplanted by changes in market demands, ousted by demographic shifts, and displaced by some new shiny gadget.  Remember that whole “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” expression?  Well, it probably originated in the early 1700s, and we still eat eggs and put them in baskets today.  By which I mean to say: some things remain the same, and some things change.  It seems that what needs to stay the same is our dedication to adaptability in the rapidly changing world of self-publishing.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

The Current State of E-Readers | An Author’s Guide (Part V––iPads )

I started off this series by examining the Kindle, and then the NOOK, and then the Samsung Galaxy Tab.  This week, I’m going to take a (quick) look at the whole suite of Apple products that have by and large eroded any hold the dedicated e-reader held over the general reading public.  I’m talking about the computers you carry around in your pockets and backpacks, the mobile forward operating bases and command centers of your life, the little devices that have had a big impact on how we interpret our lives and arrange our days: the iPhone and the iPad.  Apple manufactures laptops, too, though making room for more traditional computers in this conversation might lengthen it to a mere century or two in length.  You might say that I could “talk for hours” about the changing role of the home or personal computer in everyday life.  I’m just going to allude to the fact that you can use an Apple Air or its predecessors to read e-books, using the same apps you might use on your mobile device.

It’s possible. It’s just that a laptop tends to not be the preferred device for most consumers who own more than one kind of Apple device.  And there are a lot of people who own multiple Apple devices.  In 2012, USA Today reported that roughly half of American households had at least one Apple product.  And the numbers didn’t end there; the article also stated that: “Americans don’t stop with just one device. Homes that own least one Apple, own an average of three. Overall, the average household has 1.6 Apple devices, with almost one-quarter planning to buy at least one more in the next year.”  And that was in 2012!  And when it comes to the iPad specifically, there’s even more reason to be hopeful: according to a report from the Stamford Advocate (drawing upon a longer piece for the Business Insider)  that’s so hot off the press it might smudge if you even look at it, Apple Inc just reported its quarterly earnings and the outlook for iPads remains good, despite a slight decline in total global tablet sales.  The Stamford Advocate’s Jay Yarow records Apple’s CEO Tim Cook as saying: “70% of people planning to buy a tablet plan to buy an iPad, per [a] ChangeWave survey.”  Seventy percent!  And that’s on top of the 200+ million units sold prior to 2014.  So, in summary … there are a lot of iPads out there, and there will be plenty more, as Apple continues to dominate the tablet market.

steve jobs with ipad

But what does this mean for you as an indie, hybrid, or self-publishing author?  Do people really use iPads the way they would use dedicated e-readers like Kindles and NOOKs?  As illustrated by this article for PC Magazine, the matter of what constitutes a dedicated e-reader and how it’s different from a tablet like the iPad has grown steadily more confusing.  Everyone more or less admits that they like the look and feel of the dedicated devices (which eschew backlighting, making for a more comfortable experience) but they are more likely to purchase a tablet like the iPad because of its versatility.  An iPad can simply do more, the general opinion runs, even though many devices like the new Kindle have a whole suite of apps a la tablet, and many tablets (including the iPad) have Kindle apps to sync a person’s reading experience via the Cloud.

In theory, it would be entirely possible to own a Kindle, an iPhone, an iPad, and a Macbook laptop, and move seamlessly from one device to another, picking up on one where you left off on the other––including if you happen to be listening to an audiobook version on your iPhone and use the WhisperSync function.  WhisperSync means you no longer have to worry about trying to find your place, even if you’re switching back and forth between reading and listening to a given book.  (Have I mentioned that I “nerd out” over technological innovations like this?  Ones that actually make life easier?  I do.  Often.)

So, yes, people really do use their iPads as their primary reading devices, in part because they’re so easily integrated into a larger “reading experience” as designed and made possible by Apple’s entire product line.  And because the iPad runs on an app-based (or “application-based”) operating system, you as an author need to know how best to make your books discoverable to the average iPad user.  Consider this list by ZDNet of top ebook apps as downloadable through the App Store:

  1. iBooks (Apple’s own signature e-reading app)
  2. Amazon’s Kindle app
  3. Barnes & Noble’s NOOK Library app
  4. The Kobo Books app
  5. The Google Play Books for iPad app
  6. The Bluefire Reader for iPad app

… and it’s worth noting, before even discussing the pros and cons of each app, that all of these apps are downloadable for free through the App Store, even if the content for them must be subscribed to, purchased, or loaned (in the case of both Bluefire and the Overdrive Media Console app, which are favorites of many public libraries which offer downloadable ebooks in addition to their physical lending collections).  Books with half a century under their belts are (for the most part) available under Public Domain, and many of these classics are available for free in a variety of formats.

