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Posts Tagged ‘#amazonfail’

Just because I am pretty sure no one else is talking about this (yes, this is me being funny) – you will definitely want to join us tomorrow (Friday) at 4pm ET for this week’s #FollowReader — where the topic will be e-tailer book pricing and other issues regarding that Amazon/MacMillan quagmire — all in relation to how these issues ultimately affect readers.

Kassia Krozser (@BookSquare)

We’ve gathered a pretty awesome panel of guests to talk about the issue of ebook pricing and you know, the theoretical pros and cons of a world where book selling is dominated by one super power. In fact, we have reps from: the reader’s perspective – Kassia Krozser (@booksquare); the author’s perspective – Tobias Buckell (@tobiasbuckell); and the indie r(e)tailer’s perspective – Lori James and Julie Cummings of  AllRomanceEbooks.com/OmniLit.com (@allromance). (full disclosure – AllRomance is a client of my company Next Chapter Communications).

In other words – this is going to be quite the twittersation.

Some questions we’ll be discussing:

  • What is the real issue behind the Amazon v. MacMillan showdown? Is it about ebook pricing? Is it about Amazon wanting to dominate the marketplace with Kindle? Is either player really thinking about the reader in this situation (as each has claimed more or less?)
  • What does agency model mean? What does it mean to READERS? What does it mean to AUTHORS? What does it mean to RETAILERS (indie/chain/big box/online behemoths)?
  • Are ebooks priced at $12.99 and up really too high? Not just from reader’s perspective, but in reality – does an ebook’s production and distribution costs merit that kind of pricing?
  • Does the agency model actually limit publisher’s ability to price ebooks higher?
  • Would a higher priced product be viable in the kind of retail channel contemplated in the agency model?
  • Will agency model ultimately result in different priced formats targeted at different audiences, with different participation models for authors?
  • What impact will the so-called agency model have on independent booksellers? What impact will it have on author royalties?
  • Should publishers just scrap e-tailer partnerships and sell direct to consumer? Why or why not?
  • When it comes to ebooks, do proprietary devices and formats work for, or against readers in the long run? Isn’t a store that sells all formats for all devices offering a better service for readers?
  • Where does DRM fit into all of this?

We want to hear from you readers – what do you think about ebook pricing, paper book pricing, retailers both indie and not-so-indie? Let us know by joining in on this not-to-be-missed #FollowReader.

Tobias Buckell (@TobiasBuckell)

Hope to see you on Twitter tomorrow at 4pm ET!

Our Guests for #FollowReader, Friday February 5:

Kassia Krozser (@booksquare) has seen the future and it is good: more people are reading, writing, and publishing than ever before. Kassia consults with publishers about digital publishing opportunities at Oxford Media Works (OxfordMediaWorks.com), and writes about current digital publishing trends at booksquare.com.

Tobias S. Buckell (@tobiasbuckell) is a New York Times Bestselling Caribbean-born SF/F author who now lives in Ohio with his wife, twin daughters, and associated pets. He’s seen over 35 short stories in various magazines and anthologies, along with 4 novels and a short story collection. He keeps a website at www.TobiasBuckell.com.

Lori James of AllRomanceEbooks

Lori James(@allromance) is co-owner and Chief Operating Officer of All Romance eBooks, LLC. Julie Cummings is the company’s Manager of Marketing and Promotions. All Romance eBooks, founded in 2006, is privately held in partnership, and headquartered in Palm Harbor, Florida. The company owns All Romance (www.allromanceebooks.com), which specializes in the sale of romance eBooks and OmniLit (www.omnilit.com), which sells both fiction and non-fiction eBooks.

Note: Julie Cummings will be (wo)manning the keyboard and monitoring the chat while Lori James joins us virtually virtually via this thing called a “phone” (we are all about equal opportunity technology here at #FollowReader).

Julie Cummings (@allromance)

HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN #FOLLOWREADER:
The trouble begins at 4pm ET (or 1pm PST).To join the #followreader Twitter conversation today, here’s what to do:

  1. 10 minutes or so before 4pm ET, log in to Twitter or whatever interface you use (we recommend Tweetchat.com).
  2. To follow the discussion, run a search for #followreader.
  3. I’ll announce about 10 minutes ahead of time that we’re going to begin. And I’ll introduce the guests.
  4. I’ll start by posting a question.
  5. To post to the discussion, make sure that the hashtag #followreader is in each tweet.

NOTE: TweetChat.com refreshes quickly and automatically loads your hashtag when you are in the discussion.

Some Background links Re: Amazon/McMillan Showdown and Issues (Thank you @BJMuntain!):

@booksquare Amazon, Macmillan, Agency Models, and Quality (oh, my)!

