April 25th, 2011

Minor Complaints on Kindle: scambooks, hotlinks

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/amazon-kindle-ebooks-targeted-by-scammers/47751

David Chernicoff says his fiancee asked him to buy a book on the kindle. The item in question was really short, not particularly useful, and laden with spammy hotlinks. He was surprised.

"Based on Larry’s Kindle publishing experiment blog, I expected something that fit the guidelines that were mentioned, at least in terms of length (10-30K words), with content that had seen some sort of approval process. Instead I got a thousand words of vacuous advice and hotlinks to online scams."

Chernicoff complained and got his money back and was informed that, "Larry’s article had been about self-publishing a Kindle Single, the eBook in question was not a Single and that singles do all require a certain length and price, and are editorially curated."

You could therefore interpret Chernicoff's complaint as, hey! There's no editorial process here. However, his proposed solution is a little different:

"Although I don’t expect Amazon to employ a corps of readers to evaluate the content of the eBooks that are found throughout the Kindle Store, it might behoove them to disable the ability to hotlink content from within these documents to minimize their potential as a vector for malicious software attacks."

Once again, someone identifies an area in which the vast liberty offered by ebooks creates an opportunity for something unpleasant to happen, and proposes a solution which is ridiculously onerous to the wrong people in an effort to solve it.

I find it extremely odd that people are so fearful about ebooks. I suspect this is somehow a put-up bit of outrage.

ebook coverage: pricing, size of market

http://www.bnet.com/blog/technology-business/guess-what-no-one-knows-how-big-the-e-book-business-is-update/10199

I was a little surprised at the quality and balance of Erik Sherman's article. His thesis is simple and captured by his headline. He notes the AAP numbers (and their limitations), points to a pricing analysis at Kindle Nation Daily (itself an excellent analysis), mentions Amanda Hocking, and then points out the difficulties of trying to figure out unit sales from total dollars.

I thought I might check in at Konrath's blog after reading that, where I found this:

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/04/276112.html

In this entry, Konrath supplies number of sales (units, in this case) in a variety of ways. I was struck (as usual) by how large a fraction is through kindle sales (Konrath has consistently tried to make his work available on as many platforms as was feasible). His focus was mostly on the trend (the curve of is sales is still getting steeper as the year progresses).

I continue to be a little mystified by ebook coverage. It isn't laughably bad, the way it used to almost always be. The minor carping is somewhat humorous, but virtually every problem anyone identifies is associated in some commentary with really bad proposed solutions, so that's hardly unique, either.

Here's what bothers me. I've seen unbelievably hyped up will-change-the-world coverage of things we completely forget about a decade or less later (for some reason, Pen computing springs to mind, altho it is an imperfect example of this phenomenon). I feel like ebooks have never had hype the way almost everything gets hype, deserved or (more typically) not. It is _not_ a silent transition or revolution or paradigm shift; it is a revolution that is being actively denied, downplayed, ignored and fought.

But I feel like the "pro" side has been awful reticent throughout.

Rout, Konrath and Eisler, a future model for publishing/agenting

R.'s theory about why there is no hype is that this isn't a revolution; it's a rout. Here's a quote for anyone contemplating that idea:

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/04/ebooks-and-self-publishing-part-2_03.html

In a long discussion with Barry Eisler about a variety of things especially Amanda Hocking's recent 4 book deal for $2 million, Joe Konrath says this:

"Will there be any bookstores left in 2016? Those reading this might be saying “Of course there will be, dummy!” But what if I said, back in 2006, “Will Borders declare bankruptcy and B&N’s stock reach an all time low?” Would anyone have agreed?"

That's sort of an interesting question to ask.

ETA: Later in the same piece there's an extensive discussion involving Dean Wesley Smith about Konrath's "estribution" model. Smith hates the idea of paying anyone a percentage for anything. Amazingly -- and cogently -- Konrath argues in favor of a 15% cut to someone who does what publishers and agents should be / are doing now, only in a digital world. It's quite odd watching Konrath lay out in detail what the model for publishing should be going forward.