Is Kindle worth it for Authors?

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Authors who have preferred traditional print publication in the past are now turning to digital publishing to catapult their careers. Kindle publishing is the pathway for allowing authors expansion with their audience and more control over their books. New authors and established authors are using Kindle to break through the barriers that traditional publishing places their authors.

Benefits of using Kindle Publishing

According to Benefits of Kindle Publishing for New Authors , “Through the Kindle publishing system, you can sell your eBooks on Amazon’s websites around the world, and you can earn up to 70% per sale! There are some basic requirements to achieve the 70% payouts, such as a minimum price of $2.99”. Kindle publishing is giving authors the potential of having a massive audience worldwide.

The pros & cons of Traditional Publishingexplains, “Writers can face dozens, even hundreds of rejections from both agents and publishing houses before their book makes to print”. Authors that use traditional publishing lose more than they gain. Through traditional publishing, an author is not able to easily make changes to their books because they have to go through editors and publishers. Authors lose their creativity control when it comes to their craft. Publishing houses have the final say in the book’s title, cover, and pricing. However, this leaves authors at the mercy of the publishing houses powers.

 Meanwhile, authors who use Kindle publishing have the advantage of quickly making adjustments. Creators that use Kindle have more authority and creative control over their books. Authors can make changes to their book quickly and efficiently. Kindle can also update the price of preexisting e-books in the market.

Feedback for Authors

Kindle allows authors to get direct feedback from their audience. The readers can leave comments about how they felt about the book. Many readers do not suppress their feelings on the changes they think the author should make or their writing style. The feedback from readers will show the author if they are targeting the right genre or audience. An author’s primary focus is to appeal to their audience, and if they are not, then their failing.

Kindle Authors

John Locke is the eighth independent author to sell a million on the Kindle book store. He saw Kindle publishing as a platform for authors who were not given a chance to show their work to the world. According to John Locke Becomes the First Independently Published Author to Join the “Kindle Million Club” ,

“Kindle Direct Publishing has provided an opportunity for independent authors to compete on a level playing field with the giants of the bookselling industry,” said John Locke. “Not only did KDP give me a chance, but they also helped at every turn. Quite simply, KDP is the greatest friend an author can have.”

Locke struggled to sell his books early in his career, but as he began to promote his book through twitter and other cites, consistently his sells began to pick grow. As a result, he has had multiple bestsellers as his career progresses.

Amanda Hocking’s is the  26 –years-old “Kindle Millionaire” who sold over a million electronic copies of her self-published paranormal romance book. Multiple agents and publishing companies had denied Hockings, but Kindle publishing became the way she could achieve her dreams. According to Steven Spatz’s “Amanda Hocking Made Millions By Selling 99-cent Books — And You Can, Too,

 “Hocking had written a series of novels over the preceding nine years, each of which had been rejected by countless agents and publishing houses. She decided, sitting in her apartment, to put them up for sale on Amazon. She listed the first at 99 cents.”(Writing Cooperative ). 

Through Kindle, she has been able to make a living out of her writing. She has been able to call all the shots. Hocking has created a stable career for herself without having to spend as much money as traditional writers.

 The authors who choose to use Kindle publishing have more advantages of getting more money and opportunities through their writings. Kindle publishing has become the pathway for established and new authors to have the chance of becoming a bestseller without an agent or traditional publishing company.

I, Robot Author

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Earlier this year, science-centered publisher Springer Nature produced the online textbook Lithium-Ion Batteries: A Machine-Generated Summary of Current Research. This e-book has no earth-shattering findings on the batteries, but it made headlines all the same: “This is the first time AI has authored an entire research book, complete with a table of contents, introductions, and linked references.” 

AI Now 

The first fully AI-authored e-book is here. Similarly, an AI-authored travel novel was released this year, though only in print. In The Verge, James Vincent wrote, “For decades, machines have struggled with the subtleties of human language, and even the recent boom in deep learning powered by big data and improved processors has failed to crack this cognitive challenge,” but this no longer holds true. Now multiple businesses have released writing AI in the past year, all capable of producing intelligible sentences.  

Google, Springer Nature, and OpenAI produce the most crucial writing AI. Google’s BERT works with NLG or natural language generation. BERT aims to replicate the way language organically flows.  

BetaWriter outranks BERT, though, for writers. BetaWriter wrote the first published e-book from Springer Nature. The publishing industry has hailed the 250+ page textbook as a turning point in the advancement of AI writing. 

OpenAI’s GPT-2 also holds serious status for authors. GPT-2 excels in language modeling. The program can create anything from a realistic news headline to an entire story length tale from one line of input. 

Positive Aspects of Writing with AI 

Writing with AI can certainly benefit authors. The bots excel at matching texts in their samples, which makes them ideal for both writing passages in foreign languages and adding multiple versions of an e-book. Macho from PublishDrive touches on this subject saying, “This innovation shows a more accessible future translation market by listening to or reading a book out loud and getting them translated realtime.” 

While the AI bots may not be able to write precisely what the author imagines, they can compile large libraries easily. This research aspect helps authors streamline the writing process. As Kevin Waddel points out in this Axios article, the bots’ function ideally to “Dig researchers out from under information overload.” This function benefits both academic writers trying to compile educational or experimental data and the pleasure writer logging settings, mythical characters, and historical events. 

