Wednesday, February 16, 2011

eBook Publishers: Are eBook Copyright Pages Missing Information?

Well the ebook community is buzzing. Amazon has provided REAL page numbering. The critics have been answered. Now the fun begins. What is the source of my ebook? Is my ebook the same edition as my paper version? Where am I at here?

Of course, there is one thing that we must have in place if we are going to coordinate a paper version with an ebook. We must know the source of the ebook and that information appears to be missing in action.

It sounds like an easy problem to solve. I just purchased an ebook on-line and the hardcover edition was right next to my ebook selection. No problem.

But ask me that question in three years when I still have that same ebook on my e-reader and the hardcover book has a new edition. There is no reference to which hardcover edition my ebook matches. None.


I decided to put my analytical hat on and do a study. I wanted to see whether the source document of my ebook is identified somewhere. My assumption was if we are going to identify where the ebook originated, it should appear on the copyright page.

So I started my study. I picked 30 ebooks and analyzed their copyright pages. Somebody must have missed the memo about what information is required and what format it should be presented in because we had a variety of formats and information, to say the least. Although 30 ebooks is not a very big sample, only one of them came close to what is needed to ID the source.

Amazon has seen the need to add the source information in their on-line product description to help. They have added a line: Page Number Source ISBN. But my ebooks didn’t have a clue to the original source.

Joel Friedlander

Next I used a great post by Joel Friedlander, an expert in this area, called ‘Self-Publishing Basics: The Copyright Page’ as my starting point. (Other blogs on copyright pages are listed at the end of this post.)


I started the study on the premise that the eBook copyright page should not be the same as the source book. It shouldn’t be just a copy. All the eBook copyright pages that I studied had most of the basics. They had the copyright notice, publisher and publishing information, disclaimers, edition data, Library of Congress information and the ISBN.

Although this is not required, some gave credit to the basic book formatting and design people. Things like cover photograph, cover image/art, interior design and edited by information.

The ebooks did have some direct information about the ebook like one had ‘First Kindle Edition’. Another said ‘Epub edition © with a date and eISBN 978- number’. I don’t know if the ‘e’ is official but its meaning is obvious. One even had ‘Mobipocket reader format’ mentioned.

Only one of the ebooks had any information at all about the source. (“Simon & Schuster hardcover edition June 2010”)

Missing Information

But here is where the train leaves the tracks. With the missing source information, there was no indication where the book’s content originated from or how we got to the digital format.

Adding more information to the ebook copyright page goes along with the same concept we use for an accurate bibliography, footnotes and appendix.

The real need is in the Education area. They need to communicate information in the e-textbook to each other in an accurate manner. If they are going to cite information from an ebook, the reader needs to be able to go back to the source and verify the citation.

And Professors and students need to make sure they are both on the same page, so to speak. They need to be able to match the hardcover textbook to the e-textbook.

My wish list

We are missing the boat with the copyright page. It’s like seeing Original Source: Undisclosed on the copyright page. That just doesn’t work. The ebook is a different product than the paper version. We need more information.

1. We need the ISBN number and the hardcover edition on the copyright page like Amazon is providing on their ebook Product Production page. Of course, they are including this to help sync the page numbers with the hard copy but it should have been required in an ebook by publishers before Amazon added the feature.

2. We need different copyright pages for each version of an ebook. We need a unique copyright page for the Kindle, Nook and Sony etc. Smashwords has its own copyright page format which is the same with each version (epub, mobi, txt, etc.) they sell. I don’t know whether that is good enough in the long run.

3. I would like to see a reference on the copyright page about the ebook conversion process used. Is this an ebook only version? Is the source document from the original book’s source file or was it a scanned /OCR version to a digital file. This will give the reader some idea of the accuracy of the conversion.

4. I would like to see who rendered the ebook but I am probably pushing it although Garry Graves gave me credit for rendering his book, “Bloody Omaha”.


