Tumor on Kindle – Comics as eBooks

tumorcover1As ebooks grow in popularity, we’re starting to see more ebook exclusive releases. What’s impressive is the recent announcement by Amazon and Archaia, a comic book publisher based here in New Jersey, (disclosure: I know the people at Archaia personally) to release a comic book on the Kindle before the print release.

The Kindle 2 handles images pretty well, but it’s still black and white and, well, pretty small. So most people who create comic books (including me) are trying to understand how to best format their existing comics for ebook readers.

What makes the Archaia deal so interesting is that their comic book will be formatted specifically for the Kindle a full six months before it is released in print. That gives the publisher plenty of time to decide how to package the print edition.

According to Publisher’s Weekly, the first issue of the comic book “Tumor” will be free and then the next seven issues will be 99 cents, bringing the total to $7.92 for the whole series. The print edition will sell for $14.95.

When you consider that many new comic books retail each week for $3.99, you have to wonder what’s going to happen to that core business. And when high-quality color ebook devices become available, will many people still be willing to pay $3.99 for a print comic when a 99 cent version is available?

Now that comics are going to the Kindle, get ready for even more interesting changes in the comic book publishing industry.

Book Expo 2009 – A quick recap

Book Expo 2009Last weekend I went to the Book Expo of America 2009 in New York City. It’s a show that comes around every three years, so it’s not one that I want to miss. As the author of several books (and hopefully more in the future!), I attend the shows to network and connect with publishers.

Since last show, however, we’ve seen the launch of ebook readers, including the Sony Reader and the Amazon Kindle. Many publishers offered ebook versions of new releases, which seemed to draw little attention from media reporting on the event. And yet, neither Sony nor Amazon nor Google (which is now selling ebooks!) had any significant presence at the Expo, which is more or less a professional trade show.

As an author, I would have liked to have seen at least Sony and Amazon at the convention with big informational booths. Y’know, preaching the digital gospel and stuff. I even brought my Kindle with me, just in case Amazon was giving away free sample books or whatever. Sadly, there was nothing there but a little standing kiosk. Nothin’ fun for us early adopters.

Side note: One of the convention organizers said that the word “BEA” was one of the most Twittered words in the country that weekend. That’s kind of cool. And there were several digital-focused panels, including a couple on blogging and Twittering, which was interesting to see.

Despite the ups and downs of the recession, the show still seemed vibrant and alive. It felt a little less crowded than in previous years, but there were still a lot of publishers and interesting exhibitors. It’s a brightly lit Candyland of fun for people who love books. You can’t actually buy anything at Book Expo, but you can certainly plan some of things you’d like to see under the Christmas tree this year.

And, yes, a little reassurance that (despite the digital revolution) there are still people out there who plan to buy books. At least for a little while.

LINKS – NOT NECESSARILY ENDORSEMENTS

BEA Attendance Update…..

Thank God It’s Thursday: Book Expo ’09

Book Expo America 2009 – A Summary

My Dear John to Kindle 2

Dear Kindle 2,

Hey, baby, I love you, you know that right? So as I write this, please know that my love for you is undying. You were my first eBook reader, and everyone remembers their “first.”

I am in love with another. And like a bad romance novel…I love your sister, Kindle DX.

Now, before you freak out and delete all my eBooks, I want you to remember that I DO love you. (And, quite frankly, I paid for those books and I am planning to transfer them to DX as soon as she’s available this summer.)

Kindle DXYour sister Kindle DX…where do I start? I fell in love the first time her picture was leaked on CNet.

She’s thin and white, just like you. I can see the family resemblance. But she’s tall and really easy on the eyes, if you know what I mean.

And compared to your perfectly acceptable QWERTY keyboard, her ergonomically cute button keyboard seems so…I don’t know…futuristically relevant? Is futuristically even a word? I will have to check my Kindlictionary. Yes, good. Words matter.

Anyway, DX does things for me that you just refuse to do. And I have needs.

For example, DX supports PDF right out of the box. You may not think it’s a big deal to convert to PDF, but…she just knows how to do it automatically. I don’t even have to ask.

Speaking of needs, she can rotate my images just like my Apple iTouch. And while you hold an impressive 1,500 books…she’s deep enough to accommodate 3,500 books. I don’t know why that matters…since I don’t even have that many books…but I guess I am just impressed by girth.

Well, that’s it. Please don’t hate me. I do not hate you. I just found someone I like better. Don’t dwell on the fact that she’s younger than you.

