World Book Night Giver Deadline Extended to Feb. 6

Posted February 2, 2012 by ibpablog
Categories: IBPA Book Publishing

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There’s still time to be a part of World Book Night! The deadline to be a giver has been extended to Feb. 6!

Go to to sign up to be a giver, and to learn all about this fabulous program. All you need to become a giver is a little time, a love of books, and the desire to give something to your community. Think about where you’d like to give away the books before you go online to apply. Be creative. And thank you!

World Book Night wants YOU

Posted January 29, 2012 by ibpablog
Categories: IBPA Book Publishing

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World Book Night is a campaign to find light or non-readers across America all on one day – April 23 – and hand them each a book. Person-to-person. To get more people reading.

World Book Night is a celebration of reading and books which will see tens of thousands of passionate volunteers give away books in their communities to share their love of reading. Successfully launched in the U.K. in 2011, World Book Night will also be celebrated in the U.S. and Germany on April 23, 2012, with more countries to come in future years.

How does World Book Night work? 

In the U.S., 30 titles have already been specially chosen by a panel of booksellers and librarians and will be printed in special World Book Night paperback editions. Givers apply to give away a particular book (you get a first, second and third choice) and they must commit to give them away to those who don’t regularly read in order to share and spread their love of reading. Each giver receives 20 copies which they pick up from their local bookshop and library the week before April 23.

The greatest reading journeys start when you put a book in to someone’s hand and say ‘this one’s amazing, you have to read it’ and by applying to be a giver you can help World Book Night give that experience to new readers on April 23. World Book Night, through social media and traditional publicity, will also promote the value of reading, of printed books, and of bookstores and libraries to everyone year-round.

Why April 23? 

April 23 is a symbolic date for world literature. It is the date of the birth and death of Shakespeare, as well as the day Cervantes died. It is in their honor that UNESCO appointed it the International Day of the Book and now been chosen to also celebrate World Book Night.

Be a part of World Book Night! Go to to sign up to be a giver, and to learn all about this fabulous program. All you need to become a giver is a little time, a love of books, and the desire to give something to your community. Think about where you’d like to give away the books before you go online to apply. Be creative. And thank you!

The deadline to sign up is February 1st! And yes, you can give your books away during the day of April 23rd as well as in the evening.

For more information, visit


Amazon’s Kindle Lending Library–What Does it Mean For Publishers? IBPA Wants to Know What You Think

Posted November 21, 2011 by ibpablog
Categories: IBPA Book Publishing

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Following are two perspectives on the Kindle Lending Library. The first piece entitled “Controversy Rages: Amazon to Lend Books” was originally written by IBPA Board Chair Stephen Blake Mettee for his blog, The Write Thought and appears here with his permission. The second piece, written by IBPA President Florrie Binford Kichler, raises some questions for publishers and a request for feedback. We want to know what publishers think about the Amazon Kindle Lending Library so please leave your comments!

Controversy Rages: Amazon to Lend Books

by Stephen Blake Mettee

There’s been quite a ruckus in the book publishing world lately. has recently announced its long-anticipated foray into lending e-books.

Kindle owners who are also Amazon Prime members, in addition to getting free two-day shipping on their orders and “unlimited instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows,” can also borrow books to read without an additional payment (Amazon Prime membership costs $79 per year). There doesn’t appear to be any limit on how long a book can be borrowed but only one book can be borrowed at a time.

Amazon says its lending library offers over 5,000 titles including 100 New York Times bestsellers. This is a far cry from the millions of print titles available on Amazon or the hundreds of thousands of e-books available as Kindle editions, but it is a toe in the water and publishers, authors, and literary agents are nervous.

How’s it work?

Amazon Prime members who are also Kindle owners are now presented with a “Borrow for Free” button next to the “Buy” button on selected books. When the member chooses to borrow a title, Amazon credits the publisher’s account with the same dollar amount as if the e-book was sold rather than loaned. At this point, the Amazon Prime member gets to read the book as a part of his or her yearly fee and the publisher effectively gets a full-priced sale.

So, why the controversy?

This sounds fair to me. I’d sign The Write Thought titles up. So why the hubbub?

I think the concern from the publishers—most publishers with titles among those available for loan weren’t notified that their titles would be included in this program—is that they haven’t agreed to Amazon “lending” titles even if Amazon pays as if they sold it.

Also, apparently Amazon plans to report revenue from this program to publishers as a lump sum leaving the publishers to allocate this revenue their authors. Amazon is said to be basing this lump sum by looking at the 12-month sales history of titles included in the program. A rather nebulous reporting method at best.