Kindle Version
     Original Source: How to Create Copyright Pages Right – by Jim Satire
Hardcover Edition June 2010 (ISBN: 978-9-9999-9999-8)
     Kindle Edition – 1.4.1 – Build 11/7/2010
     Original Process: Direct from Digital Source File
     Created by: Amazon DTP
     Conversion Services by: HBSystems Publications
     Rendered by: James Moushon

Nook Version
     Original Source: How to Create Copyright Pages Right – by Jim Satire
Hardcover Edition June 2010 (ISBN: 978-9-9999-9999-9)
     Nook Edition – 1.5.1 – Build 11/23/2010
     Original Process: Direct from Digital Source File
     Created by: BN Pubit
     Conversion Services by: HBSystems Publications
     Rendered by: James Moushon
Traditional publishers and self-publishers are responsible for this additional information. Sometimes publishers get caught up in trying to get the ebook out the door at the lowest cost rather than doing their own due-diligence.

It can’t be just a copy of the hardcover. It all starts with the definition of the sources of the ebook. Right now it appears that this is missing information.

What do you think about adding this information? Is it important to know?
Do the publishers have the responsibility to provide this information to the reader?

View my website: HBSystems Publications
Or EMAIL at:

A list of some good reference material on copyright pages from Joel Friedlander.

by Joel Friedlander on January 16, 2010
by Joel Friedlander on January 15, 2010
by Joel Friedlander on October 8, 2009

Self-Publisher’s Quick & Easy Guides—Copyright

by Joel Friedlander

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Amazon Has Some REAL Good News and They Have Some Great News for e-Textbook and eBook Users

What do you what to read first?

Ok. We will start with the REAL good news.

Amazon has announced changes to their Kindle software. First they are going to display page numbers. This is a feature that academic Kindle and ebook users have been asking for since e-textbooks and ebooks started to appear. It has raised a large page numbering controversy and a lot of misconceptions.

The Nook does this and the iPad does that. Both for the most part use device page numbers and not physical book page numbers but who’s keeping track. (PDF versions are an exception.)

Now that Amazon has announced the inclusion of REAL page numbers in their ebooks, the fun begins.

Study Tool
Students and teachers/professors must realize that this is just the first step toward their goal of being able to use eBooks as a study tool and to help improve the quality of their Education.

The Real Page numbers should help in class discussions and assignments. I have always thought that teacher editions should have been all over this problem but I guess the publishers have enough to do to get both versions out the door, let alone syncing the two formats.

Citations should be easier and more accurate. You should able to direct the reviewer to the exact paragraph, not just on the same page.

This could be used to increase class participation. Student may not talk but I bet they tweet a lot.

eBook Communications
Book clubs and reading groups should also benefit from this addition. Communicating with others about the content of books has been its own sport since Gutenburg got involved.

Also the new feature includes the stage of reading completion (page 100 of 250) which some readers couldn’t live without.

Now to the great news.

Amazon/Kindle has always had notes and the ability to share the notes (100 characters at a shot) on social networks but they have expanded that concept to allow you to make your notes and highlights available to others. Now you can share your thoughts and ideas with everyone. This new feature is called Public Notes.

All you have to do is turn on the Public Notes feature in your own ebook and you can view the notes of the people you follow and there comments.

If someone that you follow has written a note at a location in an e-textbook or ebook, the Kindle will display an “@” sign in the text where the note was made. All the Public Notes for this edition will appear along with your personal annotations when you select “View Notes & Marks” from your Kindle menu. The following process is documented on the Amazon website.

The audience/number of followers that can read your notes is unlimited.

So what do we do with this?

My first thought for education is you can use this in a study group environment. You setup a group of your peers as followers and start adding notes and ideas and comments. Things like references to other sources and definitions of terms. Your professor may even get involved by adding his own ideas and information. This concept could be carried even farther by including more than one class in the group.

