Monday, January 28, 2013

Comparison of ebook and ibook prices.


Price of Amazon’s Top 100 Bestsellers.

For the past couple of years, every now and then, I have checked the price of the top 100 selling ebooks on Amazon. Originally the top 100 included free ebooks, which quickly came to dominate the top 100, but about a year ago Amazon split the free ebooks into a separate top 100. Then the top 100 was dominated by very cheap ebooks priced from 99c to $2.99. But over 2012, more ebooks in mid-range prices of $3.99 to $4.99 began to appear on the list. But that trend seems to be reversing.

I checked the top 100 today and found: 35 ebooks priced at $2.99 or less, including 14 at 99c. The last time I had checked in September only six ebooks were priced at 99c, there were seven at that price in August and three in June. This is down from a massive 34 at 99c in February 2011.

Eleven ebooks were priced at $1.99, which I noted in September “had resurfaced as a frequent price in the best seller list, with eight ebooks at that price. The previous two times I had checked the number of ebooks priced at $1.99 was too insignificant to mention.

Ten were priced at the ebook guru price of $2.99, which is continuing its slow decline as a dominant price. In September there were 16, August 15, June 22, and in February 32 at that price.

This time around there were 11 ebooks at $3.99 which compares favourably to 14 last time. But the number priced at $4.99 dramatically dropped to only three, whereas in September there were nine and in August 11 at that price.

Thirty-eight ebooks were priced $7 or more this time, compared to 30 in September, 32 in August and 47 in June.

I commented last time that the mid-range of prices, $3.99 to $6.99, with 36 ebooks, seems to be becoming more popular. But this time there were only 23 in that price range.   
Price of Ibooks.

Since I have recently purchased an ipad, I am now a bit more interested in the price of ibooks. So today I looked at the top 100 bestselling ibooks for the first time. I found that in many ways their prices mirror Amazons.

Five ibooks were 99c. Fifteen were at the ebook guru price of $2.99. Overall 23 were priced at or under $2.99, compared to 35 of Amazons.

In the mid-range of $3.99 to $6.99 there were 29 ibooks as compared to 36 ebooks. Fifteen ibooks were priced at $3.99 and ten at $4.99.

Forty-six ibooks were priced over $7 as compared to 38 of Amazon’s ebooks.

So the range of prices on the Amazon and Apple top 100 best sellers, at least for today, are very similar, with Amazon’s being slightly cheaper. This surprised me as I expected Amazon’s ebooks to be much cheaper than Apple’s ibooks because of a perceived dominance of Amazon’s bestseller list by cheaper self-published books and because Apple had tried to give the publishers a better deal until recent court cases.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

ipads and the writer

ipads and the Writer

Last week I saw a post for a free writing course called Creative Writing, Learning from the Masters. The six featured writers included Norman Mailer. I quickly went to have a look at it on Apple’s itunes U. I successfully download the ibook of the course onto my computer but could not open it as I did not have an iphone or ipad. Rotten Apple.

But then I thought, maybe I could buy an ipad. Apart from allowing me to get advice on how to write from Norman Mailer, buying an ipad would allow me to download from the ibookstore. And if I downloaded a wordprocessing app, I could use the ipad to write with when my laptop got sick.

I went online and found that ipads ranged in price from a mini-ipad at just under $400 to fourth-generation ipads at just under $800. My eyesight’s not too great, so I wanted the biggest screen possible, which cut out the mini version. The cheapest full sized fourth-generation version was $500. That version only had wi-fi, which is what I wanted as there was no way that I was going to shell out money for a 3G mobile type plan.

After I found my wallet, dusted it off and carefully pried its compartments open, I found I did have enough money to buy an ipad. So I dashed off down the street, excited at the prospect of getting a new tech toy. First stop Dicksmiths, but they didn’t sell them, that left Harvey Norman. They didn’t sell them either. Was this to be another case of Wangaratta retailers not having what I wanted?

I often joke that Wangaratta is a great place to save as its shops never have what I want. Recently I had to travel to Albury (an hour’s drive away) to get a pair of thongs that didn’t make me look like a complete bogan and a decent towel for the pool (hence the need to find and dust off my wallet).

But when asked, a salesperson in Harvey Norman told me that Big W might sell ipads. Big W??? But they just sell crap. They don’t even sell decent thongs or pool towels. But then again, how could they stuff up an ipad? They are all mass produced in Chinese sweat shops. So I walked around to Big W. They had four mini-ipads and one (just one) fourth generation wi-fi only ipad. I bought it.

I have spent the last few days fiddling with it. I have signed up and read the first bits of the Creative Writing, Learning from the Masters course. The ibook is full of videos of the authors talking. I will let you know what I think of the course when I am further into it.

I downloaded a free word-processing app, and learnt that I could send its documents through email to word on my laptop. I then purchased a Bluetooth keyboard that I can use to write those documents. The keyboard also acts as a stand for the ipad, so it is like having another laptop. So I have a back-up computer.    

Comparison of ipad to a Kindle.

·         I changed the ipad’s screen to sepia, but I still much prefer the sepia look of a Kindle screen.
·         I prefer the page number system for ibooks on an ipad to the percentage system used by the Kindle.
·         A Kindle is much lighter than an ipad.
·         It is much easier to return to the table of contents in an ibook than in the Kindle.

Overall, I prefer to read ebooks on a Kindle because of the look of the page and the ipad starts to cramp up my hands after holding it for extended periods.  

Price Comparision Between ibookstore and Amazon.

It has been a long time since I compared prices of Amazon’s ebooks with Apple’s ibooks. I had concluded that Amazon was much cheaper. This time I compared eight books that range from current bestsellers to the classics.

