Last-Minute Gift Shopping? Give an E-Book!

goldilocks-and-3-bears460Still wondering how to fill those gaps in your Christmas gift list? Now that books come in so many different forms and genres, a book is more than ever the ideal stocking-stuffer. For your loved ones who favor digital bookshelves, how about an e-book?

Is there a way to give an e-book as a gift?

Of course there is!  Would Amazon leave a potentially lucrative shopping gap unfilled?  In “How to Give an E-Book as a Gift,” Sharon Vaknin of CNET outlines the procedure now commonly called “gifting” for your loved ones who read on Nook, Kindle, iPad, or Android devices.  It’s a story reminiscent of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”:

  • Amazon, the experts at making everything easy for everybody, has a “Give as a Gift” button which lets you either send your chosen book directly to your chosen recipient, or print out a voucher to wrap and/or send.
  • Barnes & Noble will let you buy a Nook book as a gift if you open an account.
  • iTunes and Google+ have no procedure for gift books; however, you can buy a gift card and enclose a book suggestion with it.

Smashwords and Kobo aren’t covered by Vaknin’s article, but trust the ever-flexible Smashwords to enable easy gift-giving.  On Smashwords you can give an e-book in almost any e-format, however old, new, or obscure.  Just find the book you want, click on the title, and click the “Give as a Gift” button.  Your recipient will need to open a free Smashwords account to pick up the book; that done, s/he can open or download it on any device from a phone to a computer.  Full details here.

Kobo doesn’t have a specific gift-book procedure but will let you give a gift card which the recipient can redeem online.

And if your taste is retro, remember that the US Postal Service this year charges $5.80 for delivery within 1-3 days of a Priority Mail envelope or small (5.25″ x 8.5″) box of any weight.  When they ask you if your package contains anything hazardous, say Yes!  It’s a book!



End-of-Year E-Pistols: Who’s Winning (& Losing) as Book Publishing Enters 2014?

End-of-Year E-Pistols: Who’s Winning (& Losing) as Book Publishing Enters 2014?

Random House first edition (1967) of the Marshall McLuhan classic.revolver-bullet-tinyIncome data from 5,000 authors responding to 2013 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey:
Median annual earnings for self-published authors = $1 to $4,999; for traditionally published authors = $5K to $9,999; and for hybrid authors (both) = $15K to $19,999.

revolver-bullet-tiny“The price readers pay for books is at an all-time low, thanks to ebooks and…aggressive discounting tactics,” reports Jeremy Greenfield in Forbes. “The average price of a best-selling ebook today is $5.27.

revolver-bullet-tinyThat stomping sound is Amazon’s new giant step toward dominating the entertainment market: Amazon Instant Video.  For $79 per year (less than the cost of Netflix), Amazon Prime members already got book discounts, free book loans, and free multi-product shipping. Now they can also stream movies and TV shows, including Amazon-generated productions, a new enterprise bound to burgeon in 2014 and beyond.
Worth noting: only Kindle and Apple mobile devices can download Amazon Instant Video, although there are apps for bridging the gap to competitors’ tablets and

revolver-bullet-tinyIn format, the future is mobile. “In 2012 nearly 5 times as many smartphones sold worldwide as did PCs. The result is that in a very short time there have become twice as many mobile users as PC users,” reports  Digital Book World’s Thad McIlroy, citing Benedict Evans’s “Mobile is Eating the World.”  One key takeaway for McIlroy is that “a marketing strategy that runs paper to desktop to mobile has become a traffic jam. Try mobile, desktop and then paper.”

The other takeaway circles back to our previous e-pistols: In the worldwide battle for consumers, the winner will be whoever gives them what they think they want at the fastest speed and cheapest price.  Amazon is contemplating a rosy future.  Authors, maybe not so much, except for those happy few who snagged a seat in this game of Musical Chairs before the viral spread of self-publishing and Amazon.

Joe Konrath & Barry Eisler remain aggressively bullish on the new age of democracy in publishing.  Who’s right?  Time will tell.  But it’s been a long time since the last best-seller out of nowhere.

3 Great Holiday Reads/Gifts Under $5

Annabelle final AReARe Cafe Give-Away!
TODAY ONLY, Friday 12/6

One lucky winner will launch a sizzling weekend with Lady Annabelle’s Abduction, Book One in Charisse Howard’s hot new Regency Rakes & Rebels series.

Enter at to win an e-copy in the format of your choice — and don’t touch this fast-paced, suspenseful, passionate adventure without a potholder!

You can also buy Lady Annabelle’s Abduction, and Lady Barbara & the Buccaneer, for $1.99 here and elsewhere.

snowflakeSI’m Dreaming of a Noir Christmas . . .XmasBall-wp
Feeling blitzkrieged by the holidays?  Fight back with seasonal crime fiction!  Carol Verburg’s Silent Night Violent Night: A Cory Goodwin Mystery confirms what you secretly suspected about those lavish parties where over-bonused CEOs flex their ego-muscles.  The power-broker in ex-bohemian sculptor Lilah Darnell’s posh pond-front home is her publisher husband, Bruce Easton.  His guests include eminent scientists and their backers.  And their only hope of keeping this snowy holiday weekend from exploding is Lilah’s long-lost college comrade, Boston journalist Cory Goodwin.

$3.99 e-book or $11 paperback (holiday discount) at Amazon, B&N, iBooks, or Kobo

Enjoy a Blithering Christmas with Secret Thespian Edward Gorey
In his last decade, after leaving New York City for Cape Cod, the Tony-winning artist and author Edward Gorey wrote and staged twenty-odd theatrical pieces.  Two of these were full-length holiday plays for his troupe of actors and hand puppets.  Blithering Christmas features Otto the Automaton, Odile the Crocodile, and the three Blithering children; Stumbling Christmas is his Dada-esque take on Agatha Christie, as members of the eccentric Stumbling family reunite over fruitcake and try to figure out if there is indeed a body in the ha-ha.

Along with The Haunted Tea-Cosy, Gorey’s distinctive version of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, these are among the many verbal, visual, and musical highlights in Carol Verburg’s affectionate reminiscence Edward Gorey On Stage: Playwright, Director, Designer, Performer: A Multimedia Memoir.
$4.99 e-book, $11+ paperback (holiday discount) at Amazon, B&N, iBooks, or Kobo