I can see a scenario where each classmate enters notes into their Kindle for PC app on their home computer and the Public Notes feature builds a library of ideas and comments. Back at the classroom each classmate has their Kindle at hand with all the backup information they need for a healthy discussion right at their fingertips. The professor adds his comments and suggestions along the way. With the Kindle for PC software being updated with the new features, the professor doesn’t need a Kindle to keep up with the notes. Soon you have your own class thread going, all linked to your e-textbook.

eBook Authors
An author’s reader base can comment on phases or ideas and share that with the whole group. The notes could turn into companion books or generate new ideas for authors. An author is going to find out what his readers are thinking which could be a good thing or a bad thing.

What, no bad news?

Come on. There is always bad news when something seems too good to be true. Well I can see a few possible problems but I need to see under the cover before I pass judgment.

Kindle 2
Right up front it appears that Kindle 2 devices are not included in the new features. I can keep up with the class with my Kindle for PC app but my Play Thing 2 sounds like it’s for fiction reading.
Next we need to see how the new features work in practice.

Size restrictions
One question that comes to mind: Will there be a size maximum to the note, like the 100 character limit in the social network sharing? Currently private notes don’t appear to have a limit but I am sure there is one. I have added notes on my PC of over 500 characters and they display fine on my Kindle 2.

Another question: With a quantity of users adding comments into an e-textbook, is there a maximum number of message per e-textbook?

Number of followers
And a follow up question: Is there a maximum number of followers? Can this be stretched to include a class, a school and all the users of that e- textbook edition across the country? Can next year’s users join in on the notes if they have the same e-textbook edition? Amazon claims its unlimited.

Management of the Public Notes could become a problem. Recently I started a study of the ereader page numbering controversy. The study led me to several threads with hundreds of comments. Just when I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I stopped reviewing the threads because some kids starting trading insults.

The Public Notes can be a valuable tool to well-intentioned users. This feature has no limits to who can make a comment or enter a note if they have access to the same edition of the e-textbook.

REAL Page Numbers?
Another thing I want to see is how successful Amazon was at adding real page numbers. Their claim is that the page numbers correspond directly to a matching book’s print edition and they have converted thousand to the new feature. 

My Wish List

So we have real good news, great news and some things that could be a problem.
I have a personal wish list. There is no order of importance to my list.

1.      First e-textbook and ebook authors need to study the new features and take advantage of them in writing, improving their content and communicating with their audience.
2.      Professors and staffers need to start compiling the Public Notes into ebooks using KindleGen or Calibre. Amazon is not required to create an ebook for use on a Kindle or any ereader.

For Amazon
1.      We need to be able to add a group of followers as well as individual followers.
2.      When we copy and paste notes, the citation information should be available to use. We know now that the Kindle knows the Title, the Author, the real page number, the location on the page of the note and who created the note. It doesn’t need to be a part of the note, just made available to snag if we need it.
3.      The notes need to get on the Internet as information to allow a search on Google or some other search engine. Amazon is putting the private notes on the net already under our book pages.
4.      Maybe we create a serialized version of an e-textbook that only a selected group has access too. That would solve the unlimited access problem and unwanted comments.

I am sure Amazon wants to hear new ideas after solving the page numbering thing and creating the potential blockbuster Public Notes feature.

How would you use Public Notes? I am sure this list could be a long one.
How would you control the process? Maybe we just play by the rules and adapt.
How will academia respond to the new features? We will find out if the page number issue was really the problem for their resistance to the digital format.

View my website: HBSystems Publications
Or EMAIL me at:

Friday, February 4, 2011

What Makes the Top Selling eBook Authors Tick?

Sometimes when I am Google Reading in the World of the eBook Author, I come across a post that takes me back in time. A post that brings back memories of my early business career. Oh, the world of Peter Drucker, Parkinson’s Law and the Peter Principle.

Daniel Hall did that with a blog on the Selling Books blog site: USING THE “LONG TAIL” IN WRITING AND MARKETING YOUR BOOKS. Selling Books  is a great marketing blog for eBook Authors.

