May 30 - Christine Munroe, Kobo Writing Life


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Supporting Your Local Bookstore with Kobo

By Christine Munroe

If you’re like me, you read in both print and digital formats. You love your local bookstore, but you also love your eReader. Luckily, through Kobo’s partnership with booksellers across the world, you aren’t faced with a dilemma of choosing one over the other. You can continue to support your favorite bookstore with every eBook you buy.

In the US, Kobo partners with the American Booksellers Association. Creating a Kobo account affiliated with a bookstore is easy – just head over to www.kobo.com/indieapp  Once your account is affiliated, a portion of every Kobo purchase you make will go directly to the store you’ve chosen. You don’t need a Kobo eReader to participate – you can download the free Kobo app on any tablet, mobile device, or PC.  Outside the US, Kobo supports partnerships with Chapters Indigo in Canada, WHSmith in the UK, and FNAC in France, to name a few.

Our relationship with bookstores is also an important component of our self-publishing platform, Kobo Writing Life. When an indie author clicks “Publish” on KWL, their eBook isn’t just launched on kobo.com. It also lands on the virtual shelves of our bookstore partners worldwide. This is an exciting way to reach new readers and an opportunity for collaboration with your local bookstore.

Over the last two years, I have created unique, fun events across the US bringing together local bookstores, indie authors, and Kobo Writing Life. From digital-only book launches, to panels bringing together digital publishing experts, the possibilities are endless!



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A panel of self-publishing experts speaks to over 100 attendees at Housing Works Bookstore Café in NYC.


Launch party for author Barry Lyga’s digital-only title, UNSOUL’D, at WORD Bookstore in Brooklyn, NY.

How can indie authors take advantage of this program?
            1) Publish on every platform.  By publishing directly on every platform available, including Kobo, you’re able to utilize the unique features of each one and reach fans using the various digital reading ecosystems.
2) Spread the word. Encourage your fans to buy their eBooks through their local bookstore, via Kobo.
            3) Become part of your bookstore’s community. Support your local bookseller by attending events, participating in writing groups, shopping there. Hopefully, you can establish a relationship and find a way for them to support you in return.
            4) Keep KWL in the loop. If you are an indie author collaborating with your local bookstore in a unique way, we’d love to hear about it at writinglife@kobo.com

In other exciting news, Kobo’s parent company, Rakuten Inc., recently acquired OverDrive Inc., a market leader in serving libraries and schools with eBooks, audiobooks, and video. I’m very excited about the new possibilities this partnership will create for Kobo readers and indie authors. Stay tuned for more details as our partnership grows in the coming months.

Christine Munroe is the US Manager of Kobo Writing Life, a self-publishing platform that allows you to reach millions of readers in over 190 countries for free. If you’d like more information on KWL, our bookstore partnerships, or just want to say hello, contact me at writinglife@kobo.com

Additional Links
Twitter: @kobowritinglife


Thursday, May 28, 2015

NO BOOKS TO READ - MARGARET TANNER


WHERE'S MY HOLIDAY BOOK? - MARGARET TANNER

Ah! Summer reading. Those long hot days lying on the beach or the sun deck, slathered in suntan lotion,  wearing a hat or sheltering under beach umbrellas or awnings so we won’t end up as red as lobsters. We have a long cool drink by our side, a few nibbles, and a book, be it print book or e-reader. What bliss. This scenario is played out every summer in most countries of the world.

Of course, if you are unfortunate enough to live in a cold climate, there is nothing like curling up by a roaring fire, watching the red flames dance as you sip a hot drink. A block of chocolate is within easy reach, and of course, a book. I mean, you can all visualize this. It happens so often.

Have you ever been on the train or bus going to work and not seen at least one person reading a book? It is like breathing, we do it all the time.

My question is. What if there were no books, or only a few books to choose from because authors weren’t writing anymore? It would be a disaster. Can’t happen you say, and maybe not, but there is the risk that one day it could.