There are so many things I will cherish about our relationship. And until DX comes out, I’d like us to remain “friends with benefits” okay?

Fondly forever,

Buddy Scalera
http://www.buddyscalera.com

More Kindle blogging by me:

LINKS, NOT NECESSARILY ENDORSEMENTS

Kindles + Kids = 37 Billion Reasons

When I talk to friends and co-workers about the Kindle 2, they are amazed at the ebook technology, but doubtful that they’ll be using one anytime soon. At a price of $359 (and during a recession), they’re right. They probably will NOT be using an ebook this year. Or next.

But you know who will? Their kids.

According the the US Department of Education, there were approximately 34.9 million children in grades K-8 in public schools in 2008. By 2014, they estimate that number to increase to 37.2 million.

That’s a lot of students. That’s a LOT of textbooks.

According to some Internet sources, it can cost anywhere from $800-$1,000 to give textbooks to students every year. Some sources say an average textbook is about $52. (It’s hard to offer a good credible source. If you have one that supports or disputes this claim, please offer some links.)

So simple math here based on 2014 enrollment estimates:$1,000 times 37 million is $37 billion.

Anyway, kids. Yeah. Expensive, aren’t they?

Kids don’t need paper to get the benefit of the education that’s been written. They need information to get smart. We can give them Internet access, but that’s just one resource.

My Kindle ($359) weighs 10 oz. My laptop ($1,200) is about 5 lbs. That may not be much for me, but it is for a 10-year-old.

In a few years, it’s likely that we’ll see government-issued ebook readers replacing overstuffed backpacks. It may be the Kindle or the Sony e-Reader, but it will probably be some new manufacturer that has big government contracts.

Something more durable and utilitarian. Something that’s less hackable and more controllable than the average PC.

Teachers will assign chapters and reading over the school’s wireless network. Schools will only pay for the chapters they assign. New editions of textbooks will be downloaded directly from the publisher’s website via secure FTP.

Less paper. Less storage space. Less money spent on giving textbooks to 37 million students per year.

Say what you will about public schools, but most people in the US attend these schools. Our country generates a lot of smart people because there are a lot of smart people running and teaching in these schools.

A back of the napkin calculation shows that we may be looking at $37 billion in textbooks in 2014.

You can bet there are school administrators crunching numbers too. And while the economics of first generation ebook readers don’t make sense now, that will soon change. Prices will drop, technology will improve, and the economics will become compellingly obvious.

You may never read books using an ebook reader. But your kids in grammar school? They will.

Links….Not Necessarily Endorsements:

Top 5 Things I’ll Pay for on the Web

As the bad economy grinds on, there are massive shifts in all industries. Many good websites have been funded (in part) by advertising, venture capitalist funds, and subscription models.

But as these revenue channels evaporate (for some websites), we’re seeing a shift in the Net economy. Good services need to find a proper revenue stream. And…get ready, gang…some of these websites are going to eventually charge a fee.

Apple’s iTunes Store and Amazon’s Kindle 2 are slowly making it possible for certain sites to turn a profit on micro-payments. But those sites sell stuff. For other sites, we’ll see a greater emphasis on Freemium models.

It got me thinking about what I would be willing to pay for, so I compiled a list of:

Top 5 Things I’ll Pay for on the Web

1. Email.
Yes, I know email is free. But I would be willing right now to pay for GMail, if it promised greater security and features. They provide an awesome service, but we’re still computing in the cloud, which makes email particularly vulnerable. Think about how many emails you’re getting that could be giving tiny bits of financial, health, or security information away. I’d pay to upgrade to something that would offer a greater level of security and privacy.

2. Electronic Health Records.
The Obama administration has placed a strong emphasis on building up the infrastructure of our health system. With that is an even stronger focus on electronic medical records (EMR). Right now there are several companies offering free EMR tracking solutions, including Google, Microsoft, and some health insurers. They’re going to have to get paid from someone, and if they’re not charging YOU for YOUR information, where will they get their money? I’d pay for EMRs that hire good quality employees and conduct full background checks.

3. Reviews.
In the old days, professional journalists were hired to be product and movie review experts. There was an editorial system of checks and balances to ensure that newspapers and magazines were unbiased. Consumer Reports was famous for not accepting any advertising, so you had to pay for their reviews. Now, to be a reviewer, all you really need is an opinion and an email address. There are hundreds of sites hungry for content, so they accept submissions from reviewers with no experience. These reviews may be spot-on or they may be looking to build a personal network, reputation, or whatever. In my experience working in pop culture, I’ve found that SOME reviewers are frustrated creators, offering opinions on stuff they think they can do better. Not all, some. But it’s that minority voice…the one with an axe to grind…that can damage a creator’s career and reputation.  So I’d be willing to pay for reviews on a site where professional reviewers were (a) experienced, (b) unbiased, (c) well-rounded, (d) had editors, and (e) were paid for their professional opinions. Check out Johanna Draper Carlson’s article How to Review.