I think the Authors Guild and the Association of Authors’ Representatives (literary agents), two groups that have spoken out about this, are concerned since most contracts between authors and publishers have a set royalty paid to the author based on revenue from each e-books sale, say 25% of net revenue and a different amount on revenue generated from rights sales, say 50% of net.

The question being, which is this? Revenue from the sale of a book or revenue from a subsidiary right? And, of course, how is a publisher to properly allocate each of its author’s revenue share if Amazon doesn’t supply a complete breakdown by title?

Another concern, of course, is if this is simply Amazon’s first salvo; will Amazon attempt to morph the program into something else. For instance, can Amazon purchase one copy of an e-book and “lend” or “rent” it as many times as it likes? Pay the publisher once and rent or loan it many times. Libraries do this and many years ago so did bookstores.

The world is still hazy when it comes to e-books.


Kindle Lending Library—What Does it Mean for Publishers?

by Florrie Binford Kichler

Amazon recently announced that it was going to begin “lending” e-books to its Amazon Prime customers.

Quoting from Amazon’s news release:

“With an Amazon Prime membership, Kindle owners can now choose from thousands of books to borrow for free – including over 100 current and former New York Times Bestsellers – as frequently as a book a month, with no due dates.”

“Titles in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library come from a range of publishers under a variety of terms. For the vast majority of titles, Amazon has reached agreement with publishers to include titles for a fixed fee. In some cases, Amazon is purchasing a title each time it is borrowed by a reader under standard wholesale terms as a no-risk trial to demonstrate to publishers the incremental growth and revenue opportunity that this new service presents.”

The Big Six publishers did not sign onto the Lending Library program. The Author’s Guild contends that nonetheless Amazon has included many publishers’ titles (not the Big Six) without the publisher’s permission. In addition, the Guild says that those publishers who have submitted their books to the Lending Library program “signed licensing agreements with Amazon for a selection of their titles, providing for a flat annual fee per title. While these publishers generally have the right to license e-book uses for many of their authors’ titles (just as most trade publishers do), our reading of the standard terms of these contracts is that they do not have the right to do so without the prior approval of the books’ authors.”

The Guild says that such a “bulk licensing program” is outside the scope of most publishing contracts and that publishers need to get permission from their authors to participate along with a contract amendment. They urge their members to contact their publishers if their books are in the Kindle Lending Library program.

The Bigger Picture

The reality is that Amazon has leveled the playing field for smaller publishers, enabling them to reach readers online in huge numbers, and publish their content quickly, easily and efficiently.

But at what cost?

The Author’s Guild claims that Amazon has included publishers’ titles in the Kindle Lending Program without consent but no publishers to this point have confirmed that publicly. If that is indeed the case, should Amazon have asked first? Or, as the company says, is “purchasing a title each time it is borrowed by a reader” plus a flat licensing fee simply another sale under standard contract terms, requiring no special handling?

“Purchasing a title each time it is borrowed by a reader” sounds like a sale, which is a good thing.  But could Amazon decide to begin lending titles more than once to multiple readers without compensating the publisher (and the author)? And if so, what recourse would publishers have?

More questions than answers. What do you think? Is the Kindle Lending Library a way for Amazon to increase device sales at the publisher’s and author’s expense or a “no-risk trial to demonstrate to publishers the incremental growth and revenue opportunity that this new service presents.”? Are you currently participating in the Kindle Lending Library and if so, how’s your experience been so far?  Would you include your titles if asked?

Let us know by commenting on this blog. Member feedback will help determine  IBPA’s  position on this issue.

10 Things to Consider when Pricing E-Books

Posted September 16, 2011 by ibpablog
Categories: IBPA Book Publishing

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by Stephen Blake Mettee, IBPA Board Chair, founder of Quill Driver Books and The Write Thought, Inc.








DROID by Motorola showing Kindle App


To reuse a couple of ‘graphs from my previous blog, “Book Pricing, Finding the Sweet Spot”:

One grand thing about e-books is, since there is no printing involved, once edited, designed, typeset, and formatted, the cost of an e-book is zero. Another is that the retail price a publisher sets can vary day to day.

But, with these two advantages, what does a publisher need to be concerned about when pricing an e-book? Vook, the innovative company that melds books with video, has issued a splendid white paper that goes a long way toward answering this question.

Here are Vook’s Golden Rules of Pricing annotated by yours truly:

1. Zero variable cost means it’s OK to significantly lower prices to maximize revenue.

Week to week—or even day to day—price changes are easy, as are limited-time specials.

2. Optimal pricing is highly content specific.

Business books may command a higher price than books on how to write.

3. Certain pricing thresholds trigger psychological “automatic” purchases.

Lower prices increase impulse buying.