Everyone expects, and is entitled to a fair days pay for a fair days work. In the case of authors, except for the few who make it big, most are scratching out a living, or writing for the love of it with little reward, but you don’t expect to have your work stolen.

If authors choose to give their work away, i.e. free Kindle downloads etc. that is fine, but what I find particularly frustrating are the plethora of pirate sites giving away authors’ books without their permission. Someone is making money and it sure isn’t the author. There are enough legitimately free books around these days, so there should be no need for these pirate sites, and yet readers obviously continue to patronize them. Of course, these people would not go into the supermarket and help themselves to something and walk off without paying for it.  Only thieves do that.

Downloading books from pirate sites is theft, pure and simple. If no-one went into these sites and downloaded the books, they would be out of business within a couple of weeks.

Most e-books are in the 99cents - $2.99 category, so surely this is not a great deal of money to spend for several hours of enjoyment.

I know of authors who have given up writing because they are sick of their work being stolen. So please, enjoy your holiday reading, but act with integrity and acquire your books in an honest and fair manner. That way you ensure that there are plenty of authors churning out plenty of books, so that no matter what genre you read, you will find something that suits your taste.

Margaret Tanner is an award winning historical romance writer, published by Books We Love.

Her latest release is Dangerous Birthright.

Tagline: Georgina has been living a lie because of a deadly secret from her past.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

There's an inter-connectedness...

by M.L. Buchman

It's always odd when you look out your window and discover connections, sometimes in the strangest ways. I was meeting some friends for lunch in the little town of Depoe Bay here on the Oregon Coast. For reasons that still elude me, we were meeting on Memorial Day; not just the weekend, but the day itself.

Perhaps something needs to be said here about the central Oregon coast. It's lovely. At least it is when we aren't getting our requisite 85 inches of rain a year or the chill summer fog hasn't rolled in because they're having a heat wave on the other side of the Coast Range.

Low tide beach being lovely. (It's only a little bit smug about it.)
So, when a weekend occurs, especially a holiday weekend, locals do not leave their homes. We hunker down and hide until the crowds depart. These little towns' populations expand five to ten-fold in a matter of hours on Friday afternoons and when they empty, the sole coastal highway is, well, not lovely.

Yet somehow we were at this restaurant in Depoe Bay rubbing shoulders with many, many tourists, and this surprising thing occurred. We knew it was going to happen, which was another reason that I had argued to avoid this day, but after days of being grumpy about it, I was quite touched.

Depoe Bay has a fishing fleet, a very small one, but then its a very small town so you wouldn't be surprised. Do you remember the fishing trip from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest? Yep, Depoe Bay. Didn't register even if you saw the movie? Yep, the town is that small.

But once a year on Memorial Day the local fishing fleet is decorated with thousands upon thousands of flowers. The National Anthem is sung, the fleet is blessed, and then they proceed to a spot a mile offshore where two fisherman died almost eighty years ago while trying to save another. The boats circle up, and a Coast Guard helicopter flies in low to drop a wreath (I just missed it in the photo, sorry).

The Depoe Bay fishing fleet circled up.

They are there to remember all those who died at sea and during the war.

As a writer of military romantic suspense, I have learned a great deal about those who serve, the choices they make, and those who don't return. What could have been such a touristy moment was actually deeply moving and our table took a moment to add to the prayers for the safety of the afloat and afar.

I can only wish the same for you and yours.

M. L. Buchman has over 35 novels in print. His military romantic suspense books have been named Barnes & Noble and NPR “Top 5 of the year” and Booklist “Top 10 of the Year.” He has been nominated for the Reviewer’s Choice Award for “Top 10 Romantic Suspense of 2014” by RT Book Reviews. In addition to romance, he also writes thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction.

