Indie Author of the Week, Free Kindle Books, Kindle Musings

First, let’s look at our indie author of the week – Scott Nicholson.

He’s recently written a few mystery/thriller novels that have done very well. Before that he had written a lot of Horror/Supernatural novels that also did quite well and got very solid reviews.

  1. Liquid Fear is at #36 in the Kindle Store and is rated 4 stars on 41 reviews. It’s a Mystery/Thriller about a Drug Trial gone terribly wrong. 10 years after a secret and twisted drug trial the volunteers realize that the trial is still going on. Only problem is – they are running out of the pills that prevent the extraordinary side-effects.
  2. The Red Church is an Occult Horror Novel that is rated 4 stars on 76 reviews and has been in the top 200 in the past (at least if my memory isn’t failing me). A boy and a sheriff must deal with a haunted Appalachian church and a Preacher who might be killing people. This book was a Stoker Award finalist.
  3. His collection of occult horror and suspense stories, Ashes, is currently free and at #6 in the Kindle Store Free Book Bestsellers List. It’s rated 4 stars on 18 reviews.
  4. You can find all of Scott Nicholson’s books at Amazon.

It seems that he’s gradually getting better and better at writing and/or promoting. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he manages to join the ranks of indie superstar authors like John Locke and Amanda Hocking who have multiple books in the Kindle Store Top 100.

Next, the free offers -

  1. Their Last Suppers: Legends of History and their Final Meals by Andrew Caldwell. Price: $0. Genre: History, Cookbook. Rated 4.5 stars on 14 reviews. You can just imagine the amazing dinner time conversation – Mildred, I must say this food is exquisite. Yes, this was what Socrates ate for his last meal. How marvellous … Uhh … Wasn’t Socrates … hemlock … aaaah … aaaaaaah. [Curtain sets as Mildred's Evil Laughter echoes through the dining hall]
  2. Tor/Forge Author Voices Volume 2 by Tor. Price: $0. Genre: Voices in Word Form, Samples, Essays. There’s also a Volume 1. Lots of authors like David Weber, Cherie Priest, Greg Bear, and Orson Scott Card giving previews to their novels.
  3. Hotels.com has a free Kindle if you book a 3 night or longer stay by June 27th – travel must be between May 16th and July 31st. You also have to spend at least $450. Still, a free Kindle is a free Kindle.
  4. The House of Whispers by William Le Queux. Price: $0. Genre: Father of British Suspense Novels, Hard-boiled, Old-fashioned Suspense. Shouldn’t the name of the father of British Suspense Novels be shrouded in eternal mystery?

Finally, some  Kindle musings.

Will we lose book freedoms in little steps?

At first this post being discussed vociferously at Hacker News comes across as paranoid – Stallman’s Dystopia.

However, on closer thought, there are a few signs that things could get even worse than Stallman worried about -

  1. Ads in Books – Ads in screensavers are here and it’s only a matter of time before ads make their way in.
  2. Limited sharing – Already in place with ebooks. If not for the competition between Kindle and Nook, we wouldn’t even have the token one-time, one-person, 14-day lending.
  3. Tracking what we are reading. Google tracks everything else – surely, it planned to track reading habits too and it definitely planned on selling that to advertisers.
  4. Authors being stripped of rights. The Book Settlement was an attempt to do that. Thank God for Justice Chen who saved authors.
  5. No resale rights. Already in place.

Not only are readers being limited, authors are in danger of being ‘Divide-and-Conquer’ed. Anyone who thinks it isn’t going to happen should look carefully at what Google did to newspapers and content providers. It, or another ‘Do no Evil’ tech company like Scribd, will definitely try to do the same with books. Authors are desperate and in the Age of the Internet desperate people usually get exploited by geeks bearing gifts.

It’s not going to turn out well for readers or authors unless they can -

  1. Create a win-win agreement. No books over $10 and no books for unsustainable prices.
  2. Weed out all the middle-men except for platforms.

Here’s a truly brilliant comment that all readers of books should read at least once -

kwantam 
Freedom is almost always lost in small steps.

Sure, discontinuities happen in extreme cases (e.g., the WTC’s destruction -> the PATRIOT Act), and when they do a lot of people notice. The more subtle losses in freedom that occur gradually (the DMCA and its progeny, for example) are harder to notice until one day you look back and say “huh, how did we get here?”

The concept of the Overton Window [1] is interesting and germane here. 20 years ago the idea that you couldn’t lend a book you own to your friend or loan them the new album you just bought would have seemed insane. Over time, a gradual shift in the concept of ownership has changed the scope of the issue to the point where many people would now accept that it seems reasonable that you can’t lend your books to someone else.

People at the edge of the Overton window are like our canaries in the coal mine. Gradual shifts in the window are hard to notice from the middle, but easy to notice as the “edge” passes over you. In that respect, to me RMS seems most valuable to us for precisely the reasons others call him a crackpot.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window

Publishers and Agents at each other’s throats

A train wreck that’s hard to take your eyes away from -

  1. Round 1: Agent Sonia Land cuts out Random House and publishes backlist for one of her authors (Catherine Cookson) on Kindle.
  2. Round 2: Random House cuts out Sonia Land and signs an ebook deal with one of her authors (Tom Sharpe).

Agents are, not surprisingly, aghast and upset and ready to claw out Publishers’ eyes.

It’s great for readers and authors because if the middle-men start fighting with each other they will end up exposing the fact that they are all replaceable.

2 Responses

  1. You make some very important points in your musings here. Yes, freedoms are lost in small steps. If you read about the Holocaust, this idea was played out as many Jews remained in Germany because their freedoms were whittled away gradually. By the time most Jewish citizens realized what was really happening, it was then too late to leave.

    If Amazon and other readers are going to force ads between our pages and at the top of pages, are we going to leave them? Are we going to develop a new platform usable by all the readers? Are Amazon and Barnes&Noble part of the middle layer we indie authors and readers of indie lit hope to thrive without?

    • Diane, I honestly don’t think Amazon and B&N are middle-men. They are a platform. As things get more competitive they will offer 80% to all authors and 80% of books at all prices.

      Amazon probably will start viewing books as loss leaders – After all, Kindle owners get a Amazon.com eStore in their hands and that has to be worth a ton.

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