Audio books

Audible

In a previous post I mentioned the share of audio books in China. The rise of audio books is a worldwide trend.

One big player is Audible, the audiobook publisher and retailer with more than 425,000 titles in its online store; Amazon is the parent company and has been pushing audio books on its platform.

audio booksAudible is a seller and producer of spoken audio entertainment, information, and educational programming on the Internet. Audible sells digital audiobooks, radio and TV programs, and audio versions of magazines and newspapers. (Wikipedia).

“Audible is the leading creator and provider of premium digital spoken audio content, offering customers a rich destination for insight and inspiration to enhance their daily lives.” (source: https://www.audible.com/about/our-company/)

Bypassing print

A growing group of well-known authors is bypassing print and releasing audiobook originals, hoping to take advantage of the exploding audiobook market.
Read the full story: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/02/books/audible-michael-lewis-audiobooks.html.

It’s the latest sign that audiobooks are no longer an appendage of print, but a creative medium in their own right. The rise of stand-alone audio has also made some traditional publishers nervous, as Audible strikes deals directly with writers, including best-selling authors.

Other players in audio: Hachette, Penguin Random House and Macmillan Audio.

After years of stagnation in the industry, audiobooks have become a rare bright spot for publishers.

For decades, the audiobook market was limited by physical constraints: Listeners had to lug around cassette tapes or CDs, and bookstores devoted fewer and fewer shelves to the format. Digital technology upended that. Cellphones now function as audiobook players.

China reading statistics

Books still count but web content is on the rise

See here details of a recent survey (2018) providing insights on China reading statistics.

  • Adults read just under eight books on average last year, including some 3.3 digital books.
  • Readers 17 years or younger logged almost nine books apart from textbooks, a slight increase from 2017.
  • Youths 14 to 17 years old read an average of 11.5 books outside of classwork.
  • The amount of reading is not as large as in countries with strong reading habits, like Germany, France, Russia and Japan.
  • The survey found that 80.8 percent of adults have a reading habit, covering all kinds of material, in print, digital or online, an annual increase of 0.5 percentage points compared with 2017.
  • A decade ago, it was 69.7%, and 20 years ago, it was 60.4%.
  • The growth in digital reading, while demand for printed books remains stable. Mobile phones have become Chinese people’s favorite medium for reading and obtaining information.
  • Online, they read news, watch short videos and participate in social media.
  • Adults spent an average of almost 85 minutes a day on their phones, four more minutes than in 2017.
  • There is a sharp rise in audio books, with almost a third of the population having the habit of listening to audio books. This would mean about 350 million people.

Libraries

There is one library for about 400,000 Chinese nationals on average, in contrast with 2,500 people in the United States and hundreds of people in many European countries.

I see an increase of libraries in general. The government-sponsored ones are more “serious” while many of the private sector venues are often used to surf the internet, for fun or for work.

There seems to be little tradition in China to view libraries as a venue for a family visit, for parents to take their children along to explore books and other media.

As for the book shops, the choice may look large but there are very few foreign books. Getting a foreign title into a book shop is very difficult as the books are supposed to be imported through authorized channels only and subject to scrutiny (= censorship). Obviously many Chinese books are not available due to some …. euh special reasons.

My books are on sale in the Sanlitun Bookwork but that is a rare exception.

ABC of self-publishing

Overview and introduction

Here is my ABC of self-publishing.

It is my story on why and how I became an author, publishing two books: “Toxic Capitalism” and “Laugh And Get Wiser”.

ABC of self-publishing

late nights… trying hard…

The first book was done through a “Vanity Press Company”, a bad experience that led me to go “indie” and do self-publishing totally myself. That required mastering a software “SCRIVENER” and enrolling as an author with Amazon.

See the challenges I encountered and how I succeeded to publish on Kindle and in print. It took me three extended stays in a nice hotel in Phuket to find the right and motivating environment.

There are three very different roads to publishing: the traditional publishing companies, the vanity press and self-publishing (such as through Amazon, the giant in that field).

Read all details in these posts, as a guide to publish YOUR book. And learn the jargon of this business. Consider it your ABC of self-publishing.

Why self-publishing

See: https://www.damulu.com/2019/01/03/why-self-publishing/
Topics covered:
– Why I write;
– Why choose self-publishing;
– The 3 challenges when publishing your book;
– Some good books and websites to learn the details.

How to self-publish

See: https://www.damulu.com/2019/01/03/how-to-self-publish/
Topics covered:
– Why to become an “indie” and how;
– The three choices explained: traditional publishing houses; the vanity press; do it yourself (read: go the indie road).

The giant of self-publishing

See: https://www.damulu.com/2019/01/03/the-giant-of-self-publishing/
Topics covered:
– Why Amazon?
– The first step to publish on Amazon: you need to register as an author.
– The challenges I met to register as an author, being in China.
– Can you publish a book in Chinese on Amazon? Supported languages.
– Why not use Amazon China?
– Uploading my Kindle e-book on Amazon: challenges I met.
– My books are on Amazon!
– Does Amazon ship to China?

