New tools make self-publishing e-books easier –

Many new authors have found most of their success online, selling self-published books at Amazon for the Kindle and other e-readers.

They handle the entire process themselves — from downloading stock photos at $4 to $5 a pop and making covers in Gimp, a free photo software tool, to converting the manuscripts into formats compatible for the e-readers.

“If I can do it, anyone can,” says Nicholson, 49, who writes four novels a year from his home in Boone, N.C. He won’t say how much he makes, but it’s a “comfortable living,” solely on e-book royalties. “I’m self-taught on every part of this.”

From New tools make self-publishing e-books easier –

Barnes & Noble offers a new e-reader, the Simple Touch

From Wired:

Barnes & Noble on Tuesday unveiled a simplified touchscreen e-reader: the Simple Touch Reader. Designed for a “pure and simple” reading experience without buttons, keyboards or complexity, the new compact Nook will be available around June 10th in stores or online.

It’s got a 6-inch Pearl E Ink display and weighs in at just under 7.5 ounces, 35% lighter than the original Nook. It’s selling for $140, the same price as the Kindle 3, but not as cheap at the $114 Kindle with ads.

Amazon’s new Kindles — $189 and $139 each

The new Amazon Kindle Wi-Fi, above, will sell for $139 but connect to the Web only by Wi-Fi. A new model to replace the Kindle 2 will sell for $189 and connect to the Internet through a cellphone network.

Amazon is stepping up its game, releasing new models of the already-popular Kindle and dropping the price in a big way. Are they poised to dominate this holiday season, or can Barnes & Noble, or the iPad, or even the Sony Reader, give them a run for their money?, the maker of the Kindle e-reader, is introducing two new smaller, lighter versions with high-contrast screens and crisper text. The new Kindles will ship August 27th.
With Amazon’s latest announcement, it is again waging a price war. Barnes & Noble offers a Wi-Fi version of the Nook for $149 and Sony offers the Reader Pocket Edition, which does not have Wi-Fi, for $150.
I bought an iPad because I wanted a tablet device that was more than just an e-reader. But I’m intrigued by the Kindle. I’ve spent a little time playing around with a Nook, in Barnes & Noble, and to be frank I was very much less than impressed. The jury’s still out on the Kindle for me, and I wonder if this new model is an improvement — the price tag certainly is.

5 places to download free e-books

From, this list of five places to download free e-books:

1. Project Gutenberg — The granddaddy of all e-book sites, Gutenberg contains the text of thousands of public-domain titles. From the Bible to the Kama Sutra and everything in between, they’re all there. And you can read their titles just about anywhere, be it your computer, your Kindle, your iPad, or your phone.

2. ManyBooks — Like Project Gutenberg but a little bit prettier, ManyBooks has about 26,000 free e-books just waiting to be downloaded. The site started out with e-book version of Project Gutenberg titles, but has expanded to include many additional public domain and Creative Commons titles from additional sources. — Tor is one of the world’s biggest Science Fiction publishers and they took the steps to embrace e-books years ago. Their website is packed with free books and stories from their best-known authors. Their logic is that if you read a book for free, you might also want to buy it in print. Your mileage may vary on that logic, but it’s still a great source for some good reads.

4. Amazon and Barnes & Noble — If you bought Amazon’s Kindle or Barnes & Noble’s Nook, you may as well keep shopping with them. Each of their sites offers hundreds of free books. They’re often the same books you’d find at the sites above, but you might also luck out and find that a publisher is offering its commercial e-books for free as a special deal through one of the online stores.

5. Your local library — What’s that, you didn’t know that your library has free e-books? Well, it all depends on how quickly your state’s library system is adapting to the electronic world. Some libraries have actual Kindles you can borrow, with e-books loaded on them, while others let you visit a special library site and download e-books to your reader for a week or two. (My library hasn’t gotten that far yet, but I can download audiobooks to my iPod any time I want.) Does your library offer this? You don’t know unless you ask.

I like Tor’s attitude a lot, because I think it’s valid — if I read an ebook for free, I actually just might want it in print, or more to the point, want more from from that author. And I have nothing but terrific things to say about Project Gutenberg. While Google Books are poorly scanned and horribly OCRd, PG books have been carefully proofread by teams of volunteers. Much better quality.

Free ebooks from Barnes & Noble this summer

There’s a new promotion from Barnes & Noble: bring your electronic device (The device can be an iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, BlackBerry, HTC HD2, PC or Mac laptop or B.&N.’s own electronic reader, the Nook) into the store for a code to redeem for a free e-book. The giveaway will run for five weeks, with a different free book each week.

The promotion began this past Monday (hmmm… I shop there *constantly* and this is the first I’ve heard of it, though. B&N, this is what I mean) with The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.

