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Nate Hoffelder

Nate Hoffelder

Morning Coffee – 25 January 2021

Here are a few stories to read this Monday morning.

P.S. If you need a tech VA or help with your website, email me at [email protected]. Got a story that I should include in next week’s list? Shoot me an email.

Kindle Unlimited Per-Page Rate Fell While the Funding Pool Grew in December 2020

Kindle Unlimited grew at a healthy clip in the last month of 2020.  The funding pool grew by $800,000 over November 2020. The new total is $34 million, or about $8 million more than December 2019.

At the same time, the per-page rate fell by about a hundredth of a cent.

Here are the per-page rates for the past 2 years.

  • December 2020: $0.004514
  • November 2020: $0.004644
  • October 2020: $0.004538
  • September 2020: $0.004594
  • August 2020: $0.004322
  • July 2020: $0.004294
  • June 2020: $0.004547
  • May 2020: $0.004203
  • April 2020: $0.004226
  • March 2020: $0.0046
  • February 2020: $0.004547
  • January 2020: $0.004411
  • December 2019: $0.004664
  • November 2019: $0.004925
  • October 2019: $0.0046763
  • September 2019: $0.0046799
  • August 2019:  $0.004387
  • July 2019 –  $0.004394
  • June 2019 – $0.004642
  • May 2019 – $0.0046598
  • April 2019 – $0.0046602
  • March 2019 – $0.0045124
  • February 2019 – $0.0047801
  • January 2019 – $0.0044227
  • December 2018 – $0.0048778
  • November 2018 – $0.0052056
  • October 2018 – $0.0048414
  • September 2008 – $0.004885
  • August 2018 – $0.0044914
  • July 2018 – $0.0044936

P.S. Here’s a list of the monthly funding pools. It does not include the bonuses paid out each month.

  • July 2014: $2.5 million (Kindle Unlimited launches early in the month)
  • August 2014: $4.7 million
  • September 2014: $5 million
  • October 2014: $5.5 million
  • November 2014: $6.5 million
  • December 2014: $7.25 million
  • January 2015 – $8.5 million
  • February 2015: $8 million
  • March 2015: $9.3 million
  • April 2015: $9.8 million
  • May 2015: $10.8 million
  • June 2015: $11.3 million
  • July 2015: $11.5 million
  • August 2015: $11.8 million
  • September 2015: $12 million
  • October 2015: $12.4 million
  • November 2015: $12.7 million
  • December 2015: $13.5 million
  • January 2016: $15 million
  • February 2016: $14 million
  • March 2016: $14.9 million
  • April 2016: $14.9 million
  • May 2016: $15.3 million
  • June 2016: $15.4 million
  • July 2016: $15.5 million
  • August 2016: $15.8 million
  • September 2016: $15.9 million
  • October 2016: $16.2 million
  • November 2016: $16.3 million
  • December 2016: $16.8 million
  • January 2017: : $17.8 million
  • February 2017: : $16.8 million
  • March 2017: $17.7 million
  • April 2017: $17.8 million
  • May 2017 :$17.9 million
  • June 2017: $18 million
  • July 2017: $19 million
  • August 2017: $19.4 million
  • September 2017: $19.5 million
  • October 2017: $19.7 million
  • November 2017: $19.8 million
  • December 2017: $19.9 million
  • January 2018: $20.9 million
  • February 2018: $20 million
  • March 2018: $21 million
  • April 2018: $21.2 million
  • May 2018: $22.5 million
  • June 2018: $22.6 million
  • July 2018: $23.1 million
  • August 2018: $23.3 million
  • September 2018: $23.4 million
  • October 2018: $23.5 million
  • November 2018: $23.6 million
  • December 2018: $23.7 million
  • January 2019: $24.7 million
  • February 2019: $23.5 million
  • March 2019: $24 million
  • April 2019: $24.1 million
  • May 2019: $24.6 million
  • June 2019: $24.9 million
  • July 2019: $25.6 million
  • August 2019: $25.8 million
  • September 2019: $25.9 million
  • October 2019: $26 million
  • November 2019: $26.1 million
  • December 2019: $26.2 million
  • January 2020: $28.2 million
  • February 2020: $27.2 million
  • March 2020: $29 million
  • April 2020: $30.3 million
  • May 2020: $32.2 million
  • June 2020: $32.3 million
  • July 2020: $32.4 million
  • August 2020: $32.6 million
  • September 2020: $32.7 million
  • October 2020: $32.9 million
  • November 2020: $33.2 million
  • December 2020: $34 million

Audible Will Soon Break Out Returns in ACX

Remember last November when author groups such as ALLi, SFWA, and The Authors Guild wrote an open letter to Amazon protesting Audible’s returns and exchange policies?

We’re finally seeing some progress on this front. While Amazon is still actively promoting returns as a benefit of subscribing, they did just announce on the ACX blog that they are going to launch a new sales dashboard in March 2021. The new dashboard will break out returns by title. (Previously, Audible had provided no info on returns, instead hiding the info by showing only net sales.)

I have the ACX blog post at the end of this post.