Bots also function within an established framework, making them ideal for online authors. Not only can AI compile all the information necessary to make writing easy, but authors can use the formatting “technicality” to format their e-book files with little error or effort. The bots can do all the formatting that people can, so authors and publishers should take advantage of what the bots can reliably do to maximize the payoff. 

Downsides to Writing with AI 

Writing with AI can come with some real drawbacks, especially if humans don’t run interference. AI learns through what it reads by searching for patterns, but that’s it. Macho explains, “The key lies in EQ or EI – whatever you call it – using emotional intelligence to engage your audience.” AI can only copy writing moves people because people are where the emotional intelligence comes from. 

AI also struggles to understand the more profound meaning and context that often fills writing. The more thorough parts of the pattern analysis, deep learning, can still only measure so much. The resulting text, though accurate, is filled with continuity errors and cold opens. These issues regularly leave the reader confused or lost, which deems AI an unreliable tool for writers. 

Many experts consider the AI’s self-learning from input to be the most dangerous drawback for writers. CNN and The Verge both criticized the newly available, high-quality AI writers for their potentially dangerous results. Vincent’s article in The Verge says the following: 

In the wrong hands, GPT-2 could be an automated trolling machine, spitting out endless bile and hatred.” OpenAI’s helpful research tool could be used to publish hateful propaganda with minimal effort. These downsides and ambiguities raise many questions. 

 Questions About Credit 

Whenever new technology develops, it always takes time for rules and general knowledge to catch up. With AI itself being so new, authors or publishers intending to use it don’t have very much guidance on doing so ethically. Coldewey of TechCrunch raises several questions about crediting when writing with AI: 

Who is the originator of machine-generated content? Can developers of the algorithms be seen as authors? Or is it the person who starts with the initial input (such as “Lithium-Ion Batteries” as a term) and tunes the various parameters? Is there a designated originator at all? Who decides what a machine is supposed to generate in the first place? Who is accountable for machine-generated content from an ethical point of view? 

Springer Nature credited the program itself in the textbook they produced, but this does not factor in the rest of Coldewey’s questions. In fact, those questions can’t be answered until the industry knows more about the instrument. In the meantime, each user must rely on their instincts for best practices.  

 Best Practices for Writers and Publishers  

Some experts in AI gave their advice to authors and publishers about the truly effective ways to incorporate AI into their trades. Macho wrote, “There are two big areas of publishing where AI can (and will) make an impact: content analysis, recommendation and creation; and audience analysis.” 

The best ways to use AI without cutting out the human touch are by using the bots for everything but the writing. Publishers should use the bots for marketing: find out the types of people viewing the content, their preferences, and then use the bots to implement a targeted marketing plan. 

Authors should use AI to prepare their library for writing. The bots can compile all kinds of data which allows the author to focus only on producing the text. The bots could even theoretically produce dialogue to help the author create realistic conversations that sound varied and natural, especially if dialogue challenges the author. 

Publishers and authors can both use AI to make widespread changes, such as name or location changes. They can also use AI to reformat the text and files for publication or to determine the best place to insert features like images and other interactive aspects. With these options, authors and publishers should feel motivated to incorporate the bots more effectively. 

While writing AI advances further and further in ability each day, the writing AI produces has a very narrow audience, as Springer Nature’s e-book shows. People simply have more skill and nuance. AI can be incorporated more into the writing and publishing world, but only at the writer and publisher’s discretion.

Glamour Goes Digital-First

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To stay ahead of the proverbial curve, many traditional print magazines have moved to a digital-first approach to publishing. Glamour magazine is one such publication that took the right steps in order to meet their customers’ desires.

Digital-first has become one of the critical decision points impacting print publications across industries. The fashion industry has been significantly impacted by target markets choosing digital alternatives to printed publications. With the advent of high-speed internet and devices that provide instant access to information, the fashion industry has struggled to maintain a leading mind-share position on trends in style with their readers. 

Glamour, founded in 1939, is a women’s magazine with divisions across the US, UK, and various European countries. The magazine is published by Condé Nast , one of the largest fashion publishing groups with a global reach of over one billion consumers across digital media outlets. 

Prior to 2016, management at Glamour recognized that the shift towards a digital market would require a change on their end. The UK branch of Glamour first took steps toward a stronger online presence back in 2017, when they began cutting back on printed issues in order “to become a digital first, beauty-first brand. ” 

As a leading fashion and beauty magazine, Glamour currently holds a strong position across online platforms, boasting more than 11 million online users and a social media following of over 14 million. Thus making the permanent shift toward a digital-first platform a sensible decision for the company’s future growth. 

In an interview with the Jewish Chronicle Deborah Joseph , an editor for Glamour UK, said: 

“For me the exciting thing was: how do you take a brand like Glamour that’s been built over 17 years as one of the most successful and well-known women’s brands across the UK, from a print title of 12 times a year and grow it across multi platforms — social, experiential and, obviously, online?”

The move for Glamour to cease their printed issues was hinted at when the magazine’s editor in chief, Cindie Leive , stepped down after 16 years. Samantha Barry was then hired in January 2018 to lead and accomplish this change in Glamour’s approach to its readers. Barry recognized the demand to secure a strong digital presence for the publication, and her role as editor in chief has allowed Glamour to transform their brand in the expanding world of digital media.

Upon Barry’s arrival, the plan to relaunch the US branch of Glamour on a digital platform was officially set in motion. In an interview for The New York Times , Barry said, “It’s where the audiences are, and it’s where our growth is. That monthly schedule, for a Glamour audience, doesn’t make sense anymore.” 

