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Author: Subject: Oyster Books–A Raw Deal for Authors?
RobertArend
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[*] posted on 10/24/2013 at 09:41 AM
Oyster Books–A Raw Deal for Authors?


Excerpt:

As yet, Oyster is a mobile service for iPhone and iPod Touch. The developers are promising an iPad version of the app soon, with something for Android coming down the road. So far, readers can choose from over 100,000 titles, mainly from HarperCollins, but that’s expected to increase when Oyster works out deals with the other big publishing houses. A deal with Smashwords is also in the works, and that’s where we come in.

The practical question is, What’s in it for the writers? Mark Coker of Smashwords, on the verge of releasing a statement with details on the arrangement, claims it’s “an author-friendly deal, so I think you’ll be pleased.” It will be interesting to see what Mark considers “author-friendly” compared with our own sense of fairness.

Link to full blogpost:

http://disappearinginplainsight.com/2013/10/24/oyster-booksa-raw-de...




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Michy
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[*] posted on 10/24/2013 at 08:40 PM


I've been following Oyster closely... not optimistic about it at this point. We shall see.

Here's what smashwords had to say:
http://blog.smashwords.com/2013/09/smashwords-signs-distribution-ag...




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Michy
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RobertArend
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[*] posted on 10/24/2013 at 09:35 PM


The comments on the page you linked to are full of desperation, Michy. There is potent fear and loathing of the pressures of making one's hard work free to compete with the over a million free books already available. And this may make an already livelihood-crushing situation worse. I was particularly stunned by this comment:

Phoenix James said...
I have to agree 100% with Darren G. Burton. Since the introduction of online libraries where anyone can obtain ebooks free, our sales have also taken a major hit and we've noticed the change was obvious and instant too.

Now with this new Oyster platform giving subscribers unlimited access a month for $9.95 sounds crazy! Great for readers, but how is that showing appreciation or respect for the hard work the author did to bring that book to the public eye? If this new platform wants to give books away, they should limit the subscription to 4 free downloads a month for that price. Then at least it would be fair to the authors who wrote the material. At the moment, authors are not being given a fair deal with the introduction of eLibraries.

Like Darren said, the royalty rate for authors is low enough. Robbing them of what little income they receive isn't fair.

What do outlets have to gain from doing this to authors? Do they use authors and free reads to lure traffic to their site in hopes they'll be able to make money by getting other companies to pay for advertising on their site?

How does that pay for an author's overheads when they aren't getting fair royalties? Oh, that's right....authors are meant to expect that someday those things will be free too; free electricity, free laptops, free internet, free cover designs, free living expenses, free editing, free fuel, free food, free marketing and advertising. The day that happens in main stream society where money no longer holds any value, then I believe that is the day authors should feel great about being used and tricked into giving whole copies of their work away free.

A free sample of a book is more than enough for a reader to know if they do or don't want to buy that book.

Online libraries have killed sales for authors, and robbed them of their rightful source of income. I fail to see how author's sales dropping off are meant to be a good thing?




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[*] posted on 10/24/2013 at 10:32 PM


I'm sort of agreeing with them too.... but until we know what Oyster is paying authors and how, we can't currently argue or discuss that aspect of Oyster intelligently.

But as for the other aspects, without Oyster in it, I am hoping that as the market settles down and these people who have rushed to publish their one book and then they've never written another one (and likely never will) or those who have published crappy books and don't mind giving them away for free 'cause this is just fun for them... all that's going to settle down. And then the authors who have been doing it right all along, slow and steady, with professional books, quality writing, good editing, nice covers, etc.... they'll rise to the top. I hope. This is my hope. My gut feeling is, don't despair and be patient and wait this out. The marketplace is in such a flux, panicking about every change is easy to do.

I know sales are dropping for everyone else I talk to, but my sales have been slowly but steadily rising every month. Mark Coker did a poll/study that indicated that books at 2.99 and 3.99 are selling BETTER than books at 99 cents or 1.99.... there is a marketplace perceived value to the books. Many consumers are beginning to think, Humm, if they charge that much for it, maybe it's because it's better than this drivel I've been reading... that type of thing.

I truly want to believe it's going to settle down and we just need to quit worrying and buying into the hype and just keep doing the right thing with our books and let the marketplace shift around us while we stay solid.

It's... interesting to watch.





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Michy
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Do just once what others say you can't do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again." James R. Cook

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Melanie
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[*] posted on 10/25/2013 at 09:05 AM


Sigh... I hope so too.

I would really hate to think I completely missed the boat on self-publishing and have no hope of ever making money with it. I can't really see how authors are going to get anything close to fair compensation when Oyster people can download as many books as they want for $9.95.

Why can't my brain design cars or designer jeans or something people will always want to pay for? Sigh.




Melanie
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[*] posted on 10/25/2013 at 10:36 AM


Missed the boat on self-publishing? Not a chance.



I seemed to be looking down from an immense height upon a twilit grotto, knee-deep with filth, where a white-bearded daemon swineherd drove about with his staff a flock of fungous, flabby beasts whose appearance filled me with unutterable loathing.

Just keep writing and the good stuff will come.
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Michy
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[*] posted on 10/25/2013 at 02:01 PM


Oyster only allows 10 'streams' of books at one time, and only downloads one book at a time for people to read. So it's not really 'unlimited' per se. They don't get to keep the books--it's more like 'renting' them. They estimate that most people will only take 2-3 books per month if they are an average reader, and most will take even fewer than that--maybe one per month. But I don't know how the pricing model works yet.




