Tuesday News: free Nook ebooks, fake Internet traffic, a book a week, and NYPL’s book train
Free eBooks Have Arrived at Nook Press – Nate Hoffelder reports that Barnes and Noble’s Nook Press has announced to publishers that they can now set the price of their ebooks to free on the B&N site. Does it matter at this point, though? Is anyone still reading on the Nook?
Free eBooks have arrived at NOOK Press! Now, publishers have the opportunity to set the price of any NOOK Press eBook to FREE. We understand the importance of this feature and are excited to provide our publishers with this great promotional tool. . . .
For those of you who currently have FREE eBooks with other vendors, you can migrate these eBooks to NOOK Press without losing your Customer Reviews. As long as the title, author name, and series name is the exact same on your new NOOK Press title, all Customer Reviews will transfer automatically. You can then ask the other vendor to unlist / unpublish their edition of your eBook. – The Digital Reader
Traffic Is Fake, Audience Numbers Are Garbage, And Nobody Knows How Many People See Anything – An entertainingly ranty post on the extent to which viewer numbers – for websites, television shows, YouTube videos, Facebook posts, etc. – are largely inflated and at best a grossly overstated guess. Even print media is not immune from this reality. Because, you know, advertising, and money in general. So does the industry just treat all this like a mass media case of grade inflation, and does it really matter, in the end, if everyone is doing it (not a rhetorical question)?
So who does know how big of an audience they really have? Well, maybe Netflix, Amazon and other digital subscription services. Their paywalls insulate them from the bulk of random bot traffic, and their proprietary ecosystems give them the ability to closely monitor all activity. Netflix, of course, is famously secretive about viewer numbers and insists on the inaccuracy of those who claim to have worked them out. The most common assumption is that they do this to avoid giving content creators too much leverage, and because the data can be seen as a valuable commodity — but I propose another reason: Netflix’s likely-more-accurate statistics, if made public, would have zero context in the topsy-turvy world of nonsense TV ratings. They would probably look exceptionally low, giving the legacy bosses who would like nothing more than to downplay the importance of digital distribution (and there are as many of those as there are record execs who can’t spell mp3) a chance to project whatever narrative they wanted onto the numbers.
So why does any of this matter? Because advertising is a multibillion dollar industry, and whenever an industry is worth that much, you have to ask: is that because there are billions of dollars of worthwhile transactions happening, or because every bloodsucker in a ten-industry radius wanted in on the action? So, so much of the advertising industry is pure waste. How much exactly is as impossible to determine as the audience sizes themselves. This is hardly a new idea (in fact it’s a century-old quote) but it’s probably more true now than ever, despite the fact that in theory technology could have delivered us from uncertainty. – Tech Dirt
How to read a book a week – The value in this piece is not the book a week hook; it’s the recommendations that are at once mundane and easily forgotten (and thus worthy of a reminder). Unless you’re one of those lucky people who are naturally focused and organized (Jane, I’m looking at you). Inspired by a Belle Beth Cooper article on how to change habits toward greater efficacy and efficiency, Chris Plante offers a handful of suggestions, some of which definitely resonated with me, especially this one:
3. Repurpose your time
I love video games, reality television, and classic horror movies. I’m not ashamed of my hobbies, but I do recognize that I sometimes gorge when a modest media meal would suffice. For example, I enjoy The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, but occasionally I watch lesser reality TV shows to chase that high. This is time I could use for books — or anything else, really, that I actually enjoy and find rewarding.
Don’t nix your other hobbies, but when you find yourself bored with a television show, movie, game, or any other entertainment, consider swapping in a book. I didn’t realize how much time I could make in my week, until I asked myself if I really valued how I was spending each hour. – The Verge
VIDEO: Watch the NYPL’s New ‘Book Train’ Motor Around the Library – Part of me found this geekishly cool, and part of me wondered why, with all of our evolving technology, this $3M freight train is the library’s sexy, new solution. It starts running on Monday – anyone going to go see it?
The main branch of the New York Public Library has a new transport system for research materials, and it fulfills all our childhood Christmas fantasies.
The electric “book train” runs on rails between storage below Bryant Park and the first and third floors of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, according to a statement from the NYPL.
The train’s 24 red cars can move both horizontally and vertically — like the glass elevators in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” — and seamlessly transition between the two, as seen in the video below. Pivoting gray baskets in the cars keep their contents upright. – DNA Info
Writers were abuzz when that Nook email went out, not because anyone cares about B&N at this point but because they think Amazon will follow suit.
As if Amazon is worried about B&N gaining a competitive advantage rather than saying, “Yeah, little buddy, have fun paying for the servers to store the deluge of free $h!+ you’re about to be hit with and make no money from.”
The train reminds me of how items are shuffled around at B&H Photo.
