Saturday, May 22, 2010

Further Adventures With E-Books

By Pat Browning

In Amy Shojai’s latest blog she talks about Kindle Boards and how to pump up your Kindle sales with “tags” and reviews. She also breaks the news that Barnes and Noble will offer pubit! this summer. “This is their version of the Ebook, with a free self -publishing platform similar to the Kindle model, to publish on the Nook.”

As a thank-you to friends, fans and pet lovers, Amy offers two articles: communicating with your cats, and treating dogs whose outdoor romps invite insect bites and stings. Many thanks to Amy for sharing her adventures with e-books.

Folks, the publishing biz is changing so fast I can’t keep up. Author J.A. Konrath set the planet on its ear by selling his books to Amazon. Now, THERE’S a twist! This clip from about Target selling Kindle books is already old news but I only heard about it a couple of days ago.

Target, a long-time Amazon partner, is going to give the Kindle a distribution hand in a small number of stores with a larger rollout later in the year.

The retailer said Wednesday that it will carry Amazon’s Kindle beginning April 25 in select stores. Specifically, Target will carry the Kindle at its flagship Minneapolis store where the retailer is based. In addition, Target will put the Kindle in 102 south Florida store. After those pilots, Target will bring the Kindle to more stores.

News of the Target distribution leaked out earlier in the month. Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble paired up with Best Buy to distribute the nook. Leading e-reader manufacturers are bolstering distribution as Apple’s iPad hits the market.

The big question is how big the market is for hard-core readers. With additional distribution at Best Buy and Target we’ll find out. Sony already distributes its Reader at retail outlets.

Target and Amazon have a solid history as partners. Amazon has hosted for years, but the parties are amicably breaking up.

Meanwhile, Google is jumping into the digital book biz with an online store. This by-lined article by Andrew Orlowski appeared at

Google has confirmed it will enter the retail digital book business, with the launch of an online store called Google Editions by July. Google Editions will also be available as a B2B service, allowing third-party retailers to sell eBooks on their own websites.

There's no word yet of any deals, and a company spokesman didn't elaborate on the question of pricing.

Currently the major publishers insist on maintaining their current flexibility with pricing via what's called an agency model, which they hope will preserve their high margins. Apple endorses such an approach to market, even though it leaves "retailers" such as itself scrapping over a smaller pool of potential profits. It's also supported by literary agents who have long-running and lucrative franchises.

Amazon looks at it a different way -- it wants to be able to set pricing, and it wants the high margins for itself. Amazon's original slice of the wholesale eBook price was an eye-watering 70 per cent, but after Apple's entry (with a publisher-friendly setup) it's since been forced to cut it back to 30 per cent.

By picking a fight with the book business, Amazon has been taught a lesson in where the power really lies. Publisher Macmillian withdrew rights to its vast catalog in the New Year, and Penguin stopped providing digital eBooks to Amazon a month ago. Apple is happy to work with publishers rather than dictate terms, because it sees it as a two-sided market -- Apple makes its revenue from hardware, and content is merely a something that makes the hardware more attractive. Amazon wants both the profits of a traditional distributor and retailer and hardware profits. Something has to give.

You may by now be scratching your head and wondering where Google will make any money, since it doesn't make any money (even indirectly) from Android, and it's not an advertising play. You're not alone.

So, what does it all mean for authors? I think it means that authors who are fast on their feet are going to clean up.

And here’s Amy’s blog.

May 20, 2010, 4:56 pm

The news about my Kindle journey continues to be positive, with Complete Kitten Care continuing to sell well, now into the double digits in less than a month. I'm told (by them-thar experienced E-authors) that the key to sales is tags-tags-tags, and reviews-reviews-reviews. Well, that's one part of the key, anyway, but the sales puzzle has a combination lock that challenges the most savvy biz people. I'm still learning. In the weeks ahead, I plan to set up a paypal for offering the PDF (full color!) version of the book via my website.