4. Categorization has a large role in optimal pricing and discoverability.

A book that lists calories in popular packaged foods is likely to be found by readers more often if it is placed in the category of “Health Care and Fitness” rather than “Reference.”

5. Merchandising whole catalogs is more effective than single titles: “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

The Write Thought publishes a catalog of writing titles under the Classic Wisdom on Writing series. It is our hope that we will see a synergistic effect on revenue because of this grouping.

6. Containers are critical to driving upsell in App environment.

My understanding of the term “container” as used here is the same as “series.”

7. Lift effects through savvy launch promotions have a profound impact on sales.

For instance, it is suggested that a publisher may wish, when launching a title, to place a low price on it for a period of a few days to a couple of weeks in an effort to get sales to a level that will be noticed by a retailer’s algorithms. Books that stand out sales-wise are used to populate “you may also like” recommendations generating additional sales creating a cyclical effect.

8. In general apps cannot support as high price points as eBooks.

Apple has begun declining apps that are effectively unenhanced e-books, referring publishers to the iBookstore. This basically leaves the android app market for plain Jane e-book Apps.

9. Real‐time sales tracking is necessary to adjust pricing in a dynamic eBook world.

Just like any data, you have to watch what’s happening and adjust accordingly.

10. For each retailer there are distinct best practices to maximize discoverability and revenues.

Pricing doesn’t need to be the same for each retailer. The sweet spot for an e-book in Apple’s iBookstore may be higher than the sweet spot for the same title in Amazon’s Kindle Store.

It’s a new world out there full of challenges and rewards. Sharpen your spear and forge forth.

Just a write thought.

Book Pricing: Finding the Sweet Spot

Posted August 29, 2011 by ibpablog
Categories: IBPA Book Publishing

Tags: , , , , ,

by Stephen Blake Mettee, IBPA Board Chair, founder of Quill Driver Books and The Write Thought, Inc.

At Quill Driver Books we put a lot of thought into the pricing of each title we published.
Here is an abbreviated list of things we considered:

• How big we anticipated the market for the title would be. A small, concentrated market may support a higher price because there are fewer books for those who are in this market to choose from. Large general markets may require a competitive price.
• The buyer demographics: Is this book for poor, starving writers or successful business people?
• How are competing titles priced? The last thing we wanted to do was to compete on price, but we knew the retailers were sensitive to pricing and might not stock a book they felt was overpriced.
• What the demand for the book would be. We felt we could get a couple of extra bucks for a book written by an author with a huge platform. Duh.
• What it cost us to print the book.

With all these factors—and more—to consider, we likely missed the optimum price, that is, the price that would return the largest profit to us. This price is often called the “sweet spot.”
For instance, if we priced a book so we netted $3 on each copy and sold 10,000 copies, we would make $30,000. But, if we priced it with $6 in it for us and sold 40 percent less, or 6,000 copies, we would make $36,000, a 20 percent increase in profit. Of course if the price that returned $6 each cut our sales to 3,000 copies we would make only $18,000.
Until a title sold down and we went back to press on it, we were stuck with the price we set since it was printed on the back cover.
I say, we “likely” missed the optimum price because, how could we ever know unless we published the identical book at different prices in identical parallel universes?
You can see why we gave it so much thought.

Enter E-Books
One grand thing about e-books is, since there is no printing involved, once edited, designed, typeset, and formatted, the cost of an e-book is zero. Another is that the retail price a publisher sets can vary day to day.
But, with these two advantages, what does a publisher need to be concerned about when pricing an e-book? Vook, the innovative company that melds books with video, has issued a splendid white paper that goes a long way toward answering this question. I’ll let you in on what it has to say in an upcoming blog.

Clever, Clever
Crown Publishing is rushing out a $.99 e-book on Rick Perry, the latest candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination. The book is actually one chapter from The Victory Lab a fall 2011 release by Sasha Issenberg. According to Crown, Victory will present a broad coverage of electoral strategies and the motivations behind the voting decisions people make and isn’t solely about Perry. This is doubly clever, because the $.99 book will sell on its own and act as an ad for the whole book.

Just a write thought.

Help for Libraries: Overdue, but Not Too Late

Posted August 9, 2011 by ibpablog
Categories: IBPA Book Publishing

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by Florrie Binford Kichler
President, IBPA

Your library is your paradise.—Erasmus

After 30 years on the line, Dan was let go by the factory. In a technology-driven economy, he had no computer skills, no job prospects, and no money for training.

They helped him find a job.

A class of 4-year-olds from low-income backgrounds took part in a program that combined literature with technology-based learning experiences—and fun.

They helped them find a future

Who are “they,” and why should we care?