In among his career as a corporate project manager he has: rebuilt and single-handed a fifty-foot sailboat, both flown and jumped out of airplanes, designed and built two houses, and bicycled solo around the world. He is now making his living as a full-time writer on the Oregon Coast with his beloved wife. He is constantly amazed at what you can do with a degree in Geophysics. You may keep up with his writing by subscribing to his newsletter at www.mlbuchman.com.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Keep Calm and Read On by Sarah Raplee

Hi! I'm Sarah Raplee. I write romantic paranormal and steampunk short stories as well as paranormal romantic suspense novels. The books I'm recommending are books that I would love to take to a cabin hideaway and read all over again.


The first is a contemporary romance novella by Tammy J. Palmer, her debut, COUSIN Q: OFF LIMITS. This book had me at the first line! Ms. Palmer surprised me, made me laugh, and touched my heart deeply. I can't wait to read her next book.

My next recommendation is a cozy mystery by Paty Jager. It's the first of her Shandra Higheagle Mysteries, DOUBLE DUPLICITY, set in a small Idaho mountain town full of interesting characters. Shandra, raised by her white mother, is a young artist who struggles to come to terms with her Native American heritage and the ghost of her grandmother who haunts her dreams. 

When an art dealer is murdered, Shandra finds the body and meets a cop who becomes her love interest. Her dreams help them solve the murder. I thoroughly enjoyed this fresh cozy mystery and am about to read the second book in the series.

For those of you who enjoy Women's Fiction (can you tell I'm an eclectic reader?), I highly recommend Judith Ashley's Sacred Women's Circle Series. Each book recounts the story of one of the seven women who, with the love and support of her Circle Sisters, finds her way to fulfillment and romantic love. 


The first book, LILY-THE DRAGON AND THE GREAT HORNED OWL, finds a distrustful formerly-abused divorcee, now a dedicated social worker, facing an empty nest when her son decides to spend his senior year living with his father. Now she must face her loneliness, find a way to overcome past trauma and learn to trust and love again. This is a lovely, gentle, thoughtful story that illustrates the spiritual connection the women have to the Goddess, the earth, nature and each other.


My final recommendation is Diana McCollum's debut novella, THE WITCH WITH THE TRIDENT TATTOO. I read this fun paranormal romance as Diana's critique partner, and I plan to read the story again when she releases it in June. It's the first in her Coastal Coven Series. The young sea witch who is Guardian of the East Coast of North America must solve the mystery of what is killing off sea life in her domain. Known to the town as a marine biologist, she recruits a surly sea captain and an enchanted talking octopus to help her in her quest.

I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I will (the second time around!)


I write because I can't help it, and it's more fun than most of the alternatives. I have short stories in two anthologies, LOVE & MAGICK and GIFTS FROM THE HEART  from Windtree Press, available in print and ebook from all major online retailers. My Paranormal Romantic Suspense novel, BLINDSIGHT, will be released this summer. Here's a sneak peek at the cover!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Summer + Books = Fun

by Courtney Pierce

Throughout the year, I poke through the shelves of my favorite independent bookstores to stoke my reading fire. The books are stacked on my nightstand and on the floor next to the bed in teetery piles, separated by genre. They wait with the tease of new stories. Each season has a mood: fall is reserved for mysteries like Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon; winter gives me a kick with thick thrillers like Natchez Burning and The Bone Tree by Greg Iles; and spring inspires me with gorgeous burst of literary prose as in All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

And then summer arrives. My favorite reading season.

Summer is reserved for humorous and poignant yarns that make me laugh out loud. Ridiculous situations and colorful metaphors stick with me like the mounds of impatiens in my garden that resemble Chiclets. Beyond the screen of the open sliding door, I bask in the din of chirping crickets and croaking frogs that celebrate a passing shower, an excuse to linger over a page a little longer before turning out the light. 

One more chapter. One more paragraph. One more sentence. And then I look like one of my favorite writers and illustrators, Edward Gorey. That's a picture of him and his cats to the right. 

