Do you know Dagny Taggart? She's a character in Atlas Shrugged. She's also a best selling author of language learning ebooks on Amazon. According to her bio, she speaks 15 languages, which she picked up in her life of traveling the world. There's just one problem: the author Dagny Taggart doesn't exist. She is the pen name for a group of anonymous authors who were hired by an Argentine "Amazon entrepreneur" and a follower of k(indle) money get rich schemes. [more inside]
You may enjoy the schadenfreudic artwork at Kindle Ebook Disasters (previously), but did you ever wonder if the writing is as inept as the covers would suggest? In the case of Tender Kiss of the Russian Werewolf, the answer is an unsurprising and unqualified “yes.” Sextrap Dungeon, on the other hand, is not good exactly, but according to one reviewer, seems “entirely aware of how stupid it is and actually has fun with the fact.” [more inside]
Peter was surprised to find that vampires actually aren't all that popular, either, as fetishes go. Apparently, they're more of a flash-in-the-pan, while werewolves are a stolid, reliable source of salable smut. "I had assumed that vampires would be popular, but werewolves -- they're the sexy ones. They've been sexy for decades. It's because they're so big and muscley and out of control."For Cracked, Robert Evans interviews Peter Hayward aka Pandora Box about his career writing female orientated Kindle fetish porn. That is, fetish porn produced for the Kindle, not fetish porn about the Kindle
Dancing with Cannibals is an historical novel available as an ebook. From the Mefi Projects description page: "Never before has there been a novel about the genocide in the Congo Free State written in English by an African writer. Dancing with Cannibals would seem to have been influenced by Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (which is also set in the Congo during the Belgian regime) and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, but Dicho Ilunga has not read either of those books. Ilunga’s writing is largely absent a European context. Ilunga describes his literary training as coming from the Zairian writers that he read in school and from two novels by Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho who Ilunga says has an African style." [more inside]
No really, these are real "covers" on Amazon. Each cover for these self published books is fine tuned to attract a specific demographic.
Did Amazon Sink the Queen of Online Erotica? - Phoebe Reilly, Vulture
"Engler is an underappreciated pioneer, a self-proclaimed feminist in furry-cat slippers. To put her crowning achievement demurely, she challenged the book-publishing industry's denial of women's appetite for sexually explicit books. She wrote tawdry, lowbrow novels, and published hundreds of others, that freed romance from its lame euphemisms well before Fifty Shades of Grey, and she did so in a digital format long before the Kindle and the iPad allowed e-books to flourish.
"To put it less demurely: There were readers out there, lots of them, who didn't want to read about thick manroots. They wanted hard cocks. So that's what Ellora's Cave gave them. Easily and often."
Best Selling author Douglas Preston, along with 907 other authors, signed a letter that ran as a double full-page ad in yesterday’s print edition of the New York Times, asking Amazon to stop blocking or delaying the sale of books on their site as a tactic to lower the e-book prices that Amazon is charged by the publisher Hachette.* The three month dispute between Hachette and Amazon previously prompted a response by Amazon’s self-published authors and readers, but it took an odd turn Saturday night when Amazon posted this letter on a site called ReadersUnited.com, after sending it as an email to all of its Kindle Direct Publishing authors. In that letter they include Hachette’s CEO’s email, and have asked their KDP authors to write to Hachette’s CEO telling him what they think about cheaper ebooks. [more inside]
Amazon announced today a service called Kindle Unlimited, giving access to over 600,000 books and audiobooks (on any device) for $.9.99/month. There are other services similar that exist (like Scribd and Oyster), but Amazon may have an advantage with its audio service. Is it worth it? Perhaps if you are in the habit of buying more than the average five books per year. In any case, there's a 30 day free trial "so you can test your binge-reading capabilities before committing to pay for the service."
The Perils of Precocity by Thomas Beller.
Amazon has announced that "MatchBook" will launch in October, allowing you to buy Kindle versions of select physical books you've purchased from Amazon, for $2.99 or less. The service will be retroactive to 1995. Reactions from TechHive, Time, and Engadget.
