Your e-Reader is Spying

In my introduction to “Ten Essential Elements of Successful Book Promotion,” which I shared at Publishers’ Institute at ICRS this summer, I state the following:

“I wish I could stand up here and tell you that I have a formula for making your book a best seller. I can’t. If I had such a formula, I would be a very wealthy woman.”

However, new technology may actually end up being able to make a formula for a best-selling book.

Publishing has always lagged behind the rest of the entertainment industry when it comes to measuring consumers’ preferences and habits. TV and movie producers frequently run new shows through focus groups or a battery of tests on viewers’ preferences and reactions. The publishing industry, to date, has largely gauged reader satisfaction on sales data and reviews—after a book has been produced.

This may actually eventually change with new data that is being tracked via e-readers. Digital book retailers have sophisticated software to track and store consumer information detailing what books are purchased and read. For example, Barnes & Noble tracks how far readers get in a book and how quickly they read, and Amazon tracks the reader’s highlights, notes and annotations, bookmarks, and last page read.

In essence, your e-reader is reading you.

Through analyzing data from Nook users, Barnes & Noble has found that nonfiction books tend to be read in fits and starts while novels are generally read straight through. They also found that readers tend to quit longer nonfiction books part-way through.

With e-readers being able to answer questions like:

  • Do most readers quite after a few pages or finish the book in a single setting?
  • Do most readers skip over the introduction or read it closely, underlining passages?
  • Do most readers buy the sequel immediately upon finishing the first book in the series?

Some people believe that answers to these questions along with pinpointing how readers read and when they get bored could help publishers create better books.

What do you think?

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e-Reader Ingenuity

Do you want your e-reader or tablet to actually look like a book?

John, an Etsy artist, can help you. For $55.95, John will make you a hand-crafted leather cover that looks just like an old–fashioned book.

These Neverending Story e-reader and tablet covers are made to fit Kindles and Nooks. For an added cost, they can be done for an iPad or Galaxy tablet.

As John says, they are a perfect way to protect your e-reader while attracting a lot of attention and comments from friends and passersby. They might even bring back the nostalgic feeling of a real old-fashioned leather-bound print book.

Now, we just need to convince John to make ones that look like Bible covers.

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Surfing the Book Sale Wave

The push is on. Publishers and authors alike spend time before Christmas promoting their books as great gifts. Many offer discounts and specials right before the holidays to generate sales for their books.

This strategy is great. It works to sell books. However, it does not work as well for ebooks. Most gift-givers do not purchase specific digital books as gifts. While it is possible to purchase a specific ebook as a gift via Amazon and other online retailers, many people don’t know how (Amazon has developed a YouTube video to show people how). Hence, most people still prefer to give gift cards, allowing the recipient to purchase and download the books.

As a result, holiday book sales now come in two waves. Print sales before Christmas is the first wave of book sales. The second wave is the sale of digital books on Christmas day and the days following.

Did you know that last year Amazon sold more Kindle books than print books on Christmas day? Why? Because each person who received a Kindle e-reader for Christmas immediately wanted to load his new reader with books to read (and many received gift cards to purchase books along with the gift of the e-reader).

This year will be no different. If anything, more e-readers and tablets will be given as Christmas gifts than were given last year. After all, sales of Kindles were up 300% this Black Friday from last year, not to mention the surge of new e-readers and tablets currently hitting the market.

How can you smoothly surf the book sale wave and capitalize on the digital sales that come on Christmas day to sell your ebooks? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Remember that the promotion you have done before Christmas for the print version of your titles is not completely lost for those wanting digital titles. Some will remember your book and purchase it in the ebook version.
  2. Offer the first couple chapters of your book as a free download. You can do this on a number of website including on Amazon through the Kindle Singles program. Be sure to include a link at the end of the chapters to where the reader can purchase the remainder of the book (the full version). Be sure to promote this free download.
  3. Offer a Christmas week special on the ebook version of your book. You can do this by temporarily reducing the price of your ebook on Amazon and other retail sites for that week. Be sure to announce your special in your newsletter and on all your social media sites.

With a little planning and ingenuity, you may be able to ride the Christmas ebook sale spike and sell more books this holiday season.

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The Smell of Books

Amazon keeps making new e-readers. This month, they released their new tablet, Fire, as well as two new Kindles, basic Kindle and the Kindle Touch.

The number of tablets and e-readers on the market continues to grow. Along with the growth of these devices, the number of American’s using them is growing. During the past year, the number of Americans using e-readers has nearly doubled from 8% 12 months ago to about 15% now.

Individuals who use e-readers are readers. On the average, they purchase more books than print-only readers.

How about you, have you switched to using an e-reader? If so, do you ever miss the smell of print books?

Those who purchase print books know that new books have a distinct smell. Smell is a powerful sense and taps into our memory banks. If the smell of new books evokes positive emotions in you, and if you miss the smell of new books since you purchased an e-reader, I have a solution for you.

Just get the “Smell of Books” in an aerosol can and spray it on your e-reader. When the smell wears off, just re-spray your e-reader. Never again will you need to miss that new book smell, even in the digital age.

Happy smelling and Happy Halloween!


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Have You Heard of This?

It’s called the Flipback book. It is small and light and just the right size to slip into a pocket. It’s not an e-reader, it’s a paper book.

Printed on extra-thin paper, the book is held longways with the spine in the palm of the hand. The pages are read top to bottom and flipped up as you read. The spine is made to stay open so that you don’t have to hold the book open.

The design was first introduced in the Netherlands in 2009 and is all the rage there. It has spread to Spain, France, and now the United Kingdom.

Will this Flipback book make an appearance in the United States? Most likely. When it does, its portability might catch on, but I doubt it will become more popular than e-readers.