Now, don’t get me wrong, but even while all of this is great news for readers, it doesn’t necessarily make for light work for you, the indie author.  Why?  Because, with so many reading app options easily available on the iPad, the chances of readers discovering your work diminishes with every app your book is not available through.  Not to mention, you probably want to make a profit, so a library’s free ebook loaning system doesn’t benefit your bottom line at all––unless readers run out of time and end up purchasing a copy in order to finish (which does, on occasion, happen).  In summary, it’s a good idea to cover all of your bases and not just the “big three” of ebook sales (Amazon, Apple, and B&N).  Google Play has been on the uptick ever since its creation as the primary sales conduit to devices running Android operating systems, but now it’s emerging as a contender for iPad owners as well, after the development of an attractive and intuitive app for iPads.  The Kobo Books app and the Adobe Reader app should also be kept in mind––many readers enjoy the streamlined experience of opening .PDF files with the Adobe Reader app, so you should not rule out offering a .PDF download of your book through some online retailer or your own personal website.  Basically, the more places a reader is likely to see your book, coupled with more ways and editions and formats in which it can be downloaded, the more likely that reader is to spend hard-earned currency on purchasing your book.  Balancing expense (of time, energy, and money) against discoverability is, perhaps, one of the trickiest of self-marketing arts that you must master––but you’re not alone.  We’re here to help, and to be a sounding board for your own strategic plan!

Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

The Current State of E-Readers | An Author’s Guide (Part III )

Did you know that Barnes & Noble sells an e-reader?  If you haven’t stopped by one of their brick and mortar stores in the last few years, you might never have known.  This is because the tablet in question never quite got the sales momentum that its primary rivals, the Kindle and the iPad, had automatically built in.  (More on that in a moment.)  And the NOOK, as Barnes & Noble has dubbed their creation, already seems to be on the way out.  I stopped by a Barnes & Noble while driving through central Montana, and … gone are the enormous beautiful displays, the wide sweeps of banners and posters emblazened with larger-than-life-size images of the tablet, its logo, and cheery recommendations on what ebook to read next.  It looks as though we’re back to basics when it comes to our favorite (by default, since it’s our only) big brick and mortar bookstore!

But what about the NOOK?  Should you as an author care about the rise and fall of this non-gargantuan piece of technology?  The short answer is yes.  The reasons why can never quite be summarized as a “short answer,” but I’ll do my best to stick to the important bits.

William Lynch, Chief Executive Officer of Barnes & Noble, holds up the new Nook Tablet at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in New York

The first NOOK was launched in October 2009, almost exactly six years ago.  By 2011, the NOOK had captured approximately 13.4% of the total global market share for e-reading devices.  But as 

The NOOK store still does brisk business.  This is in part because readers still love a good physical book in hand, and B&N is now the only large remaining bookseller, and therefore it has both a solid built-in captive audience for its internal promotions.  It may also be attributable in part to the parent company’s deft hand at package deals and perqs.  (If you bring your NOOK into a B&N store, you have free access to their entire ebook collection while there!  Who knew?  Not me, until I started researching for this blog post!)  Here are the numbers according to number-crunching website Statista.com:

NOOK sales according to Statista

As you can see, NOOK sales are certainly, shall we say, “plunging.”  But Statista still reports approximately $263.8 million dollars in sales for 2015 to date, and that’s not an insignificant percentage of the total ebook market.  The real concern, for you as an indie or self-published author, is whether any of those sales translate into profits for authors outside of the traditional Big Five publishing houses.  And that data simply isn’t available, though anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that the NOOK store is not the most profitable place to publish your ebook.  Which is not to say that it’s not a worthwhile place … however, it’s far more likely you’ll connect with a greater number of new readers through the Amazon Kindle store or through Apple’s iTunes/iBooks interface.  This is because most search engines and indexing algorithms will promote results in these two digital stores over that of Barnes & Noble, for whatever reason (and there may be several reasons, some shady and some legitimate, and some mere rumors).  And although Kindle sales have fallen and tablet sales seem to have plateaued across the entire global market, Amazon and Apple have both proven innovative and flexible enough to roll with the punches, and their devices have held up better to changing market demands.

Half of your job as a self-published author is to tackle matters of self-promotion and marketing with the business acumen of an entire PR department and the ruthlessness of a CEO.  Is a strategy proving ineffective?  On the chopping block it goes.  Is one particular edition of your book not selling?  Out the window, sayonara.  Is a social media platform or blogging interface sucking up more of your time than seems worthwhile when balanced against outreach to new readers?  It may be time to refocus.  This is why it’s so vital that you know what’s going on with the NOOK before you decide whether or not you want to pay a hybrid publishing company to publish or spend hours of your own time agonizing over the creation of an ebook edition to sell on the NOOK Store.  If your book is already moderately successful, you may find that it helps round out your total bundle of offerings.  But if you’re just starting out and you don’t have much of a budget, you may want to stick with options that are guaranteed failsafes.

