I’ve come across two new eBook venues that not many people are talking about, so I thought I’d share them here.
Set to launch in August, Uncovered Books will initially only be available on the iPad, with support for other devices on the way. It’s called Uncovered Books because listings won’t display book covers. The idea is that readers won’t choose/judge books based on their covers. Uncovered Books will also be a discoverability engine that will suggest books based on each reader’s specified preferences. The lead developer behind the service has experience with designing and developing recommendation engines.
I decided to go ahead and upload one of my books. When I did so, I was asked a bunch of questions about the book, to help the discoverability engine match my book to readers who will most likely enjoy it. I assume that readers will be asked similar questions when they sign up. Since I don’t have an iPad, I haven’t joined as a reader.
Other interesting tidbits about the service:
- Uncovered Books doesn’t accept all books. There’s an approval process. I assume this is to weed out books riddled with spelling mistakes and bad grammar, etc.
- Readers can read the first 20% of your book for free. If they want to keep reading after that, they have to buy it. Authors can opt out of this if they like, but I don’t see why anyone would. If someone reads and likes the first 20%, they’ll probably want to keep reading and will buy the book.
- Books can only be read within the Uncovered Books app. That will be a drawback for readers who like the freedom of reading a book across their devices. Other readers won’t care.
Since you can remove your books from sale at any time, Uncovered Books is worth a look.
Screwpulp is very new and will try to leverage the attraction of free in a different way than usual. When a book is uploaded, it will be available for free until it has been downloaded 25 times. After that, its price will go up to $1. The price will continue to rise along with demand and will eventually cap out (I seem to recall reading that the maximum price will be $9, but I can’t find that info now).
On the reader side of things, the cost of a free eBook is to mention the book on social media. Currently only Twitter is supported, but the service plans to add other social media sites. Once you’ve downloaded a free eBook, you can’t download another one until you’ve at least rated (ideally reviewed) the one you already have. You’re also limited to one free download a day.
The idea is to stimulate ratings and reviews for each book, so that highly-rated books will rise to the top and not-so-great books will sink to the bottom.
It’s an interesting concept, but I’m skeptical. Here’s why:
- My observation is that free only really works if it provides your book with massive exposure when it’s no longer free, which is why KDP Select free days used to be good. Now that free books don’t get the same exposure on Amazon, the sales bump people used to see after a free run is considerably flatter.
- My other observation is that free tends to attract people who are primarily interested in free or cheap eBooks. If new books are regularly added to the site, why would anyone buy a book, rather than just downloading one of the new free ones?
- Readers only have to leave a rating, not a review, so they don’t have to do much to become eligible for another free book.
If a book on Screwpulp is also available on Amazon, there’s a potential price matching problem. I doubt Amazon’s price-checking bot will care about Screwpulp, but if someone reports a lower price at Screwpulp, then Amazon might price match it. So that’s something to consider if you’re mulling over using the service.
I applaud the attempt to do something new, and perhaps Screwpulp will eventually prove my skepticism wrong. I won’t be uploading any books right now, but unless you’re worried about the Amazon price matching problem, I don’t see any harm in uploading a book to try it out. You’ll essentially give away 25 copies of your book and perhaps get a couple of reviews out of the deal.