pic from Amazon.com

There are rumours going around that the Kindle Fire will be on sale in France from this Tuesday, 27th March. Amazon has apparently been sending out invitations to various publishers about a mystery event on that day. Presently only the Kindle 4 is on sale in France, so it’s about time we had more choice! Kindle Fire has been doing very well abroad, with sales of 4.7 million since its launch on 14 November 2011. It’s a good little machine for $199 for those people who are looking for a colour ereader along the lines of an iPad.

However, sceptics say that the necessary French infrastructure isn’t there yet in the form of adequate MP3 and video content, and a thriving market in apps. They also point out that the Kindle Fire sells at a loss with Amazon recouping its costs through the content sales – which aren’t there at the moment.

Who’s right? Well, we don’t have long to wait. But one thing’s sure – Amazon will be announcing something important in France on Tuesday. I’ll be listening!

A lot of people are writing about the recent move by PayPal to censor books that appear on Smashwords. Someone in their ranks doesn’t like people buying books from Smashwords that feature rape, incest and bestiality. Frankly I’m not sure that many readers are after these books anyway, but that’s not the point. PayPal doesn’t like them and so has told Smashwords to remove all books with this type of content. Smashwords in turn has had to contact all involved authors, agents etc and tell them to remove their books by Feb 27th.

However, plenty of this sorts of books are available on Amazon. Here’s just one example. Because Amazon doesn’t rely on PayPal, it can sell whatever it likes. Is anyone out there going to get all uppity with Amazon? I doubt it. (And incidentally, this particular book is free on Amazon at the moment. Smashwords also has many free erotic ebooks that don’t enter into PayPal’s realm in any case, but it seems they all have to go too.)

This move by PayPal is absolutely appalling. What makes this company a moral guardian? Who are they to dictate to others what they can and can’t read or write? What’s going to come next? An author who writes Christian fiction has asked what will happen if another PayPal employee decides it’s wrong to include religion in books? What if someone else has a phobia about spiders and bans books about them? It’s a dangerous slippery slope. PayPal is completely unjustified in making this censorship call. It’s using bully boy power to impose its own values on other people.

Shame on you PayPal.

http://www.public-domain-photos.com/travel/paris

It looks the austerity measures announced in France yesterday may give ebooks a boost. Despite the fact that the founder of the fantastically successful Feedbooks is a Frenchman, Hadrien Gardeur, the French haven’t been very quick to take up ebooks. I have my own theory about this. Books from amazon.fr are more expensive than from amazon.com – which is unnecessary and offputting. Being a Kindle owner living in France, I was kindly invited to switch my account from .com to .fr since this would be better for me, apparently. Well, it isn’t. I now can’t get books that are offered free on amazon.com and all the other books cost more. A 99 US cent book costs 99 Euro cents (about $1.20) and others are even more expensive. I’m not impressed and I’m buying most of my books from the brilliant Smashwords.

The official reason for ebook apathy is that publishers aren’t being very enthusiastic about producing them. However, VAT on physical books will be rising from 5.5% to 7% in January, which might help to make ebooks more attractive, for producers and consumers alike.

A last quick word about Feedbooks. This company distributes 3,000,000 ebooks per month. That is mindboggling. And it also offers indie authors the chance to publish their ebooks to be offered free to clients, an offer I shall be enthusiastically embracing as soon as I can.

My three ebooks are currently being downloaded at a very satisfying rate from Smashwords. The later two, The Witch’s Dog and Escape the Volcano, have just had a very nice boost after appearing on www.getfreeebooks.com. That is definitely a site for indie authors offering free ebooks to know about. It certainly gets results. I’m hoping for another significant jump in downloads once the books get onto Barnes and Noble Nook bookstore.

None of the three books have made it as free books in the Amazon Kindle stores yet, which is a little disappointing. I hadn’t realised it would take so long for them to be distributed to Amazon from Smashwords.

However – despite people helping themselves to the freebies, they’re not splashing out 99 cents to buy my other books. At least not yet! As of Sunday evening, 746 copies of good old Oh Gran have been downloaded, but only 24 samples of Oh Auntie and 9 of Oh Grandad. I’ve yet to make a cash sale on Smashwords!

For me it’s not too drastic since these are backlist titles that I’m getting up and out there mainly to build my profile. I’ve already made some money out of these books when they first appeared in print back in Ireland. But I’d be very happy to be earning a little bit of money from them – as I’ve mentioned on my other blog, I need to keep my student son in pasta!

Then again, I’m just happy they’re being read. All we writers put so much effort into our work with the intention of entertaining and/or informing our fellow human beings, it’s nice to think it’s being consumed, hopefully with appreciation. It’s not an economically viable attitude obviously, but I’m not realistically expecting to make a living from my writing. And since moving to France and drastically changing our lives, taking downsizing to ridiculous extremes, we’ve got used to managing on not very much.

Readers are getting used to being able to obtain ebooks for free. It’s now an expectation. I feel I’m getting my name known, and I think that’s what other indies put their faith in too when they make their work available free of charge.  Will it pay off in the long run? Or we all shooting ourselves in the foot by being over generous and over-obsessed with counting our downloads.

Time will tell …

Heather Mayhew’s dad, Ray, has been slaving away for ages writing the ultimate anti-hacker program for computers. Meanwhile, Heather enjoys a happy, spoiled lifestyle. But just as Ray finishes his program, rubbing his hands at the thought of the fortune he’ll make from it, a mysterious company called Domination PLC launches their own version of the same thing – for free. Ray is ruined.
But Heather and her father’s troubles have only just started. The more they find out about Domination, the worst things get. After a journalist who comes to see them is kidnapped, Heather and Ray are forced to go on the run to escape Domination and try to save the world’s computers. However, Ray is caught – so it’s all up to Heather …

Another awesome cover by daugther Caiti.

This is a great adventure story, with a feisty young heroine. Priced at a teeny tiny 99 cents, you can get it from Smashwords here or any of the various Amazons from their Kindle store.

Amazon.com It’s noticeable that since I uploaded the book to Smashwords too, the price came down from $3.74 to $1.43!

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.fr