On a related note, last November Audible changed its return policies so that creators would still get paid if a customer returned an audiobook months after buying it.

We’re committed to making Audible and ACX the best experience it can be for our creative community, and we’ve heard your feedback. We have been hard at work building a new reporting system to reflect details on returns, including returned units by title. Starting March 2021, you’ll be able to see this data on your ACX Sales Dashboard. This data will also be included in your monthly financial statements for March 2021 and the following months. We appreciate your patience as we invest the time and resources to make these updates to the dashboard and our backend systems, so that we can expand reporting details for our thousands of creators. As of January 1, 2021, we are paying royalties on any return made more than 7 days after purchase.

We are also making other changes to our ACX policies to provide more flexibility, which we know is important to you. Effective February 1, ACX Rights Holders of DIY or Pay-for-Production titles that have been on sale for 90 or more days can convert their distribution type from exclusive to non-exclusive. In addition, all ACX Rights Holders will have the option to terminate after 90 days of distribution, but Rights Holders with Royalty Share or Royalty Share Plus deals must provide Producer consent when making their request. More details about this update will come in the payments letter that will be sent next week.

image by via Flickr

Morning Coffee 18 January 2021

Here are a few stories to read this Monday morning.

P.S. If you need a tech VA or help with your website, email me at [email protected]. Got a story that I should include in next week’s list? Shoot me an email.

My Sunday Morning Reading List

This Sunday morning finds me reorganizing my RSS feeds so I can make better use of the limited time I can devote to blogging.

As I was getting caught up on the several thousand items in my RSS feed, I noticed that there were 4 or 5 blogs which I was loath to simply skip. After some thought I realized that this constituted my "read for pleasure list", and I thought it would be fun to share it with you.

In no particular order, those blogs are:

1. Making Book

I frequently do not see eye to eye with Rich Hollick when it comes to publishing matters, but I do enjoy reading his posts on book publishing ephemera and minutiae.

2. Plagiarism Today

Jonathan Bailey’s blog is a great source for both links to IP stories I need to read as well as in-depth analysis of current trends. (I really need to visit more often.)

3. Awful Library Books

Run by librarians, this blog is one of my secret pleasures.  Each post focused on a book so terrible or so out of date that it deserves to be weeded from public libraries. I often buy copies of these books just to have them on my shelves simply because they make me laugh.

4. Book of Joe

Remember back when there were many many bloggers each posting about what interested them? Many of those bloggers have since moved to Twitter and other social networks, but Joe is still publishing blog posts.

5. Kristine Kathryn Rusch

If you know publishing, then you have to have heard of Kris Rusch. She is a veteran author and publisher, and her weekly posts on the business of publishing are a must-read.

image by RG in TLV via Flickr

Connecticut is Investigating Amazon’s eBook Business

When I reported last Thursday that a class-action suit had been filed against Amazon, accusing them of conspiring with publishers, I apparently had missed that the state of Conn. is pursuing its own investigation.

That have not released specifics, alas:

The probe is one of many into the e-commerce platform’s business practices. Amazon is also under investigation by the attorneys general in New York, California and Washington state and the Federal Trade Commission.

“Connecticut has an active and ongoing antitrust investigation into Amazon regarding potentially anticompetitive terms in their e-book distribution agreements with certain publishers,” Attorney General William Tong said in a statement to Reuters.

The probe comes as technology platforms face a backlash in the United States and across the world, fueled by concerns among regulators, lawmakers and consumer groups that firms have too much power and are harming users and business rivals.

While this does raise my hopes that the agency contracts will be broken, I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest that there’s a case here. This is not nearly the same situation as when news broke of the price-fixing conspiracy involving Apple and five publishers. It was patently obvious to bystanders at the time that the Price Fix Six had conspired, but we have no similar evidence now. (Frankly, publishers hate Amazon too much to enter into a conspiracy with the retailer.)

I would love to be proven wrong, but at this point we have no reason to expect that to happen.


image by ActuaLitté via Flickr

Amazon Sued Over Its Dominance of the eBook Market (Finally)

News broke this week that Amazon is being sued for colluding with five major publishers to inflate prices. The case was filed by the same law firm that lead the lawsuit against the Price Fix Six back in 2011.

The law firm of Hagens Berman is accusing the world’s largest retailer of colluding to artificially inflate the retail price of e-books through anticompetitive agreements with the nation’s five largest book publishers.

This is a fancy way of saying that the Agency 2.0 contracts, which gave publishers control over their ebook prices, were negotiated conspiratorially, and that the MFN clauses in those contracts illegally helped keep Amazon in a dominant position in the US ebook market.

This case has been well-covered elsewhere, so I will merely link to various sources before getting into a discussion.

Here’s the biggest problem with this lawsuit:

Five independently negotiated contracts does not a conspiracy make.

That, folks, is the Achilles heel of this lawsuit. I agree that consumers were harmed by these contracts, yes, but this lawsuit makes a big deal about a conspiracy without presenting any evidence that Amazon conspired.