Love and stuff,
Michy
~~Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations~~


Do just once what others say you can't do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again." James R. Cook

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RobertArend
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[*] posted on 10/25/2013 at 02:23 PM


Michy, I just received this email from Smashwords. Your thoughts on this will be greatly appreciated:

1. OYSTER DISTRIBUTION BEGINS IN THREE DAYS (READ THE TERMS HERE!)
________________________________________

Oyster Shipments to Begin in Three Days

On September 5, Smashwords announced a distribution agreement with Oyster, a new
and innovative ebook subscription service. Here’s a link to our original
announcement: http://blog.smashwords.com/2013/09/smashwords-signs-distribution-ag...

Oyster offers consumers unlimited access to more than 100,000 ebooks for only
$9.95 per month.

At the time we announced the deal, we also announced that we wouldn’t begin
shipping to Oyster until at least 72 hours after we shared the financial terms
with you. The clock starts now.

I also stated at the time that I believed the terms were author-friendly, and
that Smashwords authors would be pleased when they learned the details. Today,
via this email, I’m sharing the details.

If you’re not familiar with Oyster, here’s how it works. A reader downloads the
beautiful Oyster app, available for the iPhone and iPad (new!). If they
subscribe to the $9.95/month service, the customer gains access to a massive
catalog of ebooks, of which Smashwords books will soon be included. Readers can
read as much as they want or as little as they want. The books are contained
within the Oyster app, and cannot be transferred or shared. If the customer
ends their subscription, they lose access to the book. This is fair and
reasonable. The customer is subscribing to a service, and for as long as they
maintain their subscription, they read whatever they want. It’s a very similar
offering to Spotify in music and Netflix for film and television entertainment.

A single Oyster user could conceivably read multiple books by the same
Smashwords author in a single month, and the author will be paid for each book.
As a Smashwords author or publisher, you’ll earn 60% of you book’s retail list
price whenever an Oyster subscriber reads more than 10% of your book, starting
from the beginning of the book forward. It’s an author-friendly model. That’s
the same rate Smashwords authors earn when we sell ebooks through the major
retailers such as Apple and Barnes and Noble.

Oyster’s subscription service will help you connect with a segment of the
reading audience you’re not reaching anywhere else. Oyster will also give
authors yet another reason to steer clear of exclusivity and embrace full
distribution with Smashwords.

Smashwords authors don’t need to do anything to enjoy Oyster distribution other
than ensure their books are Premium Catalog-approved. If you previously opted
out of Oyster because you were awaiting the financial details, please click to
your Channel Manager at https://www.smashwords.com/dashboard/channelManager to
opt back in within the next 72 hours if you want to be included in our first
shipments.

As a final note on Oyster, I want to encourage you to keep you sales
expectations realistic. Although Oyster represents a new, innovative and
exciting distribution channel, they are still a new company and it could take
them many months or years to establish a sizeable readership. However, as we
know from our experience opening up distribution in 2009 and 2010 to new
channels such as Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Apple, authors who are in first have a
fan-building advantage over authors who delay. Even smaller retailers add to
your bottom line. Every sale you get at Oyster is a sale you would not have
otherwise received.

Following our first delivery, I’m going to provide Oyster, per their request, a
spreadsheet identifying the bestselling books that are opted in to the
Smashwords/Oyster catalog. Oyster plans to use this spreadsheet to identify
popular books their merchandising team can promote in their app. As we do with
the Smashwords bestseller list we supply to Publishers Weekly each month, the
list will be based on sales of Smashwords-distributed titles aggregated across
the Smashwords distribution network (here’s the latest bestseller list -
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/pw-select/artic...
). In the future, credited sales at Oyster will contribute to a book’s ranking
in our Publishers Weekly list as well.

Good luck!




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Michy
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[*] posted on 10/25/2013 at 02:27 PM


From Smashwords today:

"As a Smashwords author or publisher, you’ll earn 60% of you book’s retail list price whenever an Oyster subscriber reads more than 10% of your book, starting from the beginning of the book forward. "

That's the same, pretty much, as what you get paid if someone buys your book from B&N through Smashwords' distribution... I don't know if the subscription service is going to sustain on that royalty framework long term, but for now, that is a very author-friendly deal.

I'm sure, like with insurance, this is a 'balancing' act where some will read lots more than one or two books per month and others might average only one book every so often but don't cancel the service....




Love and stuff,
Michy
~~Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations~~


Do just once what others say you can't do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again." James R. Cook

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Melanie
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[*] posted on 10/25/2013 at 02:42 PM


Yah, that sounds pretty good.






Melanie
"Go forth boldly in the direction of your dreams." Thoreau
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M. Lori Motley - Fantasy & Horror
Lenora Meade - Romance
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Michy
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[*] posted on 10/27/2013 at 01:05 AM


I'm good with the 60% of retail... but I'm just not certain how this is sustainable for them money-wise over the long run.

I'm opting in for it. I'm very curious how this will go.




Love and stuff,
Michy
~~Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations~~


Do just once what others say you can't do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again." James R. Cook

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Check Out My Author Website! Read Book Reviews There or Request a FREE Author Interview!
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