In October 2016, In Style UK made the decision to close their print editions permanently as a result of falling circulation patterns. Marie Claire UK  reacted to market pressure in the same manner. The magazine announced in September 2019 that they plan to cease print publication after November. A spokesperson from Marie Claire UK told BBC News , “A strategy focusing on Marie Claire UK’s digital business will give the brand the best opportunity to secure a profitable and sustainable future.” 

While these two popular UK magazines made the switch to digital in order to stay afloat, this was not necessary Glamour at the time.Unlike In Style UK and Marie Claire UKGlamour’s print publication was highly successful when they announced their digital shift. What this seems to indicate is a keen sense of market movement and the corresponding flexibility to accomplish a significant change in business direction.

Camilla Newman, Glamour’s publishing director, spoke about the magazine’s decision at the PPA (Professional Publishers Association) festival  in May 2018 saying, “It’s really important to point out that the print circulation of Glamour was really healthy when we were looking at changing the format to a digital-first brand.” In fact, the company’s 2018 market value  was ‎€15.5 million, or $17 million, with an estimated growth forecast up 21.1% over the next five years.  

At the time of their decision, Glamour indicated a revenue growth model for the next twenty quarters. However, it’s not apparent whether the marketing impact that drove other publications into digital publishing to avoid significant loss was a part of their consideration.

With the success in printed editions and, at the time, no downward move in print revenue, the shift toward a solely digital platform was both a bold and proactive choice for the company. Not many publicly-traded companies have a management team with the fortitude to make decisions that could negatively impact revenue and stock-holder dividends. However, with the strong positive growth across all digital media outlets, it seems Glamour timed their move well.

Even with the digital-first approach, Glamour hasn’t forgotten about their consumers that prefer print. The magazine produces a “biannual, collectible, glossy ” edition that celebrates diversity among women, while at the same time, reaching their audience with the nostalgia of a physical issue. This decision to blend the “old with the new”, shows the sensitivity of Glamour management to their customers. Further, these special editions hold the potential of becoming collectibles which will contribute to cementing Glamour as one of the leading fashion brands since 1939. 

While Glamour isn’t the only magazine to make the digital-first transition, they are one of the few companies to take a proactive approach in the world of digital publishing. Since Barry’s rise to editor in chief, Glamour’s online views  “have risen 12 per cent, to 6.3 million.” “Glamour is a brand – it’s not just a magazine ,” Barry says, and this approach has truly transformed the iconic publication while still managing to maintain the integrity it held before a digital shift.

United States v. Apple

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In April of 2012, the United States of America’s Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Apple Inc. This was a United States antitrust case in which Apple was accused of conspiring with the top six major publishing companies to raise the price of e-books. In order to understand why the United States filed suit on Apple, it is pertinent to understand the original and legal model by which publishing companies must abide.

The legal model starts with the book publisher’s ownership of the e-books. Book publishers will sell the e-book rights to distributors; meaning distributors like Amazon and Apple are legally permissible to distribute and sell the e-books bought. Book publishers sell their e-books to distributors like Apple at wholesale price. The wholesale price is less than the suggested selling price of the e-book. Through competitive market forces, distributors have to compete for business with the consumers. In order to be competitive, distributors will set their prices just above the price they paid for the rights of the e-book. Thus, distributors making marginal profits from e-books is a typical occurrence. What’s important here is that price of the e-books sold to consumers is set by the distributors, not by the book publishers. What is also important is the distributors are vying for business with each other, which in turns causes lower prices.

According to the United States Court for the Southern District of New York (Links to an external site.), “[Book Publishers] conspired with each other to eliminate retail price competition in order to raise e-book prices, and that Apple played a central role in facilitating and executing that conspiracy”. The basis of the anti-trust lawsuit is a new and illegal model that Apple and the book publishers decided to indulge in. The book publishing industry is controlled by five major publishing companies. The five publishing companies consist of Hachette Book Group, Harper Collins, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster.

Prior to Apple joining the e-book market, Amazon was by far the biggest e-book retailer. According to Fortune Magazine’s article Second Bite: Can Apple clear its name in the ebooks drama?, “Apple was breaking into a market then dominated by Amazon, which had an 80% to 90% market share—monopoly power in almost anyone’s book.” With Amazon being a monopoly power in the e-book market, they were able to set the prices of their e-books at whatever price they wanted without competition in the market. According to Fortune Magazine’s senior editor, Rodger Parloff (Links to an external site.), “publishers sold e-books to Amazon under this wholesale model for about $10. To their horror, however, Amazon resold the e-books to the public for $9.99.” There is nothing legally wrong with Amazon selling their e-books for $9.99, but the publishing companies were not okay with Amazon’s price choice.

The publishing companies were under the impression that Amazon’s lower e-book prices would in turn cause the value of physical books to go down. According to Rodger Parloff, “In response, some publishers chose to raise their wholesale e-book prices to $12 or even $15, but Amazon continued to sell even those e-books for $9.99 — now absorbing a $2 to $5 loss on every single book sold.” With the top five publishing companies being discontent with Amazon’s set retail prices, some of the publishers stopped wholesaling their books to Amazon. The book publishers started to collude in 2009 in order to fix their issue with Amazon.