·         Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier – ibook  $12.99, Amazon $13.75
·         The Twelve – Justin Cronin – ibook $19.99, Amazon $21.22
·         1984 – George Orwell – ibook 99c, Amazon 99c
·         Ark – Stephen Baxter – ibook $11.99, Amazon $12.69
·         A Wanted Man – Lee Child – ibook $9.99, Amazon $10.52
·         Fifty Shades of Grey – ibook $8.99, Amazon $8.33
·         War and Peace – ibook free, Amazon 99c
·         The Paradox Resolution – KA Bedford – ibook N/A, Amazon $9.99

So my quick survey shows ibooks are currently generally slightly cheaper than Amazon.

I also discovered a free space invaders game app for my ipad, and I can hear its thrum thrum thrumming. Now if only I could play it and drink coffee at the same time.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

My Writing, The Life of Pi and The Hobbit

My last couple of posts were about my writing aspirations for this year and movies I planned to see because I had read the books. So here’s an update on how my writing and movie viewing is progressing.


After writing 50,264 words for National Novel Writing Month last November, I have decided to keep monthly records of the number of new words I write for my novel in the hope it might motivate me. In December I wrote 11,459 words or 376 words per day. So far in January I have only added 3716 words to the novel.

I have some good news about the Divine website: the editor tells me it will continue this year, but at a reduced capacity. Only three articles will go up per week, instead of five. So it might be harder to get an article posted. I pitched an idea for a new article to the editor on Friday.

I have been fooling around with Google+. So far it is has not done anything to piss me off, unlike Facebook. My writing friends on it seem to be less active, perhaps waiting for someone like me to enliven the place, so come on over to the light-side and join me.


The Hobbit

The more I think about the Hobbit, the more unflattering my opinion of it becomes. While not as bad as George Lucas’ first Star Wars prequel, the Hobbit is not a lot better. The dialogue frequently came from the modern world and not Tolkien’s. I found this jarring. Some of the awful pop philosophy made me cringe. I can imagine Ian Mckellan saying, “You might have written this stuff, but I am the one who has to say it”. The first hour of the movie was a waste of film. The Dwarfs were too indestructible for us to worry if they might actually die. So unless I read outstanding reviews before the next instalment, I am not going.

The Life of Pi.

I had read The Life of Pi so I knew about the revelation at the end, which changed everything I had just read. The revelation changes the book from an enjoyable fantasy, to a much darker commentary on the emotional trauma of shipwreck survivors.

I wondered how knowledge of the revelation would affect my viewing of the film.
But while watching the movie, except where the tiger looks at its reflection in the ocean, I did not notice any red flags for the revelation. I still lost myself in its story, unlike The Hobbit where my mind wandered from the nothing happenning on the screen quite frequently.  

One of the Life of Pi’s themes of the impact of spirituality on survival was more evident to me in the film. I think Life of Pi is a worthy nominee for Best Picture.

The Passage/Justin Cronin.

A few posts ago I wrote that The Passage, by Justin Cronin, would make a great miniseries. It’s an apocalyptic novel where the US is overrun by millions of genetically engineered vampires. Well it turns out that there are plans to make it into a movie. At 950 pages there is plenty of material for the screenwriters to work with, unlike The Hobbit.

I read an interview with Justin Cronin in which he heaped praise on Nevil Shute’s On the Beach. Cronin suggests this is why part of The Passage is set in Australia at a university conference a thousand years in the future. I have seen the movie and awful miniseries of On the Beach, but not read the book, yet.

And for those of us who were wondering why his writing is so good, Cronin is a Harvard educated English Professor who taught creative writing for many years.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Writing Year in Review

My Writing Year in Review.

Okay, I am into stats, so here’s a few writing numbers for 2012.

·         Last year I wrote, at least according to my daily word counts, 117,649 words, which is an average of 321 words a day.
·         I wrote on every day of the year, so my output on many days was very little.
·         I wrote and submitted ten articles to the DiVine website of which nine were posted on the site.
·         I blogged at least once a week.
·         The novel I am writing grew to 166,000 words.
·         I critiqued/edited a non-fiction book and critiqued a couple of short stories.

Not that impressive.

My Writing Aspirations for 2013.

This year is going to be one of primarily editing/rewriting.  I plan to write and edit every day and:

·         Finish the novel I am writing. I still reckon there are another 10,000 to 20,000 words to go.
·         Edit/rewrite Stalking Tigers, a novel I was halfway through the second draft of when I got distracted by a beaut idea for a novella. Once Stalking Tigers is rewritten I will get it critiqued.
·         Edit/rewrite that 17,000 word novella and get it critiqued.
·         And then come back to the current novel and edit/rewrite it and find some really good friends who like really long novels to critique it.
·         And towards the end of the year I hope to begin a new novel in National Novel Writing Month.
·         I will continue to blog once a week at least.
·         I hope to critique a lot more, some longer short stories, maybe a novel.
·         I want to fix up my website and get a stronger presence on Twitter so I don’t have to rely on the ever changing Facebook to promote myself.
·         You may have noticed I left out Divine. It is in a state of flux at the moment and I am waiting to see what form it takes this year.

Changes to Facebook

I only recently learnt that Facebook has changed who sees status updates. The updates are now not sent to all friends, just those selected by a Facebook algorithm. This was done by Facebook in the hope that we will pay them to promote our status updates. I am not sure how this affects my author page. I don’t know whether my author page members all receive my blog and Divine article notifications.

The Facebook changes make it clear that I would be a fool to rely on Facebook to promote myself and my writing. So this year I plan to use Twitter more frequently and hopefully effectively as well as Google plus. The same goes for my website, which I need to revamp. I also plan to run my blog on both Blogger and Wordpress to see which gets more hits.

Not an overly ambitious year, but hopefully it is one where I act like I want to be a successful writer.