I search out fun fiction with mature characters, specifically baby boomers because that’s what I, myself, write. The combination of wisdom and Peter Pan syndrome is hilarious. Crazy adult problems prompt—and deserve—an adolescent response. Good intentions crumble with disastrous results for the characters. These books are an entire food group at the base of my pyramid. Who needs meat when I can have a good ’ole baby boomer protagonist who heaps a deep dish of trouble on her plate?

Here’s a peek at this year’s summer selections. 

A Slight Change of Plan by Dee Ernst

A 55-year-old widow is ready to get back in the saddle of love. Of course, it doesn't turn out the way she expects when her grown son and his wife boomerang home, and her elderly mother takes up residence in the basement. The reviews say it’s hilarious. I'm taking on this one first.

Goodbye Emily by Michael Murphy
 (I’m reading this for a second time!)

A humorous and poignant voyage and return. A widower finds closure when he grabs his wife’s ashes, cleans up his VW Van, and hits the road with his buddy. They go back to the site of Woodstock to scatter the ashes. Reliving the concert memories of a lifetime becomes an unexpected adventure. A great story that is both funny and weepy.

Retirement Can Be Murder by Susan Santangelo

A light mystery about a boomer wife who is dreading her husband’s retirement—until he’s suspected of murder. Sounds like I can blow through this one in two nights. If I like it, this author has more in the series. 



A Ghost Of a Chance by Minnette Meador

I met Minnette at a book signing and plucked this from her stack. I always support my fellow local authors. A funny paranormal romance? I've got to check this out while I sip a glass of chilled white wine with my feet propped up on a patio chair.

The Executrix by Courtney Pierce

And last on the list, I’ll be re-reading my own latest novel The Executrix. This time I’ll enjoy it like a reader, not as the author. As I complete the sequel, Indigo Lake, the three middle-aged sisters are in my blood, pumping through my veins like a euphoric drug. These ladies are in over their heads. If all goes according to plan, the sequel will be out before the end of the year.




Courtney Pierce is a fiction writer living in Oregon with her husband of thirty-six years and bossy cat. She enjoys writing for baby boomers. Her novels are filled with heart, humor, and mystery. At least one trickster animal steals the show. For the past three years, Courtney has studied craft and storytelling the best-selling author Jennifer Lauck at the Attic Institute and has completed the Hawthorne Fellows program for writing and publishing.

Visit Courtney's website at www.courtney-pierce.com. Her books can be purchased at Windtree PressAmazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books, and at several independent bookstores in the Portland area.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Ask The Librarian

Even in today's online world, many people consider libraries their primary source of reading material. It's also a place where I continue to find new authors I learn to love so much I buy their backlists and future novels the moment they are released. Physical books, eBooks and audio books can all be obtained from many of the hundred thousand public libraries in the United States, and around the globe. This week, I'm holding a virtual roundtable with librarians serving different types of readers as they discuss their role in getting the right material to the right patron and how they showcase new authors and books.

First - Introductions
Mary Jo  primarily deals with Senior Citizens in her role as the Senior Services supervisor for the Arlington Heights Memorial Library. The library, located in the Chicago suburbs, is one of the highest volume libraries in the country. She leads book discussion groups and deals with homebound customers who can't come into the library but are voracious readers.


Kara works in Adult Services. She received her library degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (my Alma mater!!) in 2006 and has worked in Adult Services at the Plainfield Public Library District for nine years with a special focus on readers’ services and digital books.  Her favorite types of books are anything with graphic violence and hot sex.  Because she loves to read and loves technology, she describes the day the book met the digital reader as "the happiest day in my life."  She is a self-proclaimed “download junkie.”


Debra is an Adult & Teen Services Librarian at the Downers Grove Public Library. She is enthusiastic about connecting individuals with information, and loves finding new ways to inspire patrons of all ages at the library. In her free time, she enjoys marathon training, eating gelato, and nerding out over anime and all things Doctor Who.

