Statistics on how readers find out about books online

“How Consumers Discover Books Online”, a February 2012 talk at O’Reilly TOC 2012…

“Otis Chandler, CEO of Goodreads, would like to provide an in-depth quantitative and qualitative analysis of consumer behavior in discovering books online. Who is searching for books online? What are their personas? How are they discovering books? How many are they discovering, and how many do they go on to read? Are there strong influencers? What factors can help a book get discovered online? How is the picture different for books in the head vs the long tail?”

The value of Kindle free samples to academics

One of the great things about Kindle ebooks is the ability to sample. For academics and historians this is most useful in the case of anthologies of stories or books made up of academic articles on a topic. What someone like me generally wants most is the introductions to these, and one can usually get all or most of them via the “10% free sample”. For instance, Ann and Jeff Vandermeer’s wrist-snappingly heavy 7lb anthology, The Weird: a compendium of dark and strange stories (Atlantic, 2011), has two forewords by Michael Moorcock and the Vandermeers. I was very keen to have these, although not willing to devote two months to reading the other 750,000 words. I got both for free, by downloading the free sample.

Barnes & Noble refuses to sell any Amazon-published titles

This recent news seems bizzare anti-competitive behaviour. Barnes & Noble will refuse to sell any Amazon-published titles via its stores. But surely Amazon is now a publisher, to be treated like any other. The nub of the gripe seems to be that Amazon “continues to pull content off the market”, which seems to me to translate as: “Amazon are better than us at offering services to authors”.

From Masters degree to ebook

Many people seem to be taking higher Masters degrees these days, or considering doing so. The need for re-skilling — in the face of advancing technology and evolving business approaches — seems to make a higher degree inevitable. Some will even do more than one Masters in their life. So I was wondering how one might transform the whole process into an ebook, thereby sharing one’s knowledge and perhaps even earning enough to pay for the course fees. The student has the final dissertation to write of course, usually at around 12,000 words. But let’s say you do something with topical appeal — one of a range of criminal justice degrees for example. How then to transform the whole experience and cutting-edge knowledge gained into a 50,000 word book, one that’s likely to sell? A lot would of course rest on the choice of dissertation topic. A student would want to choose something that has a balance of topical interest, longer-term sales potential, and of course the vital element of academic approval. A perfectly valid study of the changes in the typology of cybercrimes that affect the individual and small businesses, for instance, could then be added to with case-studies, and a practical guide to individuals on how to avoid being a victim of online crime. The result might be a substantial new ebook, with academic weight and scrutiny behind it, yet having popular appeal. Of course, these days one doesn’t even have to physically attend a course and tediously and expensively travel to a classroom each day. Skype, HD webcams and other methods have made classrooms obsolete for some types of course. One can, for instance, take a criminal justice degree online or any number of other subjects online. One can even sample online courses, via courseware freebies from the likes of MIT, Harvard, and others, thus getting a feel for the suitability of the process and also if one likes the potential topic of study or not.