The essence of his post was the story of the longevity of a digital book.
First. eBook sales will be forever.
Second. If an author puts enough quality products in the pipe, they will sell their eBooks.
Third. If authors puts their ebooks in the on-line path of shopping traffic like Amazon and if it’s quality stuff, the readers will buy and return and buy again.

The Long Tail at one time was called the 80-20 Rule (“80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients”). There were no on-line sales back then. Corporations produced large quantities of products and filled the marketplace. Then they hired large direct sales staffs. Their mission was to sell to the 80% that seldom purchased anything. Their theory was that the 80% would buy in the long run. They could have concentrated on the 20% but that would have left money on the table.

Then across my screen came a guest blog by Robin Sullivan on J. A. Konrath’s site about the success of 26 eBook authors in December 2010. The blog concentrated on the analysis of the volume of ebooks sold and whether it was because they had a traditional publishing background or not. Their conclusion was that the majority of the authors did not have a published background. The pure self-publisher and eBook author.

Actually she worked with Derek Canyon to put together the list of eBook Authors and their volumes, genre and quantity of titles. His blog was called: Keys to Epublishing Success.
I thought it would be interesting to carry the study a little further to see if the Long Tail and their success had any connection. What are these successful authors doing besides writing quality books? We know that there are many authors who write good content that don’t get on the success scoreboard.

Fill the Pipe
The first thing that Sullivan’s study showed was that 7 of the 26 authors had more than 10 ebooks on Amazon to draw their numbers from. All had more than one eBook. So an author can take advantage of the Long Tail by creating quality content and having them all available on-line for purchase at any time. In the bookstore you would never find ten different books by the same author on the shelves for purchase.

It creates a synergy effect. As the author adds more products to the pipeline, the reader has more choices. If the reader likes one book, there are other ebooks on-line for their immediate purchase.

Time Management
Another observation was now the authors handled time management. When you’re a writer and a blogger sometimes you are time bound. There are just not enough hours in the day to get the job done. Some of the regular bloggers I follow use guest bloggers to keep their message flowing and free up some extra time. Good idea if the guest keeps on target with the theme of your blog. Our initial author’s list was a combination of Robin Sullivan’s blog on the J. A. Konrath site.

Niche Market
Another item that stared out at me was the high percentage of successful authors in the genre of Paranormal, Romance and Fantasy. Over 60 percent. These authors clearly saw their target market and knew how to cultivate that market. They developed their audience and keep giving them good quality content.

These authors formed a group in their genre area. Then they got readers to visit the group site for one-stop shopping of their favorite type of ebooks.

Marketing Review
So I decided to take a look at some of the author’s marketing schemes and see if there was a smoking gun or just lots of bullets being fired hoping they hit the target. As I anticipated the original 26 authors had websites and/or blogs. Some had a blog for each book they had published. Some even had a newsletter to keep in touch with their reader base.

Most of them were quite organized with links, driving readers to their buy page and, of course, links to return to their site again. They had lots of friends and followers.

Almost all of the authors belonged to an on-line authors’ group. The most popular were Goodreads, AuthorsDen and Kindleboards. They were active in social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Some had Promo stuff and giveaways to attract readers. Others had displayed reviews of their ebooks and book samples. All good marketing ideas.

All of them had what I call the Power of Links. You know the game of Search Engine Optimization that we all try to play. If you’re marketing on the Internet, you need to be on the front page. You know if you Google your name or your book title and you’re not on the first page, you are doing something wrong.

The authors had links to everywhere it seemed. They had blog rolls. They had links to their ebooks, to other sites and other authors.

Where are the Big Dogs and Cats
Now I had completed the review of the original list of authors with impressive quantity numbers. (supplied by the authors themselves). But something was missing. One thing that I noticed was except for a handful of writers whose blogs I follow, none of the authors were any of the top authors that you read about all the time. Where were the heavy hitters?