Don’t despair for the NOOK.  Just don’t be sucked into thinking that, just because Barnes & Noble has been around a long time (and now enjoys a certain kind of monopoly over the physical bookstore market), readers will pay back your investment in the NOOK store with any kind of enthusiasm.  As the ebook and ereader markets mature, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: more iterations of the same device will not equate to more ebooks sold and read.  In fact, readers are turning back in droves to the physical book … and that’s not such a bad thing, in the long run.

Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

The Current State of E-Readers | An Author’s Guide (Part II)

Last week, I launched us into a new series about e-readers, and the pros and cons of using each different e-device (don’t worry, this won’t be quite the epic saga that the Beginner’s Guide to Social Media primer turned out to be!).  This week, I’ll be taking a closer look at perhaps one of the most talked-about e-readers of all time, the Kindle.  No doubt you’ve heard a lot about Amazon’s entry into the e-book sphere before, and elsewhere, in part because it was launched by a massive company still on the upswing in popularity, with the built-in infrastructure to ensure a strong debut––and in part because it remains a solid performer, especially in its newer incarnation, the Kindle Fire.

jeff bezos with the kindle
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos with the new Kindle Fire HD

Just how many people own a Kindle?  A 2014 Forbes article reported that “roughly 43.7 million Kindle devices had been cumulatively sold till the end of 2013,” but, well, Amazon isn’t really talking, except when it’s super proud of itself, so the data Forbes was using may or may not be representative.  Even though in 2014 the Pew Research Center was marking an uptick in e-reader (specifically, Kindle) and everyone seemed, for the most part, highly optimistic about e-readers and therefore e-book distribution, some more recent data seems to indicate a plateauing of that trend … if not a slight reversal.  According to an article by Business Insider contributor James Cook, “for the first time ever the number of tablets shipped has decreased”––and Amazon’s Kindle line has been the hardest hit, with a decrease of some 69.9% in respect to shipments.  That’s a lot.  And the numbers are still so new that few tablet users are speculating yet as to why the Kindle has taken the brunt of the market change.  Is it because users have grown bored, or because Amazon hasn’t reinvented the wheel since the Kindle Fire was released two years (or two lifetimes, in today’s rapid-fire technology-hungry universe)?  But wait––what about the Kindle Paperwhite (the “Kindle 3”)?  Why does nobody seem to be getting on the Paperwhite train?  Is it because people are actively migrating away from Amazon, or from tablet computers, or from e-books?  The numbers seem to be holding mostly steady for e-books downloaded and read, so what’s the deal?

I’ll let you know as soon as I know.

Still, in the meantime, here’s what you need to know about the Kindle (Fire and Paperwhite):

They’re beautiful devices, designed and manufactured specifically to make thumbing through your digital library as tactile and responsive a practice as running a hand across a physical bookshelf––or at least, these e-readers are about as close as you can get without engaging your sense of smell.  (They do, however, make use of your fingertips and your ears as well as your eyes.  There’s some benefit to a multimodal interface, in terms of absorption of information, or so I’ve been told.)

And don’t forget that while sales may have dropped this last year (and significantly), the Kindle and Kindle Fire have out-sold almost every other dedicated e-reading device out there.  There are millions––dozens of millions––of Kindles out there already in use.  So yes, it still remains completely and absolutely worthwhile to sell your book as an e-book edition through the Kindle Store.  The total number of units sold alone should indicate this, but as the aforementioned Pew Research Center report also says, 3 in 10 American adults read an e-book last year, most of them on a tablet or dedicated e-reading device.  That’s a lot of e-books, my friends.  And Jim Tierney over at Loyalty360 reports that Amazon Prime Membership jumped by 53% in 2014––to around 40,000,000 (that’s 40 million) total adults.  And what with the advent of the Kindle Lending Library––a controversial offering, to be sure––Prime subscribers can opt to read certain select e-books for free.  That’s a lot of potential future readers.

