Category Archives: Print books

Did physical books ever really go away?

Apparently, the physical book is back, but it did ever really go away? In 2016 sales of children’s books rose, as did non-fiction, in hardback and paperback. Readers have given their reasons that they love the smell and feel of a physical book and that eBooks don’t give the same pleasure.

Everyone knows their pros and cons of eBooks and physical books and here are mine:

Physical book pros:

  • Picture books with beautiful illustrations that engage a young reader and allow them to read along with Mum or Dad. They can feel the pages and point to the pictures and this helps them to appreciate a good book
  • Technical illustrations or diagrams easier to follow for non-fiction readers
  • Using a lovely bookmark!
  • Cover design (like an album cover; when LPs gave way to CDs and iPod downloads the world bemoaned the loss of the album cover, an art form in itself, so it’s great LPs have come back!)
  • Books keep libraries and bookshops in business!
  • When you’ve finished with your book you can pass it to a friend, donate it to a second hand book sale or leave it in a hotel library for another guest to enjoy
  • They look good on a shelf!

Physical book cons:

  • How many books do you take on holiday and will they weigh down your case?
  • When the spines come apart, your pages come loose and you end up having to wrap an elastic band around to keep all the pages together! (happened to me loads of times!)
  • They can collect a lot of dust
  • They are more expensive than eBooks because they cost more to produce
  • Costs of self-publishing

eBook pros:

  • You can take a whole library of eBooks on holiday with you without stuffing your case full of trashy reads and being told at the airport that you’ve gone over your 20 kg case limit
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to operate
  • eBooks give self-published authors the opportunity to publish their own books at no cost (after paying for editing and proofreading)
  • Books are instantly downloadable, you don’t have to drive to a shop or pay for shipping
  • Generally cheaper to buy than physical books
  • Gives the reader a choice: physical or eBook?

eBook cons:

  • You might not have to weigh your case down with paperbacks, but if you forget to pack your charger…!
  • eReaders are generally still in boring black and white with no colour, unless you use a tablet, so they’re not really much use for picture books or non-fiction where you want to see colourful pictures
  • There’s nothing attractive about an eReader with a cracked screen
  • Drop it in water and it suffers the same fate as your mobile phone if you drop that in water
  • You can’t borrow an eBook from a library or buy from a book shop
  • One eReader on a shelf looks pretty lonely!
  • Doesn’t have the feel or smell of a physical book
  • You can’t share an eBook with a friend (not legally, anyway!)
  • You can’t gift a Kindle book in the UK!

Nah, I don’t think physical books ever really went away. Read the news report here.

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Amazon Dis-Advantage!

In October 2016 I wrote Why I joined Amazon Advantage. To recap, I did so because I found out that Amazon wasn’t taking the feeds from Nielsen Bookdata and showing my books in their correct subject categories (Amazon call these browse nodes).  They were just showing up on the Amazon catalogues dumped in Children’s Books or Teen Fiction General. That was no good; who would find them there? When I asked Amazon, they replied the only way to sort this was to join Amazon Advantage and input the subjects myself.

Oh, and by the way you have to do it for each individual Amazon by country so naturally I began with Amazon.co.uk.

And the trouble I’ve had!

You have to add your items and input your prices and subjects, but one thing I noticed was the subjects the books should have had listed were already there. So why weren’t they on the catalogues? Anyway, I set about inputting them again. I had to wait 7-10 days for the changes, but…

  1. None of the new prices I input were ever saved despite my asking numerous times. Oddly enough pricing was one thing they did take from the Neilsen feed, so I’ve had to go back to Lulu and change them there so that they will feed that info to Neilsen (and that’s another story!) That’s probably going to be a problem with Amazon.com. I added the titles onto that Advantage programme before I wrote this post and I sorted out the prices. I wanted the prices to be cheaper and more consistent, all ending in .99.
  2. For some reason I had problems with the subjects for Goalden Girl and Goalden Sky. Amazon didn’t seem to like putting Football with Sports & Outdoors, even though this was available to choose on the Advantage subjects. Anyway they’ve managed to salvage something after loads of nagging by me, but I don’t relish having to do this all over again with Amazon.com!
  3. Goalden Sky continually drops off my active items list. God only knows why!
  4. When stock runs out, I have to send copies of my books myself to Amazon (including overseas). What happens if I snuff it??? No one will ever remember me and my books will be continually out of print! 😭
  5. Once you’re in the Advantage programme, can you opt out of it, and if so do you lose all the changes you made?

I’m beginning to regret ever joining Advantage. I think it sucks personally…🙄

Publishing a paperback with KDP – is it worth doing?

Now and then, I check my sales on the Amazon KDP platform where I publish my Kindle titles. A couple of days ago, I noticed a new feature: you can now publish paperback versions of your books with KDP.

‘OO!’ I thought. ‘You don’t say!’