@rilnj The Myths of Amazon/Macmillan http://bit.ly/aPpKUu by @Hornswoggler. <–Esp. #5

@charlesatan Amazon Capitulated My Ass http://bit.ly/8XTwFS

@victoriastrauss New blog post at Writer Beware about (what else?) the Macmillan-Amazon face-off http://tinyurl.com/y8oqmq6

@GrammarGirl This looks like an interesting piece on e-book and app pricing: http://j.mp/aWGVnP

@paulkbiba Legal analysis of Amazon/Macmillan http://is.gd/7rwVK

@scalzi One last Amazon/Macmillan post: All The Many Ways Amazon So Very Failed the Weekend http://bit.ly/bUN03H

@gkiely Publishing’s Weekend War: 48 Hours That Changed an Industry http://bit.ly/9s8xkn

@RachelleGardner I posted on the Publishing Smackdown today. Stop by and leave your thoughts! http://is.gd/7skPe

@ShelfAwareness Here’s our take on the Amazon/Macmillan scuffle http://bit.ly/cn79Ft (Very thorough overview)

“Amazon needs to stop meddling in ebook pricing & let free market do its thing.” @mollywood http://bit.ly/b6eHPS

@DigiBookWorld Macmillan won the battle over eBook pricing, but did Amazon win the PR war? http://bit.ly/9ULGIt

@DigiBookWorld Authors React to Amazon/Macmillan battle; @scottwesterfeld gets in the last word: http://bit.ly/9P8kLA

@atfmb: Amazon Concedes to Macmillan on E-Book pricing: http://tinyurl.com/yhz7d2n (NYTimes)

@ScottWesterfeld In which I weigh in (heavily) on the Amazon fracas: http://scottwesterfeld.com/blog/?p=2138

@MikeShatzkin The wild weekend of Amazon & Macmillan: Now I swear all this is true http://bit.ly/d2t9mr

@tobiasbuckell New blog post:: Together, lets break the Amazon monopoly on Kindles! http://bit.ly/bKsYUg

@charlesatan Smart post by Small beer press on Amazon http://smallbeerpress.com/?p=6915

@JoeFinder Check out this great blog post re the Amazon power play: http://mountaineermusings.com/

@Mitch_Hoffman A “passive aggressive” capitulation by Amazon, says the Washington Post. http://ow.ly/12nEh

@LAGilman My insta-reaction to Amazon’s response Warning: sort of cranky: http://suricattus.livejournal.com/1202577.html

@BradStone Amazon surrenders http://tinyurl.com/yd3hezf . “We will have to capitulate &accept Macmillan’s terms”

@PublishingGuru Is Amazon’s Kindle Killing Book Publishing? http://ow.ly/16sXSz

@GrammarGirl Excellent explanation of how Amazon currently gets pricing better than physical bookstores: http://j.mp/a9ZBnv

@GrammarGirl Another Macmillan author (@jay_lake) is articulately furious with Amazon http://bit.ly/dogHYG

@Hannasus Interesting article about the economics of book publishing: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13556_3-10250017-61.html

@EMEvans11 Amazon no longer carrying Macmillan titles? Andy Ross weighs in: http://bit.ly/93UkXg

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I often hear people say they hate to read on screen. And after spending hours each day trolling the web – squinting at my backlit screen until my eyes feel like hot, dry marbles rolling around in their sockets - I start to hate my computer too. Yet I have to acknowledge that without it, I would hardly know what to read for work or pleasure (er, aside from the many books I own but haven’t read, that is). And now, Twitter has made reading online even more exciting, absorbing and efficient.

Yes, Twitter. Many publishing people say they are avoiding it, because they already spend more time on the computer than they want to. But when it comes to gathering book news – and engaging with smart insiders across the industry, as well as general readers – there are a few good reasons to consider it not only a labor-saving device, but even as a unique and powerful tool.

Twitter as Information Filter: #amazonfail

Case in point: yesterday, I had only half an hour in the morning to check my e-mail and the top publishing news. Three e-mails from friends sent to me to:

1.       Jacket Copy, a blog at the Los Angeles Times, which reported author Michael R. Probst‘s claim that Amazon.com had a new policy to remove books with “adult” content from the site’s bestseller rankings (meaning that books were significantly less visible on the site and could only be found by an exact title search). Yet many of the affected books were hardly pornographic, such as the children’s book Heather Has Two Mommies, as well as James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room and Ellen DeGeneres’s: A Biography.

2.       An online petition demanding that Amazon reverse the policy, which appeared to affect queer books disproportionately. (A later statement from Amazon did not address the putative policy issue,  claiming instead that there had been “cataloging error” affecting 57,310 books and not just queer authors.)

3.       A link to the Twitter discussion on this topic, #amazonfail, which has surpassed the discussions about Easter and Jesus on the popular microblogging site. That discussion immediately led me to breaking news stories that other readers said were the best they’d read, and pithy observations by publishing insiders, sassy queer commentators and smart bloggers I’d never heard of before. It also gave me an ongoing reference point for real-time updates and commentary.

The Twitter Difference

Before Twitter, when I relied on e-mail alone, I’d have spent 15 minutes reading one article on the day’s big story, signing a petition and emailing a few friends about the issue, and would probably have left it at that.

But with Twitter, and another spare 15 minutes or so, I was not only able to find and read a well-curated handful of breaking news stories quickly, but also to absorb insights from scores of knowledgeable people and share my thoughts with them directly – and even to bookmark those whom I’d like to actively engage in building community around queer books going forward. 

