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Tuesday News: Changes at Ellora’s Cave, Pew research on libraries and reading, research on e-reading and cognition, and a tribute to women on bikes

Tuesday News: Changes at Ellora’s Cave, Pew research on libraries and...

To All Ellora’s Cave authors:

You are probably aware of the quick, sharp decline of ebook sales via Amazon in recent months. EC is not the only publisher experiencing this sudden decrease, and interestingly, we are not seeing the same drastic dip from other vendors. But Amazon is our largest vendor, so we are having to make some fairly large changes quickly to deal with the situation until we can understand it and turn it around.

We have already cut staff, special EC projects and other expenses, but the drastic drop in sales has resulted in large net short-term variable production losses and slow and often negative return on investment for EC on almost every new book we publish, with the exception of a handful of the highest sellers. For that reason, for the foreseeable future almost all manuscripts will be edited by in-house editors, and covers designed by in-house artists.

We know that many of you love your current editors and covers, and we are very sorry to lose this dedicated group of talented people (and hope to be able to offer them other opportunities in future). The good news is that our staff editors and designers are highly skilled and deeply experienced, and will bring new perspectives to your books. We are looking forward to this creating a more direct relationship with our authors so we can be more aware of and thus more quickly responsive to your needs, questions and concerns.

If you have a book currently in edits or awaiting edits with a freelance editor, Managing Editor Whitney Mihalik will contact you within the next few weeks about its status.

Ellora’s Cave has weathered storms before and we will this one as well. We are aggressively adjusting our business to the current publishing environment. We will fill you in with our endeavors as they are unveiled­hopefully with the first exciting news later this week.

In the meantime, since these declines are primarily related to Amazon, it is a good idea to encourage your readers to purchase ebooks from the Ellora’s Cave site because it benefits you and your readers. Prices of books on our site are often lower, your royalty rate is higher and you get paid faster for books purchased through our site. You and your books are also much easier to find on our site.

Even readers with Kindles and Nooks can purchase on our site and load onto their devices. The process is not difficult. Our site has instructions on how to do it: http://www.ellorascave.com/downloads-support/. We are also working on some fun videos to show people how to do it and will put them on YouTube so you can link to them when they are done.

It is also important to support and promote Barnes & Noble and All Romance Ebooks as well until we are able to determine the reasons for Amazon’s declining sales. Hopefully we will be able to work with Amazon to correct the inconsistencies quickly. However, in the short run your net royalties per book are consistently higher in the following order: 1) Ellora’s Cave, 2) Barnes and Noble, AllRomance, and probably Kobo 3) Amazon, and 4) Google. It would certainly make fiscal sense for you to send your fans to those first venues.

This is by no means meant to be a statement about Amazon. We are not at this time coming to any conclusions regarding the many negative rumors and articles about Amazon­the Gazelle Project, their disputes with Disney and Hachette, and the 900 authors’ open letter in the New York Times­which we have been made aware of over and over again. For many years we have had a reasonable business relationship with Amazon, up until this drastic drop in sales, and we are certainly hoping that it will all be resolved as we present discrepancies that we are identifying. We have not completed our analysis at this point and therefore have not had any direct communication with Amazon regarding these issues. We are just saying in the meantime that it makes sense for you to promote your books to be purchased through the venues that are most profitable to you on a per-copy basis (and of course to Ellora’s Cave). This benefits all of us. That way you will make more per sale and, in the unthinkable event that the sales at Amazon continue to decline, your fans will be aware of other venues that are out there for them. Hopefully though, this is temporary and not a continuing trend and Amazon will go back to being as profitable for us as it has been in the past.

I know that there has been some discussion and concern about a new project announced by Jaid Black. We will make an announcement soon with details, but please be assured that no EC funds are being invested in this venture, that it is in no way a publishing company, and that my full attention and loyalty remain to Ellora’s Cave and its authors. We are looking at the new venture as a means to enhance the opportunities and options that are available to our authors­not to take away funds from Ellora’s Cave­and are very excited about releasing the news to you soon. We are always looking at new projects and interests as they present themselves to us­some connected to the publishing industry and some not. Please be assured, however, that EC always has been and remains our main focus. With the help of our fantastic staff and authors, we are working very hard to adjust to the current publishing environment and remain the premier publisher of erotic romance.

Also, please note that almost all the royalty checks have been mailed, with the exception of a handful that should be out by end of week. We are not bankrupt (rumors) and are not in any kind of shape to even file bankruptcy. While we have had some issues getting the royalty checks out as quickly as we have in the past, we are still within our contracts. We certainly understand why you are concerned and appreciate those of you who have asked questions rather than spreading conspiracy theories and propagating rumors that are only detrimental to fellow authors. We hope all of this does not detract from what all of you do best­WRITING. Rumors are distracting and disconcerting and all of you deserve better.

