Libraries Lend Record Numbers of E-Books and Audio Books in 2015

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2015 Was a Big Year for Libraries’ Digital Efforts, with a Record Number of Readers Borrowing E-Books and Digital Audio Books.

Overdrive, the leading supplier of digital content to libraries and schools, reported Tuesday that, in 2015, readers borrowed more than 169 million e-books. This marked a 24 percent increase over 2014. There was also a notable spike in audio book usage, which saw a faster growth rate than e-book library borrowing.

Some other notable stats include:

  • E-book circulation was 125 million (19 percent growth over 2014)
  • Digital audiobook circulation was 43 million (36 percent growth over 2014)
  • Streaming video circulation was up 83 percent over 2014
  • 33 library systems circulated 1 million or more digital books in 2015
  • Lending of digital magazines and newspapers grew significantly in 2015 (introduced in late 2014)
  • Reader visits to OverDrive-powered library and school websites was 750 million (up 14 percent from 2014)

The top e-books borrowed from libraries in 2015 were:

  1. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins (Penguin Publishing Group)
  2. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr (Scribner)
  3. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn (Crown/Archetype)
  4. The Martian, Andy Weir (Crown/Archetype)
  5. Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee (HarperCollins)

The top digital audio books borrowed in 2015 were:

  1. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins (Books on Tape)
  2. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr (Simon & Schuster Audio)
  3. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn (Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group)
  4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling (Pottermore)
  5. Yes Please, Amy Poehler (HarperCollins)

Ambient Literature Project to Investigate How We Read

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What happens when the place where you’re reading becomes the stage for the story? How can your location shape and alter the story you are hearing? How might writing, reading and the idea of the book itself change when we use technology to design stories, rather than just present them?

These questions are at the heart of a two-year research program that will see the Universities of the West of England, Bath Spa and Birmingham investigate the emerging field of Ambient Literature; situated literary experiences, delivered by pervasive computing platforms, that respond to the presence of a reader to deliver story. Managed by UWE’s Digital Cultures Research Centre (DCRC) and awarded £800k by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the project, which launches in May, will combine expertise in the history of the book with research into the future of reading.

Led by Professor Jon Dovey and Dr. Tom Abba of UWE Bristol, working with Bath Spa’s Professor Kate Pullinger and Professor Ian Gadd, Birmingham University’s Dr. Matt Hayler, and Bristol tech partners Calvium, Ambient Literature will see traditional academic research inform the development of three original stories, to be delivered in new, experiential forms.

Jon Dovey, says, “The scope of the team’s work is nothing short of designing and developing a new literary genre, in which pervasive technology delivers story and experience. We’ve been researching location-based computing and storytelling for some years but we now want to consolidate our experiments, and work with the publishing industry, to build a market for this new kind of storytelling.”

Tom Abba adds, “It’s important to remember that storytelling invokes landscape and has always made use of the world around us. This project combines academic research with publicly-tested commissions to see how we can shape storytelling in a networked, digital age.”

The Ambient Literature project launches in London, Bristol and online in May 2016.

Latest Self-Publishing News

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Calls for unity in publishing across the trade/self-divide made the news this week, along with Author Earnings’s latest report, which turned attention to the UK; a new e-book conversion tool; and how one indie novel broke into the best-of-year book list at the Washington Post (Hint: a little help from Jeff Bezos). Valerie Shanley rounds up the latest from ALLi partners and friends…

UK Author Earnings Echo USA

The indefatiguable Hugh Howie and Data Guy turned their attention to the UK in their Author Earnings Report this month.  As ever, the report is full of fascinating facts and figures about how publishing looks when you include indie authors in your statistics. According to the IPA, ten countries make up 75% of global sales of books of all formats, with the USA about equal to the next 4 combined: China has 10%, Germany 9%, Japan 7%, and the UK roughly 4%.

But when it comes to digital book adoption rates, most of those countries significantly lag the United States. As a result, the US now makes up a far larger portion of the world’s digital book market than print — well over half of it (emphasis theirs). The UK comes next, and is currently the world’s second largest market for digital books.

