Buzz Worthy News
In this week’s Buzz Worthy News: Figment is purchased by Random House, another win for libraries, a man is arrested for an overdue book, and Neilsen tells us what we already know.
Buzz Worthy News is Cuddlebuggery’s weekly news post bringing you all the best information about the book and blogging world, particularly for the venn diagram of people who overlap between the two. For new releases and cover reveals of all the best Young Adult fiction, check out our Sunday post: Hot New Titles.
Well, hello, all! I hope you had a great Halloween! Ours was pretty great. But let me give you a piece of advice: don’t try to put a costume together the night before Halloween after you’ve had a bottle of wine. This may surprise you, but it will NOT. GO. WELL.
But enough of that, let’s get to this week’s news.
Man Booker Prize Judge Wants Go Back In Time
If I could go back in time, I think I’d go back to a time in my life where I could get 8 hours of sleep a night uninterrupted, instead of being woken up at 4 in the morning by a child who thinks I need an update on every moment of his life. “Mom, I peed my pants.” “Mom, Daddy made me a new mask for Halloween and I do NOT appreciate it.” “Mom, I need to go to school now.” blah, blah, blah “Here, kid, have an Ambien and call me in the morning.”
The Man Booker Prize’s director, Ion Trewin, wants to go back in time for something as boring as limiting entries for his illustrious prize. Whaaaaaa? You do realize that other prizes are actually expanding their reach (see: Rita Awards). Heck, your own prize just opened up to the US and now you’re saying you want to take it back?
Ion Trewin said that as few as 40 of this year’s 151 submissions were worth the judges’ time, while the others were simply “junk”.
“I urge you to look twice at some of the books entered, unless you truly believe they have a chance of being long listed,” he told publishers on Thursday night. His comments that the volume of entries presented “an impossible mountain for the judges to climb” surprised observers, given that the Booker panel announced last month that it will allow entries from US authors for the first time next year.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t you supposed to, you know, read a lot of books so you can properly judge which books are worthy? Maybe some publishers are submitting things that aren’t up to your high bar of superiority, but do you really want people to hold back on submissions? You could miss something amazing!
A Company That I’ve Never Heard Of Got Purchased By Random House
I guess I can’t fool you any longer, cuddlebuggery readers. I am an oldster. I can’t say totes or feels with a straight face (really, I can’t). My favorite meme is still Ryan Gosling’s “hey girl” (The nerdy one, if you must know). And I have no idea what Figment is. So I’m just going to let someone else tell you what it is.
Figment is a community where you can share your writing, connect with other readers, and discover new stories and authors. Whatever you’re into, from sonnets to mysteries, from sci-fi stories to cell phone novels, you can find it all here.
Right now, the website has more than 300,000 users, which doesn’t seem like much in the internet age. But Random House has their eyes on the prize. And the press release blurb is like one giant mess of PR speak.
“Random House Children’s Books’ new relationship with Figment supports our ongoing strategy and increasingly important efforts to communicate and engage directly with our readers,” Marcus said. “The team who founded Figment created a dynamic community that we will continue to grow and expand, and we are so pleased for the opportunity to continue the conversations with this audience of teens that love young adult books.”
Here is what I see when I read that: “We are really desperate for the next Hunger Games/Divergent/Whatever Book Is Selling Millions and this seemed like an easy way to mine for new, inexperienced writers that we can offer subpar publishing contracts to, because they’ll just be so thrilled to be “published” they won’t know any different.” Or even better, “Look at all the info we can get to help us push our products!”
Lewis said the site has generated nearly a million original stories and members create and post “hundreds if not thousands of stories every day. It’s a very active and robust social network.”
Lewis said the site shows “the power of community building beyond the writing,” and offers “potential and insight for Random House. It’s a powerful tool – people come to Figment because they want to write and publishers can use that effectively. We used it as a marketing platform and its overarching value is the access it provides to real consumers and real data.”