Using Scrivener

See: https://www.damulu.com/2019/01/06/using-scrivener/
Topics covered:
– What is Scrivener software?
– How to learn it, the way I did.
– Why a print version is the first step.
– Amazon Kindle: you need a Table of Content.
– How to get your book in print?

How I wrote my books

See: https://www.damulu.com/2019/01/06/how-i-wrote-my-books/
Topics covered:
– Everybody and every book is different
– My first book “Toxic Capitalism”: using MS Word and deliver the file to a “vanity press”.
– Running away from my normal environment.

Using external help when going indie

See: https://www.damulu.com/2019/01/09/using-external-help-when-going-indie/
Topics covered:
– Using external help when going indie is mandatory for two tasks: the cover design and professional editing.
– Why you need to finish first the format of the print version.
– How I did the cover page in two outsourcing steps.
– For my second book I did exceptionally not use an external editor: why?
– How much did my book cost to get it published in e-book and print?

More considerations on writing and Amazon

See: https://www.damulu.com/2019/01/10/more-considerations-on-writing-and-amazon/
Topics covered:
– Are you focused in your genre? Building a following.
– Amazon and shipping.
– Amazon world-wide shops are not connected.
– BISAC codes: what they are and why it did not help me with Amazon.
– Publishing in Chinese.

What about newspapers

The little brothers of books: newspapers in print.

I mentioned a lot about books, but what about newspapers?
I have been a dedicated reader for decades of what was the International Herald Tribune, then later called The New York Times International Edition. Unfortunately, while the print arrives in my Beijing home in a sealed envelope, sometimes copies are censured of simply not delivered because of “bad content”. All while one has to submit also copy of the passport; not suitable for local Chinese. Worse, cost went up every year and one year subscription became RMB 9,300. Yes, that’s OVER US$9,300!!! So, I gave up and took a digital subscription. I am slowly getting used to it but I still miss my beloved newspaper. Now left is only China Daily, the newspaper without real news, so censured it has become.

New York TimesSee the last copy I received.
I also kept some of the historical different prints from IHT and NYT, when they started color or different designs. I also have an original copy of the first ever China Daily!

Which is the best newspaper?

I tried several newspapers. The Wall Street Journal Asia is pretty OK but by far I have always preferred the “IHT”. Reason: in-depth coverage and a very wide range of articles, from U.S. politics to China issues, over arts, health, name it.

I still have this “poster” hanging in my office of THINK. Many people should read more papers like this, it would ‘MAKE AMERICA THINK AGAIN”. Oh well, wishful thinking…

NYT stops its political cartoons

Well, that is what I call short-sighted and stupid. I loved many of those. Anyway they were not available in the digital online version. Well we still have the China Daily cartoon, obviously not always that memorable. Except like this one of 19 December 2016 where it predicted the current trade war…

See:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2019/06/11/new-york-times-cuts-all-political-cartoons-cartoonists-are-not-happy/

and

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/10/business/international-new-york-times-political-cartoons.html

I love cartoons

I also miss in the NYT digital version the other cartoons like Peanuts. I still have some in China Daily. Funny enough I found out that the same cartoon published in a different newspaper… is not 100% the same.

Peanuts cartoon

As we would say “spot the differences!”

Books are alive

Not the end of print

Contrary to the prediction of many, books are alive, in print.
The year 2018 has been, much to everyone’s surprise, a blockbuster for the publishing industry. Despite the relentless bad news, readers have bought books in droves. Hardcover sales are up, and unit sales at independent bookstores have risen 5%.
But what should be good news for publishers, agents and authors has created headaches during the crucial holiday sales season, as printing presses struggle to keep up with a surge in demand, creating a backlog that has led to stock shortages of popular titles.
The biggest cause of the bottleneck, publishers and agents say, is consolidation and collapse among printing companies.
The printing industry has its own problems, including paper shortages and price increases. And the low unemployment rate has made it harder for printers to hire additional workers.
Surprisingly, some of the current chaos has come about because the publishing industry is not only stable but seems to be thriving. After years of declining print sales, hardcover and paperback editions have been rising recently, while e-book sales have fallen.

The full story

Read the full story here:
23 December 2018 – Bottleneck at Printers Has Derailed Some Holiday Book Sales
The New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/23/books/paper-printers-holiday-sales-books-publishers.html

Alive and thriving, illustrated by cartoons

 

Some consider book readers to be “suspicious” people, as per a French cartoon (“I am worried, he has bad friends… they all read books.”)
And a double-meaning cartoon in French gives the correct message: “This is one of the big pleasures in life… Read a book!” (If you see something else, please consult a psychologist!)
Reading a book is indeed taking a bath in culture and dreaming.
Obviously there are countries where bookshops are closing in favor of more sinister outlets…
And some of the young might be clueless looking at a “book” (with no batteries).