So I went back to the Internet and my database. I tried a new angle. I picked the Amazon Kindle Store Top 100 list and started another analysis. I needed to compare them to my original list. There they were. Dan Brown, Dean Koontz, James Patterson, John Grisham, Lee Child, Stuart Woods, Tom Clancy. All my favorite authors. They were selling their traditional books and ebook versions at the same time. Here was the group of authors with traditional publishing background and high level branding that weren’t in the original list.

Of course the top author in the list was Stieg Larsson. He had 3 ebooks in the top 8. The ‘The Girl With/Who’ phenomena is something for a different blog. To know his quantities would be interesting.

My original list of authors had three ebooks in the top 100. The authors were H.P. Mallory, Victorine E. Lieske and Amanda Hocking. Now to Amanda.

Amanda Hocking
The star of the list was Amanda Hocking, a young author from Minnesota. She writes young adult urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

She is what I called on my blog recently, the New Breed of Author. She is an author who knows how to communicate in an on-line environment. She has a blog. She is connected to her readers on Twitter. (454 followers at this writing) She stays alive with her friends and fans on Facebook.

Her blog is a place where her readers can discuss her books directly with her. She shares her life with her readers by listing her favorite movies, places and people she enjoys and books she likes. Her audience is a new breed of reader. One that has grown up in the digital age. One that doesn’t think twice about reading on an electronic device. One who thinks bookstores are boring and would rather buy on-line.

Amanda is connected to on-line groups like Kindleboards and Goodreads and I bet she is comfortable with all of them. Also she belongs to the Indie Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance writers and readers group (group idea mentioned above). Its purpose is to unite fans of paranormal romance and urban fantasy fiction with indie authors. This is Amanda’s niche market. It’s probably no coincidence that the group was started by H.P. Mallory, one of the 3 original authors on the Top 100 List.

Amanda has 7 books listed in the Kindle store Top 100. What is interesting is her top ebook (No. 3), Switched, has been on the top list for 64 days. Her lowest ranking ebook of the 7, Wisdom (No. 56) has been on the top list for 37 days. It seems if she can keep filling the pipeline, she is on her way to success.

As she says in her bio, she likes to write and drink Red Bull. I don’t know how that fits into her marketing plan but things are definitely working out for her.

The irony of the ticking time-bomb
Then there is the writer who has written some pieces over the years but has never been successful enough to survive the traditional publishing war games. I call them pieces because people in the know tell me they are not books unless they are on paper and have covers. And of course they are not real books unless the authors paper-bound gems have sat on a bookstore shelf some place.

Now self-publishing comes along and the writer has an opportunity to get his piece published. He doesn’t have a clue about how to start but he knows if he tries hard enough and gets the right information and follows the right steps, he can get his ebook published somewhere on-line. No questions asked. He would control the show.

So what did the writer have? His new ebook is either bullpucky and should have stayed on his hard drive or his gem is something that didn’t make the cut because the book was in too much of a niche market or some publisher had reached his quota or whatever reason they gave for not signing him up.

Anyway he is published now. And the scary version of this is his ebook piece will be in the pipeline for all time. Unless Amazon or her cousins get into a purging mood or his ebook format no longer works, his ebook will be on-line forever, hanging onto the Long Tail.
So what do we have here?
If you want to be a Rolex and not a Timex or a grandfather clock, do what the heavy hitters do.
1. Create quality ebooks in a definable genre
2. Fill the pipeline full of your product
3. Get involved in Social networking
4. Establish a website and blog and keep it active – reach out to your readers
5. Use the Power of Links and create a synergy between you and your reader
6. Join author/reader groups and forums like Goodreads, AuthorDen and Kindleboards
7. Join groups in your genre like Amanda and H.P. Mallory did
8. If you’re not a traditional, established author, you need to try harder with on-line tools
9. You need to establish a brand in your genre to create repeat business
10. If you have a blog, use guests to free up time to write but still get your message out

So do you have time to do this? It’s a big opportunity for authors to get their ebooks to readers. What do you thing about the future of the ebook Author? Do you think you can grab a hold of the Long Tail? Please comment if you want to contribute to the blog or to add to our shopping list.

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