Thanks for your support and understanding. We do appreciate all of you and respect your talents, your pride in your work and your concern for your careers. Please do not EVER sell yourselves short! What you do is valuable to everyone who comes in contact with you through your stories.

I emailed and received the following response from Ms. Marks:

We will have three in-house content editors plus a managing editor, as well as utilizing contract final line editors. We also have two full-time in-house artists and one part-time assisting artist.

The venture we are planning to unveil shortly is being created to enhance opportunities for EC authors.

Instructions have been given to all editors regarding submissions, accepted manuscripts, as well as works in progress.

I am certainly not denying this is a downsize. As you are well aware, there has been a major shift in the digital publishing environment and we must reevaluate our business accordingly. We will still certainly be focusing on properly editing and promoting our titles.

Thank you for your inquiry. I hope this answers your questions.

Patty Marks CEO
Ellora’s Cave Publishing Inc.

Other activity not noted in the email include the sale of many warehouse items including items which seem to be art props both on in a yardsale and on eBay. Per the above email, EC still is catching up on royalties. The downsizing of the company may jeopardize the quality of forthcoming books.  It should also be noted that the owner of EC is opening yet another publishing venture.

As noted in the above email, EC’s sales are down dramatically at Amazon. Likely this is due to self publishing, the introduction of Kindle Unlimited which is currently affecting other small digital publishers, and EC’s inability to adapt.

Likely the success of Laurann Dohner as well as backlist titles of authors who started with EC and have gone on to create large fanbases for themselves are keeping the doors open but whenever a company has to assert that they are not going bankrupt, that’s disconcerting for everyone. –Absolute Write

Print is still the anchor of Americans’ reading habits, but e-reading is growing more popular.

Most adults read a book in the last year, and almost half of readers under 30 read an e-book in the past year.

As tablet ownership grows, more Americans use them for e-books. –Pew Internet

In most respects, there was no significant difference between the Kindle readers and the paper readers: the emotional measures were roughly the same, and both groups of readers responded almost equally to questions dealing with the setting of the story, the characters and other plot details. But, the Kindle readers scored significantly lower on questions about when events in the story occurred. They also performed almost twice as poorly when asked to arrange 14 plot points in the correct sequence. –New York Times

From allowing young people to socialize without the chaperoning of clergymen and other merchants of morality to finally liberating women from the constraints of corsets and giant skirts (the “rational dress” pioneered by bike-riding women cut the weight of their undergarments to a “mere” 7 pounds), the velocipede made possible previously unthinkable actions and interactions that we now for granted to the point of forgetting the turbulence they once incited. –Brain Pickings

Thursday News: Amazon weighs in on ebook pricing, sale of Harlequin nearly complete, OkCupid lies to daters, and Turkish women are defiantly laughing

Thursday News: Amazon weighs in on ebook pricing, sale of Harlequin...

Keep in mind that books don’t just compete against books. Books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive.

So, at $9.99, the total pie is bigger – how does Amazon propose to share that revenue pie? We believe 35% should go to the author, 35% to the publisher and 30% to Amazon. Is 30% reasonable? Yes. In fact, the 30% share of total revenue is what Hachette forced us to take in 2010 when they illegally colluded with their competitors to raise e-book prices. We had no problem with the 30% — we did have a big problem with the price increases. –The Digital Reader and Amazon

With Harlequin’s sale to HarperCollins expected to be completed before the end of the week, the publisher’s parent company, Torstar, reported that sales for the second quarter ended June 30, 2014 fell C$6.4 million to C$96.4 million and net income dropped to C$1.6 million from C$5.6 million in last year’s second quarter. The revenue decline was attributed primarily to lower sales in North America. –Publishers Weekly

On Monday, President Christian Rudder disclosed in a blog post that OkCupid had conducted experiments on its users, including a test to see whether its assessment of their matchability led to successful dating.

“To test this, we took pairs of bad matches … and told them they were exceptionally good for each other,” Rudder wrote. “When we tell people they are a good match, they act as if they are. Even when they should be wrong for each other.” 

OkCupid’s actions, at least four legal experts said, appear to be in violation of a provision in the FTC act that prohibits “unfair and deceptive” practices by a company that result in misleading or harming consumers. –Huffington Post and Reuters

Bülent Ar?nç said during an end of Ramadan speech that women should not laugh in public or talk about “unnecessary” things on the phone. He made these oddly specific demands as he seemed to yearn for a simpler time when Turkish women were more repressed.

“Where are our girls, who slightly blush, lower their heads and turn their eyes away when we look at their face, becoming the symbol of chastity?” he asked, complaining of what he saw as the moral decline of Turkish society. –Global Post