They’re librarians—the heart of the library, and our trading partners on the front lines of distributing our content to readers. Selling to libraries has always been publishers’ bread and butter. Libraries purchase large quantities for branches; returns are minimal, and payment usually arrives within 30 days (and does arrive). If there were any such thing as the perfect customer, the library would come pretty close.

Even now, as change rocks the book industry, computers elbow out bookshelves, and e-books replace stacks, the library, though buying less because of budget constraints, is still buying.

As publishers, we count on libraries for our livelihood. Now libraries are counting on us for theirs.

Paying for Free

Not just an information hub, the library of today—and tomorrow—is a community center, providing free access to services, education, and technology. Historically funded by tax dollars, the library is one of the very few places open to all citizens.

During the most recent recession, as discretionary spending and tax dollars decreased, businesses suffered, consumers clung to their wallets, and many lost their jobs. With money unavailable for entertainment or job training or job hunting, where could people go for help, no questions asked and no forms to fill out in triplicate?

To the library.

And they did—in droves. According to a Harris Poll of a cross-section of Americans, the ALA’s 2011 State of America’s Libraries reports, “Library use continues to increase. Overall, the library’s most highly valued services pertain to the provision of free information and programs that promote education and lifelong learning. Ninety-one percent (up 5 percentage points from the previous year) place great value in the library’s provision of information for school and work.

“And almost all Americans (93 percent) believe that it is important that library services are free.”

Free—but at a cost. The same economy that sent people to the “free” library in search of information, entertainment, and services caused (and is still causing) state and local budgets to take a nosedive—the very budgets that fund your public libraries. Branches are closing, reducing hours, laying off staff—in short, doing everything that businesses do when customers go away—except that the library’s “customers” are increasing at the very moment that their resources are vanishing.

Four Easy Actions

What can each one of us do, as a publisher and citizen, to support our local library? The good news is that you don’t have to be a millionaire to help, and the better news is that by taking one or more of the steps suggested below, you’ll not only be helping the library in your town; you’ll be supporting the community where you live and work.

Join the Friends of the Library. In Indianapolis, where I live, membership in the Friends of the Library costs $25 a year. You get a card recognizing you as a Friend, early access to the library’s book sales, and preferred seating at a (free) annual lecture event. Although $25 may not sound like much, if 1,000 people chose to give up six-plus low-fat lattes each and became a Friend instead—well, you do the math.

Serve on a library board. My service on the board of the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation continues to be tremendously rewarding (and eye-opening). The stories about Dan and the preschoolers were just two examples of the many lives our library touches. It’s a privilege to be able to contribute to that effort.

Support local book, author, and reading events. The Indianapolis Library, with backing from local foundations and businesses, sponsors a yearly Indiana Author Award that recognizes emerging, regional, and national authors from our state. That’s just one example. Check with your city’s library for upcoming events. Get involved—there are many ways to participate even if you don’t have big bucks for a sponsorship.

Volunteer. I know, who has time? But could you spare a couple of hours on a Saturday once every few months to teach a workshop about some aspect of book publishing? Libraries need to convince local government that they are fulfilling their charter in order to receive funding—and a workshop that provides education and information will help in that effort.

For Meeting More Needs

Dan went to the library in search of computer and job-hunting knowledge—and the librarians delivered.

The children went to the library to learn the computer skills that will be critical to their success in school and life—and the librarians taught them.

Our libraries are struggling, and they need our help: as publishers, as citizens, as readers. Your business, your community, and your culture are at stake.

Please support your local library.

First published in the July, 2011 issue of the IBPA Independent, publication of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)

Calling All Publishers to Enter the 24th Annual IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards™

Posted July 28, 2011 by ibpablog
Categories: IBPA Book Publishing

You are invited…

to enter the 24th Annual IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards™ competition for excellence in publishing throughout the year 2011.

The IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards™, which includes fifty-five categories recognizing excellence in both editorial and design, is regarded as one of the highest national honors in small and independent publishing. The award program is administered by the Independent Book Publishers Association with the help of more than 160 book publishing professionals from the library, bookstore, reviewer, designer, publicity and editorial industry segments.

The IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards™ are unique in that entrants receive direct, written feedback from the judging panel. The actual judging forms are returned to all participating publishers, providing valuable insight into how their books are perceived by industry professionals.

All finalists will be announced in April 2012. Two silver award winners and one gold award winner will be awarded in each category. All publishers are invited to celebrate with us at the 2012 gala awards ceremony.

We look forward to recognizing and cheering on the publishers who set the standards of excellence within the publishing community.

To enter today or for more information, please visit: The Benjamin Franklin Awards™ website or call the IBPA office at 310/546-1818.