Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view


Tuesday News: Gaming Amazon’s bestseller lists, a glitch in the Sony-Kobo transfer, an essay defending NY book editors, and wacky book covers

Tuesday News: Gaming Amazon’s bestseller lists, a glitch in the Sony-Kobo...

My Buying Community Want to Help Authors Beat the Kindle Store Best Seller List – My Buying Community, with a purported 10,000 members, seems to be another way to game the system on Amazon. The idea behind the service is that an author can get members to purchase his or her book, driving it up the lists. Can Amazon figure out this crap is happening and put a stop to it? Where’s the petition to get THAT to happen?

Like the MyKindex site which operated for a period of time last year, MBC connects authors with a willing pool of book buyers. The site looks to be entirely author funded, and from what I can tell as a reader it works along the same lines as the services that sold reviews to authors like John Locke.

A user signs up, request to purchase a book, and after the purchase is verified the user is credited the price of the ebook plus an additional 30%. After a user buys enough books to pass the minimum payment threshold, they can request a Paypal funds transfer. –The Digital Reader

Welcome US and Canadian Reader Store Customers! – So who, among former Reader Store customers, has attempted to use your Kobo account? I haven’t yet, but apparently there has been a problem with the supposedly automatic transfer of gift certificate and other credit balances to Kobo. According to the Kobo site, they are aware of the problem and are attempting to resolve it, but if you are supposed to have a credit in your account, and haven’t yet checked Kobo, this might be a good time to do so.

Kobo Customer Care has received calls regarding credit balances that didn’t transfer to Kobo customer accounts. We are working with Sony to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. If your account is affected, Kobo will notify you directly. Thank you for your patience. –Kobo Store

YES, BOOK EDITORS EDIT – In his response to the essay collection MFA vs NYC, Harper Collins editor Barry Harbaugh defends the work of New York publishing’s editorial staff against accusations of irrelevance, laziness, and even non-existence. However, even if you aren’t familiar with the source of Harbaugh’s defense, his essay is still an interesting commentary on the numerous tensions within traditional publishing, including the role of the editor, who have historically served as underpaid workhorses for publishing houses.

The editorial staffs of New York houses are not the faceless lemmings that a certain retail giant with a vested stake in self-publishing would have us be. And though it would appear to outsiders that the health of our careers depends solely on measurements of quantity (of the books that we acquire and the units sold), we’re not numbers-obsessed automatons. Editors edit. A lot. As a group, we’re hesitant to speak up for ourselves, lest our decorousness be tainted by saying something too self-aggrandizing. But I’ll take the risk: I probably mark up fifty to a hundred pages a week, most of it on the weekend. I ask questions and cut sentences and write chapter titles and all that stuff. The other editors at my company, and editors I know socially from other companies, are just as rigorous. –The New Yorker

The weirdest, most bizarre book covers ever published – While I’m pretty sure these aren’t THE weirdest and most bizarre book covers, some of them are pretty darn creepy, from Mommy Drinks Because You’re Bad (a “Quality Religious Book for Children”), to Harpo’s Horrible Secret (which I’m sure you can guess, even without looking at the cover). –

Friday News: Streaming media at Amazon, Penguin Random House profits, Dubai bookstore preserving literary history, and the Blurred Lines/My Little Pony t-shirt

Friday News: Streaming media at Amazon, Penguin Random House profits, Dubai...

Amazon Considers Streaming Media Service – To be honest, I’m surprised this hasn’t already come to pass, given the way Amazon continues to expand its media services. Is it the ad-supported aspect of a streaming video and music service that’s noteworthy? Is it the fact that such a service would expand current options beyond those that Prime members enjoy? Speculation in the article is that this is another way of encouraging purchases, since Prime members already spend so much more at Amazon than other customers, and that makes sense. Despite Amazon’s protests to the contrary, speculation is that this service could be rolled out within several months.

Ad-supported streaming video would give Amazon an opportunity to flex its advertising muscle. Amazon has been quietly building out a service for placing ads on its own and other websites. eMarketer estimates the ad-placing unit will hit nearly $1 billion in sales this year, rivaling AOL Inc. AOL -1.87% and IAC/InterActiveCorp IACI +0.39% but smaller than Google’s or Yahoo Inc.’s YHOO +0.39% operations.

By comparison, YouTube—which streams a combination of music, television, film and original content such as home videos—generated about $5.6 billion in revenue last year through advertising, estimates eMarketer. –Wall Street Journal

Penguin Random House Booms in 2013, Growing Revenue, Profit – So the newly merged Random House and Penguin venture is, thus far, at least, a profitable company. With almost 12,000 employees and €2.7 ($3.7) billion in year-end consolidated revenue, and an increase in sales. This figure reflects an entire year of sales for Random House, and six months for Penguin.

Despite no Fifty Shades for PRH in 2013, the company managed to keep its profit margin above 10% and actually increase its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA, a measure of profit) over the prior year.

The company also announced that it sold 100 million ebooks in 2013 worldwide. –Digital Book World

The Dubai bookshop that is helping to preserve historic Arabic writing – We definitely tend to think of independent bookstores as preserving culture, but here’s a truly poignant example of that concept, with Mohammed Al Sayed on his 20th year selling books by Arab authors that would otherwise no longer exist. Sadly, he indicates that many people seem to buy these books because they are interesting-looking artifacts; however, perhaps someone will consider a digitization process for some of these older works, especially since Al Sayed is noticing an upswing in interest in many of these books.

However, over the years, many of the great Arab authors – as well as the works of smaller, lesser-known ones – have had their work lost as their books went out of print.

Books from the 19th and early 20th century on the pre-Islamic era, Islamic periods and “golden civilisation”, the era of pan-Arabism, colonialism and independence and more can still be found in souqs across the country and some libraries. But if you’re looking for something in particular on any of the subjects, your first stop might be a tiny bookshop in Dubai known as Dar Al Fadeela. –The National AE

“Blurred lines” – Children’s shirt – A My Little Pony T-Shirt emblazoned with the “Blurred Lines” title – innocent imagery or creepy over-sexualization? Discuss. –BabyCenter