Showing posts from August, 2014

Today's Publishing Nightmare: Drowning in Indie e-Books... and The Way Out

Nightmare film (Photo credit: Wikipedia) An article published on Forbes by David Vinjamuri with the arresting title "Publishing is Broken" (see here) that got over 200,000 views sums up the situation for readers, something I've rarely ever seen. Most articles debating on the good and bad aspects of self-publishing and what Amazon is doing to traditional publishing eschew the reader's point of view. So it is well worth quoting in extenso:

"Indeed, the problem for readers is that regardless of which side you agree with in theory, in practice you probably love the idea of buying books for under $5.00 but hate the idea of having to sort through quite so much junk to find good books at that price.   The question that divides Indie fans from the traditional publishing industry is whether a solid selection of good writing can ever be self-published for these low prices.

Consumer ratings should help sort out the mess, but they don’t.  It seems that every author has …

The Future According to Google

The United States has historically been a laboratory of the future for the rest of the world: I remember how I was awed when I arrived in New York in the 1960s and saw what the future looked like, with gigantic highways, sprawling suburbs and televisions everywhere.

Now the US is doing it again, if you know where to look. David Leonhardt, heading The Upshot, a new New York Times venture focused on investigative and analytical journalism (and that means data-crunching), recently reported the results of a study done following a suggestion from Google's chief economist, Hal Varian.

I bet Google's chief economist hadn't expected the kind of results shown in that study...

The piece, titled "Inequality and Web Search Trends - In One America, Guns and Diet. In the Other, Cameras and 'Zoolander'", explains how the research was done. Serious stuff, analyzing a decade of search data county by county across the whole of the US, categorized by an income-educat…

To Publish AND Perish: A Threat to The Future of Our Culture?

More about the implications of the exponential growth in e-books in the Kindle Store that I reported on last week, and what it portends for the future: an analysis of how one famous computer scientist, musician and author see the future of books, literature and our culture. This is another one of my articles just published by Impakter:

To Publish and Perish on 20 August, 2014 at 09:00 Amazon and its 3.4 Million E-Books: the End of Culture? For a long while now, people have debated how many e-books Amazon carried it in its Kindle Store, because Amazon has never divulged the data. Some daringly ventured the figure of 1.5 million. Wrong! The real figure is close to 3.4 million and I found it by chance, as I was navigating Amazon’s website for Amazon Associates which provides links, banners and widgets you can upload to your blog to help advertise Amazon products.
You can bet that in 10 years time the number of titles in the Kindle Store could be anywhere between

To Self-Publish and Perish: Buried Under 3.4 Million E-Books

I finally found where Amazon reveals a hidden (and juicy) statistic: the number of ebooks available in the Kindle Store. If you're an Amazon Associate, you can easily find it too but to make it simple I took a screen shot of the page where it shows, this one dated August 16, 2014:

Look at what the red arrow points to: "Results from Amazon Kindle Store...3,376,174 results". That's how many ebooks are stocked in the Kindle Store as of now: 3.4 million.

And by the time I had finished writing this blog post (one hour later) that number had climbed to...3,376,186! It took one hour to add 12 books, one new title every five minutes. In 24 hours, the number had climbed to 3,378,960, that's 2786 more books - let's say, 2,800 a day, that's over one million books per year - and probably growing at an exponential rate that I cannot calculate for the moment; I haven't got the data though Amazon does (I wonder whether they are as scared as I am).

You can bet that i…

Diary of a United Nations Official: Mission #1

Another article of mine published on Impakter - under my real name, as usual. This time it's something very different, memories of my time at the United Nations, my first mission to Africa...I think you may be surprised!

Here it is: 

Diary of UN official: Mission #1 – Mauritania on 11 August, 2014 at 07:00
My (Adventurous) Life at the United Nations: First Mission, Mauritania
October 1980. The sky is an intense blue over Mauritania’s desert, the Land Rover bumps along, skidding from one pothole to the next. Dust permanently dries the mouth, the blazing light hurts the eyes, I forgot my sunglasses in Rome, and there’s no place here to buy a pair; not today, not until we reach a semblance of a town. I look out hoping to spot a caravan of Berbers but there’s nothing to see except endless sand dunes and an occasional truck filled with dozens of people hanging on…

My thoughts drifted back to my family in Italy, my husband (we are newly married), my little daughter,…

The Amazon-Hachette War Has Reached the Next Level: AMAZON WANTS YOU!

Today KDP authors - those of us who use Kindle Direct Publishing - got a direct letter in our email box from the "Amazon Book Team" that reminded us that what e-books are doing to publishing is similar to what paperbacks did when they first came out at the end of World War II: far from destroying publishing, paperbacks expanded it.

As an economist, I buy that. There's no question in my mind that e-books are not a subtraction but an addition to both the book-verse and the pool of readers.

The letter ended with a rousing call to action and I quote:

"We will never give up our fight for reasonable e-book prices. We know making books more affordable is good for book culture. We’d like your help. Please email Hachette and copy us.

Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch:

Copy us at:

Please consider including these points:

- We have noted your illegal collusion. Please stop working so hard to overcharge for ebooks. They can an…

The Digital Revolution has Removed the Stigma Attached to Self-Publishing: True or False?

For the past five years, the gurus of self-publishing, from J.A. Konrath to David Gaughran, have trumpeted the good news: the Digital Revolution has "leveled the playing field between authors and publishers", the stigma attached to self-publishing is a thing of the past. It has been consigned to the dustbin of History.

And suddenly, an article in the New York Times two weeks ago come as a reminder that this may not be the case, that the stigma attached to self-publishing is lingering on, like a mold you can't get rid of. One poet, Valerie Macon, recently nominated to the position of State Poet Laureate by her state governor (Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina)  resigned.  She was possibly forced into leaving the job, nobody knows for sure, but the fact that she is a self-published author seems to have had something to do with it. She wasn't deemed good enough for the post...

In many ways, this is a curious story: it is linked to that very American system of state-…