Episode 149 – PayPal, Scout Leaderboard, and RIP Shelfie

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Question of the Week: Which of these three stories will have the most impact on Indies’ bottom line over the next few years: the Radish payment model, the Kindle Scout Leaderboard system, or PayPal integrating with Amazon and why?

We’re one episode away from the Big #150, and to celebrate, we covered the latest news, including Amazon’s potential integration with PayPal and the end of Shelfie. After thanking their patrons Taking Charge, The Secret Blush, and 31 Days of Wisdom, Jim and Bryan tackled tips on paid marketing, switching genres, and going wide with audio. News stories included Smashwords expanding its library offerings, the new KU-like program Radish, changes to Kindle Scout on the reader side, the end of Shelfie, and how PayPal could change the way Amazon customers buy books. This week’s Question of the Week: Which of these three stories will have the most impact on Indies’ bottom line over the next few years: the Radish payment model, the Kindle Scout Leaderboard system, or PayPal integrating with Amazon and why?
What You’ll Learn:
  • Which strategies succeeded and which failed for one author’s book promotion
  • How authors can switch genres and live up to reader expectations
  • How indies can expand their audiobook reach with Author’s Republic
  • How Smashwords authors can get their ebooks into libraries
  • How Radish differs from other short serialized fiction startups
  • What new ways readers can get involved in the Kindle Scout Program
  • Why Shelfie has closed its business and how readers can save their ebooks
  • How readers may be able to buy kindle books with their PayPal accounts


Question of the Week: Which of these three stories will have the most impact on Indies’ bottom line over the next few years: the Radish payment model, the Kindle Scout Leaderboard system, or PayPal integrating with Amazon and why?

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  • CE Martin

    Answer of the Week:

    I think Paypal on amazon will have the biggest effect. Anything that makes it easier for folks to shop on Amazon is great. As Jim explained, people will be more likely to spend Paypal money, than “real” money. Particularly folks who can’t get a credit card or don’t want one. I’ll be interested to see if this results in more $.99 sales, or higher priced books.

    • Bryan

      Great points, CE. I think it should definitely lead to more low price book sales if it happens!

  • “Library people fall into the category of people who don’t want to have to pay for content.”

    I realise it’s a generalisation, but I just wanted to comment that most library people I know are also quite happy to buy books. My siblings and I are huge library fans, but we also spend small fortunes on buying books, both ebooks, paperbacks and hardcovers. For me I love libraries for trying out an author I’m not familiar with. If I like them I’ll often just buy the books afterwards (often time also the book I just read from the library) because I like reading books that I know haven’t been someone’s go-to toilet read. Especially as I like reading in bed. Now I mainly read via my kindle because I live overseas and don’t know when I’ll move again. And again, because I’m overseas, libraries are nice because I can read books I’ve already spent money on but couldn’t bring with me. So in short, I’m not someone who uses libraries because I don’t like spending money. As I said, I realise what you said, Jim, was a generalisation, but I wonder how many other library people out there are like me and DO like buying content when they can afford it.

    I think Bryan might have mentioned this recently—about having a link in the books in libraries for people to go to to sign up to ones mailing list. I’d be really interested if you could get a copy of your book done specifically for library purchase that leads to a landing page solely directed at libraries. So when people sign up there they get tagged (if you’re using a mail program that allows tagging) as library readers for tracking purposes. Same for ebooks in libraries. I don’t know the library purchasing system well enough to know if that’s possible, but it’s something I’ll definitely look in to down the track.

    • Bryan

      Thanks for the personal observation, Dan. Yeah, I would love to do a library book with an email list link in there. Who knows if they’d let this happen though :).

      • Yeah, it’d be interesting to know if that might fall under the same category Jim was talking about with libraries potentially worried about losing customers.

        • Bryan

          Yeah, it’s likely such a practice would be frowned upon.

  • Dave Haslett

    Question of the week: it’s got to be PayPal. Amazon should have offered it as an option years ago. I absolutely agree with Jim – money in the PayPal account doesn’t feel like real money, so you’re not bothered about spending it on things you’re unsure about. I look forward to a significant rise in book sales when this goes ahead. 50% of buyers on my own website use PayPal. The other 50% use credit/debit cards. Unlike Amazon I’ve offered both options from Day 1 (and I opened in 2002).