For more information, visit B&N’s promotion page.

eBook sellers will have to compete on the iPad

Terrific article in the New York Times today mapping out e-book retailer competition on the iPad:

From the start, no one bookstore will come with an advantage: No matter which bookstore application iPad owners choose, they will have to download it first. Even the iBookstore, as Apple writes on its Web site, won’t come preloaded on the device. iPad owners will be asked to “Download the iBooks app free from the App Store.”

It sounds obvious, but I didn’t quite process it until I read it today. In fact, the other day I was Googling around about methods for importing Banes & Noble e-book purchases onto an iPad (this isn’t a good one, for this very reason). The answer is that I won’t. I’ll just download the B&N e-reader app to my iPad and read them there, easy peesy. And that’s *why* there’s a Kindle App for the iPad, and one from B&N, and so on. They want to keep you buying their product, wherever you’re reading it.

Of course I did

iPafWas there really any doubt I was going to preorder an iPad? Apple has their hooks in me. It’s the shinyness. The clean white stores, the sleekness, the form over factor, I freely admit it all. I’m brainwashed. But also, in this particular instance, I fit their niche. I’ve always wanted a more portable computer for web access and for reading, plus other things. I hate laptops: too big. The netbook: too limited in capability, no touch screen (and thank you, eBay). My iPhone: wondrous, and useful, but a bit small. I’m their target market for the iPad. I don’t care that it doesn’t have a camera, as I had no intention of taking pictures with it. I don’t need 3G, b/c I’m mostly going to use it in my own house, where there’s WiFi. It looks like a good size for reading. Touchscreen yay. On Project Runway, Michael Kors likes to talk about “the right girl, in the right dress, with the right styling”, and that’s what the  iPad is for me, the right girl in the right dress. For someone else, of course, it will not be. Chacun à son goût. I begrudge no one their disinterest in Apple and their wares. I expect others not to begrudge mine.

From the e-reader standpoint, I’m eager to hear more details about iBooks. What most people want to know is, will we and how will we be able to import other e-books we already own into iBooks, onto our iPads? I don’t own many e-books right now, but I do have a few. And I might want to shop elsewhere, in the future, but still read on my iPad. Barnes and Noble has announced that they’ll have an e-reader app specifically for the iPad ready on April 3rd. It might seem like they’re fraternizing with the competition — should B&N just want you to buy a Nook? — but quite the opposite: they’re keeping their fingers in the pie. It’s not about selling Nooks, or Kindles, or maybe even iPads, and it never has been. It’s about selling e-books, music, movies. Since the iPad will use the ePub standard that Barnes and Noble does, it shouldn’t be a problem. After all, we can import mp3s and other music files into iTunes with no great difficulty; hopefully, with iBooks, it’ll be the same.

I’m addicted to Barnes & Noble

I’ve got a monkey on my back: Barnes & Noble.

I read a lot of books these days. A few of them I get from the library, but like a lot of librarians I know, I confess I like owning books more than borrowing them. Some of them get sent to me by publishers to review. But most of them I buy at Barnes & Noble. Once in awhile I’ll shop online, but even then — this afternoon I bought a book from Amazon while I was standing in Barnes & Noble, with my iPhone (the Amazon price was a lot lower).

It’s the whole experience. Going into the store, preferably when I’ve got plenty of time to spare. Checking out the bestsellers, the tables of paperback fiction, glancing — more out of nostalgia for my teenage genre of choice than anything else — at the science fiction section. Stopping to look at a display. I usually get a coffee and wander through the music department. Deciding what to buy, of course; I can’t remember the last time I left B&N without a couple of new books, to add to the pile next to my bed, even though lord knows my checking account would prefer I did a little more window shopping and a little less take-home.

I’m not alone, either. Everyone else in the store is doing the same thing, alone or with friends, walking around or camped out for hours with their laptops, stacks of books strewn around. And I know it’s all frightfully commercial. I know I’m absolutely buying in to what Tom Hanks’ character was talking about in You’ve Got Mail when he said:

We’ll seduce them with our square footage and our deep armchairs and our amazingly swift checkout lines and our discounts and our cappuccino bar. They hate us in the beginning, but we get them in the end.

Yeah, well. Sometimes a marketing strategy works because it’s true.

You know, my nieces and I did all the Harry Potter midnight release parties, and sometimes when I would tell people about them, they’d roll their eyes. But I’d say to them, people are lined up and camped out for a book. How great is that? And so by the same token, those people in Barnes & Noble with me, even the ones with their lattes and their laptops, they’re there for books. They’re reading. They’re a little bit addicted too.

How great is that?