Vook will let you build hundreds of great looking eBooks – but we want to help you sell them too. There’s no better way to show off our sales reporting tool than to let you watch your titles take off.
We’ve carefully tracked the performance of every eBook we’ve released. We’re using that wealth of data to inform how we build our platform – but we wanted to give you a taste of it in advance.
So we’ve written a white paper. You can download it now – if you join the Vook beta. It explains how we generated more than 300,000 Amazon downloads. It includes the tactics, the numbers and how you can recreate our success. Author D.D Scott also shares how she drives more than 5,000 sales a month with similar methods.
To get it, just sign up for the Vook beta here: http://thanks.vook.com/
You’ll be able to instantly download the paper. And you’ll be able to join the Vook beta — which is launching soon!
Another great thing about eBooks — because you can carry thousands, you’re never stuck if you realize a book you’re reading isn’t great. I put new books to The Dennis Cooper Test, ie, if a book’s losing me, I’ll switch to a Dennis Cooper novel instead. Sentences like “Chris’s shock was so dense and complex that it collided with the world’s very different complexity, sort of like what happens when a very strong light hits a very big jewel” connect with me in a way even obviously good books can’t if they don’t have that ambiguous extra thing that makes them exceptional.
The latest book failing the DC Test is Russel Bank’s Lost Memory of Skin. Which bugs me because I want to like it, but I can’t get through it. Before eBooks, I would have finished it. Instead I’m halfway through and probably won’t get farther. Which I think is great. It’s like a gift of time. I can put my mental finger on what’s missing from Lost Memory because I can switch to another book and be engrossed again. I’ve got a “what I want a book to do for me” point of immediate comparison. And why would I settle when I know what I could have? So I wait til I’m off the subway, get back on Kindle, go looking for the next book that might deliver that experience, stop time, do whatever really great books do for me. Today I brought We Are the Animals.
Real quick: Why don’t I like Lost Memory of Skin? I want to. But it reads like the book/author is telling us the Internet is doing bad things to us. Like the book’s trying to make a point, talk right at us. I’d rather read Dennis Cooper because the voice comes from inside a head that’s convincingly rendered as having a problem. The Banks characters seem like people who have a problem — but some other guy is going to tell you about it. That’s too … essayistic? To pull from the top: Lost Memory of Skin is a really strong light. I’m looking for the strong light and the big jewel both.
Tl;dr: eReaders are awesome because you can face off new books against your favorites. I just did it and the new Russel Banks lost.
REMEMBER TO SIGN UP FOR OUR BETA AT HTTP://VOOK.COM
When it comes to enhancements, book lovers like to say they work fine for non-fiction, but fiction’s off limits. Enhancements dumb down books, are destructive, spazzy, distracting. I think that’s the accepted argument. Dark secret — I don’t really get it.
Enhancements can work fine in literature. In some cases they may even improve a book, which is the kind of statement that could get me banhammered in digital and real world book salons alike.
It’s not conjecture though. Great books are being produced right now with enhancements. Such as … People Still Live In Cashtown Corners, by Tony Burgess. It’s a 201 page novel from ChiZine Publications, released in 2010. I read it on the Kindle App for iPad.
The book tells the story of gas station clerk Bob Clark’s apparently unprovoked killing spree in rural Cashtown Corners, culminating with Clark barricaded in the home of a family he’s murdered. Sounds grim? It is! But it’s also smart, tricky, brainy, entrancing. I was hooked by the first two paragraphs, which read like Robbe-Grillet doing a Thomas Bernhard impression. I’m a sucker for Robbe Grillet and Bernhand so mashing them up? Mr. Burgess, where may I subscribe to your newsletter?
I thought it was a plain text book—but it’s got a twist. Halfway through, I swiped from one page to the next and had a shock. SPOILER: Burgess has embedded an image purporting to depict a crime scene from Clark’s rampage. The photos show grainy, real-life scenes that push into reality in a way I didn’t expect. The next few pages then shift without explanation to pictures of a crude World Trade Center art project one of Clark’s victims was building in school.
The pictures expand the previously hermetic universe of the novel, forcing you to connect events real and imagined, staged and actual, drawing imaginary lines between crime scene photos we’ve seen on the Internet and TV, the perpetrators behind them, the victims in them. They make a strange book stranger but also stronger, like the suddenly illuminating digressions in a Chris Marker film.
It’s art. Good art. Not emotional art. But art that did something to my brain I didn’t expect. I enjoyed it. I had an experience. I remember the experience more strongly than I remember reading the Family Fang, which I liked, but which was about people trying to create the feeling Burgess actually inflicts on you in the eBook version of Cashtown.
And I’d claim that these photographs wouldn’t work in a print version. I’d be able to tell by the change in the paper consistency and the glimpse of a darker line from an illustrated page that some kind of picture was coming. The element of surprise would be gone. And it’s the surprise and the shock and the smooth transition from text to image to image to image that makes your brain speed up while simultaneously trying to slow down and work out connections. Which creates vertigo. And tension. And a strange powerful sense of unease and displacement.
That’s one example of a piece of excellently effective enhanced literature. There are more. There will be more. But for everyone who claims enhancements can’t work in literature, I say: Enhancements can work fine – you just aren’t reading enough books.
Tl;dr: You might not like enhanced ebooks but there’s an awesome arty one that works with some creepy pictures. Also, Stone Arabia, the narrator wishes it had a video in it, at one point! DANA SPIOTTA WRITE ME!
Our One Year Anniversay
It’s the homepage of the iBooks store. And that’s our 90-Second Fitness Solution Vook.
On his blog today, Seth Godin announced that his latest Vook, Linchpin, is on sale in the iTunes store.
He also reflected on the challenges of the iTunes model, or what he calls, “the long tail challenge of the iPad store.”
But, once again, the lesson of the long tail is this: you can’t count on the gatekeeper to do your promotion for you. Getting picked feels like a needle in a haystack, and the value of permission, of connecting directly to people who care instead of ceding control to a middle man, is at the heart of building an asset. Someone is going to be the gatekeeper, and it should be you.
Last week, we got homepage affection from Macmillan’s online dictionary when they dubbed us (and defined us) as a “buzzword.”
Next stop: The OED.