    Libraries: it makes sense to let them have book 1 in each series. I’d even let them have it for free. It’s the same as having a permafree offer on other sites. I would think twice about letting them have any other books in the series though. One of my print books (standalone nonfiction, not series) is available in a handful of libraries in my county – one of them I donated for free and the others they paid full price for. I don’t think there’s been any benefit to me from having them there – though it’s impossible to measure it. (Although my mother sometimes proudly points it out to her friends if she’s at the library with them and the book isn’t out on loan.)

    I have discovered new authors via the library and have gone on to buy their other books. It doesn’t happen that often these days though. I download a lot of Kindle freebies and have bought other books in the series as a result. But I usually only pop into the library to use their free wifi and quiet room while the family goes shopping. I haven’t taken a book out of the library for years.

    (What was up with the audio this week? Hope it’s fixed for Ep 150!)

    • Bryan

      That was my mic taking a mental health day. It’ll be fixed by next week. Thanks!

  • I’ll go with Paypal integration with Amazon. It has a global impact where the other two are much more limited in user scope.

    • Bryan

      Great point on the global impact. Thanks!

  • Laura Martone

    Glad you were back this week, Jim. I love Bryan, of course, and think he did a terrific job on his own – but the show is never the same without you both together, playing off each other, and sharing your advice, analysis, and experience with the rest of us! As for the QOTW, I’d love to be a contrary, but I have to go with the majority here… The possible PayPal/Amazon integration would definitely have the biggest impact on indie publishing. As Jim pointed out, PayPal cash often seems like “fun money” – and people (my father-in-law included) often use their PayPal moolah for luxuries and impulse purchases. So, just imagine how affordable inexpensive ebooks will seem to someone with PayPal money burning a hole in his/her virtual wallet! (Cue the evil grin and greedy twitching fingers of Charles Montgomery Burns!) P.S. I know your mic was being temperamental, Bryan, but it sounded like you were recording the show on the “El” – and it made me homesick for Chicago!

    • Bryan

      I agree! It’s awesome having Jim with me. Hehe, I’d love to do a show on the El :).

  • Daniel Martone

    The low hanging fruit would be to choose the Paypal story… BUT, I think the idea of people having money to throw away money, in their Paypal accounts is a thing of the past. Only small time ebay sellers keep the money in their accounts. Larger sellers and other businesses typically transfer funds to their bank accounts. On the other hand, Radish represents a paradigm shift to shorter, more digestible fiction. We are a society of people on the go, looking for quick entertainment before we move on to… SQUIRREL….

    • Daniel Martone

      If Jim has earned 40% of his income over the last ten years, utilizing Paypal, my guess is, the majority of those funds were transferred.

      • Bryan

        Yeah, I’m guessing a good portion would be transfers as well. Great point!

    • Bryan

      Great point, Dan!

  • flatscreenface

    Y’all seen this? Read to the end, it surprised me. http://forums.webfictionguide.com/topic/radish-fiction/page/2

    • Bryan

      Interesting FSF. We’ve talked about Radish a little. Not Qidian so far. We’ll need to look up an international Qidian service and find a recent story. Thanks!

  • flatscreenface

    and this: http://www.kboards.com/index.php?topic=228198.0
    Qidian are starting an international service in (your) spring

  • A couple of things: In terms of library usage, I read a lot of eBooks from my local library. They check out through Amazon, so every time I finish an eBook, I get a “before you go” screen that asks me to rate the book on Good Reads. I also get Amazon emails asking me if I want to purchase a book once the loan period is over and recommendations from Amazon based on what I’ve checked out. So, I can see how Overdrive through Amazon like my library does it can drive sales.

    Kindle Scout: Where I see the publisher stats being useful to writers is that if I have a book up in Kindle Scout and I want nominations, I might start looking at Scouts who have high publish rates and solicit them to nominate my book.

    • Bryan

      Good point on those Kindle Scout rankings. Thanks, A!