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About This Club

The mission of #readingblack is to encourage everyone to read quality books written by Black people and to purchase those books from independent booksellers. We strive to develop strategies that will make it easier for book buyers to support our mission.

  1. What's new in this club
  2. The only High St bookshop in the UK is now just Waterstones. I don't shop there as I think that they are pretty expensive. I occasionally like browsing in there as I like to see what's new. Maybe I just like to be surrounded by books. Book shops of the past that are now gone include Books etc, Claude Gill and Ottakers. So that just leaves Waterstones. Of course we can buy online but we don't have much choice there. The same goes for music. Just HMV are left. Virgin and Our Price no longer exist.. But there are some cracking record shops around though most of these tend to specialise in particular genres. As for e- books. No thankyou. Yes, they are handy and you can store scores and scores of books on them but they're not for me. Actually, though I no longer purchase any reading material from Amazon I still have a music wish list on there. Perhaps I should consider not buying from them full stop. The last albums I bought were on EBay anyway.
  3. That is what I have to figure out before I can sell eBooks -- even if it means few authors will take advantage of the option and fewer readers will purchase these types of ebooks. There many authors, usually the selfhelp type, who seem to do well selling their own ebooks. I'll look into what technology the are using nowadays.
  4. Hahaha! Get it together, @Troy ! But quiet as kept, I always go back and edit my comments for the same reason! 😄 Agreed! But you can see how enticing it must be. Amazon always provides the Easy Button. So, we independent authors/self-publishers must include an “Easy Button” in our sales repertoire. Now what would that “Easy Button” look like - is the question we need to answer and act on.
  5. @Mel Hopkins you decoded my text correctly 🙂 (I can't help but think of Cynique when my typos are exposed she was a stickler on that). Your comment on free is actually really important -- nothing is "free." Indeed we provide so much value to social media, Amazon, and Google they should really pay us for using their platforms -- I'm completely serious. Amazon was still paying me to send readers to their site. I just did not think it was enough, so I stopped. All the "free" services Amazon provides can become fee based or removed at anytime. Which is what they tend to do once they have as they Again, easily creating a eBook that you can only sell on a single vendor's platform is only considered a benefit if that platform holds a monopoly position. Easily creating an ebook for a platform noone uses is no benefit. So I'm afraid giving authors an easy way to create ebook that can't be sold on Amazon is not an alternative....
  6. @Troy Did you mean "work with ePub"... that's how I read it. So, I hope you did. And the truth in that statement makes the amazon deal bittersweet. And here's why. Again Amazon.com /Jeff Bezos really understands his market. He helps writers help him become even more wealthy - - Now, the following indictment may not be true of all writers but it must be true of most of us self-published writers or we wouldn't even bother with Amazon. Case-in-point. The last time I was in my KDP account was about two years ago when I decided to unpublish my stories on Amazon. So, today, I sign into my KDP account (long story - but I decided to remove my digital assets from most outside vendor digital platforms) and I delete two of the manuscripts I forgot about. And since there was no option to delete the other two, I thought, at least I could remove the files so CreateSpace couldn't print my book. (Not saying that they would, but "lead us not into temptation.") Anyway, as I was about to delete the file - I noticed KDP offers a free book formatting file. I emphasize "free" because most things free in commerce - come with a hidden cost. But I digress. Once you download this "free" formatting guide to your PC it promises to do the heavy lifting to design a beautiful book. See Images and the link https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/GYVL2CASGU9ACFVU Now, this format only works for .mobi . So, you have a beautifully formatted mobi file for an eBook that only works on Kindle readers. So once again, if you're writer with limited tech skills this is a godsend. All you have to do is upload your manuscript, manipulate the template and now you have a mobi file ready for publishing and distribution. All this to say, we writers/independent publishers must make it as easy for our readers to get our books; as Jeff makes it easy for us to publish them.
  7. If there was real competition in the American eBook market Amazon would have to wor8d with ePub as well it own format.
  8. @Troy No, the Kindle handles Amazon's ebook format, Mobi. Kobo uses the open format Epub. Epub is not Kobo's epub is for anyone to use, Kobo reads epub and pdf's. Kindle read Mobi and pdf. That is what i meant about amazon. They knew being first to have an ereader, they had a chance to use their own ebook format exclusively. Epub was made and is used mostly throughout the industry. But in the usa, the market of amazon pulls toward mobi while outside the usa it is epub.
  9. Yep I spoke to Calvin at PW a day or two after I published the Blog post. A indie publisher in Brooklyn, Melville House, also covered the piece. You should check out their article, as well as the articles they link to in their coverage. They wrote about Amazon converting their Audible audio into ebooks -- in defiance of publishers wishes! Amazon just doesn't give a f*uk, they are so gangsta! While Amazon is not providing the entire text to read at once (it is apparently being providing as the audiobook is read), this is a technically which essentially give the consumer an ebook when the buy the audiobook. As you know Amazon also owns Audible.