Erin is a Children's Librarian and School Liaison at the Downers Grove Public Library. She loves talking books and being able to connect kids of all ages with the books they love. Her formative years were spent checking out as many books from the public library as she could carry. Now she's grateful for ebooks and bigger 

Question 1: Do you introduce patrons to authors who are new to them?

Mary Jo: When customers come into the library we try to ask if we can help them find something. Instead of just saying, here’s the hot book, we probe first to get to know the customer. We create reading profiles for our homebound customers to use to provide suggestions for them based on current favorite authors and their different backgrounds. I believe libraries should focus on reader advisory, an area we can’t be matched by an algorithm. Amazon may tell what other readers think about a book and give some recommendations based on what others read.  We fine-tune recommendations to individual readers. Yes, many eBooks are inexpensive, but you can waste time and money buying books with a fantastic blurb that fails to deliver. It's nice to have a person who actually knows you to provide a more nuanced recommendation. 

Kara: Some readers are set on specific authors. Others might be more open to suggestions and recommendations. When the opportunity presents itself, staff take advantage  by offering to take readers in new directions.

Debra: Our patrons are amazing readers with their fingers on the pulse of the literary world. They stay up to date with the latest releases and popular authors. To provide recommendations they haven’t already read, suggesting new authors is a must! We do this in many ways: through displays, book talks, discussion groups, booklists, Goodreads, recommendations via our staff blog, through Book Genie (http://dglibrary.org/genie), and in person. We always have a staff member roving throughout the library, approaching patrons of all ages who are browsing in the stacks. This creates opportunities for conversations about books and authors and has become the perfect venue for suggesting new reading material. 

Erin: When the book someone wants isn’t on the shelf, or when a patron is just looking for a good read; that's the perfect time to point out something new: either a brand new author with a book released last week, a classical author who has been around for years and years, or someone in between.

Question 2: Where do you see libraries fitting in with leisure reading (fiction) versus non-fiction, research, studying, etc. 

Mary Jo: Leisure reading is not just about fiction. About 15% of my readership exclusively read non-fiction and biographies. Many more intermix non-fiction with fiction when they read for leisure, especially non-fiction that reads like fiction.

Kara: I hope the public sees the Library as their resource for all of those things. We have had access to eBooks since 2006 and it is still surprises me when patrons say "I didn't know we could get eBooks from the Library," despite the amount of marketing we do. It would be great if libraries could have the same recognition retailers have, like Amazon.

Debra: Our community sees the library as a venue for leisure reading as well as a source for academic pursuits. In addition to providing reading materials across a variety of formats (print, audio, ebooks, etc.), we promote reading for pleasure. Our Book Genie service is a fun way for us to share reading suggestions on our website and encourage patrons to reach out to us for more ideas. We are currently working on some exciting new projects to highlight and share librarians’ individual reading, watching and listening suggestions!

Erin: We fit in everywhere! If we don’t have what you’re looking for, we want patrons to tell us. Chances are we can either find what you seek, or we can suggest something that will be similar. 

Question 3: What would you like to see in books that you don't see now?

Mary Jo: As a person who serves many patrons who love mysteries, I would like to see more American mysteries that are compelling and non-formulaic. I would also like to see more popular fiction available in large print. Not everyone wants an eBook as the sole solution to vision problems. Readers often want to hold a physical book in their hands. Publishers should consider putting out large print versions of backlists, especially with a series. Customer get turned off when only some volumes in a series are available to them.

Kara: Quicker and easier accessibility, especially to eBooks. Publishers still don't sell all their content to us like they to do consumers, and patrons still have to jump through several hoops to access content (Overdrive or Adobe accounts and apps, check out length restrictions, etc.)


Debra: There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, since each individual reader is looking for something different. It’s our job to get the right book into the right hands. That’s why it’s so vital that we provide variety in our collections and reflect the diversity of the population that we serve.

