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Open Question: What Should I Write About?

After nearly 6 years of blogging both at The Digital Reader and at MobileRead, I think I’m pretty good at finding and reporting news stories. But even though I think I’m good, I also know that I could be better at finding and covering the stories that you want to read.

And so this Friday afternoon I am opening up the floor to suggestions. I’ve always accepted editorial critiques, but now I am explicitly inviting them as well.

What  topics would you like to see me cover? Is there an editorial slant which you don’t like?

And most important to me, do you have a suggestion for a how to post? I like writing them, but I have trouble brainstorming new ideas on my own.

The comment section is open.


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Javi September 26, 2014 um 12:19 pm

ohh, crisis writer 🙂

Nate Hoffelder September 26, 2014 um 12:22 pm

Huh, what?

Javi September 26, 2014 um 12:35 pm

No, I said you have the crisis creative of the writers jaja.

Pd.: I liker your blog

Nate Hoffelder September 26, 2014 um 12:41 pm

To be completely honest, it’s less a creative crisis than i would like to find out what I write that pisses people off so I can stop writing it, or at least tone it down. For example, I wonder of calling Authors united an astroturfing group was a good idea; a good part of my traffic decamped the following day.

fjtorres September 26, 2014 um 12:51 pm

Nah, it was just a day of uninspiring news…
It happens.
There’s only so many toys flying past the FCC…
Keep mixing it up, and don’t try so hard; you’re doing fine.
No need to please everyone…

Timothy Wilhoit September 26, 2014 um 6:03 pm

"I wonder of calling Authors united an astroturfing group was a good idea…"

It’s not a leap to label them an astroturfing group. That’s what I see. If you never make anyone angry, then all you’ll have is lukewarm pap that no one will read. I think you’re doing fine. You often have posts of interest and generally even-handed in your reporting. Keep reporting the unfolding story of Amazon/Hachette because it’s going to get far uglier very soon, I fear.

DaveZ October 3, 2014 um 9:44 am

Maybe you were hit with Google’s latest Panda update?

My traffic has held steady with this release, knock on wood.

Nate Hoffelder October 3, 2014 um 9:56 am

I was tagged, yes, but the drop in traffic is not entirely due to Panda. Last night I went through GAnalytics and figured out that the 20% drop in search traffic wasn’t enough to account for the entire decline.

My working theory is that I am in one of the downward cycles mentioned here:

I’m still not sure whether that theory is crazy or not.

AltheGreatandPowerful September 26, 2014 um 12:45 pm

What did you post the following day? Maybe it was that rather than you calling a spade a spade…

Nate Hoffelder September 26, 2014 um 12:48 pm

Nothing really that interesting, which could also be the problem.

Bob W September 26, 2014 um 1:15 pm

I don’t know if you already do it but you might want to periodically go back through your old blog posts and give updates. For example I’m curious how Amanda Hocking’s indie success translated when she signed the traditional contract. Did her customer base continue buying at the BPH prices?

Nate Hoffelder September 26, 2014 um 1:36 pm

Sometimes I do. For example, I reported about the Kodak-POD deal a couple months ago. There was also the post about Amazon’s retail efforts. But I don’t do it often enough, only when think of it. And I do agree that this is an area we’d all like to see more coverage.

fjtorres September 26, 2014 um 2:06 pm

So, pick a date at random, go back to see what the hot topics were, revisit if appropriate, rinse and repeat if not.
Try it at least once a year.

fjtorres September 26, 2014 um 2:07 pm

Or weekly. 😉

Greg Strandberg September 26, 2014 um 2:21 pm

How did the tone change work? I remember you mentioning that, and that traffic had bumped up…has that continued?

Of course most are bored to death of the Amazon/Hachette dispute or whatnot, and there certainly doesn’t seem to be anyone offering much writing advice…so those are areas.

The rise of the new self-publishing gate-keepers, perhaps the successful authors getting the huge bonuses from Kindle Unlimited. More of a look at the places self-published authors congregate, and if they’re good or bad, and for whom. Perhaps a look at the possible disintegration of the Big 5 or whatever they are now, and what that might look like.

I’d like a speculative post on what authors would do if the internet shut down for a day and they couldn’t gripe. Speculative posts on losing one of the major 3 social networks for a day would also tantalize me.

Mainly, don’t be boring. I can get that at about 79% of the websites on the internet today.

Dave Bricker September 26, 2014 um 4:47 pm

Check out for a taste of what eBooks can look like in the web browser. If you like the format, check out the intuitive, visual ePublishing tool at The PubMKL™ (Publishing with HTML) format is open source and free. The tools export to PubML™ and to traditional ePub.

