A lot of book lovers have their go-to favorite sources of great reads. Whether you buy or borrow, have a fetish for small shops or rely on your book blogger status to keep your TBR pile full, there’s no limit to the many sources of great reads.
But here are two that all readers need to pursue (or renew, or fall in love with again, etc) in 2020.
First, Smashwords. It’s a fantastic site for affordably priced ebooks, but more importantly, they do great things for both their authors and their readers. If you’re not signed up to buy books there, you’re truly missing out. (Authors, if you’re not publishing there, you’re missing a huge opportunity… they are one of the easiest and most effective ways to get your books into libraries and to sell on Apple, among other great opportunities.)
Second, those aforementioned libraries. Far too many book fans don’t know how easy it is and how widely available borrowing ebooks from their local library can be. In many instances, local libraries–through their partnership with Overdrive–have great content that you can borrow, read, sample, and return from anywhere… no visit to the library required, no fines to deal with, no stack of books in your backseat that you meant to return!
Speaking of visits to the library, here’s a sneaky act of resistance that ALL book lovers should be engaging in on a regular basis: every time you borrow an ebook from a library, it counts as a “visit!” Whether you rely on your local public library or not, there are many people who desperately need the services they provide. By borrowing an ebook, YOU are increasing library patronage and helping your library demonstrate its relevance to the community! That’s important when it comes to setting budgets, buying more content, and more.
While you’re revamping your book reading strategy, go sign up for a book challenge. Goodreads hosts one every year, Twitter has a number of hashtags for reading challenges, and there are even genre and author-specific challenges to be found online, ie, reading x-number of books written by indie authors, by authors from marginalized demographics, and more.
Whatever you do and however you do it, just read.
eBook subscription giant Scribd announced new search features this week that will make it even easier for readers to find great content. And with a catalog of over 500,000 titles and counting, discoverability is certainly going to be an issue for both authors and readers.
“Our goal with the new browse experience was to retain the same human touch that we have come to love about personal recommendations from a trusted friend, but use the power of technology to extend it to our catalog of over 500,000 books,” said Jared Friedman, co-founder and CTO of Scribd. “The result is as if we’ve built every reader their own personalized bookstore, with the human touch readers love, that they are now able to carry around in their back pocket.“
The new feature works by letting readers search in two directions at the same time. They can go for a broader search option, which would be akin to walking into a vast bookstore and heading over to the Science Fiction section, or they can narrow it down, which would be like having a personal shopper handing over only the books that contain all of the search options the reader is interested in. This dual system lets readers be highly specific about topics of interest, but also lets them just “wander” the aisles of Scribd when they don’t have a specific title or content in mind, but still know what they like.
“Scribd’s subscription model does wonders for book discovery, because it eliminates so much of the friction that usually exists to begin reading a good book,” said Trip Adler, co-founder and CEO. “Meanwhile our new browse feature alone is a huge step forward for book discovery. Ultimately we believe it’s the combination of the subscription model with our innovative book discovery offering that will create a magical experience for readers, and this is just the beginning of more to come.”
This search enhancement is going to be a tremendous boost to indie authors who’ve put their titles in the subscription catalog through Smashwords’ agreement with the company, as it will let Scribd’s membership find new titles without having to have the boost of advertising dollars from the major publishing houses.
Scribd will be rolling out this search capability across of all of its platform-specific apps in the coming weeks.
Today is seriously National Oyster Day. You’re welcome.
To celebrate the momentous occasion, ebook subscription platform is hosting a giveaway in which one winner will receive a twelve-month subscription to the unlimited reading service. According to a statement from the company, “It’s National Oyster Day (really!). Just as oysters are enjoyed best by the dozen (with a squeeze of lemon and a drop of mignonette sauce), books should be savored by the thousands. To celebrate this wonderfully fake holiday, we’re giving away a dozen year-long subscriptions to Oyster. Share #HappyOysterDay on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram and we’ll select 12 of you as winners (and champion gourmands).”
eBook subscription models have taken off in the past year, despite having digital roots extending back as far as 2010 with companies like Spain-based 24Symbols. Even Amazon has gotten in on the game with its recent launch of Kindle Unlimited, which Oyster has declared to be just another validation for the viability of the ebook subscription concept.
Oyster has already inked deals with a number of major publishers and with ebook distribution and self-publishing platform Smashwords, which has helped ensure a growing catalog of content for subscribers to choose from. A standard unlimited plan costs just under ten dollars a month and allows unlimited numbers of reads in each paid period.
Not to be outdone by Flipkart, the largest e-commerce site in India, and its $1 billion investment in its retail site, Amazon has announced its own $2 billion backing of its Amazon.in marketplace, only one day after Flipkart announced its round of funding.
According to Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos, India stands to be its fastest growing marketplace, and the first of its retail markets to produce one billion dollars in sales. Given the population within the country, the abundance of tablets due to strong education initiatives in mobile technology, and the fact that English is one of its official languages, this comes as very little surprise.
While Flipkart has claimed the status of India’s largest e-commerce site with 22 million users making five million shipped purchases per month, Amazon has already refuted that claim. Despite the US-based retailer’s standard operating procedure of not disclosing any specific sales data, Amazon claims to retail more than 17 million different products within its Indian website.
While both Flipkart and Amazon.in are talking and investing in terms of more than just books, this focus on the market means a great deal for self-published authors. With constraints on international book rights in place, even many traditionally published authors don’t find their titles available in every market. But thanks to both Amazon’s KDP platform and self-publishing/ebook distribution site Smashwords, indie authors can list their ebooks in both the Amazon.in Kindle store and Flipkart’s ebook store, due to Smashwords’ agreement with Flipkart.
Authors who don’t take the steps to list their titles with these two options are missing out on a significant number of English-speaking readers who already have a history of online purchasing, have the devices on which to read ebooks, and may already be clamoring for ebook content.