Coronavirus and Book Publishing

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting everyone. It has hit every business and is impacting our world and economy.

For fun, I compiled the top COVID-19 book-related headlines from this past week.

COVID-19 Book-Related Headlines

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Innovate or Die

Amazon didn’t become the largest online retailer by chance. The company is smart, strategic, and innovative.

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Amazon knows that they must continue to innovate and provide new tools and services to stay on top of the hill. Thus, they continue to roll out new things regularly.

It’s not too hard to create an Amazon Kindle ebook. There are a number of online tools that help authors and publishers do this (Calibre, Jutoh, Mobipocket Creator, etc.). However, these tools are mainly for text books with just a few images. Those authors and publishers wanting to put their graphic novels (image rich books) into the Kindle Store do not have access to as many tools to help them do this.

Amazon has come to the rescue. They have launched the Kindle Comics Creator.

According to Amazon, the Kindle Comics Creator removes the need for authors and publishers to understand the intricacies of the HTML/CSS code that goes into an ebook. This tool lets authors import artwork, arrange the layout, and even create a guided reading experience with Kindle Panel Views. The Kindle Comics Creator is reportedly able to automatically detect the panels in an image and it will recommend a reading order that will best guide a reader through the story.

If you publish graphic novels or comics, this new tool from Amazon might save you time and money. Amazon is hoping it will help you put your next graphic novel or comic book in their system.

You can be assured that Amazon will continue to roll out more tools to help authors and publishers place books in the Kindle store with ease. Rumor has it that Amazon is beta testing a cover creation tool for its Kindle Direct Publishing. This tool will reportedly have access to thousands of royalty-free images and allow authors to quickly and easily create a cover design for an ebook. Best of all, word is that it will be free to use. Stay tuned for more on that.

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Amazon’s eBook Return Policy

How long does it take you to read a book? Can you read a book in seven days?

Many authors believe it is entirely possible to read a book in seven days. That is why they have started a petition on Change.org.

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Change.org exists to empower people everywhere to create the change they want to see. The website simply provides a forum for anyone to get people to sign petitions for change. Basically, the idea is that if enough people sign a petition,the requested change gets the attention of the people responsible for enacting the change.

A group of Kindle authors are using Change.org in hopes of getting Amazon.com to change their ebook return policy.

Amazon’s current ebook return policy states, “Books you purchase from the Kindle Store are eligible for return and refund if we receive your request within seven days of the date of purchase. Once a refund is issued, you’ll no longer have access to the book.”

These authors feel that seven days is plenty of time for people to buy an ebook, read it, and then return it for a refund, cheating the author out of a royalty.

The Change.org petitioners argue, “It is understood that if a customer goes into a store and purchases a tangible item, that item can be returned to the store within a specified amount of time for a refund. In this case, nobody is out of anything. The customer has their money back and the store has the original item purchased. But if Amazon sells our e-Book(s) and allow customers to keep that product for seven day (more than enough time to read it) and then, give them the option to return it for a refund, the consumer has already read our work and we’re out of the amount of money charged for that item. Is this fair or not? This is like going into a restaurant, buying a meal, then asking for a refund after you’ve already eaten it! Something has to be done.”

Over 2,600 people have signed the petition on Change.org. You can too if you agree with these Kindle authors and want Amazon.com to change their ebook return policy.

I think this effort is a noble idea. I understand these authors’ concerns. However, in defense of most readers, I believe only a few would cheat the system this way, not the majority.

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Amazon Prime(d) for Books

Pay a monthly fee to Netflix and you can watch your choice of movies on your computer or TV via streaming content. Will this service soon be available for ebooks?

It appears that Amazon.com thinks so. Recent news reports that Amazon.com is talking with book publishers about launching a Netflix-like service for digital books. This service would give customers who pay an annual fee access to a library of content.

Speculation has it that books would be added to Amazon’s current Amazon Prime program. This program currently allows customers to pay $79 per year for unlimited two-day shipping and access to a digital library of movies and TV shows.

Of course, publishers participating in such a program would receive some form of compensation from Amazon either in a lump sum payment or on an “as-accessed” per book basis.

Amazon’s idea is not new. There is already at least one company on the Internet already offering a subscription-based service for ebooks. For one low fee, The Reading Site allows subscribers access to a database of millions of titles for the Kindle, the Nook, an iPad, iPhone, or a PC. Unlimited digital access appears to be the wave of the future.

The only unanswered question is: “Will you and your books will be part of such a program?”

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