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How the Kindle Library Creates Bounce-Off

When Kindle launched its library in November 2011 it sent tremors of fear ricocheting throughout the public lending library system worldwide – even though it is only operative in the United States.

The rest of the world will follow soon.

Under Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select, authors who agree to make their e-books exclusive to Amazon’s Kindle Store for 90 days are eligible to have their work added to the lending library program.

They also have the opportunity to earn from the $6 million fund set aside for self-publishers.

With the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, customers with a $79 per year Amazon Prime membership and a Kindle device can borrow e-books for free. Users can only borrow one e-book per month, and one at a time. At launch there were about 5000 selections available but that amount has increased considerably over the past few weeks.

Self-published authors can submit anything from a single book to an entire catalogue.

For the month of December 2011 Amazon will contribute $500,000 to the royalty fund and the amount participating authors earn depends on their share of the total number of KDP books borrowed in the lending library.

Amazon state on their website, “For example, if total borrows of all participating KDP Select books are 100,000 in December and an author’s book was borrowed 1,500 times, they will earn $7,500 in additional royalties from KDP Select in December”.

Books in the lending library will also still be available for sale so authors can continue to earn regular royalty payments on top of KDP Select earnings.

Amazon also provides new promotional tools with KDP Select. Every 90 days, for example, authors have the opportunity to promote their books for free in order to get their name out there among the ever growing band of cyberspace bookworms.

It was to this very tool that I applied myself a few days ago and from which I personally experienced the Kindle bounce-off effect.

WHAT I DID…

After enrolling in KDP Select I decided on a gung-ho approach and committed my entire stock of 25 personally generated Kindle books to free download for 24 hours – including the 6 that were selling steadily. This smacks of complete lunacy and perhaps it might have been but I did it to…

1. Promote my brand to a much wider audience.
2. Stimulate interest in those titles that were still under-performing.
3. Bite the bullet and monitor during the giveaway day what happened to those that sold consistently.

WHAT RESULTED DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS…

1. I had close on 1000 free downloads almost instantly.
2. I had 157 sales from titles that had not sold before.
3. I suffered 26 refunds on consistently selling titles that had been purchased the day before the free download episode.
4. I enjoyed 49 new sales on my consistently selling titles.
5. I discovered that I can sell more by creating mini-books out of stand-alone chapters in full length works of fiction.
6. I have started to write again – particularly as outlined in (5)
7. I now have the nucleus of my Kindle marketing plan for 2012.

What I lost on the swings was more than compensated for on the roundabouts.

NET RESULT

Huge increase on returns and royalty payments – and increasing daily…

MORAL

If you have a clutch of titles in your computer earning you nothing – get cracking and upload them to Kindle Direct Publishing.

School Library Literacy – Where Are the Books, Babe?

Books are not dead yet–at least not in my book–no matter how much technology surrounds us, nor should they be if we value our children’s future.

On a recent tour of the newly-built home of our local high school open just a year now and constructed at a cost of several millions, we observed state of the art facilities for sports (three-court gymnasium), theater (auditorium, stage, pit orchestra, back-stage area to build and store sets, dressing rooms), orchestra and band (separate practice rooms).

When we came to the library, we saw a beautifully designed and technologically well-equipped space. But, where are the books? For thousands of students, there were barely three books per student. The last six stacks were completely empty. The stacks were prominently marked with pictures and smaller language labels.

When I asked our guide “Isn’t the library a little light on books?”, he told me that no one reads books anymore. No one needs books anymore. It’s the technology. Everything is done on computer. Books are a thing of the past.

I don’t think so.

Seeing the sparsely stocked library space and the guide’s nonchalant answer shocked me. Rather than seeming progressive, it seemed a sign of declining literacy. I spend many hours getting my needs met by computer and belong to an organization of electronic publishers promoting e-books and e-book readers. My book and my father’s latest book are both available in e-book format. But, at the end of the day, I sit down with a book I can turn the pages of.

My great-nieces, 11 and 7, have spent the summer reading–book–real books–the old-fashioned kind, the page-turning kind. Waking up in the morning, in leisurely slowness, the older sister asks the younger one to run get “The Tempest,” and she reads out loud to us from a beautifully adapted version of Shakespeare’s classic. The younger sister plays peacefully with her Pretty Ponies while I relax on the bed, listening, transported to Prospero’s Magic Island. You can take a computer to bed, but not like this.

Of course I was a shameless, bookish child and that led to my doom…to be a writer…to be an observer and participant in the world.

Bring back the books folks. Otherwise, there’s a half-nelson on your children’s futures.

How Are the New Multimedia Libraries Improving Cost Efficiency

A few months ago, I went into our local library, and I saw one of the girls up front who was checking in all the DVDs and CDs which had been lent out to library cardholders. She was using some sort of RFID tag reader to check them in and put them back into the inventory, where then she would take them and put them in the proper order to be checked out again. She had stacks and stacks of this multimedia material to go through, and then re-shelve. Quite intrigued, I asked her some questions, and she said they lend out more movies, and DVDs than they do actual books these days.

This new trend has nothing to do with my local library, it’s happening all over the United States. Indeed, our local library also allows people to check out e-books, to read them on their computers. That’s a pretty cool thing, and it seems that we have a mixing of multimedia and e-books at the Apple Store for those who have iPads, and this seems to be the new way information will be distributed in the future.

Indeed, I have a library with 3500 regular books, and lots of e-books on my computer, and I have several collections of DVD history books, which give presentations which are similar to that which you might see on the Discovery Channel, or on Microsoft’s Encarta. Also, before Steve Jobs had passed on, he was dead-set on changing the way textbooks in colleges were distributed, lowering the costs and making it easier for students to afford. Most of the new eTextbooks being produced these days are fully multimedia.

There was an interesting article in the Futurist Magazine entitled; “A Future of Fewer Words? Five Trends Shaping the Future of Language” which appeared in the March-April 2012 Edition where the author, Lawrence Baines, stated:

“Natural selection is as much a phenomenon in human language as it is in natural ecosystems. And ongoing “survival of the fittest” may lead to continuing expansion of image-based communications and the extinction of more than half of the world’s languages by the end of the century.”

Yes, we already know this to be true, and the trend line shows that languages are dropping off very rapidly as the global interconnectedness of the Internet reaches all corners of the earth. We have truly crossed the digital divide, but in doing so we are also relishing ancient languages to the cemetery. Of course, the changes are everywhere, not just online, but in the way that humans consume their information, including all the books in the library. In fact, Lawrence Baines also stated in the same article;

“Most libraries today spend more on non-print media than on books and magazines.”

Another point that the author of that article brought up was how our language was becoming simpler, as it is being distributed globally not only for those who are doing the reading, but also for new English speakers who are just barely beginning to write in the language.

With 24% of the world population speaking English, and a simpler version of English, and more and more the educational material being multimedia, we are going through a significant transition period, which may in fact challenge us in the future and limit our ability to communicate our true meanings due to a shorter vocabulary. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.