Erin: I want more novels, specifically young adult novels, that show girls working together to achieve something that doesn’t have anything to do with a love interest. There’s been a recent push for stronger female characters, which is awesome! Now let’s get those strong female characters some friends.

Question 4. Are library patrons embracing digital books? Any insights on why or why not?

Mary Jo: Technology levels vary. People can learn technology at almost any age if they are sufficiently motivated. But some applications need to be simpler, and that includes everything from Overdrive to the Amazon app. Yes, even Amazon confuses some users, especially once something goes wrong.
Kara: It is hard to say since I don't think kids who use our eContent are coming to the desk and asking for assistance, whereas we receive many inquiries from adult patrons on how to use our eBooks, etc. Circulation of young adult and juvenile eBooks/eAudio in our Overdrive platform has increased by 23 percent in the last fiscal year. However, there is no way to know if this is actually kids reading the kids content, or adults. There is a lot of crossover of young adult novels that appeal to adults (Hunger Games, Divergent, Twilight, etc.).

Debra: Definitely! Our partnership with the school district was rolled out recently, but already, our checkouts in 3M eBook libraries have increased dramatically over just a few months span. In April, over half of our checkouts in 3M came from school students.  I’m very excited to see this partnership being utilized.

Erin: Our kids seem to like having ebooks, but they are also very much still about the physical book.  Our school district participates with two ebook distributors, and we at the public library have an additional one outside of our consortium, so there’s a lot of opportunity for the kids to have access to ebooks. But kids like having the physical book and they ask for that first.

Question 5: What do you see as the positive and/or negative impact of digital books on reading?


Mary Jo: I like eReading. Affordable, portable, and I can make notes and highlight areas without having to ruin the book. This feature is especially helpful for book discussion groups. But I view the trend of digital only releases as a problem. A preponderance of customers still want to hold a physical book, at least some of the time. Also, eReading, especially during the evenings, can interfere with sleep. I would like to see more on-demand printing, possibly via Espresso Book Machines or some related avenue. Unfortunately, sometimes publishers/authors make a judgment call and limit the available formats. That limits readership and crossover appeal.


Kara: I don't see any negatives. Research suggests that people retain better from print material, but I don't really buy into that. The fact that patrons are reading period is what is important. The vehicle they use shouldn't matter. Personally, I prefer reading on an eReader. It is easy to hold and I like the portability component. However, when I am preparing for my monthly book discussion group, I prefer to read those titles in print, as it is easier for me to stop to take notes and reference specific pages.


Debra: I am excited for the possibilities that digital books bring. Our library has partnered with our local elementary school district to link together our 3M ebook libraries. Every child in the district will now be able to check out our ebooks through their school, even if they don’t have a public library card with us. This has removed a significant barrier to access. With the district’s adoption of a 1:1 iPad initiative, students will be able to read anywhere on their devices.

Erin: Part of my job is to connect children with the books that they want to read. If that means they’re reading a digital book and that’s the format that they prefer, that’s okay with me. I don’t think every book translates well to the digital format just yet. This isn’t a negative so much as it’s a comment. I’m thinking specifically graphic novels, picture books, really image heavy books.


Question 6. What do you see as key in creating young readers who become lifelong readers?

Mary Jo: You have to be non-judgmental about what people are reading. You can’t get someone to become an avid reader because they need to read. But if there is a story that sufficiently interests them, they will learn to push themselves, become better readers, and keep on reading.

Erin: Start early and often! Read to children, bring them to places where there are books! Make reading fun for children--if you make it a punishment that’s how they’re going to few it. Kids are so perceptive, and they need to see the adults in their lives reading. Let kids read what they’re interested in. Don’t worry so much about what they ‘should’ be reading (school assignments are a little bit different, of course) and instead, celebrate what they do want to read. Maybe this means being creative--maybe your child doesn’t take to fiction, maybe he or she prefers listening to audiobooks, maybe your child loves graphic novels. That’s okay!