Amazon introduces Kindle Worlds, allowing fanfic authors to profit from works based on settings and characters not their own. Kindle Worlds is set to roll out this summer. Don't dust off your classic Kirk/Spock opus just yet, though - at this point they're only working with properties owned by Warner Brothers' Alloy Entertainment (Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and Vampire Diaries). [more inside]
Accessibility is what allows me to use things like a phone, computer, or an ATM. May 9th is all about this. -Tommy Edison, the Blind Film Critic. (previously)Global Accessibility Awareness Day is today. It's a day to consider how people with disabilities experience the web, software, mobile devices, games and so on, targeted towards designers, developers, usability professionals and others without much experience with accessibility. There are public events scheduled all over the world, as well as other accessibility-related events. To participate on your own, try one of the suggested activities: turn off your mouse or trackpad and use only your keyboard to navigate websites, try using a free screen reader, such as NVDA for Windows or the built in VoiceOver for Mac and iOS, try watching some streaming videos or movies with captions or add some of your own to a video you've uploaded. Then relax with a sample of described video: Katniss, from the Hunger Games, goes hunting. [more inside]
"..it is refreshing to see Jason Merkoski, a leader of the team that built Amazon's first Kindle, dispense with the usual techo-utopianism and say, “I think we’ve made a proverbial pact with the devil in digitizing our words.” [more inside]
Five years ago today Jeff Bezos’ Amazon.com released the Amazon Kindle, a move that would revolutionize the publishing industry. While often controversial, most recently for its international tax avoidance schemes, Amazon has been very successful and has made millions for its founder. What has Bezos done with some of his tax-free millions? Well for one, he launched and landed a rocket vertically, and posted the video to YouTube, just yesterday. [more inside]
Outlawed by Amazon DRM: A couple of days ago, my friend Linn sent me an e-mail, very frustrated: Amazon just closed her account and wiped her Kindle. Without notice. Without explanation. Leaving her without recourse. [via] [more inside]
Bill Hill, digital typography and e-book pioneer, died Wednesday. A pioneer in using science to explain how our brains let us read, he was at Microsoft in the 1990s, and was one the inventors of ClearType, a technology for improving online reading on Windows. His passionate and entertaining lectures include Homo Sapiens 1.0 (transcript) which advocated that programmers need to learn as much about how their user's brains work rather than just OSes and programming languages, Why you only need one space after a period and the section of that talk on Why underlining hurts your brain. He died Wednesday from a heart attack.
Books on the Knob, Pixel of Ink, and iReader Review are three blogs that feature free & bargain ebooks daily. If you want to start simple there's OpenCulture's 375 Free eBooks list but if you don't mind doing some footwork then there's this very comprehensive 614 Places for Free eBooks Online post (with divisions of content by genre) on Gizmo's Freeware. [more inside]
Following much speculation Amazon has refreshed the hardware for it's Kindle range, including the Kindle Paperwhite (featuring a "flattened out fibreoptic display") and an updated version of the sold out Kindle Fire and a new 8.9 Inch Kindle Fire HD. Earlier Kobo announced their new range, including a Kindle Fire like tablet. Between this, speculation that the Surface RT will have an astonishingly low price and rumors of a 7" iPad coming soon (probably to be announced sometime after Apple's September 12th iPhone 5 event) is the window of opportunity for stock Android tablets closing?
Your e-book is reading you. How publishers are using e-books to gain valuable information about consumers.
"Amazon’s markup of digital delivery to indie authors is ~129,000%" - author Andrew Hyde reviews the take for the most popular digital publishing platforms
What’s a Readlist? A group of web pages—articles, recipes, course materials, anything—bundled into an e-book you can send to your Kindle, iPad, or iPhone.
The U.S. has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five of the largest publishers, alleging a conspiracy to rig the pricing of e-books. Simon & Schuster, Hachette and HarperCollins have agreed to settle, though Macmillan, Penguin and Apple continue to contest the charges. Some background from WIRED: Bigger Than Agency, Bigger Than E-Books: The Case Against Apple and Publishers
One of the most popular stories on the Amazon Kindle marketplace is ...Wesley Crusher Slash Fic?. (i09)
Last week, small press distributor Independent Publishers Group (IPG) announced that Amazon has decided to stop selling Kindle editions for the publishers IPG represents. The decision impacts over 500 small publishers and almost 5,000 Kindle titles. Neither party has offered much in the way of specifics, but other publishers have been reporting that Amazon has been pressuring them to offer higher discounts and/or pay a “co-op” fee of an additional 3%-4% on all sales to cover the cost of offering “automation and personalization” services (i.e. Customers who bought x also bought y). Authors and publishers have been reacting to the development.
Hugh Howey was a self-published novelist of no real success. Until WOOL, that is - a 15,000 word "little throwaway story" he uploaded to Amazon's Kindle Marketplace one day and promptly forget about. The story he didn't blog, didn't tweet, and didn't even sell on his site hit #2 on the Kindle SciFi Bestseller list and "changed the course of e-books." [more inside]
Tech pundits and consultants agree; Amazon's Kindle Fire is a huge disaster (New York Times), good for almost nothing (Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper) and a disappointingly poor user experience (Dr. Jakob Nielsen, usability expert). It's the Apple Newton, the Edsel, New Coke and McDonald’s Arch Deluxe in tablet form. By all accounts it should be doomed. So why is it selling so well? And why are user reviews so high? [more inside]
Why Might A Publisher Pull Its eBooks From Libraries? PaidContent takes a look at Penguin's recent move to pull all of its titles from Overdrive's public library ebook program, a program that even some librarians are upset about.
