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Hanger Stout, Awake! on sale now! (plus some ebook rants)

Regular readers already know by now that I run Personville Press and am a big fan of the fiction of Jack Matthews.  (You may already have noticed the sidebar ads for his ebooks). I just wanted to mention that Personville recently published his 1967 classic Hanger Stout Awake as an ebook.

If you buy directly from the website, you can use this discount coupon code “HANGER1”  (that’s the number one at the end) so that you pay only 99 cents (instead of the regular price of $2.99).  This is valid until April 1.

I’m no fan of Amazon Kindle, but I wanted to mention two interesting things.

First, Amazon announced last year  that the Kindle 3 generation of devices would support the new ebook format KF8. This is a big deal because it lets publishers use more advanced formatting options. It is also a painful transition because many of the books designed for the older .mobi format just will never get updated to take advantage of the new functionality. I find it strange that Amazon hasn’t done the update to make Kindle 3 read KF8 (it’s been almost 6 months now!) At the same time, Kindle owners must find it good knowing that Kindle 3 will finally be able to use the css features which all the other ebook devices could do out of the box.

Second,  it was interesting to learn that  if Kindle owners used Wifi, they can email ebooks to themselves without paying a fee (but only if they are using wifi).  This is incredibly useful.  Could  publishers take advantage of this? Maybe a publisher  could email to the reader’s Kindle a book purchase as a way to deliver the ebook (rather than having to go through the Kindle store). That could be useful for subscriptions as well.   Perhaps instead of providing an ebook download link, the publisher can just ask for the customer’s free kindle account and email it directly to the Kindle itself.

Finally, a rant of sorts.

I am appalled at how difficult it can be to download titles from Project Gutenberg from ebook devices. I realize that Amazon and BN have a vested interest in ensuring that readers stay at their respective stores, but do the online bookstores really make that much money from reselling public domain titles?  If anything, they should be touting the fact it is so easy to download public domain titles. I first bought an ebook reader in 2004 – fun fact, I really didn’t start buying ebooks until 2010. For 5 years I was happy enough downloading creative commons and public domain titles.  But now out of the ebook titles I download, I would say about 60% are purchased. (This is partly in response to supply and my need for immediate gratification.

NAGLE’S IRON LAW OF EBOOK DEVICES: If an ebook device for sale in 2012 cannot access, download and open a Project Gutenberg title quickly and effortlessly via the device’s builtin wireless connection, then by definition is is not an acceptable ebook device.

It is a substandard — and even a useless — contraption.

This is not an arduous task. That merely means 1)making a easy-to-find bookmark to the PG catalog page or mobile catalog page and 2)testing it to make sure it actually works.

As much as I like Calibre, it can be  a pain to launch and use (Let’s see; where did I leave that USB cable?)

Finally, here’s a brilliant blog by a book marketer  named Kent Weber about how to use online tools to sell your ebook. Goodbookmarketing has a lot of original insights about consumer psychology and expectations. The only thing I’d quibble with him is about buying single domains for each book. Weber argues that you get better SEO ummph when you do that, but I would argue that you are selling the author brand – not the book brand. One of Weber’s most important messages is that you need to make sure search results for your book appears on top of the amazon.com page for it.  Typically, when people review or link to a book, they link to the Amazon.com page, and you want to change that if you can.

(For me, I am trying to encourage people to buy ebooks directly from the author site instead of on Amazon. Amazon/BN basically give 65-70% royalty, while buying direct from the author earns the author about 90% royalty. When you’re talking a $2.99 price, the price difference is considerable.  The author earns 80 cents more per ebook).

Another reason to get the reader to the author’s site is so you can offer bundles and discounts of products. Basically Amazon.com locks you to a price floor of 2.99. If you go lower, your  royalties go from  70%  to 35%. But really, $1.5o or $2 or $2.50 are also sweet spots; If the publisher can offer coupon codes (like I’m doing) or a way to buy two products together at a discount, you can offer better prices than Amazon without violating its terms.

Related: a great compendium of traditional & nontraditional book marketing tips by Carolyn Howard-Johnson.  Also, thecreativepenn   has a lot of good marketing tips I haven’t seen anywhere else.

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