Question 7. Are you concerned about making your collection more diverse in terms of character race, sexual orientation, religion, physical and/or mental disabilities and other factors? 

Debra: Having a collection that reflects all viewpoints and experiences is a priority for us. Public libraries generally have a mission to focus first on fulfilling the needs and wants of their local community. Beyond that, they also have the opportunity to widen readers’ perspectives and broaden their horizons to cultures beyond the local community.

Erin: Yes. The best thing I heard while taking a graduate class on library materials for children for my MLIS was that your collection should be both a window and a mirror. Children should be able to see themselves in the materials in your collection, and they should also be able to look out and experience something different. I’m also super inspired by the folks over at We Need Diverse Books.

Question 8. Who do you purchase material from?

Mary Jo: Primarily Baker and Taylor. For Large Print books we use Thorndike.

Kara: Print books: Baker & Taylor. They don't always seem to carry every title our patrons demand, so occasionally we turn to Amazon. Some recent examples include The Commons: Book 1: The Journeyman by Michael Alan Peck. This is a self-published book and the next winner of the Soon To Be Famous Illinois Author project. We are adding a copy to support this project. Another example is Barefoot in Lace by Roxanne St. Clair. She is a popular romance author and we have a number of her books we were able to purchase from BT, but this particular title was not available from them so we had to order from Amazon.

We obtain audiobooks directly from the publisher  (i.e. Books on Tape, Recorded Books, Blackstone, Tantor, Brilliance Audio). eBooks & eAudiobooks: Baker & Taylor TS360, Overdrive Marketplace, and Recorded Books

Debra: We purchase the bulk of our print materials through Baker and Taylor. Our audiobooks are typically purchased through Midwest Tapes. We also provide digital materials through 3M, Overdrive, Zinio and Hoopla. If items are unavailable through our main vendors, we will purchase from outside sources.

Erin: We use a combination of book vendors who come to the library and a distributor who we place orders through after we’ve read reviews on books. The vendors often have materials that the distributor doesn’t have, especially when it comes to books featuring television and movie characters, so we like to have both options.  

Question 9. How much of the book buying decision is based on patron request?

Mary Jo: Patron interest in a more generic sense, yes. We will entertain requests, and if it fits into general interest, we buy. My job includes augmenting things when Collection Management does not purchase something my audience wants. We stock the kinds of things our patrons like and ask for.

Kara: We still read reviews and make purchase decisions proactively. For anything not purchased by selectors, we have separate monies designated for purchase on demand (POD) where we will purchase patron requests that fit within our collection policy. Additionally, we use POD funds to purchase materials we are unable to obtain via InterLibrary Loan. 

Debra: We always encourage patrons to suggest titles; our goal is to provide the community with the materials they want! If we don’t have a title that someone is looking for, we’ll do our best to obtain it, whether it’s by borrowing it from another library or by purchasing the item for our own collection. Patron requests are taken seriously.

Erin: It’s hard to give a percentage! If a patron requests a certain book, or subject, we try to accommodate because it’s important to have a collection that patrons will use. But there are sometimes extenuating factors--if the book is out of print, for example, that don’t always make that feasible. Still, we try!

Sounds like you rely on reviews heavily. Could you tell us some of the review sources your library uses to determine which books to purchase?



Mary Jo: I look at Indie Next (Independent Booksellers picks), Bookpages. I also look at ARCs and preview copies. I'm constantly looking for books that are not on the bestseller lists, the gems no one has heard of. The fact that a book has not won any awards does not mean its not a fantastic book. I try to find the unknown but fantastic books for my book groups.