Now, you might well ask if I needed to spend a half hour on a Monday morning reading up on this story and discussing it with others. This time, the answer is yes, because I report on the intersection of publishing and new media, and am also committed to building community around queer books. (In other cases, like when I spent half an hour engaging the Twitterverse about my nephew’s architectural dessert jellies, the answer is not so much.) 

But here’s my main point: the Twitter difference is connecting with a spontaneous, engaged community that cares about what I care about, and is thinking about it at the exact same time as me – and sometimes even making big news while doing it.  And it’s a community I can remain in touch with, simply by choosing to follow the smartest and best commentators in the Twitterverse.

So, even though it may not help with eyestrain, I find Twitter indispensible to my job - which is, of course, following the readers.

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Bookish Twitterers Getting All Riveted Up!

Bookish Twitterers Getting All Riveted Up!

Hello Dear Readers:

Happy belated chocolate bunny day. Hope you are all recovering nicely.

And with the pleasantries out of the way, I will now begin my lecture on the importance of understanding and participating in social media. This is a lesson that Amazon learned–or at least, we hope they learned–yesterday via the lovely bookish community on Twitter.

If you missed it, and in a nutshell (for details do a quick Twitter search on the term #AmazonFail and/or check out this post on Storm Grant’s blog or Leah Braemel’s timeline of the event):

  1. Many GBLT and erotic themed titles at Amazon.com recently mysteriously stopped displaying their sales rankings (which are a key factor customers consider in making their buying decisions).
  2. The Bookish Twitterverse POUNCED on this — even though the issue itself started a few months back – Sunday it snowballed — and …
  3. Amazon said NOTHING. Amazon was completely absent in droves.

I am not out to demonize or make a scapegoat of Amazon. Amazon may be completely innocent of causing this “glitch,” and there are plenty of theories (conspiracy/technical glitch-based/and otherwise) being bandied about regarding what actually caused the great de-ranking of Easter Sunday, but Amazon definitely is guilty of one thing:  Ignoring the collective online outrage of their customers and content providers during a critical time — which is just sad when you’re talking about a major player in web commerce.

“So, Kat” (you may be asking yourself — which is a funny thing to ask yourself unless your name is Kat — i so crack myself up): “Monday morning quarterback, much Missy?”

And to this I reply, “No. Absolutely not.” And here’s why: while Amazon was noticeably offline and seemingly unaware of this situation, a whole heckuvalot of their indie competitors were savvy enough to be right there on Twitter’s front lines and engaging with the publishers, authors, readers, and other players who were leading this conversation. Those indies, and their supporters were helpfully (and quite cleverly) offering a suggestion to the angry and frustrated Amazon customers: “Not happy with Amazon? Try us instead!” (The American Booksellers Association even received a nice nod when their acronym was appropriated for the cause –ABA, “anywhere but Amazon.”

The lesson, my bookish buddies, is this — Amazon can’t afford to ignore social media (Twitter, blogs, Facebook, etc.) and neither can you. There are just so many reasons not to ignore it. Carri Bugbee, a twitter celebrity in her own right (her twittering prowess as characters from the AMC show “MadMen” is legendary)–and PR pal of mine, sums it up rather succinctly:

Carri Bugbee

Carri Bugbee of Big Deal PR

After several PR crises that exploded on Twitter in the past year, it’s kind of astounding that any large brand could still be caught with its pants down over a weekend. The Motrin Moms should have been the final warning to all who were still clueless to the power of social media.

I’ve been saying this since I found myself in the middle of the Mad Men Twitter kerfuffle last August: it’s time to staff your PR team like you’re running a 7/11. The Internet never closes. Neither can you. A quick look at @Amazon indicates they have no idea how to do Twitter right. That’s ironic for the biggest pioneer of user-generated content! Unfortunately, they’re just using Twitter to broadcast sales messages – not to engage with customers. If they were smart, they’d be using Twitter to quell the outrage.”

So, if you care about what is happening with the community of books and publishing and readers — you need to engage with them via social media. If you don’t know where to begin,  I recommend checking out this HubSpot primer, “How to Use Twitter for Marketing & PR” for starters.

For me the take away from the “#AmazonFail” fiasco is this: There are a lot people in the book community who are very passionate. And, a lot of the most passionate of these people are online and engaging with each other. And when they get excited about an issue, they can make the audience for that  issue much bigger than just their seemingly small online circle.  Consider what Brett Sandusky (a passionate bookish twitterer if there ever was one) had to say about the situation:

Brett Sandusky (aka @BSandusky)

Brett Sandusky (aka @BSandusky)

The fact that a movement on Twitter caused so much upheaval, and garnered interest in the traditional media is significant. This is the point of social media, and we have proved with yesterday’s tweets that much can be done when people make a statement.”

Here, here, Brett. Let’s all remember that. And, let’s channel some of the passion that was displayed Sunday into some positive directions for the community of those who love books and publishing!

Okay, you can have the soapbox back now. :)

Luv,
Kat

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