Giving Thanks, Being Forthright, and Changing Direction of the Blog

Firstly, for Thanksgiving, I’d like to thank all of you.

It’s a pleasure writing for you.

Thank you very much for reading the blog. And for sharing it with your friends and family.

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Secondly, thinking about the future of books has made me realize that the blog’s actions and aims are pretty deluded at this stage. Reality has a way of punishing us for our delusions and perhaps it’s time for me to be super forthright with myself and everyone else – before the punishment arrives.

  1. This blog needs to focus 100% on what’s best for readers. That means you’ll see a few changes – links to Nook Touch and Nook Tablet on every page (which I make no money from, though I do from Kindles). Honestly think they are (along with Kindle Fire and Kindle Keyboard) the best eReader and Tablet choices – so not linking to them all this time was being dishonest.
  2. Removing links to Kindles that are not 9 stars out of 10. Kindle Touch and new Kindle are good but they aren’t the very best. So the multiple links to them on every page are now gone. Might go through various review posts and make updates in the posts themselves too – However, there are 3,000+ posts on this blog so it’s probably not going to happen soon. A $99 Nook Touch with physical page turn buttons and no ads is better than Kindle Touch – so it gets the link on every page.
  3. This blog needs to switch to either – Link to all eReaders (to avoid financial bias to one company) OR Link to all eReaders without associate links.

I think money always leads to a loss of purity and the hope is that we can make our apps business big enough to end all the associate earnings from this blog and focus it purely on books and readers and authors.

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Thirdly, as far as the focus on free books – it’s a difficult choice. There is value to readers. At the same time, the tons of free book offers are definitely destroying the value of books. In the short-term, they benefit readers and hurt authors. In the long-term, they hurt everyone.

There’s also some fundamental flaw in me linking to free books that make authors nothing but make me a commission (due to other things bought at Amazon). It’s treating books as loss leaders and goes against my love for books and the desire to see them valued for what they are.

By January 1st, 2012 I’ll make a decision (and will let you know) between:

  1. Option 1: Only mention free books that are (ironically) from Publishers and rated 3.5 stars and above OR are indie but rated 4 stars and above. Not mention short stories.
  2. Option 2: End the free book updates. There are lots of good options like eReaderIQ and Kindle World so it’s not a big loss.

In either case, I will stop using associate links with free books – If the author is not making money, then I don’t want to either. This whole concept of giving away books for free for the imaginary carrot of future sales is a delusion. There are no future sales – only tons of hungry authors willing to be the next group of idiots giving away their work for free.

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Fourthly, disclosing all conflicts of interest.

I’m part of two companies and together we cover:

  1. This Blog.
  2. Apps for Kindle.
  3. Apps for Kindle Fire.
  4. Apps for Nook Color. Pretty much equivalent to 3. since both use Android and have the same screen. When we have our apps polished enough for Kindle Fire, I’ll let you know.
  5. Blogs for Kindle Apps (more than one). We can’t really compete with companies like EA unless we reach customers directly and that’s why the blogs.
  6. Blogs for Nook Apps (one). Same motivation – to reach customers directly.

As small companies we have very little control over things. Hence the need for direct channels to our customers.

When you come to the blog you should be aware that every Kindle sold and every Nook sold and so forth has a benefit and thus introduces bias.

The various conflicts of interest probably cancel each other out in Kindle and Nook Land but are probably HUGE when it comes to Kindle+Nook vs iPad.

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Fifthly, the blog’s aim of helping readers and books has devolved into helping Kindle sales. That’s sad and it’s far less than what the blog could achieve. It would be a pity to have a chance to do something good for the future of books and not take opportunity of that.

So it’s time to change direction of the blog.

What is the new direction of this blog?

Well, actually, it’s what the original direction and aim was. Before it got thrown off by getting too attached to Kindles and forgetting the larger issues and getting distracted by financial considerations.

To Help Readers and Authors and play whatever positive part possible in the Democratization of Publishing. To help positively in some way to build a better future for books and for readers and authors.

The Old Man and the Wasteland (in a good sense) and The Hunger Games (in both a good sense and a bad sense) are the two books which motivated me to rethink what this blog is doing and the net conclusion was that it’s not really doing a net positive for books.

If the authors of these and other good books have to still struggle with gatekeepers. If they still have to struggle to earn what they deserve. Then as readers we should be sad at the missed opportunity.

We are in danger of ending up in a world where authors exist (yet again) at the mercy of a gatekeeper and where books are devalued to almost nothing – and it’s time for this blog (and hopefully all of us) to join the resistance.

The one real good that has come out of all of that has happened with eReaders and eBooks is that readers own their Kindles and Nooks and Tablets. Readers are very smart people. So the only thing missing is an intelligent, social crowdsourcing engine. That, along with old Publishers and new Publishers and platforms, would form a really good basis for a healthy Publishing world.

Now I’m going to figure out a way to focus this blog on the only three things that matter in Publishing: readers, authors, books. And to keep that focus and act in the best interests of these three parties.

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