  10. As a bookseller, I'm only going to consider open ebook and audiobook book formats to sell in this website. I focus primarily on physical books, as I have not designed the site to accommodated the site to accommodate multiple formats of the same book. It is not something I plan to do in the short term. So, if a book is only available in ebook format, I'm only selling and open version. @richardmurray does the Kindle handle Kobo ebooks? I actually have two kindle ebook readers and have not used wither in years. I also have a Nook and I guess this products is obsolete for all practical purposes... I'll probably resuscitate these devices as I begin my research.
  11. cool @Mel Hopkins if you are on writing life, let me know. I have placed books on overdrive, placed books overseas. you have to comprehend, kobo lists books based on the language in different geographies. Tell me what you think of my Nyotenda :) it is a screenplay, but that is a whole other multilog:)
  12. @richardmurray thank you! I remember when you first mentioned Kobo to me awhile back. It takes me some time to digest all the information I take it - but I rarely forget who shared the information. This is excellent background on Kobo and now I see why Walmart joined them. I did sign up with Kobo using my walmart account. I'll be sure to share how the program works for me too.
  13. @Mel Hopkins books and audiobooks for reading or listening:) Music is something I am working on. To any who may see the following I have to go into storytime mode , talking about Kobo, with the advantage of hindsight. The ebook industry's problem began with the firm first to make an ereader, Amazon. Amazon knew, based on how they dominated the eretail market, that people online in the usa are loyal to websites. They do not leave them voluntarily, for the most part. I know this having been forced to leave two blog sites, and only after the second actually doing real searching into what is out there. amazon also knew the only danger to their plan is not having a large library and not having a growing new publications list. Amazon thus opened their writing program and converted as many books as possible into ebooks, using their system. The last piece of their statian domination , though most vital, was their machines. the Amazon kindle was the first ereader, but the amazon fire is the economy car tablet. Thus, amazon had the two devices most people in the usa will have to read ebooks. And the kindle doesn't accept epub and the fire doesn't allow every other app, like kobo's for example. The dominance Amazon has in the usa market is like facebooks. I know for certain other websites do better or equal to facebook or instagram in the esocial , but their audience is not based in the usa. Sequentially, people in the USA are hard to see the other firms. That last point connect to Kobo but I continue. ... Barnes and noble tried to mirror Amazon's strategy, thinking their book stores gave them a userbase that can wither amazon's in the reading world. But, barnes and noble was wrong. amazon's strategy depended on being first, the second your firm is not first, you can not duplicate amazon. Another bookstore called Borders had to do something. They were not a tech firm like amazon and didn't have the money like barnes and noble to invest in making a product. But, this canadian firm Kobo, had a product. Me side my blood relatives, love to read, and liked going to borders. Sequentially, when they sold the first Kobo's we were interested. The best thing about the original kobo was the purpose. This was not a multipurpose device, this was a straight forward read ebook device. I do not like to buy technology that overlaps purpose, so I was interested. Over time, borders went out of business as Kobo couldn't provide the uptake needed in the usa market. But, Kobo survived cause outside the usa, many liked the universal nature of kobo. Unlike barnes and noble or amazon, Kobo's objective is getting people to read. And, they developed a nice market share in europe especially, where the buying habits to technology are not like the usa. THis is why in Europe, the nintendo game systems market shares are much larger than sony playstation or microsoft xbox. PEople in europe do buy sony or microsoft, but many people in europe have an affordable quality mentality to buying technology. Nintendo fits that mold, Kobo as well, fitted that mold. But, to make more devices, Kobo needed investment and they couldn't get it on there own. So, here comes Rakuten, a japanese company, biggest publisher in japan. They owned Overdrive, which is a website that was started in the usa, but centers on ebook collections. Rakuten bought them too and combined was able to advance both companies projects. Overdrive like Kobo are not well known by the average usa ereader, but in certain sections in the usa and definitely outside of it, are more well known or more importantly used. Now, what does this have to do with being a member of Kobo writing life. You have to comprehend, being a member of Kobo in the usa, means few will ever know what you are talking about. My storytelling was meant to explain the international strength of Kobo is key. Kobo is not the biggest ebook firm in the usa, and will not be any time soon. Many, not necessarily most, of the biggest kobo writers also have amazon accounts. But, if you are expecting people in the usa, to have automatic recognition to kobo, you are wrong. Having said that, I considered joining amazon aside others writing programs. But I joined Kobo after trying to join amazon first, it was too complicated or messy. It seemed amazon wanted me to sign an affidavit on something and that bothered me. I conclude with the following. Do what you want, in terms of writing program. I am not a fan to amazon but in the end I am not one to tell others where to go or what to do. But Kobo is a stable or straightforward writing program, that gives you access to strong unfamiliar reading markets outside the usa,which are becoming more accustomed to the ebook at a faster growing rate, or overdrive. I can't give you a revenue sheet to guarantee financial success. But, I can tell you that Kobo's writing life , even part of Rakuten, maintains their original premise, which is an open format, for writers to dictate their prices and how their books are sold. Kobo is not going to beg anyone to come to them but the door is open, use at your own will. Now, I am off that silly pulpit.