Kindle Lending Library is now live. (discussed previously). The good news is there are lots of titles and no due dates. The bad news is that there is a one-per-month limit. Oh, and you have to be an Amazon Prime! member. Not everyone is thrilled.
Amazon unveils a new full color 7" multi-touch tablet it is calling Kindle Fire. Also announced are a new Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G. [more inside]
Byliner and The Atavist might be heralding a change in how and how much longform article authors are paid.
The Kindle is changing its name to ... Kindle. W(T)F?
Do you want some Spam with your Kindle? Spam has hit the Kindle, clogging the online bookstore of the top-selling eReader with material that is far from being book worthy and threatening to undermine Amazon.com Inc's publishing foray.
Like the death of Mark Twain, the demise of the printed book is greatly exaggerated, although the latest news from Amazon – which announced that it is selling more ebooks in America than print books for the first time – might suggest the nails are being readied for the coffin. [more inside]
"It was a good thing to have a couple of thousand people all rigid and frozen together, in the palm of one's hand." - Charles Dickens
Amazon has announced that library lending will be available on the Kindle later this year. Teaming with Overdrive, the program will start with 11,000 libraries in the United States. One of the key features touted by the company will be that users "can highlight and add margin notes to Kindle books you check out from your local library. Your notes will not show up when the next patron checks out the book. But if you check out the book again, or subsequently buy it, your notes will be there just as you left them." Could this be a possible death blow to the Nook?
"English As She Is Spoke is a broken Portuguese-to-English phrasebook written by two translators, José da Fonseca and Pedro Carolino. Sort of. You see, in reality, translator Pedro Carolino wanted to create a phrasebook on his own. Not knowing English, he took José da Fonseca’s French-to-English phrasebook and then used a Portuguese-to-French phrasebook to translate that. It’s sort of like what you and your friends do on Google Translate, but with a poor, mislead Portuguese man doing it by hand in candlelight." [more inside]
A new kind of book has been created in Holland, where its sold over 1m copies since it came out in 2009. Now finding its way to England, called the "flipback", the pages are super thin Bible paper with a special lay-flat spine and small format, making it suitable for reading with one hand, thumb page-flips, and shirt pocket storage.
Best-selling author Seth Godin has launched a challenge to traditional publishing with The Domino Project, the first publishing imprint to be powered by Amazon. [more inside]
Amanda Hocking is 26 years old. She has 9 self-published books to her name, and sells 100,000+ copies of those ebooks per month. She has never been traditionally published. ... And it’s no stretch to say – at $3 per book/70% per sale for the Kindle store... there is no traditional publisher in the world right now that can offer Amanda Hocking terms that are better than what she’s currently getting, right now on the Kindle store, all on her own. (related)
With the success of the Kindle and iPad e-book piracy accelerates.
Love interactive fiction? Love your Kindle? Have no net connection? Why not love them both at the same time offline!
Perhaps I don’t have the allegiance to paper that I ought to because anybody who invests in The Absolute Sandman, all four volumes, is now carrying 40 pounds of paper and cardboard around with them. And they hurt and they complain, “Oh, I feel guilty.” And I look at it and go, you’re not getting anything that is quantitatively or qualitatively better than the experience you’d be getting on an iPad, where you can enlarge the pages, you can move it around, it’s following the eye, and you can flip the pages. - Neil Gaiman on digital comics. Will this be the year of comics readng devices, as comiXology CEO David Steinberger says? Comixology is certianly leading the way, announcing tools for independant comics creators that will allow them to publish their comics via the comixology store, complete with the "guided views" which are a core part of their viewing experience. One creator who is full embracing digital is Alex De Campi, whose Napoleonic comic Valentine is not only published across a range of devices (iOs, Epub, Android, Kindle) but also in 14 languages, something that would have been difficult-to-impossible otherwise. Previous digital comics, Comixology suggestions
The web browser on the Kindle may not be the slickest piece of software in the world, barely sufficing for checking email and basic surfing, but there's one thing it excels at: web-based text adventures. Turn on your wireless connection, peck out PortableQuest.com on those tiny little keys and prepare for a game of adventure, danger, and low cunning. (You can play without a kindle as well.) [created by edman, via mefi projects]
On the ethics of illegally downloading e-books; a Teleread essay full of interesting links about these modern e-reading times. Inspired in part by this New York Times Ethicist column, and brought to my attention by this ask.metafilter question.
The announcement of the iPad earlier this week has prompted a lot of discussion about ebook prices among publishers and their sales partners. That discussion took a major turn yesterday when Amazon pulled the buy buttons for Macmillan's books off their site. Many of Macmillan's titles are still available through Amazon, but only through third parties. Right now, one of the largest publishers in America is no longer available from Amazon because they can not agree on ebook prices. [more inside]
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