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.

The Amazon Experience for Self Publishing Authors

Amazon, the single largest book retailer, couldn’t be friendlier in helping self-publishing authors sell their books. Whether you’ve already published your book or are still in the writing or production process, prepare these Amazon options to maximize your books sales.

Amazon Look Inside the Book: This is the online equivalent to readers picking your book up off the shelf and flipping through the pages. An optional feature, “Look Inside” provides an icon over your book’s cover image and allows readers to browse through portions of your interior content. Amazon claims that books utilizing this option see considerably higher sales over those that do not.

Amazon Key Word Submission: Amazon allows readers to browse by category or key words. Imagine being transported instantly around a bookstore the size of football fields without having to use a map or ask an employee for directions. This is the experience Amazon customers find in typing in a simple keyword or phrase. (Few readers browse by titles or author; this is especially true for first-time authors.) The key is determining  the top ten keywords for your book.

Amazon Kindle: The Kindle is everywhere, and for good reason. It is a revolutionary digital reading device that allows individuals to instantly purchase books anywhere, anytime. One source noted that Kindle owners, on average, buy three times more books than non-Kindle owners. Kindle editions must be submitted through special formatting, which some self-publishing companies offer.

Amazon Reviews: Finally, email, call, and knock on the doors of everyone you know who can contribute a credible review of your self-published book and have them post their feedback on your book’s Amazon listing page. This will help convince readers that your book is worth buying.

I’d love to know, what is your favorite Amazon feature?

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in   sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services   for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department   is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants;   together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the   book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your   career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist   seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you   on the right path.

Three Ways to Find Free and Low-Priced Books to Read on Your Kindle

One of my favorite things about reading books on my Kindle is finding free and low-priced books. As a book lover, my reading habit can get pretty costly, but these three awesome lists save me tons of money and help me find new books to read. To take advantage of all the free and low-priced books available on your Kindle, check out these three great lists on a regular basis as they are updated frequently.

Amazon’s Top 100 Free Kindle Books – This list is great because it is updated all the time, and it is based on what readers are actually downloading.

Amazon’s 100 Kindle Books for $3.99 or Less – While these books aren’t free, you still can’t beat the price! Most paper versions will cost you at least $10 to $15.

Amazon’s Kindle Daily Deal – Each day this list features amazing deals on Kindle books. When I was researching this post, I found a book for 88% off! It was originally $16.99, but for one day only you could get it for $1.99.

As you can tell by the number of available Kindle books, e-book reading devices are becoming extremely popular, and Kindle books aren’t limited to Kindle owners.  Even iPad users can take advantage of the great prices on Amazon by downloading the free Kindle app for iPad.  More and more people are choosing to read books on some kind of e-book reading device, and more and more self-publishing authors are realizing that offering a Kindle version of their books can help increase their overall royalties. If you are self-publishing a book, you must consider offering your book in Kindle format. By offering both hardcopy and electronic editions, you can increase the exposure for your book and reach a larger audience. This will ultimately result in greater sales potential for your book.

I’d love to know, do you plan to offer your book in Kindle format?

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.

The New Kindle Fire: The Next Hottest Thing in Publishing

In just two days (on September 14, 2012), the new Kindle Fire will be released. This handheld device will change the way people read and the way authors publish books. Here are a few of the details.

  • 40% faster performance, twice the memory, longer battery life
  • Perfect portability – thin, light, and durable
  • Over 22 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, books, audiobooks, and
    popular apps and games
  • Ultra-fast web browsing over built-in Wi-Fi
  • Free unlimited cloud storage for all your Amazon content
  • Kindle FreeTime – a personalized tablet experience just for kids. Set
    daily screen limits, and give access to appropriate content for each child. Free
    on every Kindle Fire.
  • Kindle Owners’ Lending Library – Kindle owners can choose from more than 180,000
    books to borrow for free with no due dates, including over 100 current and
    former New York Times best sellers and all seven Harry Potter books.
  • No Set-up Required
  • Read-to-Me — With Text-to-Speech, Kindle Fire can read English-language content out loud to you, when available from the publisher.
  • 1-Click Shopping

Readers are sure to love the convenience and upgraded technology offered by the Kindle Fire. Thanks to Kindle FreeTime, even children will be able to enjoy the hot , new device.

E-readers are already changing the way consumers buy and read books, and they are becoming increasingly popular. It is important that self-published authors offer a Kindle version of their books to meet the needs of readers who prefer using e-readers. By offering both a print and electronic version of your book, you can target a larger market and reach more customers. This will ultimately lead to more sales.

To learn more about the Kindle Fire, click here.

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.