Apple rolled out their first e-reader called the iPad in January of 2010. Prior to launching the iPad, Apple wanted to release the new i-bookstore app on the same day that they rolled out the iPad. At the same time of Apple’s release, Amazon already had their Kindle Fire e-reader out. The main difference between Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Apple’s iPad was the color display. The Kindle Fire had a back light that displayed in black and white, whereas the iPad had a colorful display. According to the U.S. Court for the Southeastern District of New York, “Apple did not want to compete with Amazon on price.”

Apple knew the big publishing companies were discontent with Amazon’s price of $9.99. Apple decided they would help the publishing companies with their problem, if the publishing company helped Apple enter into the e-book market. According to the U.S Court for the Southeastern District of New York, “Apple decided to offer the Publisher Defendants the opportunity to move from a wholesale model — where a publisher receives its designated wholesale price for each e-book and the retailer sets the retail price — to an agency model, where 12 publishers set the retail price and the retailer sells the e-book as its agent.” The wholesale to agency model change is not an illegal change, but it becomes illegal since Apple did this change with all five of the top publishers at the same time.

Horizontal competitors like these five publishers are not legally allowed to talk amongst each other about pricing. This collusion in order to change the market value of e-books is a direct violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. According to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School (Links to an external site.), “the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 is a federal statute which prohibits activities that restrict interstate commerce and competition in the marketplace.” This infringement of the law is where the lawsuit against Apple begins. The other publishing companies all took settlement deals, while Apple tried the case in court and was referred to as the “ringleader” of the “cartel”.

The Sherman Antitrust Act is set in place to not only maintain the integrity of the free market economy of the United States, but to also protect the consumer from being abused by big corporations. In the case of the top five publishing companies, they acted as an oligopoly with full control of the e-book market, and overstepped their boundaries with their price fixing. In June of 2015, the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals found that Apple was guilty of e-book price fixing. Consequently, Apple was required to pay a 450-million-dollar settlement. Major cases like this show the American people that no person or entity is above the law. It also shows the big entitles that they will not be allowed to take advantage of the people of United States in a court of law.

in Law | 1,066 Words

Libraries Enter the Digital Age with Overdrive

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Libraries are moving into the modern age with Overdrive, a “a free service offered by your library or school that lets you borrow digital content (like e-books and audiobooks) anytime, anywhere.” Through Overdrive, libraries have their own digital collection based on their personal needs, making each an individual unit with a specialized collection.

The Process of Creating Digital Collections

According to Amanda Jackson, director of the Chesapeake Public Library, in order to join Overdrive libraries must provide a “SIPII (Standard Interchange Protocol, Version 2) connection to allow Overdrive, or any other third party vendor, to access their ILS (Integrated Library System- the system that checks out books and keeps up with library cards) to access their data and patron records.” Libraries then enter into an annual contract to continue providing the digital collection services.

Overdrive’s system is also simple to use for consumers – sign up with your library card or student ID, find your library’s digital collection, and borrow as many titles as you want. The e-books can be read online or downloaded, making it easy for the consumer to read at home or listen to their loans while on the go. Some libraries even have the option to offer video streaming services that are available via the mobile app.

Once the checkout time is up, the book is returned to the library’s digital catalog, available for other customers to checkout or for the previous reader to renew. Unfortunately, there are limited copies per e-book or audiobook, so readers may have to wait for the book they want – a difficult task in the age of instant streaming.

On how libraries add books to their digital collection, Jackson stated “in the contract and payment, libraries are given a budget for materials. They can add additional funds to this budget if necessary. From here, they access a catalog, similar to Amazon or Barnes and Noble, which would list available titles and costs. They put them in an online cart and order books to be placed on their Overdrive website.”

If consumers are looking for a specific book that is not in their library’s digital catalog, they can suggest to their library the book they want added. However, some books can cost as much as $100, so Jackson states whether the book is ordered depends primarily on how many people are requesting it.

“If multiple people suggest it or it’s part of series that the library didn’t realize was missing a volume, we may order it,” Jackson said. “Each library has its own collection development policy on ordering.”

Once a book is in the digital catalog, the amount of times that book can be checked out depends on the contract between the book distributor/publisher and the vendor.

“Some allow unlimited check outs,” Jackson said. “Some allow as few as 20, using the assumption that a physical book would have to be replaced after about 20 check outs due to wear and tear, thus keeping their revenues the same.”

However, book distributors can cause issues for libraries attempting to add certain books to their databases. According to Jenny McGrath in her article “Why You May Have to Wait Longer to Check Out an E-book from Your Local Library,” when Nora Roberts published the long-awaited third book in her Chronicles of The One series, fans were forced to wait in long e-lines for the book due to Macmillan’s restrictions on how many copies libraries could purchase.

The articles state that “Macmillan, which publishes the series, is only allowing library systems around the country to purchase a single e-book of newly published titles for all their branches. Eight weeks after new books launch, libraries will be able to buy more.”

The article then expands on the Macmillan decision, stating:

CEO John Sargent outlined the changes in response to “growing fears that library lending was cannibalizing sales.” On September 11 (2019), the American Library Association (ALA) started circulating a petition in hopes of pressuring Macmillan to not go through with its plan, which is scheduled to go into effect in November. “To treat libraries as an inferior consumer to the general population, it’s the wrong thing to do,” said Alan Inouye, director of the Office for Information Technology Policy at the ALA. “Libraries are generally held as amongst the highest esteemed institutions in the community.”