Other Interesting Nuggets:

  • sells more e-books than any of the non-Amazon US retailers do in the US.
  • One out of every four e-books purchased by UK consumers is an untracked e-book without an ISBN—and nearly £1 out of every £6 spent in the UK on e-books is currently going to untracked e-books without ISBNs.
  • More than two-thirds of the indie e-books appearing in the UK’s overall Top 100 are also US best sellers. A third of them hold equivalent or higher US sales ranks than their UK rankings — which means that they are selling more than 5 times as many books in the US as they are in the UK. By contrast, fewer than one in three Big Five UK e-book best sellers were making significant sales in the US market.
  • The majority of trade publishing’s Top 100 UK e-book best sellers were all but invisible overseas.

The report concludes: “Previously unquestioned truisms, about the best way for an author to publish their work and reach readers all around the world, now bear careful re-examination… The doom and gloom pronouncements [come] from legacy publishing organizations who are having difficulty navigating these changes [but] the broader picture is this: today more authors are able to reach readers and earn a living selling their art than ever before.” More – much more, carefully annotated and analyzed – in the report here.

Bright Spark Now Converts Print to Digital

Indie publishing platform IngramSpark has rolled out a new e-book conversion service for its authors and small publishers with work already in print. Users can now request a conversion of their print title to an e-book from their IngramSpark dashboard or from the Titles page.

There is a charge of 60 cents per print page for the service which will also run a quality check before placing the title into the company’s distribution network of 70 online retailers. All converted e-books will require an ISBN, but the new dashboard feature allows users to purchase an ISBN directly from Bowker. Check out the finer details on the IS newsletter.

Power to the Publishing People (However We Publish)

At this week’s inaugural Author Day from The Bookseller, there were calls for unity rather than one-upmanship between trade and self-publishing from ALLi member Jane Steen and ALLi founder and director Orna Ross (one of the Bookseller’s Top 100 People in Publishing again this year) spoke of the dramatic change in the industry, and why every author should self-publish, at least once. For now, generally speaking, Indies should begin with a focus on digital (e-books and print-on-demand), said Orna, as that is easier — but the industry is constantly evolving.

“The winds of change are blowing. There is a power shift moving towards authors, which means as writers we have to claim the responsibilities as well as the freedoms. We have to step up to the plate. We have to actually do the work.” Read the full Author Day report here and you can see the full text of Jane’s speech here on the blog tomorrow, and Orna’s in her regular first Monday opinion slot on Monday next.

E-Books Should Be Better

The ongoing debate as to whether e-books sales are falling or rising shows that the publishing industry is being as badly led as that of newspapers and magazines. That’s according to a report in Talking New Media stating that publishing is being ill-served by their trade associations, trade magazines and by those in the technology area responsible for improving digital publications.

“Take e-book publishing platforms. The advancement of ePub3 is taking place at a glacial pace, while the device platform creators such as Apple, Amazon and Google are doing nothing to create cross-platform standards that will lead to better e-books,” contends author of the report, D.B. Hebbard.

“Most e-books – those that represent the vast majority of sales – are pretty bad,” he says. “Advancements are slow, so slow that many of those who thought they would by now only be reading e-books have returned to discover the joy of print. And why not, print is great, having 576 years to have perfected the medium.” But of course it’s possible to create better e-books, says Hebbard, setting out the case in the full report here (link).

Washington Post Finally Says ‘I Do’ to Self-Publishing

The first inclusion of a self-published book on The Washington Post’s best of the year lists is being hailed as the start of a healthy relationship. Serving Pleasure, an erotic novel by lawyer-by-day, author-by-night Alisha Rai, is the milestone indie novel in question and now listed on The Post’s best romance fiction genre.

As reported by the paper, their romance reviewer didn’t think she was doing anything revolutionary by including an indie book. “Mass-market trim size, e-books, experimental pricing: These are all trends that romance came to first, so it just makes sense that excellence in self-publishing exists here.” Worth noting, of course, is that Serving Pleasure was published through Amazon’s CreateSpace, while The Post is now owned by none other than Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Good Intentions and Taking Time to Tweet

Nine years in, still with us, and even used by some writers (David Mitchell, Neil Gaiman) to publish and distribute short stories – but is social media’s chattiest technology really effective for authors? Twitter may be the quickest way to interact with readers, but many authors feel it devours too much time.