  14. @Troy I'm sure you've seen this already - but I just checked my google alerts and saw this https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bookselling/article/81153-aalbc-cuts-buy-links-to-amazon.html "AALBC Cuts Buy Links to Amazon By Calvin Reid | Sep 12, 2019" 😳
  15. @Troy Exactly! We continue to tell authors not to let AMAZON use them, so this is the logical next step. I think sharing my book publishing journey and asking questions like this well help all of us. I do know, once I formatted my eBook for mobi (kIndle) I was able to read it in my kindle for pc. So I didn't need to publish through amazon to use its digital reader. It is literally a standalone file on my pc. I created the mobi file and the ePub file two different ways. I uploaded (import) my manuscript (microsoft word docx) to pressbooks.com. I formatted with front matter(copyright page and introduction), chapters and back matter (about the author, about the series). Export the document in .mobi, .epub, and pdf (for digital). There's a pdf format for print but I didn't use that one because its a short story. downloaded those formats to my pc. I opened the mobi file in my kindle for pc and it was perfect. I open the epub file in my microsoft edge browser - and it was perfect! I created a ePub file of my eBook by: first formatting my microsoft word docx - for ePub/Mobi conversion. This time I used lulu.com to convert my microsoft word document. Because I formatted the word doc correctly, the conversion was successful. You can see by checking out the preview <-This is the ePub file. When I launch it - it opens in microsoft edge. Others might have different results. I haven't used Kobo but I know who is an advocate - @richardmurray ! I believe RM's books and music are available on Kobo. EDIT | A little more about Kobo... "In January, Walmart partnered with Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten on online grocery in Japan, as well as the sale of audiobooks, e-books, and e-readers in the U.S. Today, Walmart is capitalizing on that relationship with the launch of a full e-book and audiobook catalog on Walmart.com, alongside its assortment of physical books. The new site, called Walmart eBooks, includes a library of over 6 million titles ranging from NYT best-sellers to indie titles and children’s books. And similar to Amazon’s Audible, Walmart will also now offer a monthly audiobook subscription service. However, Walmart is undercutting Amazon on pricing. While Audible subscriptions start at $14.95 per month for one audiobook, Walmart’s subscription is only $9.99 per month for the same." From TechCrunch - Walmart and Kobo launch Walmart eBooks, an online e-book and audiobook store August 18, 2018
  16. I'll have to research this as it is a real issue for authors who use Amazon for ebook publication because they lack a suitable alternative. My refusal to sell Kindle ebooks only exacerbates the problem for these authors making them even more dependent uoon Amazon for marketing -- since Amazon is their only retailer. Have you ever considered Kobo? I have not looked into it yet, but it is the solution the ABA uses.
  17. @Troy Correct! On this eBook, I have a standard copyright notice - "all rights reserved." All copies should come from me. Yes, the eBook is created in a EPUB format.
  18. You don't want the user to share the file with anyone else. Can the users read the ebook on different devices they own?
  19. @Troy thank you! Ok 1. A shopper decides to buy a digital book from my woocommerce website store. 2. She completes the purchase. 3. Now can access her purchase (digital book) through the download radio button. 4. When she executes her download she can now save an ePub or .mobi copy on her pc. This now means unlimited distribution. How do I DRM (digital rights manage) my ebooks?
  20. Probably. Can you claify this statement by describing the steps on the process; "without saving a copy" is tripping me up. Google isa evil they can create proprietary extensions to HTML then require people to use them. For wordpress it is as easy as installing a plugin. for my site we are talking about some development work that I dont have time or money for.
  21. They are so evil lol! Fixed it! https://theleadstory.org/newsroom/ I really have to get better at remembering when I move stuff around! Thank you for the heads-up! In other news, I just re-edited a short story for mobi and ePub format and it worked! The only reason why I direct to lulu is because I haven't figured out where to the store the file for download. Anyway, I'm so excited because I have a lot of manuscripts I put on-hold because I wanted to to teach myself how to format properly. By the way, I also learned that lulu charges for hosting now. I rank it right up there with amazon charging a delivery fee for digital books. smh. Anyway, like I mentioned, now I have to figure out how to store my ePUB or mobi files for one time download without saving a copy. Can you help @Troy ?