These disputes over book lending seem redundant as library’s would be able to purchase as many physical copies of the books as they like, so the decision to refuse selling more digital copies appears inconsistent as physical libraries still retain precedence. And, despite the growing use of Overdrive and its immediate checkout and download availability, Jackson stated that the number of patrons still going to physical libraries to find their books has not been surpassed by online users.

“There are still more books via in-person visits,” Jackson said. “I think that’s because so many people don’t realize libraries offer that service or they are used to getting their e-books from a different method, i.e. Amazon.

“But the number continues to grow as libraries do more marketing to that audience. Our (The Chesapeake Public Library) e-book check outs doubled in the first six months of this year from their numbers in 2018.”

The Future of Digital Collections

Overdrive has moved even further in its efforts to offer free digital media to consumers through the creation of its new app, Libby. According to the Washington County Cooperative Library Services, Libby “has the same collection of titles as the OverDrive app – it’s just a different way to access the same digital library collection. Libby is a fast and attractive digital browsing experience.”

For those unsure of which app to use, the WCCLS answers that question as well.

“If you use one iOS or Android device to browse, download, and read or listen to digital books, we recommend trying Libby. It’s a great one-device experience. If you like to read books on many devices, or prefer to browse for new titles on your computer, stick with the OverDrive app for now. Also, if you make use of accessibility features in the OverDrive app, you’ll need to stick with that until more accessibility features get added to Libby.”

According to Jackson, libraries use the same system for adding books to both the Overdrive and Libby collections.

“All database vendors pretty much work the same,” Jackson said. “It’s very similar to online shopping through other stores. The look may be a little different but the process is mostly the same.”

Libraries are taking progressive steps into the digital age using Overdrive’s digital collections, creating a more immediate and efficient way for patrons to check out and download their books on the go. While this service has not surpassed visits to physical libraries, establishments such as the Chesapeake Public Library have experienced a growth in online visitors as marketing for Overdrive increases.

Overall, busy patrons looking to have a more immediate access to e-books and audiobooks should be overjoyed about Overdrive.

E-books and sleep patterns

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Digital E-Readers and Sleep Patterns

From the time that printed books became available to the masses and not just a status symbol for the wealthy, people have been reading books before bedtime. The source of light when this habit was formed was a candle, and the medium by which books were written was paper and ink. Today there are a multitude of options whereby to obtain your reading material. The trending style of today comes in the form of an e-book, and e-reader. This electronic device is convenient but may come at a cost. A study from Harvard Medical ( states “If you curl up under the duvet at bedtime to read then you are damaging your sleep and maybe your health”.
The human body has an internal clock (also known as your circadian rhythm) that has developed through millions of years of evolution. It tells our bodies to rest when the sun goes down and become active when the sun is out. Light regulates our sleep patterns by the production of a sleep-inducing hormone called melatonin. Melatonin levels decrease with exposure to light and increase in the dark. The light emitted from smartphones, e-readers and tablets shines at the same spectrum (around 460 to 480 nanometers) as the naturally occurring blue light spectrum produced by the sun that reduces the melatonin levels needed for a sound REM sleep (rapid eye movement). Our bodies naturally begin production of melatonin as the sun goes down. When we get into bed then turn on an electronic device, our eyes do not filter out the blue light, so we trick our bodies into thinking it is daytime. Melatonin production is slowed, and natural sleep patterns are disrupted.
The human body is in a constant state of cell replenish and replacement. The majority of healthy cell replacement is accomplished while we sleep. If adequate sleep is not obtained on a regular basis then we suffer from a multitude of degenerative diseases including, but not limited to arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, poor brain function, loss of alertness, increased anger, and decreased cell production. Lack of sleep also increases stress levels which can only exacerbate all of the conditions previously mentioned, thereby compounding the effects ( Since melatonin is a hormone, too little can lead to increased anxiety and nervousness. Your hormones play a major role in your overall health and are directly correlated to sleep patterns, which are disrupted by electronic devices that emit a back lit display. Though there are sleep drugs and melatonin readily available at every local pharmacy and shopping center, there really is no substitute for an all-natural and well rested body. The overall psychological effect of the loss of sleep and its correlation with blue light rays is still undergoing further research, however the results are conclusive that back lit screens emit blue light and this blue light reduces melatonin and decreases sleep.
For the reader that truly enjoys the e-book and the convenience of a tablet as opposed to paper, there are very few companies that produce e-readers and have taken note of the sleep deprivation issues. But thankfully there are options available. The original Kendal does not use a back lit display. Instead the original Kendal by Amazon uses a type of digital paper technology that the human eye absorbs more like a candle and paper than a digital reader, thereby eliminating blue light waves. ( and ( offer a multitude of light filtering apps. Such as their most popular app named Twilight @ ( Apple company currently does not offer an app or a blue light filter. Instead if you are using an IOS device, you have the option to go into settings and dim the light or switch to nighttime mode. There are third party apps such as Koala Browser, recommended by ( Finally, there is Flux ( which is an app that adjusts the displays color temperature according to location and time of day. It is designed to reduce eye strain and encourage better sleep patterns. If you still need additional assistance in blue light filtering, Baush and Lomb offers a pill trademarked “OCUVITE” ( designed to strengthen and replenish the macular pigment that filters blue light. This pill contains seven eye nutrients including lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 and vitamin D, claiming more eye nutrients than any other Ocuvite vitamin.
The National Sleep Foundation suggests that both children and adults set a digital curfew. The suggested time is two hours before bedtime. However, researchers for the foundation state that even thirty minutes before bedtime is better than sitting in bed with an e-reader waiting to fall asleep. A natural paper book with a lamp and not an overhead light is the suggested reading configuration. The e-ink or kindle paperwhite (as opposed to the kindle fire) are a better choice. It is also suggested that you read something not work related or potentially stressful. Try not to scroll social media, or text before bed. Create a “sleep-positive bedroom environment”. Take a bit of time to let your mind clear from the day by reading something relaxing, a relaxed body is more susceptible to a productive night’s sleep.
If you are feeling relaxed and ready for bed, but cannot get to sleep when you lie down, and experience the feeling of your mind being in overdrive, you may be suffering from a decrease in melatonin. There a few steps you can take to naturally regulate your body back to normal. First, try to get outside early in the morning. This will decrease the production of melatonin so you will be ready to produce more when the sun goes down. Second, try to relax and slow down, avoid social media and begin healthy habits like showering and reading either paper or a non-blue light emitting device. Next, set a regular bedtime for yourself and stick to it. This will tell the body it is time to start producing melatonin. Set a bedtime alarm if necessary. Also, avoid exposure to triggers that keep you awake or stressed. Lastly, create a space that is void of loud jarring sounds.

