Thursday, August 15, 2013

How much money does Amazon make from Kindle, new publishing models and more

How much money does Amazon make off the Kindle ecosystem; a new publishing model for non-fiction with cinematic appeal; being positive on social media pays off; understanding recommendation engines; and more in this week's social media news.

An interesting new publishing model that you should know about: journalists Josh Bearman, who wrote the article that the movie Argo was based on, and Joshua Davis, who has also sold film rights to a couple of his articles, recently started Epic, a site for long non-fiction pieces. But not just any articles: the two men started the site specifically to launch pieces with cinematic possibility. As reported in the NY Times, Epic is "a kind of online literary platform that will commission and publish big, nonfiction narratives that might also make good movies. They are trying to build a model for long-form journalism where the revenue generated over the entire life of a story--magazine fees, sales on and Amazon Kindle singles, ancillary film and television rights--can be used to finance the costs of reporting." Is it a new way to support long-form journalism and to find it a new audience in these times of falling newspaper and magazine readership?

Another interesting new model: an author-run publishing company. Forty science fiction and fantasy writers working together have produced and published over 200 books. Read about it in this article in Publishing Perspectives.  

Amazon is really cagey about how many Kindles and ebooks they sell. Amazon just doesn't share its data. So it's interesting to see this story on All Things D, which reports that Morgan Stanley estimates that Amazon will sell about $4.5 billion in Kindles and tablets in 2013, up 26 percent over last year. It also estimates that Amazon will do $3.7 billion in digital media services (that includes movies, games and music in addition to ebooks, don't get excited that people have suddenly become more literate) and will jump to nearly $6 billion in sales next year. Morgan Stanley estimates that the entire Kindle ecosystem contributes 23 percent to Amazon's operating profit.

"Vilifying Amazon makes no sense": No doubt about it, Amazon plays a big role in the disruption of the publishing business today. It's not as simple as good/bad. There are reasons to dislike it, to question its motives and business practices, just as there are reasons to embrace it, like it--heck, even be grateful for it. In this interview for Publishing Perspectives, Seth Godin talks about why he thinks we're in a "golden age for books" thanks, in part, to Amazon, the evolution in book selling, and the role of book stores.

Positivity helps: This bit of research bears out what you probably know intuitively: positive news on social media is more likely to be widely shared than negative or neutral information. People were more likely to share your post on Facebook or other social sites if it already had a few 'likes', too, indicating that prior ratings can create significant bias in subsequent users.

Would you join a social site for instant messaging? IMO is still in beta but you can ask to join. You can search through profiles of all the members and IM anyone who strikes your fancy. I can see where this become like a Google Hangout or a Reddit AMA: a site you can use to talk to your fans or followers. Tell them to join you on IMO at a set date and time. If you're an early adopter type, you might want to check it out.

Recommendation engines are a special kind of algorithm. These are the algorithms that make suggestions for you based on your previous viewing or buying activity. It's hard to make a good recommendation engine. Those on commerce sites are, shall we say, suspect (who knows if someone is paying a fee to have their book or product pushed to you, regardless of its applicability?) If you'd like to learn a little bit about how recommendation engines work, you might as well as learn from what most people consider the best in the business, Netflix.

Let's play the lightning round! A bunch of quick takes:

  • Instagram has a video feature similar to Vine's. How might you use it? This article in Mashable shows how some brands--Gap, Lulumon, Nowthisnews--are doing it.
  • Do you sometimes feel like Twitter is just a bunch of drive-by conversations? Looking for a better way to connect with your followers on Twitter? Nestivity is a new tool that's supposed designed to do just that. Free at the basic level, advanced levels offers the ability to do tweetcasts.
  • Facebook continues to steal strategies to boost traffic from Twitter, now encouraging celebrities to post more. The other thing they lifted are trending topics. And of course, they launched hashtags just a few months ago.
  • Mashable has launched its own book club. They say that they'll be doing mostly fiction. If you're looking for a nerdy, hipster book club this may be the place for you.
  • Itching to do business on Tumblr? It now has a blog to help you do just that: Marketr

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