Author and confirmed Twitter aficionado Kirsten Oliphant, writing in a guest post on ALLi partner Jane Friedman’s blog, is emphatic about the benefits of tweeting. ‘Being intentional’, as she puts it, is the best way to get the most out of using the medium with the least effort. Here she shares a 15-minute daily plan, stressing the importance of being both a creator (sharing your own content) and a curator (sharing the content of others).

Quiet Please – the Library Is Working

Are libraries fast becoming publishers in this digital age? That’s what a report in Semantico debates, honing in on innovative developments in academic libraries in the US that are putting in production facilities for online courses and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).

“About 35 academic libraries today are publishers themselves. So where campuses used to have the publishing house on campus, it’s now embedded in the library itself’ according to the report.

“The growth of Open Access (OA) education demands ‘serving researcher and author clients with high-quality, affordable (or free) content’, while that of publishers is chiefly margin preservation.”

However, the report concludes that OA is likely to remain something of a minority interest for some time and while libraries are being revitalized, “such changes seem unlikely to pose any particular threat to publishers” for now.

Dates for Your Diary


Writers in Paradise: Jan 16 – 23 [Florida, USA]

San Diego State University Writers’ Conference: Jan 22 – 24, 2016 [San Diego, USA]


Pub West Conference: Feb 4 – 6, 2016 [Sante Fe, NM, USA]

Coastal Magic Convention: Feb 4 – 7, 2016 [Daytona Beach, FL, USA]

Karachi Literature Festival: Feb 5 – 7, 2016 [Karachi, Pakistan]

Amelia Island Book Festival: Feb 18 – 20, 2016 [Florida, USA]

San Francisco Writers Conference: Feb. 11 – 15, 2016  [San Francisco, USA]


Mountains to Sea – dlr Book Festival: Mar. 9 – 13, 2016 [Dublin, Ireland]

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: How Publishers Transformed in 2015

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A common theme that kept coming up during our many conversations with publishers throughout 2015 was the existential imperative to transform their businesses: from what and how they sell, to the talent they are recruiting, to the way their employees work together. While “transformation” is one of those overused B-school terms, there’s perhaps no better term that sums up publishing’s journey in 2015.

Fortunately for publishers, this transformation has been substantial and not just mission statement hot air.

Publishers have dramatically altered their revenue models and value proposition, embracing data services, harnessing the experiential value of events, and earning revenue by selling targeted audience across platforms. As the work of publishing has changed, job functions and previously siloed departments (audience development, sales, editorial, digital) have become highly integrated. And when it comes to technology adoption, most publishing companies have progressed beyond adding a shiny new tech toy to their publishing arsenal and expecting it to drive change. Today, smart publishers recognize that technology changes need to go hand-in-hand with strategic, organizational, and operational changes.

Throughout our reporting we heard from executives at Penton, F+W, Rodale, Hanley Wood, Breaking Media, Reader’s Digest, and Inc. about the importance of nurturing and driving substantial change. The most successful publishing leaders have found ways to earn employee buy-in, develop new talent, and restructure their organizations to make room for experimentation and unearth new ideas for growing revenue.

The following stories demonstrate how media companies changed in 2015.

Why & How Penton Pivoted to Information Services – SVP of marketing Kate Spellman offers an insider view of the strategy and execution that took Penton beyond publishing and into information services.

Maria Rodale on Thriving in Times of Change – Rodale’s CEO and Chairman describes how the publisher shifted mindshare within its organization and fostered greater collaboration in order to adapt and thrive.

How Hanley Wood Is Building on Data – Peter Goldstone shares his experience transitioning from a traditional B2B publisher to a company focused on marketing and information services.

Finding Reliable Digital Revenue Amidst Technology Flux – Leaders from Breaking Media, Reader’s Digest, and Inc. describe the strategies they have employed to monetize their digital content.

F+W Chairman & CEO David Nussbaum on the Company’s Decisive Strategic Shift Toward Ecommerce – Now the former CEO of F+W David Nussbaum explains the role content and e-commerce play in serving enthusiast communities and how F+W managed the rapid growth of its e-commerce division.

Managing Change Requires More Than Empty Rhetoric – Reporting on last year’s Yale Publishing Course, editor-in-chief Denis Wilson shares insights from a session focused on managing organizational change.