Anyway, the Kindle Boards has been extraordinarily helpful. One of the ongoing threads supports authors with tags, each poster encouraged to tag all the other posted books in order to garner the same courtesy. One of these kind souls also posted a link to a similar Facebook-Amazon-Tag group which offers a similar service.

For those who missed the explanation in a previous blog, the tags describe the content of a given book and are suggested by both the author/publisher and by readers. Then visitors to that Amazon book page have the option to vote and agree the tag accurately describes the book. Those books with large numbers of tags in a given subject theoretically rise in the Amazon rankings so that should a visitor to Amazon search for a book with that content, YOUR book so tagged will be high on the list and get the attention it deserves.

Thus far, my Complete Kitten Care has garnered 30-58 "votes" on the various tags that include cat, kitten, breed and the like. I'm also grateful to Fran Pennock Shaw, Carol Shenold, Dena Harris and others for their glowing reviews. Note: I will happily give you and your books a shout-out should you happen to review my book. *s* Hey, as with cat training, bribes are legal, right? I'll keep you posted on when the other books are kindle-lized.

Breaking news--I just learned that Barnes and Noble will offer pubit! coming this summer. This is their version of the Ebook, with a free self publishing platform similar to the Kindle model, to publish on the Nook. Smashwords is another option which can be downloaded on the Sony reader (and yes, I'm looking into all of these option).

Meanwhile, on the article-writing front, I've been typing my fingers down to the claws. So as promised, here are some free "furry reads" as a thank you to all the folks following this blog. Please share with your other pet-loving friends.

For cat lovers -- do you understand what she's saying? Cat language stymies even the most loving cat owners. Did you know, for instance, that wetting on your bed (ew!!!) actually might be a cat compliment? Understanding talk...can help owners solve behavior problems and enrich the relationship you have with Kitty. Read “Cat Talk: Cat Language Explained” at

On-the-go dogs delight in outdoor adventures, but too often they sniff out pesky bugs that prove aggravating or even dangerous. Recently my happy-go-lucky German shepherd pup Magic morphed into a miserable crybaby, courtesy of “something” that bit or stung. His eyes swelled shut, muzzle inflated, and hives made fur stand off his body in an itchy checkerboard pattern that prompted nonstop scratching.

Fur offers some protection but paws and sparsely furred tummies are at risk especially in areas that host fire ants. Dogs who play with bees, wasps, spiders or scorpions suffer stings on the face, head or even inside the mouth. Bites and stings beneath the fur may be hard to see or treat, but first-aid usually is all that’s needed to relieve any minor swelling, itching or redness.

• Bees leave behind the stinger, which may continue to pump venom into the skin. Use a credit card or similar rigid tool to scrape it free.
• A cold pack or compress applied to the bite helps reduce the swelling. A bag of frozen peas or corn works well, and molds against the pet’s body.
• A baking soda and water paste works great to soothe the sting, but it can be messy when applied to fur so use only on exposed tummies.
• Ammonia works great to cool the pain of fire ant bites. Moisten a cotton ball and dab on the stings. Calamine lotion also soothes ant bites.
• For stings inside the mouth, offer ice cubes or ice water for the pet to lick and drink.
• You can also mix a teaspoonful of baking soda into a pint of water, and squirt the solution into his mouth with a turkey baster or squirt gun, if he’ll allow you to do this.
• As long as your dog continues to breathe with no problem, a veterinary visit may not be necessary even if the face swells quite a bit. Benadryl, an antihistamine, counters swelling and itching. A safe dose is one milligram for every pound your pet weighs or a Benadryl ointment can be used directly on the sting.

Hives usually go away on their own after a day or so, and sooner if treated with an antihistamine. Magic felt better within only twenty minutes of the first dose of Benadryl but it needed to be repeated when it wore off. Benedryl also causes drowsiness as a side effect so the pup slept through the night and recovered by the next morning. Today he gives fire ant mounds a wide berth.

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