4. Cloud Computing & Software as a Service.
My trusty old G5 Mac is still running classic boxed software. But as the line begins to blur between the desktop and the web, we’re seeing better software options. Right now, Google, Microsoft, Zoho, OpenOffice, and a dozen other sites are sharpening their software solutions. Eventually, as things shake out, we’ll see some clear leaders. Personally, I enjoy having my Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac. It works, even when my Internet connection doesn’t. Google Gears is already offering a similar solution, but it’s just not as robust as I’d like. Some people find the deep tools on Word and Excel to be overkill for their needs. Not me. I use power tools and look forward to the features that some people deride as bloatware. To me, these improvements are essential for solving editing, analyzing, and other business challenges. I would pay if Microsoft, Zoho, Google, or anyone could offer me (a Mac user) a full software solution with a reliable bridge between the desktop and the web.

5. Content.
Right now, nearly everything I consume online is free. News, videos, professional development…all free. Pretty amazing, considering how much it costs to create good quality content. Eventually, this model will change. Maybe ads will pay for everything, which would be like the broadcast TV model. Or it will move premium, like the cable TV model. Either way, someone has to pay for the content I want to consume. For example, I go to CNet nearly every day for tech news. CNet is an essential part of my need to stay on top of tech trends, so I have a professional motivation for keeping up with their content. And given the choice of seeing my favorite sites go out of business or paying a small subscription fee…I’ll pay the subscription.

Of course, all of this excludes services and content I already pay for, including music on the iTunes store and books for my Kindle 2.

If the Internet moved to a pay for service model, what would you pay for?

Oh, and one more thing. I tried to come up with a Top 10 list. The most I could come up with was my Top 5. Tells ya something, right?

Interesting links…not necessarily endorsements:
Five tips on charging for content from Alan Murray of WSJ.com

How can newspapers help Google?

It’s the Content, People.

Newspapers Want Consumers To Pay For Online Content

My First Self-Published eBook for Kindle

I’ve officially entered the eBook age. As an author, I have published my first eBook for the Kindle. Gimme a big “whoo hoo!”

To explore the technology, I wanted to get something up there on the Kindle store. So I took the complete scripts for my comic book series “7 Days to Fame,” reformatted it, created a Kindle account, and published it on Amazon.com.

7 Days to Fame eBook cover

7 Days to Fame eBook cover

Check out my 7 Days to Fame – The Complete Scripts eBook for the Kindle. It sells for a whopping 99 cents.

To be honest, it wasn’t very hard to reformat for the Kindle. Mostly it just came down to reformatting for the smaller screen and checking for bad line breaks and hiccups in the code. Just a few hours of work and now it’s done.

This isn’t the first time I was part of an eBook. There’s a transcript of a podcast interview that I did a few years ago with Paula Berinstein called Writing Comic Books: A Writing Show Interview and I was a technical consultant on the photo book Artist’s Digital Photo Reference – Landscapes.

But for me, this is much more fun, since I actually did the reformatting myself and published it. It’s…addictive.

Week 2 with Kindle 2

It’s week two or so with the new Kindle 2. Despite being an extremely easy device to use, I still found it took me time to become really comfortable with it. Like most people who saw it for the first time, I was reaching for the screen, since it really looked like it would be perfect for a touch-based interface. Maybe next version.

Over the first few days, I handled it gingerly. It was transported carefully in the original box, since I hadn’t opted to buy one of the many available cases.

Then, after a while, I started to just treat it like another part of my collection. Dropped it in the pocket of my heavy winter coat, and off I went. And you know what? It survived. Nice. The Kindle 2 is proving to be a tough, road-worthy companion.

Right now, I primarily subscribe to the New York Times daily and one of my favorite blogs, which is Read Write Web. And despite a few gripes about navigating articles, I’m really impressed with K2. Durable, fast, convenient. So far, so good.

Been exploring a few Kindle-specific blogs too, which is making me feel like I am part of some cool new club for readers. Check out:

Joe Wikert’s Kindleville Blog: All Kindle, All the Time

Blog Kindle