Kara: Our sources include Booklist, Kirkus, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, NYT.
Debra: For print materials we primarily use Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Baker and Taylor Forecast, Ingram Advance. A staff member also forwards Blueink's monthly newsletter to our department. I personally also always look at other lists and sources like LibraryReads, the Indie Next List, Amazon's Best Books of the Month, NYT bestseller lists, and blogs like EarlyWord.

Erin: Here in the Children's Department we use School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus, and the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books.


Bonus question:
Sometimes there are challenges to having certain books on the shelves. In my library, various books, from Fifty Shades to Captain Underpants have faced requests to remove them from the library. Could you tell us if your library has a procedure for handling challenges to their material?
Kara: Procedure is as follows:
RECONSIDERATION OF MATERIALS
The District believes that people have the right to decide for themselves what is appropriate reading material. Responsibility for the material chosen by children rests with their parents or legal guardians. A patron finding material objectionable may request that the item be reconsidered.
 
A. Request for review of any material in the collection shall be made by submitting a Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form to the Library Director.
B. The request form must be filled in completely.
C. The complainant must be a resident of the Library District.
D. The Library Director shall act upon the complaint by establishing a staff committee to review the material and render a decision. The decision shall be forwarded to the complainant in written form. A copy of the written decision together with a copy of the complaint shall be given to the Board of Trustees of the Plainfield Public Library District.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Scouting for Good Books?

By Linda Lovely

Who doesn’t want to take advantage of something that’s free?

Readers who enjoy Kindle ebooks have tons of opportunities to download free books. Now they have one more—Amazon’s Kindle Scout program (https://kindlescout.amazon.com/).

Here’s how it works. Readers visit the site and peruse prospective titles in their favorite genres (romance, mystery, science fiction, general literature) by clicking on a book cover and reading a short blurb about the book. If it sounds interesting, they can read the book’s opening chapters. Then, if they think they’d like to read the whole book, they can “nominate” it for an Amazon publishing contract, and if Amazon elects to publish it, they’ll get their copy of the chosen title free. However, during any given time period, readers can only nominate three books. That keeps folks from clicking on every title in their preferred genres. In theory, this selection process provides a curator service. Only the best books of the lot gain publication.

Okay, what’s in it for authors? If Amazon chooses to publish their books, they get a $1,500 advance, 50% ebook royalty, and hopefully, a promotional boost from Amazon marketing. That’s why I’m considering offering my new book, LIES, to the Kindle Scout program. Of course, that doesn’t mean Amazon will choose LIES as one of its offerings. Who knows what criteria they use to select Kindle Scout titles, but I’m certain there are many factors unrelated to book quality (just like there are in traditional publishing) that go into decision making. For instance, if they’ve just put up two vampire related titles in the Sci Fi, Fantasy category, they might bypass an even better vampire book for the sake of variety.

Many authors, me included, are somewhat gun shy about programs like Kindle Scout because they are in essence popularity contests and we don’t like begging friends, family, and fellow authors to nominate our books to get the ball rolling. However, the potential promise of Amazon promotion is a powerful incentive. Plus, if your book doesn’t win an Amazon contract, you can go right ahead with your previous plans to independently publish the title. The only downside is that all those friends you begged to nominate you now know that your book “lost.” Will that influence their willingness to spend money to buy the book? Who knows?

Free books can be a curse or a bonanza for authors, who often offer books for free (or next to free) in the hope that if new readers sample one of their books and like it, they’ll buy their other books. It’s the age-old loss leader strategy. Authors even pay promotional bundlers for the privilege of offering their books free. The problem is that many readers have become so accustomed to downloading books for free that they no longer see a need to buy any books. In other instances, readers have downloaded so many free books it may be months—maybe years—before they actually read the free books they download today. In this case, the author “payback” of such readers buying their other books may take so long, they’ve given up on a writing career.

Nonetheless, we authors are a determined lot. I’m willing to give Kindle Scout a try. If they choose to put up LIES, you may well be hearing from me with a “Please consider nominating” plea.
So authors and readers, how do you feel about “free” ebooks?