Robin September 26, 2014 um 7:25 pm

Personally, I would be interested in news on publication of non-fiction illustrated books (as opposed to text books). Many of the books I see are merely scanned images of the printed book.

Hrafn September 26, 2014 um 10:53 pm

Your blog is the main e-reader blog I follow, so you’re already doing something right. Probably what I’d most like to see more of, is surveying of long range technology trends. Who’s announcing what new technology/features/design-innovations, and which of them are likely to be vapourware, niche-only or mainstream? While it is good to know if a product is a lemon (so reviews are still important), it is also good to know if the underlying technology is a lemon (or at least not yet fit for mainstream), so you don’t hold off buying a new reader for six months waiting for a good implementation of it to eventuate and being annoyed when none do.

Nate Hoffelder September 28, 2014 um 6:04 pm


Is something I should address as a new type of post or as as an expansion on, say, product announcement posts?

Nate Hoffelder October 2, 2014 um 10:38 pm

" surveying of long range technology trends."

I’m going to add that to my poster board of talking points

" Who’s announcing what new technology/features/design-innovations, and which of them are likely to be vapourware, niche-only or mainstream?"

I used to do that a lot with screen tech, but that topic area largely died out. The only really new tech that is left is Liquavista, and Amazon is not talking.

And I’m not saure this is worth doing with ebook tech and startups; even the successful startups are going to be a niche idea – at best.

Bart Anderson September 27, 2014 um 12:19 am

I usually rely on you to pick up on the interesting stories.

The opinions keep your posts lively. The main thing is to be fair, thoughtful and fresh – that way people can enjoy them even if they don’t agree with them. That said, could I suggest keeping an open mind on the Amazon question?

People who are dogmatically for or against Amazon will miss the interesting insights. It’s a big, complicated story playing out globally. Amazon has been innovative and daring – but also ruthless and exploitative. Just like the great capitalists of the the early 1900.

Ebooks present a fascinating perch from which to watch history and technology play out. DRM, intellectual property rights, the destruction of old industries, the billions of people who have connected with the web via smartphone and tablet.

If you chose to, you could occasionally address a larger audience, for example, by submitting to a more general publication.

Ebook Bargains UK September 27, 2014 um 5:05 am

In no particular order:

1 – The burgeoning global digital magazine market is something that gets little coverage here or on the other industry blogs, who still seem to think ebooks are the be all and end all of digital reading.

You’ve covered a few over the years but, at least from the on-site search results, few is the operative word.

2 – A lot of your readership will be indie authors, so more coverage of aggregators and distributor news would be welcome.

3 – In depth reports. News and snippets are great, but difficult for casual observers to put everything in context. Occasional in-depth studies collating the numerous brief new items on a subject and putting the together, updated with latest stats and some rigorous analysis would be great.

4 – In depth reviews of ebook/magazine/audio book retail sites, along the same lines as the device reviews. The good, the bad and the ugly.

5 – More even handedness in covering the bad news about B&N / Nook and the bad news about Amazon.

When execs leave B&N / Nook this gets reported as evidence of the company’s plight. Amazon has in the past month seen two of its top men announce they are jumping ship. First the Chief Financial Officer, now the VP or Digital Music and Video has left “to spend more time with his family”. Both making the announcement in advance of the Q3 financial report which will be the worst in the company’s history.

On the money market blogs the consensus is there is trouble in the Boardroom. By any definition Amazon’s finances are a mess. The fact that it had to borrow another $2bn this month and felt the need to sneak the news out on a Friday after business hours says a lot.

As with B&N and the Big 5 publishers, what happens in the Amazon Boardroom matters to readers and authors.

6 – Following on from (5), less (as in none) affiliate-link promo in among the blog posts.

Side-bar ads are one thing. Obviously you have to make a living.

Reporting individual Kindle ebook deals, etc, compromises the perceived integrity of the site, and longer-term probably your independence.

We’ve seen far too many excellent retailer-agnostic blogs gradually become walking adverts for one particular retailer. It throws into question everything else those bloggers write or choose to report.

DaveZ September 27, 2014 um 7:41 am

Here’s an article I don’t know the answer to and can’t blog myself. But maybe you can. My mother-in-law has been a Nook e-Ink reader since nearly the get go. Seems like that product line could be dead. How would I help her move her entire collection to Kindle?

