Kindle Unlimited On The Line

Image - iStockphoto: wgmbh
Image – iStockphoto: wgmbh

‘I wish our conclusions could be more . . . conclusive’

But all things being equal? Authors are working without a net right now.

As with so many things in publishing at this point in its encounter with the digital dynamic, the potential contradictions loom large in the new AuthorEarnings.comreport, just out today from the author-activist Hugh Howey and his unnamed technologist associate informally known as “Data Guy.”

Howey and his colleague have again provided an accounting of their latest quarterly observations — the October 2014 Author Earnings Report — and, for those interested, access to the figures.

Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey

It’s likely that he will be discussing some of the new findings later this week when he speaks on panels and in a workshop at the Novelists Inc. 25th Anniversary Conference in St. Pete Beach, Florida. There, hundreds of seasoned, veteran authors — many of them strong players in US genre midlists — will be discussing ways forward in a landscape that at times tend to look healthy only for authors of publishing houses’ blockbusters and high-earning outliers of the independent-author corps.

The purpose of the AuthorEarnings project, Howey reiterates from previous releases, lies in the challenge for many authors in trying to determine whether it makes more financial sense to self-publish or to pursue traditional routes of publication. His quick explanation also includes a reference to why Amazon figures so prominently in these surveys:

As with our previous reports, we are looking at projected sales and author earnings by pulling data for over 120,000 ebooks off Amazon’s product pages. Using known rank-to-sales rates, we are able to estimate the daily share of earnings by publishing path. The goal is to provide a deeper understanding of the ebook market than is afforded by reporting from major publishers or by tracking ISBNs, which many self-published authors do not use. Amazon is our focus by dint of controlling an estimated 60%+ of the ebook market.

Paul Kruger
Paul Kruger

As it happens, the level of Amazonian control is being sharply questioned by Paul Krugman in a Sunday New York Times op-ed, Amazon’s Monopsony Is Not O.K.

Kruger’s piece, having attracted more than 800 comments at this writing, does not end on a Seattle-friendly note:

Don’t tell me that Amazon is giving consumers what they want, or that it has earned its position. What matters is whether it has too much power, and is abusing that power. Well, it does, and it is.

Even at the Times today, however, a countervailing sentiment about a part of Amazon’s books business.

Farhad Manjoo
Farhad Manjoo

Commentator Farhad Manjoo, never one to pull a punch, refers to Amazon’s Kindle as “a tech-industry miracle. That sounds over-the-top; it’s not.”

He goes on to write:

Now, with its newest Kindle, the Voyage, Amazon is refining its e-reader once more. The Voyage’s main trick is a high-resolution display that mimics the look of a printed page. Text on its screen appears at a resolution of 300 pixels an inch, which is on par with the high-resolution displays now found on most of our other mobile devices.

For that matter, Krugman seems to feel he needs to shrug off a couple of conflicting sentiments on his way to decrying Amazon’s business practices:

Amazon’s defenders often digress into paeans to online bookselling, which has indeed been a good thing for many Americans, or testimonials to Amazon customer service — and in case you’re wondering, yes, I have Amazon Prime and use it a lot. But again, so what? The desirability of new technology, or even Amazon’s effective use of that technology, is not the issue.

There’s more: Read the full story at Thought Catalog

By Porter Ander­son | @Porter_Anderson

Writing on the Ether: Kindle Unlimited On The Line

Originally published by Thought Catalog at





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