  22. The video describes the situation but not why. When you have multiple competing vendor specific platforms this lowers adoption and sales. Amazon's effective monoply and proprietary kindle has actually made things worse. Imagine if the only place you could buy and listen to music was on Apples Itunes and Apple hardware.
  23. AMP, developed by Google, is also used to rank pages in search by mobike devices. All of my Wordpress websites use AMO fir this reason alone. I even considered making the entire AALBC website AMP. I decided against it for now. But given Google's dominance I may be forced to implement there nonstandard HTML markup... I'll check out your story now. BTW @Mel Hopkins the link to the Black Enterprise article is broken. I seem to remember reading it before but it would interesting to reread it now.
  24. @Troy Agreed! I tried to explain - but he seemed to believe that Amazon could stop bootleggers from stealing his book. But with Amazon taking 30- 65% sales commission and charging a delivery fee on digital books. I think he’d do better with bootleggers. At least , the bootleggers would have to pay for copyright infringement. - Here’s a snippet of the law -for all copyright holders “the copyright holder will be entitled to seek statutory damages of $750 to $30,000 for that infringement (as op- posed to having to prove actual damages, if any), and will also be entitled to seek an award of attorney fees. “ I’m on a writers’ rights crusade, It’s our time - and we shouldn’t be “starving!” Thank you for supplying the additional website information. Every writer needs to have eCommerce platform.
  25. @Mel Hopkins he's misinterpreted "skin in the game," which mean one has taken on risk. Amazon assumes no risk when they provide an author with self publishing services. Amazon makes money, no matter what, because the author pay Amazon every step of the way. That aside, everthing you decribed is perfectly valid. You can simply make more money without Amazon. For the direct online sale of books I've used two systems. PayPal and Square. There is no recurring cost and you pay a small transaction fee. These system are ok for small budgets and a small number of products. I find Square to be slightly better, than PayPal but the differences are not substantial for POS and online sales. Now that I'm selling thousands of products PayPal and Square do not scale up. After using and evaluating Big Commerce and Shopify; Big Commerce was far and away the best option. I'm going write more about this soon. ---- You can get a free SSL certificate, but Godaddy does not allow you to use it on their webservers (last i checked) I have a website on a host that allows the free SSL certificate and i save a ton of money using it: https://letsencrypt.org/ My web host is ifast.net. The plan I have is 19.99 for the year: https://ifastnet.com/portal/sharedhosting.php one can get a free .co domain so now we are looking at less than $20 a year including the SSL certificate. I have been running this site https://cis3630.org for almost 5 years for less than 30 bucks a year (Im paying for my domain name https://domainsforauthors.com) There are actually free web hosting options out there and used one with my students though these may not host Wordpress very well.
  26. I sold a book on Sunday (Sept 15, 2019). No promotion. No strong-arm selling. Simply, PayPal notifying me I had cash. Here's how it happened. A LinkedIn acquaintance messaged and asked if I would consider purchasing a short story he was selling on Amazon dot com. It would cost me .99 cents. But he'd know if there was activity on his amazon kindle account. I messaged him back and asked if he had one available in print. He said he'd have to do a collection of stories for the minimum print pages. I told him I understood. I want to make a short story available for sale on Lulu.com, too. But I need to do some creative packaging to make it 32 pages. He asked where was my story on lulu.com. I told him I believe in direct sales. But I'd also consider working with distributors who give me the best deal. Amazon doesn't qualify. So, I shared with him a link to my website store to show him how easy it is to sell a digital book direct...and bam he buys one. I thought more about the transaction when I read Seth Godin's blog post, "The relationship with the customer." (Sep 1, 2019) It's worth a read. But here's my takeaway. My associate and I met through a professional networking site, providing us a way to connect. I prepared my digital platform (a website) for such interactions allowing people to engage with me and buy directly. My associate asked me to buy his book. I did. Sadly, the request reinforced my commerce relationship with Amazon dot com. BUT his book-buying relationship, with me, is direct. He said dealing with amazon means they have "skin" in the game. Ultimately, amazon dot com's skin in the game allows them to benefit the most from an author's copyright license. Amazon dot com takes a 65% sales commission on books priced lower than $2.99 and above $9.99 Bottom line: I offer independent author-publishers this insight for their revenue model. If an author-publisher maintains their own basic wordpress website complete with security certificate from godaddy; it would cost less than $200 a year. A WooCommerce plugin and MailChimp mailing list plugin is free (for a small customer list). [not an endorsement - for description purposes only] My royalty was $4.99; which is the price of my digital book. PayPal took .44 cent in transaction fees. I purchased his book for .99 cent. I gained a new customer while he sold a book and earned .35 cents royalty.

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