I hate to sound cynical, but the audience here is 13-18 year olds. So either they’re interested in getting valuable data from these users for future marketing purposes or they want new books and see these writers as their source. Either option is pretty nefarious IMHO, especially when we’re talking about an audience made mostly of minors.
People Read E-books
Who Knew? Oh, yeah, pretty much EVERYONE WHO READS. In probably the most obvious study ever, BISG (Book Industry Study Group) takes a look at the overall e-book reading numbers and the top 3 e-book sellers.
According to the survey, at the end of the second quarter of 2013, e-books accounted for just fewer than 30% of units and approximately 14% of sales, figures about equal to the fourth quarter of 2012. While both e-book sales and unit have risen considerably since the first quarter of 2011, their share of the market dipped slightly between the first quarter of 2013 and the second period of the year. Jo Henry, director of Nielsen Book Research, which conducted the project for BISG, observed: “It is clear from four annual research surveys that e-books are in the later stages of the innovation curve and have settled into reasonably predictable consumption patterns. The likelihood of future growth will, in part, depend on improving the value perception of e-books among less committed users.”
No offense, but Nielsen just started talking about adding DVR data to their television research, so don’t blame me if I don’t take their word for what the likelihood of future e-book growth is. I mean, I could have written half of this study myself. Just take a guess at who the top 3 e-book sellers are… If you said, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple—in that order—you could probably write half the study, too.
The research also provided more evidence of a hybrid print-e-book market with over 30% of August respondents reporting they purchase e-books and print books interchangeably—the same percentage as in September 2010. Just over 40% of e-book buyers said they purchase mostly e-book and fewer print books, a percentage that peaked at just fewer than 50% in February 2013.
This study took them four years to do? Four years? Please note my epic eye roll:
About the only thing I thought was truly interesting was that people would be more willing to buy e-books if they could resell them. And guys, BISG is selling this mound of “new” information for an equally large amount of cash. I dunno. I guess if you really have NO idea what is going on in the e-book market, you might want to see it. Otherwise, meh.
Amazon Makes The News Again… (For Reals!)
I swear, I try really hard to make the news diverse, but then Amazon comes along with its big, clunky, mannish feet and walks all over my plans. And when did that flipping company spring this on me? On a Friday, after I’d already typed up like 5 stories. Cue me, opening my email:
We are excited to introduce our newest KDP Select benefit – Kindle Countdown Deals. This is a new book promotion tool that lets you provide readers with time-bound promotional discounts for your Kindle books, available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. Here are some of the benefits of Kindle Countdown Deals:
Set time-bound promotions – You control how long your book is discounted. The time remaining for your promotion will be visible for customers to help generate excitement for the price discount.
Customers get a great deal – Your customers will see the great deal they’re getting with the regular price included on the book’s detail page, right beside the promotional price.
Retain a 70% royalty rate – You will earn royalties based on your regular royalty rate and the promotional price. As a result, if you are using the 70% royalty option, you’ll earn 70% even if the price is below $2.99.
Increase discoverability – Customers can easily browse live Kindle Countdown Deals at www.amazon.com/kindlecountdowndeals – a great way for you and your books to get discovered.
Monitor performance in real-time – A new KDP report displays sales and royalties at each price discount side-by-side with pre-promotion performance, so you can compare results.
Basically, you all are going to see a LOT of indies with these Countdown Deals on their books, because nothing says “sign up for KDP select” like “increased discoverability”. Anyway, if there’s any indie you’ve been hoping to read, it looks like you’ll soon be able to get a discount.
So that’s the first bit of news. The second is even more interesting, especially if you’re a member of Amazon Prime.
Amazon has unveiled Kindle First, a program offering pre-publication access to Amazon Publishing titles to device owners. Through the program, Kindle owners can select one title a month for $1.99, while Amazon Prime members can select their title at no charge.
So in other words, if you own a Kindle, you can get access to books that aren’t even out yet! The deals will be up to a month before actual release. And you know, now I understand why Amazon came up with that deal for authors where they let you have a “pre-order” for your book. So they could make it available early.