Publishing and Licensing Through Creative Commons

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Publishing through Creative Commons is a quick, free, and easy way to license your online content. This guide will explain how to license your material through Creative Commons and offer a brief explanation of what the different options mean for your work.

Navigating the Website and Finding the Licensing Section

The First step to licensing your material under Creative Commons is to navigate to the ‘Share your work’ page. You may find this link on the home page of the Creative Commons website.

Once you have navigated to the ‘Share your work page,’ the website will present you with two sections. The first section is to choose a license. The second section expresses that you may share your work on a platform that allows Creative Commons licenses.

If you plan on licensing through Creative Commons and sharing your content on a platform, please refer to the desired platform’s help resources to better understand their individual process and stipulations. Platforms that allow their users to publish under a Creative Commons license include, but are not limited to, YouTube and Flickr.

Choosing and Using a License

After navigating to the ‘Share your work’ page, click on the ‘get started’ button under ‘choose a license.’ This page will then prompt you with two questions and an optional ‘help others attribute you’ section. Once you have answered each question, the website will give you a copy-paste link to add to your work.

The first question deals with whether you want your work to be modifiable and to have such adaptations shared. It is important to note that no matter which option you choose, people who use your work must attribute you as the person whose work they have modified.

If you select ‘no,’ then people may use your  work in any manner they want, but they may not distribute their own works based on your content. If you want your original content to be unmodified and ascribed to only you, but don’t mind people distributing, sharing, and performing your work at will, then select ‘no.’

If you select ‘yes, as long as other’s share alike,’ then others may use your work, modify it, and distribute it; however, they must also license their creation under a ‘share alike’ license. If you believe that all content should be shared freely at all times and want any derivatives of your work to be licensed under a similar consideration, then select, ‘yes, as long as other’s share alike.’

If you select ‘yes,’ this is different from the previous option in one significant way. They may take your work, modify it, and distribute it without also licensing under a ‘share alike’ clause. If you believe that all content should be shared and used freely to the extent that others may take your work and not place it under a share alike license, then select ‘yes.’ This does not mean people may use your work, and its derivatives, for commercial uses. The second question concerns commercial use.

The second question deals with whether you want to allow people to use your content, and derivatives of it, for commercial use.

If you select yes, then people may use your work for commercial use. If you select no, then people may share, use,  or distribute your work according to your selection from question 1 but may not use it for commercial use.

After answering these two questions, and before filling out the optional third field, you will now be presented with the license that suits your needs. The website will also present you with a link that will explain, in detail, the license it has given you.

The third section, ‘help others attribute you,’ has 7 fields for you to fill out. This section helps modify the license it presents you with to include machine readable metadata for your content. This will not only help others attribute your work, but also assists others in finding your work.

While you may fill out as many, or as few fields as possible, the ‘license mark’ section is necessary for how you want your work to be published.

For example, if your content is published on a web-page, such as a blog, then you will need to select ‘HTML + RDFa. This option will give you code, presented in the final section, which you will then copy and paste into your web-page’s structure. This will then present the viewer with your license at the bottom of the page as well as include machine-readable metadata in your web-page as well.

However, if your content is meant to be distributed offline then you will want to select ‘offline.’ This presents you with a line of text that states what license the work is under along with the URL to the details about that particular license. This allows the document to be distributed under the license without the use of the internet; for example, a word document you print out or e-mail to a friend. To include this license, just copy and paste the text into your document as-is.

The final option is ‘XMP.’ This option gives you a downloadable version of the license to include in your compatible files.

Once you have included the code, the text, or the xmp in your content, your work is now under your selected Creative Commons license. It is important to note that your work is immediately licensed once you include that text, code, or xmp.

 This means that anyone who obtains that content with that license attached to it now has that content, under that particular license, for as long as it is valid. You may remove the license from your work and distribute the content without the license whenever you want. However, anyone that has obtained your content with that license, still has the rights to it as specified under the license they obtained it under.

If you have any other questions and concerns, the Creative Common’s website has an extensive Frequently Asked Questions web page that will prove helpful.