5 Ways Media Sellers Are (Or Should Be) Alchemizing Their Careers – Like the publishing business, that role of a media salesperson has been reinvented. Modern media salespeople need to use a new set of skills to grapple with the challenges facing media advertising today.

2015 Prizes for Contributors to POETRY Magazine Announced

Prizes Awarded to Poets, Critics, and Essayists Featured in the Magazine Over the Past Year

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Poetry magazine awards eight annual prizes for the best work published in Poetry during the past twelve months. Nine poets: Rae Armantrout, Terrance Hayes, Tarfia Faizullah, Jillian Weise, Ming Di, Jennifer Stern, Amy Newman, Jenny Zhang, and Maya Catherine Popa will receive the 2015 prizes for their poems, translations and prose that appeared in Poetry.

“Every year, Poetry recognizes the work of its contributors with a series of awards, some dating back to our earliest history and some of recent vintage,” says Poetry magazine editor Don Share. “Garlanding poets, critics and translators, the list of prizewinners has grown strikingly more impressive and more diverse over time, like contemporary poetry itself.”

THE LEVINSON PRIZE, presented annually since 1914 through the generosity of the late Salmon O. Levinson and his family, in the amount of $500, is awarded to Rae Armantrout for her poems “The Difficulty,” “The Ether,” “Followers,” and “Taking Place” from the January 2015 issue. The oldest of the magazine’s prizes still awarded today, the Levinson Prize has been awarded to such great poets as Wallace Stevens (1920), Edna St. Vincent Millay (1931), H.D. (1938), E.E. Cummings (1939), Dylan Thomas (1945), Muriel Rukeyser (1947), John Berryman (1950), William Carlos Williams (1954), Anne Sexton (1962), John Ashbery (1977), Yusef Komunyakaa (1997) and Rita Dove (1998).

THE BESS HOKIN PRIZE, established in 1948 through the generosity of Poetry’s late friend and guarantor Mrs. David Hokin, in the amount of $1,000, is awarded to Terrance Hayes for “How to Draw a Perfect Circle,” published in the December 2014 issue. Past winners of the Bess Hokin Prize include Ruth Stone (1953), Sylvia Plath (1957), W.S. Merwin (1962), Adrienne Rich (1963), Margaret Atwood (1974) and Paul Muldoon (1996).

THE FREDERICK BOCK PRIZE, founded in 1981 by friends in memory of the former associate editor of Poetry, in the amount of $500, is awarded to Tarfia Faizullah for “100 Bells” in the January 2015 issue. Past winners of the Frederick Bock Prize include Billy Collins (1992), Jane Kenyon (1993) and A.E. Stallings (2004).

THE J. HOWARD AND BARBARA M.J. WOOD PRIZE, endowed since 1994, in the amount of $5,000, is awarded to Jillian Weise for her poems “Future Biometrics” and “Biohack Manifesto” in the March 2015 issue. Past winners of the J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize include Charles Wright (1996) and Franz Wright (2011).

THE JOHN FREDERICK NIMS MEMORIAL PRIZE FOR TRANSLATION, established in 1999 by Bonnie Larkin Nims, trustees of the Poetry Foundation, and friends of the late poet, translator and editor, in the amount of $500, is awarded to Ming Di and Jennifer Stern for their translations of Liu Xia’s poems “Empty Chairs” and “Transformed Creatures” in the November 2014 issue.

THE FRIENDS OF LITERATURE PRIZE, established in 2002 by the Friends of Literature, in the amount of $500, is awarded to Amy Newman for her poem “Howl” in the July/August 2015 issue.

THE EDITORS PRIZE FOR FEATURE ARTICLE, established in 2005, in the amount of $1,000, is awarded to Jenny Zhang for her essay “How It Feels” in the July/August 2015 issue.

THE EDITORS PRIZE FOR REVIEWING, established in 2004, in the amount of $1,000, is awarded to Maya Catherine Popa for “Forever Writing from Ireland,” her review of “The Architect’s Dream of Winter” by Billy Ramsell, “This Is Yarrow” by Tara Bergin, “Scapegoat” by Alan Gillis, and “Clasp” by Doireann Ní Ghríofa in the September 2015 issue.

The prizes are organized and administered by the Poetry Foundation in Chicago, publisher of Poetry magazine. Browse all past issues of Poetry magazine since 1912.