Nate Hoffelder September 28, 2014 um 7:14 pm

I can write a how-to post on this but TBH it will be labor intensive. Downloading all of those ebooks will be tedious.

Perhaps the easiest way would be to use the DRM-stripping trick with the calibre plugin. Calibre can pull the ebooks off of an ereader, and once the plugin is properly configured it should strip the DRM off of all of the incoming ebooks.

Gary September 27, 2014 um 4:13 pm

I have been reading ebooks since year 2000. I used to believe that as the general public started to shift to ebooks market forces (increased cost per unit sold) would drive books and mortar stores out of business. Then, people who could no longer access paper books would be forced to buy ebooks, which would further increase costs, driving more stores out of business. I.e. we should be 95% ebooks by now.

This has not happened. We seem to be stuck at about a 20 percent level for ebooks.

I would like to see some in depth coverage of 5 and 10 year projections of the future of paper vs. electronic books.

Ebook Bargains UK September 28, 2014 um 6:49 am

Wishful thinking by Konrath and the Amazon cheerleaders. that is still widely touted and re-touted despite the growing evidence to the contrary.

Looks like we’re in for a long period of co-existence, at least until digital devices can match the print experience with ease of browsing, usefulness for non-fiction, etc, and until ebook stores can match a print store for discoverability in a meaningful way.

Nate Hoffelder September 28, 2014 um 7:21 pm

"I would like to see some in depth coverage of 5 and 10 year projections of the future of paper vs. electronic books."

Several people have made requests like this, but I hesitate to write this type of post. The thing is, 90% plus of those projections turn out to be wrong. I constantly work to be as accurate as possible, and if I know that there’s a 90% chance a post will be wrong I won’t want to write it. I’m wrong too often as it is.

Reply September 28, 2014 um 5:44 pm

Governments, businesses, law firms, medical institutions, musicians are the biggest paper wasters. Tons of reams and ink.

It is 21st century, year 2014. Why there is only one large Digital paper as a document management tool?

"Save a Tree Buy an Digital Paper!

Nate Hoffelder September 28, 2014 um 6:12 pm

Because there are bunches of tablets, and that market has supplanted the large screen ereader.

DavidW September 28, 2014 um 6:51 pm

I would like to see reviews of kindles (eink) . There hasn’t been one since the Touch.

Nate Hoffelder September 28, 2014 um 7:00 pm

Well, I did post a comparison of the old and new KPW when the latter launched in 2013. But yes, I would like to do a new review.

Or did you mean you wanted a review of, say, last year’s KPW? I could always put it on the todo list, but it could get bumped by newer devices.

TheGreatFilter September 29, 2014 um 9:23 am

Speculate wildly and be acerbic. Play to both sides of the Amazon hate / love camps. You know, just keep it up, basically. Too many sites kiss the butts of the manufacturers. Don’t do that. It’s dull. Tell it how you see it, for real. And throw keys at things.

TheGreatFilter September 29, 2014 um 9:25 am

Some readers are going to get offended when you lean towards snarkizm. Ignore them. If we listened to the grey people, all entertainment would be irradiated, inoffensive dullness.

Victor September 29, 2014 um 1:59 pm

I like the reviews very much… And the rare appearance of the blast from the past. I’d like to see reviews pf more obscure/old tablets an ereaders… But does it have something to do with your blog?

Nate Hoffelder October 2, 2014 um 10:25 pm

I’m not sure I understand your question.

But sure, I can start a pile of older devices to review.

TheGreatFilter October 2, 2014 um 8:13 am

What exactly are the contract terms of these predatory publishers we hear so much about? If you’re going to hammer them, please detail what they are doing wrong in how they relate to authors, and how non-trad publisher contract terms differ.

If You Have Something to Say, I Have a Soapbox – The Digital Reader October 5, 2014 um 2:46 pm

[…] addition to asking for feedback and suggestions, I have been pondering what I think is missing and last night one area in particular leapt out at […]

Simon November 20, 2014 um 11:17 am

Our iPad application Addr is an ebook reader that has a unique focus on design. Self-situation is – at last! – now possible in an ebook. It was one of the main reason the paper-book still had an advantage over the ebook.

Secondly, we insist on taking annotations in context – on the right margin. If you decide to share your corpus of annotations to your friends, it will appear in the exact same place in their own ebook.
Thus, we make it possible to read a book with multiple and various corpus of annotations to enhance the reading experience. Above all, we want to help users. Wether for reading, studying or collective thinking.

It’s free on the App Store here:

Nate Hoffelder November 20, 2014 um 11:31 am

Thanks! I’ll have a look.

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