Email Marketing

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Email Marketing 

Due to the transition from print to digital publishing, the need for quality content to reach audiences has increased.  According to Tyler Bishop’s “2019 Digital Publishing Trends ” ‘Audience Growth and Marketing’ held 34.2% of the overall highest priorities leading into 2019.  The direct correlation between publishers and their audiences portray the importance of audience development in a rapidly transforming industry.  

Overview of Audience Development 

Digital publishing requires an audience to ensure a secure and lucrative position within the publishing industry. Focusing on the needs of an audience guarantees continuous web traffic and revenue gain. Evaluating the data trends and producing distinct, quality content aids in building a solid reputation for a returning audience. Likewise, maintaining good relationships with an audience encourages a better response to online subscriptions through email marketing.     

What is Email Marketing? 

According to a Crossware  article, “Email Marketing – What is it? Why do it? And How?,” email marketing is “a form of direct marketing that uses electronic mail as a means of communicating commercial or fundraising messages to an audience.” Taking advantage of these digital resources allows merchants to market their products in an efficient manner that is easily accessible to their consumers.  

Effectiveness of Email Marketing 

A common method of email marketing are newsletters. These online subscriptions allow the option for daily or monthly intake from these websites. This accumulated information promotes better web traffic for businesses, allowing publishers a wider reach through modern channels. Audience development and email marketing work in tandem to provide emails specified to consumer’s individual requests. Email marketing guarantees that the audience will see the content “to encourage customer loyalty and repeat business” (Crossware ).  

Why use Email Marketing? 

Communication via email marketing is inexpensive and guarantees more ad revenue.  In “The Publisher’s Guide to Email Marketing ,” publishers know the extent of generating “brand awareness, increasing engagement, and promoting/selling products or subscriptions without breaking their marketing budgets.” This knowledge increases a company’s success while providing consistent content, such as newsletters, to their target audiences. Similarly, the data obtained from these newsletter clicks contributes to maintaining the interest of the readers.  

Social Media and Email Marketing 

Social media has also made a significant impact in the digital marketing sphere. Email marketing has been incorporated into different apps, such as Twitter, to gain a larger audience. The Publisher’s Guide to Email Marketing explains the value of mobile-friendly content for progressive consumers. By integrating social media and email marketing, publishers have the unique ability to use their promotion through a digital platform rather than seeming “salesy.” This marketing strategy improves accessibility while providing consumers with quality content. Email marketing connects publishers and their audience through data evaluations and continuous advances in the use of digital platforms.  


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Smashwords, a platform created in 2007, publishes and distributes ebooks for self-publishing authors. Mark Coker founded the company after numerous publishing companies turned down the novel Boob Tube, which he and his wife Lesleyann wrote together. Coker knew their book was ready for the public, but novels in that genre did not do as well as the companies wanted, so publishers continued to turn them away.

Coker knew the novel would attract a specific audience, but the large publishing companies would not give them a chance. “They’re unable to take a risk on every author. They acquire books based on perceived commercial potential, but ultimately they don’t know which books will sell well.” Coker explains that he wanted to bypass the obstacles of traditional publishing to “give every author the freedom, tools and distribution they needed.” The company aims to give authors a chance to publish when other companies might not.

They accomplish this as a free publishing and distribution platform; Smashwords allows authors full control over how their book is priced, published, sampled, and sold for free. Yes, free. This fact might cause some eyebrow-raising.  This dedication to attainable self-publishing forms the foundation of Smashwords. Coker’s answer to whether Smashwords will help authors sell large quantities of books: “probably not.” Instead, publishing through Smashwords’ should get an author’s work out efficiently and accessibly, rather than helping the author get rich quick.

What Authors Need to Know

According to Coker, “Smashwords authors and publishers earn 85% or more of the net proceeds from the sale of their works.” The client receives three-quarters of the net profit, and in exchange, the company distributes the books to major retailers such as Barnes & Noble and indie retailers as well. The math breaks down to mean authors make $8 for every $10 book on Smashwords. These royalty rates are some of the highest in the world of publishing.

Net Proceeds (to author) = Sales Price – Processing Fees * .85

On top of high royalties, Smashwords also handles much of the leg work that comes with publishing. Afterward, the company will also send your work to other publishers and ebook retailers. Smashwords provides authors with free marketing, metadata analysis, and distribution and sales report tools. The company also pays authors monthly rather than quarterly.

Compared to its major competitors, Draft2Digital and PublishDrive, Smashwords has the longest list of affiliated publishing companies. While this large platform can be a great selling point for writers, it doesn’t promise more sales. Smashwords also has a detailed protocol for authors who want their work sent to specific companies. Additionally, the company doesn’t handle formatting of the ebook, which can create a significant setback for its clients.

Authors submitting to Smashwords also must format their work to meet the company’s standards. To ease the pressure on writers, Smashwords published an ebook with instructions for submitting in their format. While this formatting may seem tedious, Smashwords says that it is well worth the hassle:

Our Meatgrinder technology will automatically convert your .doc file into nine different ebook formats, plus a tenth, custom version of EPUB required by Sony. In the years since we launched Smashwords, we have continuously enhanced our Meatgrinder conversion technology. Meatgrinder-produced books often rival or surpass the quality of expensive, custom-designed ebook files. Smashwords ebooks support reflowable narrative, images, linked Tables of Contents, hyperlinks and advanced styling.