* * * * *

About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. For more information, please visit

About Poetry magazine
Founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. Monroe’s “Open Door” policy, set forth in Volume 1 of the magazine, remains the most succinct statement of Poetry’s mission: to print the best poetry written today, in whatever style, genre or approach. The magazine established its reputation early by publishing the first important poems of T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, H.D., William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg and other now-classic authors. In succeeding decades it has presented—often for the first time—works by virtually every major contemporary poet.

The Bill Gates Bump: How A Billionaire Is Helping To Save The Publishing Industry From Itself

My daughter is studying Voltaire’s Candide and hates it. That’s OK, she’s allowed her opinion. But there’s a line it which I think Bill Gates would especially enjoy: ‘Fools have a habit of believing that everything written by a famous author is admirable. For my part I read only to please myself and like only what suits my taste.’

It seems that Bill’s burgeoning new career as a book reviewer on GatesNotes is under fire from those who believe literary opinions should be the preserve of the so-called experts. Or fools. Bill, on the other hand, is keen to tell the world which books suit his taste.

His highly influential blog (part of his brilliant network of content marketing tools designed to maximise his philosophies) includes a list of some of the 50 or so books he’s enjoyed that year, including The Road To Character by New York Times columnist David Brooks (a bit long and disjointed, I thought, but nevertheless thought-provoking) and The Vital Question by Nick Lane (brilliant on the origins of life and why we are the way we are).

According to those who bow to the superior skills of the literary critics, Bill, by presuming that anyone cares what he reads, likes and thinks, is helping to destroy the books industry which recent figures suggest is worth £10 billion to the UK economy alone and almost£300 billion worldwide. .

This week, The Times newspaper printed a rather sneering assessment of Bill’s blog and how ‘struggling authors enjoy the Bill Gates bump’. Because when the world’s wealthiest man blogs about your book (or celebrity-blogs as the newspaper would have it) then the wretched lives of writers on the poverty line will be transformed overnight. Sales success is inevitable.

Some critics are outraged. The highly-respected DJ Taylor is quoted as saying: ‘What does Bill Gates know about books?’ He adds that ordinary people not steeped in literary criticism tarnish the industry: ‘There has been a loss of critical authority. You have to have some kind of language, some kind of protocols to have the conversation about the meaning of books.’

It’s a line that has been forcefully argued by Peter Stothard, the editor of the Times Literary Supplement, who believes that the rise of book bloggers is ‘to the detriment of literature’ because their tastes, knowledge and critical faculties cannot be trusted. Certainly can’t be as trusted as those precious types who sit in their ivory towers surrounded by mini-libraries of books that publishers have sent on to them, gratis. Presumably with companies like Amazon in mind (which accounts for 90 per cent of all book sales in the UK and whose book sales account for around 7 per cent of its $70bn annual revenue), Peter adds: ‘If the mass of unargued opinion chokes off literary critics…then literature will be the lesser for it.’


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Contributor: Grant Feller

Embed a book? Amazon starts offering Kindle book previews for third-party sites and apps

Web publishers embed video and audio all the time. So why not books?

Amazon is answering that question with the rollout this week of a new feature, Kindle instant book previews — letting third-party blogs, sites and apps give their users the ability to browse excerpts from books without leaving their sites or apps.

“We were inspired by other media types on the web and within applications that were giving people immediate access to content, and we wanted to do the same thing with books,” explained Mike Torres, director of product management for Amazon’s Kindle Reader, in an interview this week. “We think that by doing so, people will discover more to read, and they’ll be exposed more to reading.”

Of course, if the strategy works, it’s also good for Amazon’s business. As you can see in the example below, the embeds include a button giving readers the option to go to to buy the book.

Amazon Associates — online publishers who receive fees for referring users who make purchases on the e-commerce site — can also include their Associate IDs in the embeds to receive credit for the referrals.

GeekWire was among a small number of sites invited by Amazon to test the featurein advance of its public release.

The feature is an extension of the existing Kindle book samples offered on, and didn’t require any new licensing deals with publishers, the company says. Readers can browse through the previews on any site or app, without needing to log into an account.

The embeds are available via the <embed> link next to the share buttons on the individual Kindle book pages on The feature is rolling out now, and the company says it will be available on the vast majority of Kindle books.


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