It’s a beta version, so they’re still developing it. On the face of it, it looks worth doing if you haven’t self-published before, but I personally have a few questions:

  1. Can I use my own ISBNs? Apparently you can, but only if they’re issued by Bowker and that’s a US company; I’m British and my ISBNs came from Neilsen, so for me the answer is no – for now, because I have five left to use. Bowker has operations in the UK, but I can’t tell from their site if British SP authors can buy Bowker IBSNs, otherwise it’s an Amazon issued ISBN. I used a Lulu ISBN for Goalden Girl and this effectively makes Lulu the publisher of that book.
  2. Will my paperbacks be available in other stores? This is a promised feature for the future, but I’m unsure whether this means popular bookshops in the UK like Waterstones, WH Smith or The Book Depository
  3. Any chance of free book promotion? Not mentioned at this time, but if they’re going to do that will it be the same as the eBook where you can’t have your book on other sites?
  4. What size are the paperbacks? The information doesn’t say, but probably 6 x 9 inches like Lulu’s (yuk!), the standard US trade size.
  5. Will this eventually take over from Amazons existing print publishing platform, Createspace? Watch this space.

There are bound to be benefits as well as drawbacks (setting your own price being one, but comments have been made about proof copies being unavailable for authors, which would be a problem; without the proof how can you check it prints all right or that the cover looks OK?). It will be interesting to find out how it develops and what the reported pros and cons are, but I’ll give it a few years before I think about giving it a go myself.

Publish Your Paperback on KDP (Beta)

The Ridiculous Prices of Some Self-Published Books

Apologies for the lateness of this blog post! Last week I was prostrate with flu and didn’t have the energy to write my own name, never mind scribble at my blog or books! Suffice to say I’m now way behind and haven’t even started the second chapters of Episode or Owen Goal yet! I’m easing back into it slowly, a page here, a paragraph there; doesn’t matter how little or how much you write, as long as you write something every day.

Anyway, this week I want to gripe about the ridiculously inflated prices of some self-published books.

We all have our own reasons why we self-publish: because the traditional mainstream publishers we tried first told us our work isn’t good enough for them (their loss), or because we found out that actually, being traditionally published doesn’t have all that much kudos, anyway, since these publishers won’t necessarily market for you and will whip your book off the sales’ lists when it suits them. If you self-publish, you still have to market and promote the stupid thing until you’re driven to drink, but at least you can keep your books for sale for as long as you like.

Self-publishing does have its problems, of course. It costs money: money for the ISBN, money for any add-ons like book cover design, page formatting, editing and proof-reading services, money for marketing if you want to go that far, but the main problem I’ve found is the comparison cost of a self-published print book with that of a traditionally published book, making my efforts at marketing kind of like attempting to climb a hill with banana skins stuck to the soles of my shoes!

Take my new book, Goalden Sky, for instance: it has 176 pages and is printed in US format, 6 x 9 inches. In what I would call normal paperback size (5 x 7) the number of pages would work out more, so to charge £5.90 wouldn’t seem so bad then. The problem is, other books in the children/young adult genres cost much less, because most of them are traditionally published and the publishing houses can afford to charge less because they will always sell more, therefore they will glean a better profit. Despite the lure of eBooks, people still like the feel of a paperback. I want all my paperbacks to cost at least £3.99, but when using a print-on-demand platform like Lulu, it won’t allow you to set the price any lower than its recommendation, which is usually pretty high. It insists I get a royalty for every book I sell and it insists on making some profit out of me, so I have to set a price that will allow me to do that, though I do my best to keep the price as low for my readers as I can. I don’t make much out of my writing, but I’m not really out to make a profit, I just want people to read my books. My first book Goalden Girl is set at a very strange price, £6.47; by the time I got to Big Brother (£5.99) I’d learnt to tweak the pricing a bit more expertly. I get excited when I spot a discount for my paperbacks and publicise these as much as I can!

It’s not the same for my eBooks, though: I can set any price I like for those (maximum £1.99), so it’s no surprise I sell more Kindle books than I do paperbacks. There is a school of thought among indie authors, however, that if you set your prices too low you can’t think much of your own work. Sorry, but that’s b*ll*cks. I happen to think books in all genres are overpriced in general, and if you’re writing for children and young adults you want them to be able to afford them, not take out a bank loan first.

Speaking of eBooks, I have temporarily taken my books off Nook. I just got fed up with Nook’s inability to retain the formatting from the epubs I uploaded! Any italicised text was lost, any centring was lost, and I’d had enough of wasting my time trying to solve these problems. Two of the titles are still available, but for the Lulu set price of $3.99 (too much!) and they’re not available in the UK or Europe. I may try to re-upload later in the year and see if the problems have been ironed out. I also want to try and upload to Google eBooks and add the remainder of my titles to iTunes.

So does a cheaper priced book help sales? Well, it could, if you tell people about it. Selling always comes back to that rotten old chestnut – marketing. I’ve just tweeted that Big Brother’s paperback price on Amazon.co.uk has been slashed to £2.95. On the few occasions I’ve done this I’ve sold copies, and personally I would sooner pay £2.95 for a young adult paperback than £5.99.

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