Kindle Unlimited’s algorithms have prompted some e-book authors to cash in on specific terms or cover images. This is a modern twist on an old practice of following on the tails of paper bestsellers.
The fight over #Cockygate, as it was branded online, emerged from the strange universe of Amazon Kindle Unlimited, where authors collaborate and compete to game Amazon’s algorithm. Trademark trolling is just the beginning: There are private chat groups, ebook exploits, conspiracies to seed hyperspecific trends like “Navy SEALs” and “mountain men,” and even a controversial sweepstakes in which a popular self-published author offered his readers a chance to win diamonds from Tiffany’s if they reviewed his new book.
A record-breaking year for publishers has been greeted with renewed demands for authors to receive a bigger slice of income and investment, as sales of books passed the £5.7bn mark in 2017. Book sales were up 5% on the previous year, according to annual figures released by the Publishers Association. In sharp contrast, a recent survey of authors’ earnings revealed a 42% drop over the last decade, with the median annual income now below £10,500.
The boss of the Publishers Association said any tariffs or other barriers to trade post-Brexit “could be a problem”. His warning came as the industry body reported record sales of £5.7bn in 2017, up 5% on the previous year. Exports rose by 8% to £3.4bn, to account for 60% of total income, consolidating the UK’s position as the biggest exporter of books in the world.
Avid readers of novels know that they often take the perspective of the characters they read about. But just how far does this mental role-playing go? A new paper in the Journal of Memory and Language has provided a clever demonstration of how readily we simulate the thoughts of fictional characters.
In September, one of the world’s most important library positions was assumed by Dr Carla Hayden who became the 14th Librarian of Congress. In an interview with Time she identified the significance of her appointment as ‘Being the first female and the first African American means that the legacy of the 14 Librarians of Congress will include diversity–and also a female in a female-dominated profession.’ She is a former president of the American Library Association who has not been shy of conflict: she kept her library open during the Freddie Gray protests in Baltimore in 2015 and opposed the government’s collection of readers’ records.