What Readers Need to Know

The authors publishing through Smashwords would be nowhere if it weren’t for those reading their books. Registration is free and once registered, members have access to over 80,000 free ebooks and 500,000 low-cost ebooks. The platform also allows members to read samples of books before purchasing; the sample sizes may vary depending on the author’s selection.

Smashwords produces DRM-free ebooks, a real perk for readers. DRM stands for Digital Restrictions Management which puts constraints on how the reader may use the text. Without DRM, readers can essentially share the book however they choose after purchase which can be a drawback for authors as it leaves the work open to piracy and could cut back on sales.

Readers also benefit from the company’s multi-format ebooks. Smashwords provides a platform that works with many different e-reader devices. Other content-selling companies often restrict the device or file that can be used. Smashwords boasts a user-friendly interface that allows their readers to create a virtual library of ebooks, establish “favorite” authors, and sign up for notifications when a particular author publishes new work.

Coker says the company has no intention of getting involved in print publishing.

I don’t see us ever getting into the business of selling or fulfilling POD versions or otherwise. This was a decision I made early on when I started working on the Smashwords business plan in 2005 and 2006. There were already a bunch of companies doing great work on the print side, and I knew we wouldn’t have the resources to do it better.

With the growing popularity of ebooks and the never-ending struggle to get published motivating Coker, Smashwords entered the market and became one of the largest “distributors of independent and self-published ebooks.” Created with both author and reader in mind, Smashwords continues to dominate the world of ebooks.

E-Readers: Why and How

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The World of E-Readers 

Because reading is so incredibly easy to come by, machines dedicated for the sole purpose of reading have been invented. E-readers employ a technology referred to as electronic paper to emulate the look of a paper book as well as is possible. Most readers would say that it is hard to beat the look and feel of a real book, but e-readers are going to try. Readers on the fence about e-books stand to benefit from understanding what e-readers are and what they can do.

Reason for E-Readers 

According to Harvard Health Publishing, computer vision syndrome is indeed a real thing someone can get from spending too much time with their monitors/smartphones, and it can lead to two primary issues. One is dry eye, which can be easily treated by remembering to blink, and the other problem is eyestrain.

Eyestrain can be caused by Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) and Light-Emitting Diodes (LED) screens that are incredibly common. The issue lies in the fact that these screens emit blue light. All About Vision mentions the human eye is not feeble at blocking blue light. The light penetrates directly into the retina with little or no resistance while other lights such as ultraviolet are blocked from getting that far into the eye completely unfiltered. The incredible issue an Amazon search for blue light blocking glasses results in well-over 5,000 results. 

How E-Readers Work 

E-readers provide a way to read digital content without fear of retinal damage while also using significantly less power. Electronic paper’s presentation is different from the traditional monitors and smartphone screens because rather than backlit screens like LCD and LED, e-paper uses a technology described in the Wired article “Electronic Ink Will Be Everywhere in the Future”:  

An e-paper display is filled with really tiny ink capsules, which have electric charges. Some of the ink in each capsule is white, some are black. Using electrical fields, the display rearranges the ink to show different things on the screen…That rearranging takes a very small amount of power, but when it’s done, it shuts off. Keeping an image on the screen doesn’t require any power at all. 

E-Reader Advancements 

The e-reader technology is a bit behind by the standards of modern computer/smartphone screens. A big issue is the refresh rate for these screens. Ghosting  occurs when the previous image is still burned into the screen of an e-reader even after the page has been “turned.”

 As a result, these e-readers cannot display multimedia like videos or animations due to the nature of the technology and its intermittent use of power to change the image one time.

Increased Resolution 

In The Wired Shopper’s “Comparison of Kindle Paperwhite vs. Kindle”, shoppers can see that the original Kindle had pixels per inch (PPI) of about 167. The advancement made with the release of the Paperwhite, aside from being more like a white piece of paper in appearance, is the fact that it has 300 PPI. The more pixels a thing has, the more it is like looking at no pixels. Good E-Reader’s article “A Short History of E-Ink and the Ereader Revolution” mentions 600 PPI technology on the rise. Electronic paper is steadily becoming more like real paper in appearance.  

Color Displays 

A major issue in the history of e-readers has been color images. The ink capsule technology used in e-readers only allows for monochromatic colors much akin to a novel or newspaper; which, to be fair, is exactly the reason they were initially designed.

Color technology for electronic paper does exist, however, and it has been tackled in a variety of ways. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) published an article on one method of color for electronic paper displays: “RGB-White (RGBW) color filter arrays (CFAs)” which are as exhausting to understand as they are to see in action. They use traditional red, green, and blue filters over the monochromatic screen to “filter” in colors to the screen. 

The E-Ink Triton 2 uses this technology to create these washed-out images. This is the world that Advanced Color Electronic Paper (ACeP) displays are addressing. The ACeP technology is taking a different route. According to the article from The Ebook Reader blog, instead of filtering the color, each cell has four pigments: cyan, magenta, yellow, and white. These colors can produce all eight primary colors, and consequently, can produce over 32,000 colors. The former CFA style of coloring only allowed for 4,096 colors. While that is workable, much like a 150 PPI display, it leaves plenty of room for improvement. 

E-Readers are here, and they are determined to only getting better. Although it may never be feasible to replace the look and feel of a favorite book, companies like E Ink are not going to stop trying.