Not much has changed when it’s come to the disadvantages of owning a Kindle, except for the fact that Amazon has taken away any grounds for complaint about the graphics, display quality, and user interface.  Their customer support system is pretty nifty, too, and users seem to like it.  No, you still can’t take the Kindle into the bathtub with you, and you probably don’t want to hurl it off the edge of a parking garage unless you actually want to watch it break, but these tablets do qualify as robust, insofar as tablets are allowed to.  Lending books to friends is possible, but still not quite intuitive.  Universities are starting to get on board with letting students use e-book editions for courses, but this still remains an underutilized possibility.  And no, it’s not an actual book you can hold in your hand and sniff for that “old-book” smell.  (But that’s what perfume is for, right?!)

I’m not about to try and sell you on buying a Kindle––or any e-reader, for that matter––but I do think it’s worth oohing and aaahing a little over the modern creature comforts technology has provided us.  An interlinked dictionary that I can access while reading?  Handy.  Highlighting and bookmarking?  Essential.  And much more difficult to “lose” when we’re speaking of a digital item.  And it’s nice, too, to have the option of reading multiple file formats on the same dedicated e-device without having to switch between apps.  PDFs?  No problem.  TXT?  DOC?  The Kindle’s got you covered.  And for now, people aren’t quite tossing them in a blender just to watch sparks fly, so I wouldn’t quite put up the crime scene tape just yet––if Amazon has proven anything, it’s proven just how much it loves to be on top!

Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

The Current State of E-Readers | An Author’s Guide (Part I)

We’ve crossed the Rubicon, dear readers.  There’s no going back, when it comes to the print vs. digital divide, at least if we’re speaking on the commercial level.  There are quite substantial numbers of readers who are introduced to books via their smartphones and computer screens and then move into the musty world of mahogany bookshelves and neighborhood used-book stores … but these numbers represent not so much a desertion of one form for another, but rather the natural progression of addicts who will simply, and always, want more–more good words strung together, more stories in their hands, more eyes to peer through and lives to live in the way that only literature makes possible.

I’m here to speak about e-books and e-readers this week and in the weeks to come.  We’ve just finished a tour-de-force marathon of social media platforms spanning several months, so it’s time for a bit of a change of pace … but without sacrificing our desire to examine trends and patterns and possibilities with the fine eye of a book connoisseur.

ereaders

The data is in, and readers have spoken.  As this infographic (courtesy of Publishing Technology and Nielson BookScan) shows, e-book sales dropped slightly from an all-time high in early 2014, but they’re not going anywhere fast.  (I should also note that the initial speculations for this year seem to indicate continued stability.)  The digital market has matured, and readers are simply spreading their pocket change around, and being more selective as they do so.  Essentially, it’s not just “still” useful to publish your books in digital form, but it’s actually more useful than ever–readers now know how to find what they like, as the information infrastructure–including indexing search engines like Google and Bing, and social media platforms with a literary bent like Goodreads–has matured alongside the market itself.

ebooks vs print

But how does an author, especially an indie, hybrid, or self-published author, go about figuring out how to navigate both the debate and the process?  Well, first, you have to know a little bit about e-books and e-readers themselves.

And so we dive off into the deep end of a new series.  This time I’m going to walk you through the process by examining each big player in the e-reading market (past and present and future, at least so far as I can see it), from Kindles to Nooks to iPads to chips implanted into your brain.  Okay, okay, I’m kidding about that last one … for now.  In all seriousness, I hope that this series will be of use to you as you take next steps into the oft-hazy world of digital publication!

Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

The Bestselling Self-Published Kindle Books of 2012

Amazon recently announced its Top 100 Kindle Books for 2012. I was very excited to see that 15 of those books have self-publishing origins! One of the most notable titles is the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, which was originally published by an Australia-based e-book and print-on-demand establishment. Many of the other self-published titles were also in the romance genre. However, several of the titles were from other genres. Here is the complete list:

2012’s Bestselling Kindle Books (Self-Published Origins)

1. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

2. Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James

3. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James

4. Bared to You by Sylvia Day

5. Reflected in You by Sylvia Day

6. On Dublin Street by Samantha Young

7. Snake Skin by CJ Lyons

8. Wool by Hugh Howey

9. The Sweetest Thing by Barbara Freethy

10. The Lion, the Lamb, the Hunted by Andrew Kaufman

11. Wife by Wednesday by Catherine Bybee

12. The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden

13. Blood Stained by CJ Lyons

14. Secret Lives by Diane Chamberlain

15. Down to You by M. Leighton

This list is great news for self-publishing authors! It proves that you don’t have to go the traditional publishing route to be successful, and it provides significant insight into the types of books that have been successful. If you are considering self-publishing, you may want to check out some of these books to see what makes them hits among readers. However, never feel obligated to follow trends. Just because 2012 was a huge year for the romance genre, does not mean you must write romance novels, and it doesn’t guarantee that the genre will remain popular.

I’d love to know, what is your favorite self-published e-book?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.