Category Archives: Publishing

Reading Kindle books on your iPad

Although the iPad has its own reading software, iBooks, the device is also a great platform for buying and reading Kindle books.

The main difference is that the software to read Kindle books isn’t installed by default – but adding it is free and easy.

The first step is to download the free Kindle app from the iTunes store. (If iTunes asks you to change which country’s store to buy from, then do this.)

You can find the app from within the iPad’s App Store by searching on ‘Kindle’.

Installation is quick, normally just a few seconds.

The next step is to register your iPad with your Amazon account. If you’ve not already been prompted when you first launch the app, hit the i button at the bottom right of the screen. Then choose ‘register this device’.

Registering your iPad Kindle app with your Amazon account

All you have to do then is enter the e-mail address and password of your Amazon account, then press ‘register this device’.

Registering your iPad Kindle app with your Amazon account

It’s that simple – assuming you have an Amazon account. (If you don’t, just log into Amazon’s website and create one – if you’re in a country where buying Kindle content from that country’s website isn’t yet supported, you will be redirected to buy Kindle content from the US store.)

You now have access to the full range of Kindle books – all on your iPad.

Despite iBooks having some nice visual touches, I personally believe that the Kindle app provides a superior reading experience. Rather nicely, if you have a Kindle – or any other device with the Kindle app on it, such as an iPhone, PC, Mac or Android phone – then the app keeps the book you’re reading synced between all of them, automatically, so you’re always on the right page.

Perhaps the first Kindle novel you might want to read after downloading the app could be The Well?

Self-publish and be damned

A dear friend of mine, Emma Clarke, forwarded to me a very interesting article about self-publishing, by Gerald Hornsby.

Like most writers, the goal for myself has always been to ‘become published’. Traditionally, this meant the sponsorship of a publisher, or agent and publisher. Sure, the option of self-publishing has long been there, but has been tarnished with the ‘vanity publishing’ brush – and meant investment up front.

The world is changing. Self-publishing via websites such as CreateSpace and Lulu is relatively simple. Publishing to the Kindle bypasses all of that paper nonsense and sends your work directly into the hands of the reader, without the cost of printing.

It’s never been easier to self-publish.

I want to be clear: I didn’t opt for self-publishing as an ideological choice. I’ve nothing against publishers or agents – indeed, I’d be very happy to hook up with either or both, if the partnership was beneficial. I’m very open-minded about it.

I chose to self-publish for several very practical reasons.

  • I’m an unknown. Publishers are wary of such and have limited resources to promote new authors.
  • Finding a good publisher is probably harder than writing a novel.
  • It meant I could get my work out now.
  • It gave me complete creative control.

I’m also genuinely worried about the publishing industry, which is starting to go through the same massive changes endured by the music industry in the last few years. The channels to market will shift to the Web and reduce in number; physical products will be eclipsed by digital ones; once-powerful publishers will see revenues and profits dwindle. The change is coming – as Gerald Hornsby says, Amazon is predicting sales of 12 million Kindles in 2011; Apple’s iPad might outsell the Kindle almost 6 times over.

So, while I’m open-minded about having a publisher, I want to work with one that embraces these changes – and doesn’t fumble through, trying to protect the current business model.

The scary point Hornsby makes is that Claire King’s next novel will be published by Bloomsbury in 2013. 2013? Two years?

It would be easy to mock and cite this as an example of a sluggish, Jurassic publishing behemoth that needs to get with the times. But as someone who’s worked in print, I know that there will be a set of solid reasons for these timescales – it’s not in Bloomsbury’s interests to hold off launching something from a proven and best-selling author.

But it’s something that gives me pause for thought – I would most certainly want my work to hit the streets faster. And I’d want to work with a publisher that wanted the same – not just for commercial gain and self-satisfaction, but also because I want to work with a publisher that’s agile enough to not only survive the changes to come to the publishing industry, but smart enough to exploit them.

(And I do think that publishers bring a lot to the equation beyond print and distribution. They have a wealth of writing and market experience.)

Like Hornsby, I have two goals – yes, I want to make money, but I also want people to enjoy my work. This means getting it out there.

Self-publish, or through a publisher, it makes little odds to me – I just want to publish. Right now, I’ve opted for a route which means I can at least do that. I’m open-minded about the future.

A borrower or lender be

Ownership’s a funny thing. Before I was an author, I didn’t think twice about lending or reselling a book. After all, it’s mine – I can do with it as I see fit, surely?

It used to be the same with music – how many people of my age have gone through the hassle of getting back the records they lent to their ex-girlfriends? Over the last decade, our attitudes towards ownership have changed. ‘Lending’ a music track to a friend is now called piracy, or even theft. What’s changed? It’s my track – why can’t I lend it to someone?

Well, the analogy doesn’t quite hold up of course. When I ‘lend’ a music track, I’ve made a copy to do so; in reality I’m ‘giving’ it them. And this, I think, is probably one of the biggest flaws with iTunes.

One has to wonder, if you could actually lend music tracks, how much of a dent it would make in piracy? You lend a track to a friend – and while your friend has it, you can’t listen to it. When you get it back, you can listen to it again. Your friend gets to find out if they like the track – but it can’t be copied ad infinitum. Such technology can’t be beyond the wit of Apple. Customers and music companies alike would love it.

That’s what Amazon’s just done with the Kindle. Kindle owners can now lend a Kindle title – even a title controlled with Digital Rights Management – to another Kindle owner. While their friend has the title, they can’t read it – and the lending period is fixed at 10 days, no more. Which is easily enough to either read a book or find out whether you want to buy it.

As a reader and Kindle owner, I would have been delighted with this news. Not being able to lend e-books was the Achilles’ heel of the format – the one real and true benefit that real books have over digital ones.

As a writer, I felt somewhat challenged. You only have to look at the price for The Well to realise I don’t make much money from it. It’s priced low – well, I’m not Stephen King, am I? So, if people are lending my books, does that mean fewer people are buying it? Am I losing sales?

After pondering on it, I decided to relax. If digital books didn’t exist, then paper books would still be changing hands – either being lent or sold. It’s a system that’s worked for hundreds of years – I’ll live with it.

In fact, I embrace it – if it gets my name about, on balance, I think it’s a benefit. I’d probably go further, too: if Amazon can come up with a way of people selling their e-books on to someone else – and Amazon, the seller and the author get a split of the revenue – then I’m up for it.

It’s brilliant thinking and demonstrates Amazon’s fundamental understanding of how people want to use its products. Compare that to Apple’s dismissive stance – Steve Jobs famously said: “The fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year.”

(Yes, the pedant in me would like to point out that it’s one book fewer and if perhaps Mr Jobs read more than one book a year, he’d know that.)

Even if that statistic is true and wasn’t plucked from the air, book publishing is still an industry worth billions every year. As printed books decline and e-books take over, it’s important that the business model is a fair one.

I’d take Amazon’s approach to e-books over Apple’s approach to music any day. Keep up at the back there, Cupertino.