Sure, that information could come out later, but it probably does not exist. Amazon is well-known for keeping its negotiations so secret that parties are not even allowed to talk about the process, much less the terms agreed to or the information exchanged.

And these lawyers think Amazon conspired with publishers?

Pull the other one, it has bells on.

Furthermore, while I want this lawsuit to be decided in favor of consumers, it probably won’t result in the contracts getting tossed. That is my desired goal, but I don’t see it happening. (Unless of course Amazon also wants the contracts thrown out, so it settles the suit and switches sides in the lawsuit.)

In any case, we are in for a very entertaining 6 to 8 months.

image by luckypines via Flickr

The Book Designer Blog Has Been Sold

The Book Designer is a blog which most authors should know. Founded by Joel Friedlander, this blog has been around for over ten years now, and in that time it has dispensed sage advice from dozens of experts (including myself).

For the past couple years I have been an occasional contributor to The Book Designer, which is how I found out that The Book Designer was sold just before Christmas. This has not yet been publicly announced (and I don’t know why not) but I just learned that Chandler Bolt bought it.

I can’t really say I know Chandler, but I have interacted with his staff at Self-Publishing School. A few times now, we have talked about a guest post, but so far nothing has jelled. I am not terribly familiar with that site (it’s way out of my price range) but I did find a couple reviews.

Update: Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware tweeted this when I told her the news. She also directed me to BBB complaints about Bolt’s school.

If you’ve worked with Chandler Bolt, or used his Self-Publishing School, I would love to hear about your experiences.

No plans have been announced for  the future of The Book Designer, but I do know that publication of new blog posts has been suspended for the time being (I had a guest post scheduled for 4 January).

Edit: I have been asked to clarify the sale:

FYI – just to clarify, Book Design Templates and Author Toolkits were not a part of the sale to Chandler Bolt of the Self-Publishing School and both remain under the ownership and control of Joel Friedlander and Tracy Atkins.


Best Buy is Now Using Spectra E-ink Shelf Labels

I was in Best Buy this morning, buying a  new laptop when I happened to notice that the store now had digital product labels decorating the shelves.

Best Buy has bought a shelf label system from a company called Pricer, and deployed labels in the 2″ and 4.2″ size. The larger sizes uses a 3-color Spectra E-ink screen (red, black and white), but I can’t say for sure whether the smaller shelf labels uses that screen or just a regular E-ink screen.

One thing I can tell you is that the screens are not as high of a resolution as on your Kindle; the smaller text on the 4.2″ screen was almost illegible due to fuzziness.

But even so, it was pretty cool to see digital shelf labels in widespread adoption. I had almost give up hope of seeing them in the stores I visit. Honestly, despite the obvious advantages (reduced labor, faster turnaround, etc) for a while there it had seemed like retailers had decided to pass on the tech.

Morning Coffee – 11 January 2021

Here are a few stories to read this Monday morning.

P.S. If you need a tech VA or help with your website, email me at [email protected]. Got a story that I should include in next week’s list? Shoot me an email.

Dasung is Working on a 25″ E-ink Monitor

Dasung is quietly famous for developing an E-ink monitor with a 13.3″ screen, and over the years they have released new models with incremental improvements.

Now they are making a huge change, and I do mean huge. I was just reading over on Notebook Italia that Dasung has a new model in the works.

The Dasung Paperlike 253 is a computer monitor with a 25.3″ E=ink display. Its screen resolution measures an impressive 3200 x 1800, and it will have a frontlight when it ships sometime this year.

The price has not been announced, but I do know it will come with a full-size HDMI port and a VESA mount.

If you want to get one, you better start saving up now. The 13″ Paperlike sold for $1,000, so this one will likely cost significantly more (the screens are unbelievably expensive).


1,172-Character Japanese Typewriter (video)

The average typewriter had up to 40 keys and could type around 60 characters.

Originally made in Japan in the late 1940s, the Toshiba Typewriter Model BW-2112 had over 1,000 characters in three different languages (Japanese, English, and Chinese).

One would assume it was intended for typing out official documents in occupied Japan, but that is just a guess.

It is cool, though.

via Book of Joe

Netronix Sends 6.8″ eReader Through FCC

Christmas came late this year, but I have a present for you. I just got an email notification that a new ereader cleared the FCC. This ereader was built by Netronix, but carries the brand MobiScribe, and according to the manual, it is called the Origin.

The Origin features a 6.8″ screen with a frontlight that offers color-changing, contrast, and brightness settings. (There’s also a 4th setting which I have not figured out). In addition to the capacitive touchscreen, this ereader also ha a Wacomstylus.

According to the test results, the Origin has Wifi but not Bluetooth. The internal photos show that it is a chip for the stylus, but it’s hard to make out the CPU or RAM.

Virtually all the interesting details were left visible to the public, so I would love it if you would take a look and tell me if you spotted something I missed.


Morning Coffee 3 January 2021

Here are a few stories to read this first Monday in 2021.

P.S. If you need a tech VA or help with your website, email me at [email protected]. Got a story that I should include in next week’s list? Shoot me an email.