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American women are being brutally murdered across Southeast Asia. Why is no one finding the killer? THE AMBASSADOR’S WIFE by Jake Needham

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A chance encounter between a secretive billionaire and a plus-size PR expert could be the perfect solution to both their problems – or a delicious scandal in the making… Tell Me You’re Mine by J. S. Scott

Join eleven best-selling and award-winning authors under the mistletoe as they share bite-sized holiday romances: Christmas Actually

The perfect holiday gift for young readers: My Snowman, Paul by Yossi Lapid

Giveaway Alert for #CyberMonday! Enter to win and discover the best books around

Winner of the 1944 Newbery Medal, and one of the finest historical novels ever written… Johnny Tremain by Esther Hoskins Forbes

“A holiday story full of second chances, romance and magic…It’s got all the feels-and a fabulous holiday message.” Christmas on Mistletoe Lane: Includes a bonus short story (Sweetwater Springs Book 1) by Annie Rains

A murdered tsarina… A lost musical masterpiece… A stolen Russian icon… The Lost Symphony: A historical mystery thriller (Jack Rogan Mysteries Book 6) by Gabriel Farago

Huge box set alert! Winter may be nipping at our heels but you can heat things up with All I Want for Christmas: A Limited Edition Collection of Winter & Holiday Romances

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Publetariat Dispatch: Will Book Publishers Become Irrelevant?

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!
In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, Smashwords founder Mark Coker shares his NPR interview about the current and possible future state of commercial publishing.

(updated) I was interviewed today on NPR’s All Things Considered by the amazing Audie Cornish.  We talked about how the rise of ebook self-publishing will transform publishing for the benefit of writers and readers.

I shared how when we launched Smashwords five years ago, self-publishing was seen as the option of last resort, and today it has becoming the option of first choice for many writers.

But what about publishers?  Where do they fit in the future landscape? I expressed my view that in publishers’ attempt to acquire books that they think have the greatest commercial potential, they are excluding many of the potential breakout bestsellers. These authors will find their way to market via ebook self-publishing platforms, and once they learn they can do it better, faster, more profitably and more enjoyably on their own, it’ll be tougher and more expensive for publishers to win them back.  For this reason, I said, “over the next few years, traditional publishers are going to become more and more irrelevant.”


At the end of the interview, they interview Michael Pietch, the current top Editor of Little Brown, and the incoming CEO of its parent company, big 6 publisher Hachette. He takes issue with my comment about the future relevancy of publishers.  He says:

I think Smashwords is an amazing opportunity for people who want to publish themselves.  I love the diversity of the publication that is possible now, but I object strenuously to the notion that publishers are irrelevant because publishers are doing things now that are extraordinarily complex [and] exciting.  The ways that publishers can work to connect readers with writers now are the kinds of things that publishers have dreamt of doing since Gutenberg first put down a line a type.

It’s a cool comment, and I don’t disagree with him.

It’s tough to capture my complex thoughts about publishers in a five minute interview.  I don’t want to see publishers suffer as the industry evolves over the next few years.  I think the world is a better place with publishers, especially if publishers can do for authors what they can’t do for themselves.

Will publishers become irrelevant?  No, I don’t think so, and I hope not.  In the future I see, indie authors and publishers will co-exist and co-mingle along the publishing spectrum.   Four years ago, here on the blog, I wrote a piece titled, Why Book Publishing is Like Venture Capital. It’s starts with a summary of how VCs aren’t as necessary for some Silicon Valley startups as they once were, and it ends with a word game you can play with your word processor.  If you’re writer, the game is fun.  If you’re a Big 6 publisher, not so much, because the transition will be difficult.

Publishers once controlled the printing press, the access to retail distribution, the knowledge of professional publishing, the access to professional editors, and the marketing capacity to give their books merchandising advantage in stores.  These advantages are dissolving.  The playing field is leveling, readers are propelling indie ebook authors to the top of the charts, and the field is tilting to the indie author’s advantage.

If you like interview above, please share it with your friends, embed it on your blog or on Facebook, and share your views about the future of publishing.

FEB 5 UPDATE: The next day on All Things Considered, Mr. Pietch shared his perspective on the future of publishing, and why he thinks publishers will remain relevant.  It’s a great interview.  I like that Hachette is putting a former editor in charge.  Editors are the heart and soul of good publishers.


This is a reprint from the Smashwords blog.

 

Think “You the Author Meets You the Successful Publisher

Here’s the Book That You Must Read Now to Make It Happen

Screen Shot 2013-01-07 at 12.15.24 PMFinally.

It’s here.

Guy Kawasaki
Guy Kawasaki

The book that hits the sweet spot for everyone who has a personal or professional interest in the ebook revolution from the author’s or publisher’s side of the equation. From a Guy who has made a very successful career of hitting the sweet spot ever since he played the role of Apple’s “chief evangelist” in bringing the product now known as the Mac to public awareness back in 1984.

As someone who has done my own fair share of writing about “the ebook revolution from the author’s or publisher’s side of the equation” during the past five years, I wish I’d written this book. But the fact that I didn’t, combined with the fact that there is currently no existing sponsorship or other business relationship between Guy Kawasaki and Kindle Nation Daily, allows me to be absolutely authentic and unburdened in telling you that this is a book that every author, literary agent, or other participant at any level of the book or ebook publishing industry needs to read, preferably today.

The book is APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book, by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch. Beyond the imperative that I’ve tried to share above – you need this book and whether you get it free via Kindle Owner’s Lending Library or spend $10 on it you’ll probably end up making that money back a hundred times over — I’m going to try not to gush about this book. Let me try to make three points:

  1. This is far more than a How I Wrote and Published a Bestseller success story. Such stories can be helpful and inspiring, but they tend to be rather personal. The achievement of authors Kawasaki and Welch in APE is that they do a consummate job of what, back in my community organizing days, we used to call “keeping one eye on the sky and one eye on the cracks in the sidewalk” so that readers get both an objectively recognizable, fully detailed “big picture” and a nuts-and-bolts guide to all of the steps necessary to take any book as far as they can take it in the fullest possible sense of that verb “publish” in this book’s title.
  2. It’s probably obvious to you already that APE‘s mission has nothing to do with the craft of writing the next Great American Novel or Great French Cookbook, but it is nonetheless a professional, well-written book that is appropriately reverential toward the writing process and is full of the kind of imagination and vision that can help us all to think freely and usefully as we chart new pathways during these revolutionary times. One small and perhaps easily trivialized example: Kawasaki’s recognition that we have arrived in a new territory where terms like “self-publishing” are no longer useful, and his offer of new terminology such as “artisanal publishing” to describe the kind of care and control to which authors must aspire now. (That term may already have been corrupted beyond recall by Doritos and Dunkin’ Donuts, but time will tell about that.)
  3. Forget what I say. Forget the fact that it has received 200 rave reviews out of 202 total reviews at this writing. I’ll just let the book’s Table of Contents stand for the third point. Please take a look and see if you don’t agree that it covers the waterfront with respect to the sub-topics on which authors all owe it to ourselves to be well-schooled. But what I can vouch for is that every chapter in this book is a well-researched model of care and thoroughness.
Table of Contents

[ Author ]
1. Should You Write a Book?
2. A Review of Traditional Publishing
3. The Self-Publishing Revolution
4. The Ascent of Ebooks
5. Tools for Writers
6. How to Write Your Book
7. How to Finance Your Book

[ Publisher ]
8. How to Edit Your Book
9. How to Avoid the Self-Published Look
10. How to Get an Effective Book Cover
11. Understanding Book Distribution
12. How to Sell Your Ebook Through Amazon, 
Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google, and Kobo
13. How to Convert Your File
14. How to Sell Ebooks Directly to Readers
15. How to Use Author-Services Companies
16. How to Use Print-on-Demand Companies
17. How to Upload Your Book
18. How to Price Your Book
19. How to Create Audio and Foreign Language 
Versions of Your Book
20. Self-Publishing Issues
21. How to Navigate Amazon
[ Entrepreneur ]
22. How to Guerrilla-Market Your Book
23. How to Build an Enchanting Personal Brand
24. How to Choose a Platform Tool
25. How to Create a Social-Media Profile
26. How to Share on Social Media
27. How to Comment and Respond on Social Media
28. How to Pitch Bloggers and Reviewers
29. How We APEd This Book

APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur

by Guy Kawasaki, Shawn Welch
<%title%>

4.9 stars – 202 Reviews

Or currently FREE for Amazon Prime Members
Via the Kindle Lending Library
Text-to-Speech: Enabled

Publetariat Dispatch: E-Ink Devices – The Fastest Invention In History To Become Old-Fashioned

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!
In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, author and publisher Alan Baxter muses on the disruptive speed of technological advances in books and publishing.

I’ve been noticing that more and more people are reading e-books from  tablets and fewer people are buying e-ink devices like the original  Kindle. When I straw-polled this perception on Twitter, it seemed that I  was right. While we are seeing more Kindles and Kobos than ever, the  number of iPads and other tablet devices seem to far outstrip the e-ink  growth.

Further chatting and some links supplied by friendly  tweeters backed this up. When I tweeted: “I predict that e-ink devices  could be the fastest invention in history to become old-fashioned”,  futurist Mark Pesce replied:

@mpesce: They’re already charmingly quaint.

From  a shiny new technology to obsolete and replaced in very short order.  Already, the Kindle is “charmingly quaint”, like a gramophone player or a  phone with a cord and dial. I’m a bit disappointed about this, because I  love my Kindle. The thing I like most, apart from the very easy on the  eyes e-ink screen, is that it’s a dedicated reading device. No  distractions. It holds books and other documents that I need to read and  that’s all. There are enough interruptions everywhere else – I don’t  need them in a book too. Plus, the battery lasts literally weeks.

But  I do have a slight issue in that I love my comics. I’ve read comic  books forever and still buy several titles a month. I’d be happy to move  to reading those digitally, but for the colour and graphic delivery I’d  need a tablet like an iPad. I’ve yet to be able to justify the expense  of an iPad purely for reading comics. But if it was for all my  e-reading… And that doesn’t even begin to address the multi-media  reading experience, with linked footnotes, video content and so much  more that tablets make so easy.

But here’s where another problem  presents itself. Reading novels (or other straight, unadorned text) from  a tablet is problematic at the moment. It’s hard to see outside in the  sunshine. The tablet has a terrible battery life, compared to the weeks  and weeks I get from my Kindle. The backlit display is more tiring for  the eyes. And herein lies the reason tablets are taking over – all those  things are being addressed and improved at a furious rate. The tablet  is starting to achieve all the positives of a dedicated e-ink reader,  along with all the other things it does, making the strengths of e-ink  irrelevant.

It’ll be a while before the tablet screen, ink, battery life and so on are as good as, say, a Kindle, but not that long a while. It will happen.

What  this boils down to is actually something bigger. The device itself is  becoming irrelevant. The beauty of the tablet is that it is a convergent  device. You carry one thing and it does everything you need – reading,  writing, web surfing, social networking, etc. This leads to a paradigm  shift in content creation and delivery. As Eoin Purcell said on Twitter during last night’s conversation:

Things will be sold, but selling will take different forms. Subscriptions, memberships, ads, events, readings etc.

 

His  point being that the content will be in the cloud, the creators and  publishers will earn through the things he mentions in the quote above  and that content will be consumed on a variety of devices. The device  itself becomes irrelevant – all it needs is access to the cloud and a  comfortable reading experience. That’s the tablet with the battery life,  screen resolution and daylight clarity I talked about above. The  implication here is that not only does the device itself become  irrelevant – as long as you have one, any one will do – but the concept  of an ebook is also irrelevant. You don’t buy a book. You subscribe to a  publisher and access their content, whenever, wherever. I’m not  entirely sure how I feel about this…

So the dedicated e-reader,  like the Kindle or Kobo, is already dead. It just hasn’t stopped kicking  yet. Amazon know this, so they’ve released the Fire, which is a tablet  device. Others are following suit. For those of us who prefer a  dedicated e-ink device, we should make the most of it now. Before long  we’ll be the hipsters of the digital reading world, congregating like  those people in record stores who still buy vinyl and talk about what  stylus they prefer. I wonder if half the people reading this even know  what a stylus is.

(For further reading, I’d recommend this article on the subject by Eoin Purcell. Interestingly, this article is already more than two years old.)

 

This is a cross-posting from Alan Baxter’s The Word.

 

Publetariat Dispatch: As Borders Lies Dying…

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!

In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, Publetariat offers a roundup of news and commentary about the Borders liquidation from around the web.

There’s analysis, punditry and post-mortems aplenty where the failure of Borders is concerned.

This Slate piece asserts Borders died primarily of self-inflicted wounds its competitors have avoided. From the article:

Other companies have adapted to the e-reader revolution, and even benefited from it. Other companies have changed to fit the new bookselling paradigm. And other companies are dealing with the drawn-out aftereffects of the recession. The better reason for its demise is that Borders had long lost its competitive edge on many fronts, from corporate strategy to coffee. It died by a thousand—OK, maybe just four or five—self-inflicted paper cuts.

The Wall Street Journal quotes numerous customers of the chain’s "#1 Store" in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and while all of those customers are disappointed, none are surprised.

The Atlantic takes a broader view in its article, Books, Borders and Beyond: How Digital Tech Is Changing Retail:

"But if there’s one thing the Internet takes away from stores, it’s foot traffic. The Web is a shopping mall. So who needs the shopping mall? It’s more convenient for buyers — and cheaper for merchants — to play with a virtual storefront and bypass the high fixed costs of real estate.

"All retailing is vulnerable," says Joel Kurtzman, senior fellow at the Milken Institute and former editor-in-chief of the Harvard Business Review. "I’ve spoken with executives at many major big box retailers, and they’re all very worried about how the digital world is changing their business."

Forbes wonders, Does a Failed Borders Presage a Doomed Bookstore Business?

“As Borders expires, new enterprises will evolve to take book retailing’s place,” wrote Gene Hoffman, one-time president of The Kroger Co. and former chairman and president of Supervalu. “Those new enterprises won’t be conventional book retailers but companies that are on the leading edge of what current customers are responding to.”

National Public Radio raises a question about other possible consequences of the Borders failure in its article, When Borders Closes, Do Doors Slam Shut In Classical Music?

Borders’ buying patterns also made for fan frustrations, Goiffon asserts. "For years," he notes, "we pushed in vain to get them to target buying geographically: Instead of sending most of their stock to the biggest markets for classical music, such as New York, they’d send four or five copies of each title to every single store they had — so New York would sell out and be stuck, while all those other copies languished in other stores around the country."

So if you were in one of the main U.S. classical music markets, like Manhattan or San Francisco, you might never see a label’s biggest releases as you flipped through the bins. For many classical music listeners, browsing is still an important pathway to musical discovery, one that many online sellers haven’t managed to duplicate. And lots of people still prefer physical CDs to downloads. (And classical music metadata is still the beast to be tamed.) The Borders experience left a lot to be desired, for sure, but you could walk into one of their stores and know that you’d see classical music there.

Finally, and most depressingly, The Detroit News looks at the effects Borders’ failure will have on local and national economies and unemployment rates:

Borders workers will be hurt because retail employment has stalled and it could be difficult to find a new job, says John Challenger, chief executive at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago job outplacement consulting firm.

Borders will lose its 10,700 employees nationwide, which represent just less than 0.1 percent of the country’s roughly 14.5 million retail workers, Challenger said.

"That’s a big loss of jobs," Challenger said. "We haven’t seen five-figure mega-layoffs in a while."

It takes a retail worker three to four months on average to find another job in the sector, he said.

 

Publetariat Dispatch: Publishers Be Crazy…Or Desperate

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!

In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, Publetariat founder and Editor in Chief April L. Hamilton marvels at Bookish.com, major publishers’ latest plan to compete with booksellers directly.

I just read this article about Bookish.com, a new joint venture being launched later this summer by Hachette Book Group, Penguin USA and Simon & Schuster. Per the article:

The site intends to provide information for all things literary: suggestions on what books to buy, reviews of books, excerpts from books and news about authors. Visitors will also be able to buy books directly from the site or from other retailers and write recommendations and reviews for other readers.

The publishers — Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group USA and Hachette Book Group — hope the site will become a catch-all destination for readers in the way that music lovers visit Pitchfork.com for reviews and information.  

A couple of sentences further down, you’ll read:

“There’s a frustration with book consumers that there’s no one-stop shopping when it comes to information about books and authors,” said Carolyn Reidy, the president and chief executive of Simon & Schuster. “We need to try to recreate the discovery of new books that currently happens in the physical environment, but which we don’t believe is currently happening online.”

There are three problems with Ms. Reidy’s statements.

First, there is NOT "a frustration with book consumers that there’s no one-stop shopping when it comes to information about books and authors," because in fact, there are several sites that offer one-stop shopping for author/book information. Perhaps Ms. Reidy just hasn’t heard of such obscure, underground sites as Amazon.com, Goodreads.com, Shelfari.com, and LibraryThing.com.

Second, nobody needs to "recreate the discovery of new books that currently happens in the physical environment," because for the average consumer, discovery of new books NO LONGER HAPPENS IN THE PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT. Once again, it’s Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari and LibraryThing to the rescue here, not to mention genre-specific online communities like Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and format- and device- specific online communities like Kindle Nation Daily.

Third, Ms. Reidy and her compatriots don’t "believe [this is] currently happening online." Why not?! How is it possible that publishers are THAT FAR out of touch with book buyers? I’ll tell you how: traditionally, publishers have viewed booksellers as their customers, and book-buyers as the customers of booksellers. They have little to no idea what’s bouncing around in the head and life of the typical consumer, because they haven’t had to know those things to run their business at any time in the past—past being the operative word there.

So these three major publishers are sinking massive amounts of time, effort and money into a huge new initiative that I think just about any typical book-buying consumer on the street could tell you today is destined to fail. And how do you suppose they’ll be financing this new initiative? Certainly not by reducing the prices of their books, or signing more new, unproven authors, or keeping books on physical shelves longer to give them a better chance of catching on, or giving individual authors more marketing money.

I’m sure the publishers would say this initiative is all about supporting their authors and marketing books in a cost-effective way, so kudos to them for good intentions. But while they may know book and author marketing today is all about author platform, they clearly don’t understand that author platform is all about community, and community is about making personal connections and feeling like you’re part of a movement. Which do you think a fan of Stephen King would rather visit: Stephen King’s personal site and online community of fans, or the obviously corporate umbrella site, Bookish.com?

Bookish.com content will necessarily be vetted and vanilla, so as not to hurt the corporate images and reputations of its backers and to avoid offending any site visitors. Anyone who wants the raw, unfiltered version of musings from their favorite authors and opinions of others in those authors’ communities won’t bother with Bookish.com when they can get the straight scoop right from the horses’ mouths elsewhere.

I hate to sound so negative and dump all over publishers like this, because it’s a good thing that they’re finally willing to try something new. But at this point, they face the same problem Microsoft did with its Zune MP3 player: Apple got there first with the iPod, and they did it very well. If you’re going to enter the marketplace with a new product for which the demand has already been fulfilled by someone else (or several someone elses), then your product has to be so incredibly, amazingly compelling that consumers will feel they’re missing out by not switching to it. Microsoft tried it with the Zune; I think by now we can all agree they failed to capture enough of the MP3 player market to even make Apple break a sweat. And Microsoft has decades of experience with technology and marketing direct to consumers.

So Bookish.com gets an A for effort, but a goose egg for vision and sustainability.

Publishers: maybe you’re looking at this all wrong. Maybe instead of trying to supplant the Amazons, Goodreads and Shelfaris of the world, you should be looking for ways to leverage what those sites and communities are already doing, and doing very well: crowdsourcing.

Let them tell you what the readers want to see in print and ebook forms. Listen to consumer complaints about ebook release windows and pricing, and respond accordingly. Switch to POD book production so you can offer a much wider variety of titles at a much lower cost; grousing about the lack of variety and fresh, new voices from mainstream pub is so common as to be a pastime in reader communities. Stop chasing after blockbusters and start tuning into the pre-existing discovery network to locate your new literary stars. Keep your ears to the ground for breakout indie authors, and sign them, knowing they’re already proven commodities. Get and keep a bead on technologies consumers are excited about (color ebooks, interactive book apps, etc.) and invest in those technologies.

Your role as arbiters of taste and gatekeepers is a thing of the past, and the position of Reader Community Leader has already been filled. Own it. Restructure your businesses and legacy thought patterns to embrace this new reality. Now, your role is to find out what consumers want in print books, ebooks and emerging media technologies, and give it to them. Period.
 

This is a cross-posting from April L. Hamilton‘s Indie Author Blog.

Publetariat Dispatch: Can the Subscription Model Work For Trade Publishers?

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!

In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, Publetariat founder and Editor in Chief April L. Hamilton wonders if a subscription model, such as that employed by Netflix and Gamefly, could work for trade publishers where ebooks are concerned.

I recently read a Slate article about how the film industry is repeating the DRM and business model mistakes of the music industry, and of course saw many parallels with, and implications for, trade publishing in it. But unlike the film and music industries, Big Pub has plenty more market and cultural shifts to contend with these days than just the rising popularity and availability of digital media.

The once-mighty Borders has failed, proving once and for all that brick and mortar is no longer the ace in the hole it once seemed for trade publishers. Authors, established and aspiring alike, are seeing fewer and fewer reasons to partner with trade publishers now that it’s become clear they can get their work to a readership more quickly, keep control of their intellectual property rights, and earn higher royalties to boot by going indie. As if to add insult to injury, Amazon seems poised to eat whatever’s left of Big Publishing’s lunch after everyone else has had a go at the trough. But it occurred to me that there may yet be some unexplored and promising territory for Big Pub, if they’re willing to entertain an unorthodox idea: a subscription model of ebook content delivery.

Much like Gamefly and O’Reilly’s Safari Books Online, major publishers could offer a monthly, flat-fee subscription service for

book-at-a-time access to all their ebook titles in various ereader formats. Note that I said access, not ownership. It would be a rental-type paradigm, and like Gamefly and Netflix could be offered at various pricing tiers according to how many titles the consumer is allowed to have checked out at any given time. Such a plan would enable publishers to maintain steady, ongoing revenue streams in addition to their existing sales channels, and would allow publishers to do an end-run around Amazon, B&N’s Nook store, and Apple’s iBookstore, too.

Perhaps just as importantly, it would allow publishers to gracefully exit the ebook pricing, DRM and staged release debacles of the past, and finally be seen as offering a valuable service to consumers instead of being the big, greedy bad guys.

Gamefly charges the equivalent of the cost of one new game at retail prices for its basic subscription; trade publishers could do the same. At $10 – $15 per month I think plenty of avid ebook readers would be willing to sign up, because they’re probably already buying at least one ebook at retail prices each month.

There are only 5 major players left in trade publishing, so even if you had to ‘subscribe’ to all 5 of them individually (since it’s not likely they’d form some kind of collective service), you’re still only talking approximately the same monthly fee as what plenty of people are already paying for their Gamefly accounts.

While publishers would lose money on accounts signed to voracious readers who currently buy numerous ebooks every month at retail prices, those folks are outliers. Most people I know don’t buy ebooks at that rate, and most people I know don’t read more than one book a month, either. Also, there would surely be a large contingent of people who sign up fully intending to wring their money’s worth out of the subscription fee, but ultimately end up ‘checking out’ a book only every second or third month. Once you know the books are there for the taking any time, there’s no urgency.

If you subscribe to Netflix, Gamefly or even a health club, you’re probably personally acquainted with this phenomenon. I say this while gazing ruefully at the Netflix DVD I’ve had checked out for nearly four months now. Yep, I’ve paid the monthly fee for that movie three times over, and in fact could’ve bought the DVD for less than I’ve paid for this rental by now. But I still have no intention of cancelling my Netflix subscription because it’s a convenience I’m willing to pay for. And maybe someday I really will end up checking out a new movie every few days, like I imagined I’d be doing when I first signed up.

Yes, there are technological hurdles to be overcome. And yes, there will be some considerable startup effort and investment. But those things are true of any new business model trade publishers might try to adopt. And heaven knows, the model they’ve currently got is no longer working so they’re going to have to try something.  

This is a cross-posting from April L. Hamilton‘s Indie Author Blog.

eBook Leaders Show Random House Sitting Pretty As Amazon’s Kindle Store Discounting Plays Crucial Role in Picking Winners

For the past few weeks, we’ve been paying more attention than usual to the USA Today bestseller lists that come out each Thursday because they have provided a fascinating window into the changes that are taking places in what we read and the publishing sources for the books that we are reasing.

Once again, the USA Today top 50 list for the week ended February 13, 2011 shows a healthy representation of titles for which the ebook format is the highest-selling format. There are 19 such titles this week and we provide a full list of those 19 titles below, with their list prices and Kindle Store prices as of today.

For each of the titles listed here, the first price shown is the publisher’s list price as reported by USA Today, and the second, linked price is the Kindle Store price. Wherever the publisher is a participant in the agency-model price-fixing scheme, the two prices will often be the same. For other books, Amazon may discount the book further for Kindle customers at its discretion.

While we are looking, a couple of other tidbits that caught our attention:

Among traditional publishers, Random House and its imprints are the place to be for authors these days. Random House is the leading traditional publisher in the U.S., and some may have been nervous for its authors when Random decided to abstain from the agency-model price-fixing scheme and, in the bargain, from the much-hyped Apple iBooks Store. But Random and its imprints and authors have benefited hugely from the price flexibility that Amazon and other retailers have been allowed, especially since the publisher and the authors get paid based on full list price even if a title is discounted below wholesale cost in the Kindle Store and elsewhere. Sixteen of the USA Today Top 50 are published by Random and its imprints, which is a dominant position given other changes in the composition of he bestseller lists. Given that Random has achieved that position without a single sale through the iBooks store, that dominance speaks eloquently of the utter failure of iBooks.

Meanwhile, Amazon and others should take very seriously the king-making role that results from the company’s selective discounting for Kindle titles. It seems very likely that a fabulous book-group natural like Elizabeth Stuckey-French’s novel The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady should be headed straight to the highest rungs of the Kindle Store bestseller list, especially after recent rave reviews in the New York Times, Denver Post, Boston Globe, and Kindle Nation Daily. The book is published by Random imprint Doubleday, which means that Amazon controls price and discounting in the Kindle Store just as brick-and-mortar booksellers control price and discounting for the hardcover edition. But with Amazon selling the Kindle edition for $13.90, Jeff Bezos and his minions might as well be standing at the gates of bestseller heaven blocking the entrance of one of the more distinctive, independent voices to come along in American fiction in recent years. It says here that as soon as Amazon brings the retail price of Revenge down to the $5-$10 promotional price sweet spot provided for Stieg Larsson, Sara Gruen, John Grisham and others, it will have another bestseller in the making.