Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Oyster is poised to become the pearl of ebooks

As anyone keeping up on recent news in the ebook sphere can tell you, something very interesting has developed recently.  Oyster is a new subscription service for iOS (iPhone or iPad) that allows one to download and read as many books as you want for a flat monthly fee.  Very similar to the movie service Netflix or music service Spotify.  Although with those you need a internet connection to play the media.  Oyster allows you to download the books and read them even if you are not currently connected.  For example you could still read the book you just downloaded on a airplane.  Apparently they have over 200,000 currently published books (in other words not freely available elsewhere) in their library which will only grow from here on.

Amazon's Kindle lending library has something similar but only for those in Amazon's Prime service.  Also they are only allowed one free book per month.   Authors that do allow their book in Lending Library get paid every time their book is borrowed.  The amount varies, but in general about $2.00 USD.  The downside of this is you must be in the KDP Select program and therefore your book is exclusive to Kindle.

Oyster is also paying authors royalties with the same premise, however without requiring any exclusivity.  If anyone reads more than a sample of your book, you get paid.  If this catches on, it could change the entire publishing industry.  From content you purchase up front, to a service you subscribe to.  Now I don't see the whole thing changing over night, and it does have its downsides.  Personally I like owning my books instead of subscribing to a service, but I wouldn't be apposed to using the service to check out new authors.  Similar to going to a library first, then buying later what I like.  Either way this is a great service to readers and authors alike.

And for those already published though Smashwords: They signed a distribution agreement with Oyster.  Books should be shipping to Oyster by the end of September!  For those authors that want to be in on this great new service, they don't have to do a thing, just as long as they are Premium Catalog-approved.  Of course if you don't, then it easy to turn off sending your book to Oyster with the catalog settings.  But I don't see why anyone would want to.

While only for iOS, the app is coming soon to other platforms.  Which is interesting since Oyster said at launch they were only planning for iOS.  Apparently the large outcry for Android (and Windows) changed their minds.

In short keep a eye on Oyster, they are posed to become the pearl of ebooks.

Don DeBon is the author of Italian Fever.  Currently available on Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Kobo.

Friday, September 6, 2013

To Library or not to Library

One of the interesting topics lately floating around is the situation of ebook libraries.  Corry Doctorow (a long time advocate against DRM and what many large publishing companies are doing) had a conversation with the American Library Association about the problem of unfair practices the publishers are forcing on libraries.  You can read about it here

In essence they make libraries pay $60-$80 per book and force them to invest in complicated proprietary collection-management systems (overdrive).  And of course they can only lend one copy at a time.  While this does make sense, in a way, since that is what a normal library does with physical books, the other aspects do not.  Also a library cannot sell the books later on if they wish.  And some publishers would like to have a book self destruct after it has been borrowed 26 times!

This is truly sad and the reason is simple: Publishers view libraries as a loss of sales.  Which is far from the truth as you can get.  They should view it as a wonderful low (to none) cost advertising venue.  Consider this: Most people that barrow from a library either can afford to buy the book, or they read so much they don't have the space to store all the books they read.  Now yes the publisher didn't get a sale from this person, however this person tells several other friends that do buy books on a regular basis and do so based on this persons recomendation.  In this example (which is more common than you might think) the publisher actually makes MORE money than if they had just the one sale.  And over the course of the library books life, there is a potential for quite a bit of income for the publisher.

In the end supporting libraries is a win-win situation as the publishers get more sales, and readers get access to wonderful books they wouldn't have otherwise.  And isn't that what a library is all about?

Don DeBon is the author of Italian Fever.  Currently available on Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Kobo.