Watch Those Overdue Books!
I regularly check out books at the library, and even though I won’t divulge how much money I’ve shelled out for late fees because someone can’t seem to find his copy of Cat in the Hat or whatever (what can I say, the hubbs loves him some Dr. Seuss), I’ve never been in as much of a pickle as this poor guy.
A Texas man was arrested this week for not returning a library book that he had checked more than three years ago and did not return, according to reports.
Here is more from KWTX.com: “On Wednesday Jory Enck was booked into jail and released for overdue library materials. Court documents show he checked out a GED study guide in 2010 and didn’t respond to attempts from the library to get the book back. City of Copperas Cove Municipal Judge Bill Price said the patrons are usually released on a $200 bond after the arrest. Library policies show the patron must have the overdue book checked out for a minimum of 90 days and not respond to phone calls or emails from the library about the book before the municipal court is notified.”
Holy Cow, dude! If you can’t find the book, then just ask them to let you replace it. For heaven’s sakes, it’s not worth going to jail over! *makes a mental note to keep better track of library books*
Another WIN For Libraries
It makes me super happy when I get to post stories like this every week. Guess what? The news for libraries getting e-books just gets better and better!
Gale has announced the launch of a new purchase option, the Usage-Driven Acquisition (UDA) model for its Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL) e-book platform. The new model will enable libraries to purchase e-books “based on actual usage,” allowing libraries to better perform “evidence-based collection development.”
GVRL is part of Cengage Learning and is an award-winning platform, having been named “Best Overall Database” by the readers of Library Journal in 2012. The platform offers reference content and series non-fiction titles to all types of libraries.
So remember that story I did about MacMillan and their 52 lend or 2 year total agreement with libraries? Gale just beat the pants off of them!
To use the UDA model, libraries make an upfront deposit (minimums apply) and get access to Gale’s digital titles—some 2,000 titles—for six months. At the end of the six month period, e-books with the greatest usage will be automatically added permanently to the library’s GVRL collection, and deducted from the library’s initial deposit. Once an e-book is purchased, libraries have unlimited, simultaneous use of the title.
Now that is what I’m talking about! Hopefully other publishers will take a page from this company’s book.
Crunchyroll Ain’t Just Food
For those of you who don’t know (i.e. people who don’t watch anime) Crunchyroll is an online site that lets users stream legal animes that would normally be very hard to find in the U.S. Well, now they’ve decided to expand their wares to manga.
Japanese publisher Kodansha is teaming with Crunchyroll, … to digitally distribute 12 current Kodansha manga titles in English, including such popular series as Attack on Titan and Fairy Tail via their Crunchyroll Manga platform starting on October 30. Crunchyroll will release the latest chapters of these series to readers in over 170 countries, (including US and UK) on the same day as they’re available in Japan.
As usual, Crunchyroll will offer a mix of free and paid content.
Much like Crunchyroll’s anime content, manga content will be streamed/read online only. This makes Crunchyroll’s offering different from the digital editions of Attack on Titanand Fairy Tail from Kodansha Comics, Kodansha’s U.S. division. Kodansha Comics’ digital titles are also available worldwide, but can be purchased and read via iOS, Android, Kindle and Nook devices.
Another key difference with Crunchyroll Manga: while they have several titles that are currently published by Kodansha Comics USA like Fairy Tail by Hiro Mashima, Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama, and recently announced titles for 2014 like UQ Holder by Ken Akamatsu (creator of Negima!) and The Seven Deadly Sins by Nakaba Suzuki, Crunchyroll Manga’s initial roster also includes eight titles that have not been licensed in English by U.S. publishers.
It is kind of a bummer that you can only read them online, but there are plenty of users already doing that on illegal sites, so anything that brings money to these authors is fabulous in my mind!
Look, I’d love to write a never-ending stream of news, but I have other things I have to accomplish during the week. So here are some stories that I thought were interesting, but I didn’t have time to write about. Enjoy!
And in celebration of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) kickoff, I’m linking you to my top 3 pep talks: