Subscription Based Serial Fiction (Direct to Reader): Has the Time Come?

iphone-ereaderThe Holy Grail (for some) seems nearer to hand than ever before. The time is ripe, the technology is there. Storytellers since the beginning of time have been drawn to episodic narrative. Great characters demand repeat stories be told of them. And the audience loves to keep coming back for more.

Subscription and the Written Word

The most cunning and successful model for monetizing serial fiction has always been subscription. In recent history this was most evident in newspaper and magazine. The upfront promise of payment by consumers made the publication of the story possible, while the routine and regularity of the media delivered tantalizing snippets in a convenient manner. It was a win/win.

The times have changed. The desire to tell and enjoy good stories hasn’t. Television, and more recently platforms such as Netflix and Hulu, continue to emphasize our love of serialized and episodic story. When it comes to visual media, we consumers receive the best of both worlds–we can allow the storyteller to tease us along on a weekly basis, or we can gorge at the trough of story by watching multiple episodes until our bleary eyes explode.

But what about the written story? Web fiction has quietly been popular in small circles of readers for a decade. The Kindle Store created an epic shift in the digital storytelling landscape by breaking down the gates and trampling the gatekeepers. Now readers have more direct access to writers than ever before.

In 2012, the inevitable finally came to fruition when Amazon created an online store specifically for serial fiction. It became possible for consumers to pay a small upfront cost and then receive regular installments/episodes of serial fiction delivered directly to their kindle ereading devices or apps.

Amazon: The New Gatekeepers [Read more...]

Amazon Does it Again (Why Can’t Anyone Else?)

kindlecountdowndeal_hauntedhouse1_560I soiled myself this afternoon, just a little. And it wasn’t from the pizza I left out overnight (again). The afore stated befoulment happened after skimming an email I received from Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

I always read these emails close enough to see if for some magical reason Amazon has selected me to be the next instant rags-to-riches self-pubbed author. (I have delusions, okay?) This time, I quickly realized the email was about the Kindle Countdown Deals I learned of this morning (from another blog I follow).

The Kindle Countdown Deals Go Beyond Cute

I hadn’t looked too closely into the “countdown deals,” instead dismissing it as another nifty Amazon strategy to suck authors and publishers into exclusivity with KDP (via KDP Select). I decided a year ago that KDP wasn’t really for me. The benefit of being able to easily “pulse” scheduled promotions of my titles didn’t override my desire to spread my content far and wide.

I don’t like to be tied down. One committed relationship in my life is enough. I’m a child of Generation X, dagnabbit. The man’s constantly trying to get me down, and I don’t even know who the man is! (Oh, it’s Amazon, that’s right.)

Anyway, so back to the reason I had to bidet my backside. On the surface, the Countdown Deal allows the author/publisher to run a promotion on Amazon which displays an actual countdown timer revealing when the promotional deal will expire.

Clever, right? Now the first thing to catch the reader’s eye will be an inanimate salesperson tapping the reader’s shoulder and saying, “This deal is for a limited time only! Get it now, or forever regret your lack of fortitude, you gutless wonder! Don’t shop around! Buy, buy, buy!”

While clever, this is by no means enough to drag me back to KDP Select and its exclusive demands. Then I read the next bullet point in the email I received:

  • Retain a 70% royalty rate – You will earn royalties based on your regular royalty rate and the promotional price. As a result, if you are using the 70% royalty option, you’ll earn 70% even if the price is below $2.99.

What the crap!? Did I read that right? I mean, son of a–[deep breaths]–

You had me at, ‘$$$.’ [Read more...]

Kobo Books: App and Readers

Kobo MiniI’ve tracked www.Kobobooks.com for several weeks now, keeping my eye on the following things:

My intent has been to deduce whether Kobo seems to understand what it will take to become a serious player in the eBook retail universe currently dominated almost exclusively by Amazon and their Kindle store. My perspective is unabashedly that of an indie author. Today’s post will discuss the Kobo app the eReaders and other random junk. (Follow the linked bullet points for the other posts.)

The Results: Application and Readers

For my final post on my Kobo Books experiment there is a handful of random stuff worth commenting on. First, the application. I read digital content on my iPad, so I am able to use every application in a fairly neutral setting. Sure, iBooks is native to my device and I end up using it more than I would normally due to that fact. iBooks has a great aesthetic and feel to it, but the limitations of the iBooks store keeps me from using it more. Mostly I use it for opening certain .pdf files. [Read more...]

Kobo Books: Writing Life Platform

Kobo Writing Life DashboardI’ve tracked www.Kobobooks.com for several weeks now, keeping my eye on the following things:

My intent has been to deduce whether Kobo seems to understand what it will take to become a serious player in the eBook retail universe currently dominated almost exclusively by Amazon and their Kindle store. My perspective is unabashedly that of an indie author. Today’s post will discuss Kobo’s Writing Life Platform. (Follow the linked bullet points for the other posts.)

The Results: Writing Life

Props to Kobo. Their new Writing Life spanks Barnes and Nobles’ PubIt! with both hands. I would go so far as saying Kobo’s platform matches Amazon’s KDP. It is early on, and thus Writing Life is not as advanced. But the next iteration could combine many of the abilities of Amazon’s Author Central and KDP into a single source. [Read more...]

Kobo Books: Customer Service

Customer ServiceI’ve tracked www.Kobobooks.com for several weeks now, keeping my eye on the following things:

My intent has been to deduce whether Kobo seems to understand what it will take to become a serious player in the eBook retail universe currently dominated almost exclusively by Amazon and their Kindle store. My perspective is unabashedly that of an indie author. Today’s post will discuss Kobo’s customer service. (Follow the linked bullet points for the other posts.)

Results: Customer Service

I’ve by no means tested every aspect of Kobo’s interaction with users of its new Writing Life platform, but I’ve published a handful of titles, changed prices, sent some inquiries, suggestions and complaints.

Here’s what I’ve learned. [Read more...]

Kobo Books: Search Capabilities

Kobo free filtered searchI’ve tracked www.Kobobooks.com for several weeks now, keeping my eye on the following things:

My intent has been to deduce whether Kobo seems to understand what it will take to become a serious player in the eBook retail universe currently dominated almost exclusively by Amazon and their Kindle store. My perspective is unabashedly that of an indie author. Today’s post will discuss Kobo’s search and sort capabilities. (Follow the linked bullet points for the other posts.)

Results: Searching and Sorting

Shelf space has been heralded as the game changing factor of the eBook age. No longer are books, readers or authors restricted to the physical space of brick and mortar stores. As a result smaller genres and niche and/or genre bending stories have more likelihood of gaining readership (theoretically).

But these eBooks still have to grab the attention of readers in order to be read. SEO has become the new shelf space. Search capabilities and clever algorithms (killbots as I like to call them) rule the day. So, for Kobo to be a real player in the emerging eBook retail sector it would stand to reason they must address this critical need. How have they done? [Read more...]

Kobo Books: Kitten or Lion?

Kobo's Top 50 RankingsI’ve tracked www.Kobobooks.com for five weeks now, keeping my eye on the following things:

  • rankings
  • recommending reading lists
  • search and sort capabilities
  • customer service
  • the writing life platform
  • the app, the eReader, etc.

My intent has been to deduce whether Kobo seems to understand what it will take to become a serious player in the eBook retail universe currently dominated almost exclusively by Amazon and their Kindle store. My perspective is unabashedly that of an indie author.

I’ll do my best to breakdown each of the above bullet points in a series of four posts. I’ll provide my observations/data and give my personal opinion whether Kobo is currently taking a kitten stance, or lion. Today we’ll deal with Kobo’s rankings.

The Results: Rankings

Kobo appears to have two sets of connected rankings. From any product page consumers are given rankings for said product for each of the product’s listed genres (the Writing Life platform allows publishers to select up to three). These rankings are slow to change and only reflect the general rank rather than exact.

By clicking on the actual genre, Men’s Adventure in this case, you will be directed to the Men’s Adventure genre list sorted according to “Best Sellers” (you can also sort by price, rating and title). If a product is rated #83 on the product page this indicates that the product will be specifically ranked somewhere below #83 and above whatever the next selected breakpoint may be (possibly somewhere around #120). Once the product slips below #120 it would then be ranked #120 on the product page. [Read more...]