I spent 20+ years in the media industry in Canada, first as a radio & TV buyer, then as a multimedia planner, so I’ve used all sorts of audience data. And right from the start of my career, I questioned the accuracy – and value – of any of it. Old-skool broadcast diary reporting was suspect due to responders’ inherent laziness in completing the diaries. Nielsen PPMs are forever remembered as the boxes that counted the dog as a viewing family member. The day when collecting through-the-book magazine readership was axed was the day that readership data became imaginary. Don’t even get me started on the BS that is out-of-home audience. Even though all sources claimed to use census data for the extrapolated reports, the ratings could never be aggregated because, amazingly, each study defined their markets on different census cells. Digital has always been held to be more representative of true consumer behaviour because of its interactivity, but actually reflects similar uncertainty to offline, plus it has ad blockers, VPNs, and a massive amount of malicious traffic screwing with the data.
But the marketing industry demands data to justify itself, so it uses what it has, and tells itself everything’s peachy. It’s not.
The problems have always been that: a) Demonstrable ROI is key to brand managers, so no data, no budgets, which assures the proliferation and use of suspect data; b) There are no other options unless/until all consumers can either be monitored by ESP or download their brains every 12 hours, and I think the ACLU and other civil liberties bodies will have issues with that; c) In digital, a false equivalence of CPM/CPC campaigns is made to traditional offline brand awareness campaigns, and without the ability to qual test the digital pre/post campaign awareness since they’re never run in isolation from other media; and d) A serious resistance to shifting to direct marketing-type CPA models that can track ad exposure through to sales and bill accordingly – resistance from advertisers because that requires a massive inventory/channel management overhaul, and resistance from vendors because there’s risk if it doesn’t deliver, so why not rely on lower-priced but less accountable CPC.
Sadly, I have no solutions except to warn my clients that all media data has issues and can be made to lie. They can then choose what size piece of salt to eat.
Oh geez. I didn’t realize my comment would be so massive. Sorry, guys :(
I still read on a Nook. It’s the B&N site itself that I’ve been ignoring for years. Freebie ebooks aren’t going to change that. The things I want are things they have either refused to do or flat out removed the ability to do: being able to download books direct from the site to my computer for easy backing up, and product pages that clearly identify which ebooks have DRM and which do not.
But it was very interesting, cayenne. I’ve purchased advertising for my own small businesses in the past and greatly wondered where the numbers came from and how the seller knew they were accurate. You tidily confirmed my long-held suspicions.
@LG: I still read on a nook Simple Touch. It goes with me everywhere, and I don’t plan on replacing it until the battery dies or the technology makes e-ink obsolete. Can’t help with the DRM issue, but there is a computer app for the nook. It’s called nook for PC. BN doesn’t support it anymore, so you won’t find it on their site, but I’ve seen it available on other sites. It actually predates the nook and I read on my computer using it for a couple years before I bought my nook. Because it’s old and wasn’t designed to hold a lot of books, it takes forever to open and update. But it makes a reliable back-up, and you can export the files to Calibre.
@Sandra: Nook for PC, newly installed on my laptop, won’t connect to BN to let me download my books; the error message is “technical difficulties” or something. If I’d kept the original install, I could probably still use it, but I removed it in a fit of pique the last time BN pissed me off. If not for the settlement credit, I wouldn’t shop there at all.
@cayenne: Don’t apologize, that was really interesting! I’m glad you posted it.
I read on a Nook Glowlight Plus or whatever the most recent one is called, and I love it. It replaced my previous Glowlight, which started to stutter after a couple of years of heavy use. It’s supposed to be waterproof, I think, but I don’t read in the bath or out in the rain so I haven’t had to put it to the test.
I don’t buy anything from B&N anymore because their site is horrible and the workarounds you have to use to download your books to a computer are ridiculous. I just buy at Kobo or occasionally another epub vendor and sideload, or I buy at Amazon and convert, and it’s great for my Overdrive library books. I also get epub access to the New Yorker through my print subscription and I read it on the Nook.
@Darlynne: I have a less than $2 settlement credit I keep forgetting about. I should really find a $0.99 book and use it up.
I love my Nook Color and I plan to keep using it until it dies. I’ve completely given up on BN – I do still have my Nook app installed on my Mac laptop in case I need to make backups. But I don’t even do free ebooks from BN – not worth the hassle.
I did get a $60 credit from the settlement and it was great! I spent it in store, mostly on birthday gifts for misc loved ones. I only got $30 ish from the first settlement so I really wasn’t expecting it – it seemed like free money.
I have gone through multiple Nooks over the years, and my current primary ereader is in fact one of the recent Nook tablets–but this isn’t saying much, because the only reason I have it is because it was the easiest way for me to get a full Android tablet. I have this device much more for that than for its association with Barnes & Noble.
And yeah, I haven’t bought any actual ebooks from them in well over a year. I spent my settlement credit with them, and that’s it. The vast majority of my current ebook purchases are over on Kobo. Their last round of changes to their website killed my interest in buying anything else from them. :P