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The Cheapskate’s Guide to Acquiring Audiobooks

Before I instruct on the surprisingly simple art of acquiring audiobooks in a remarkably monetarily efficient manner, let’s get 2 things out of the way.

1. This post presupposes that you don’t need to purchase a particular book at a specific time (e.g., as soon as it comes out). For example, I have 700+ books on my To Read least in Goodreads, so reading a new book by an author (even one that I really like), is not something that I generally do. I actually plan the books I’m going to read a year in advance (call this obsessive if you like, but I do allow myself to deviate from that plan. I just like to have goals and I’m a slow reader, so if it’s important to me to read a book, then I want to make sure I get to it). Okay, so if you can also wait patiently for a Twitter or Facebook or email announcement that an author or their publisher has discounted one of their books, then you’re halfway there.

2. The second prerequisite is that you prefer audiobooks to the exclusion of almost anything else. For me, this is more out of necessity than anything else. If I’m going to sit down with my iPad or my Kindle Paperwhite (or any other eReader), it’s almost certainly because I’ve got a technical or programming book that I need to (and sometimes even want to!) get through. So in order to “read” fiction books, I have to make use of times when I’m cleaning the floors, or weeding, or mowing the lawn, or even just walking to work.

Okay, so, given that you’re still reading, or skipped over that part to get to the goods… It’s really quite simple.

Cheap Audiobooks

Say, for example, that you – like me – have heard good things about Starship Eternal, so you head to Amazon to check it out…

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If I was in Kindle Unlimited, I could read the Kindle edition for free, so that’s probably the ultimate cheapskate way to do it. I have a “shipping only” version of Amazon Prime that I got because someone “shared” it with me, so as long as they keep paying for full Amazon Prime, I get my Prime shipping but no Amazon Instant Video nor Kindle Library nor Kindle Unlimited nor anything else. Plus, remember, I’m a slow reader who relies on audiobooks anyway, so the Kindle edition, while the cheapest option at $3.99 is going to cost me reading time on other books that don’t even have an audiobook. (Can you imagine Java 8 in Action in audiobook? Spoiler Alert: It’s not going to work.)

But the audiobook version is $26.95 (or $14.95 if you subscribe to Audible). That’s a big difference.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to close the gap…

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Wait – does that really say “Add Audible Narration for $2.99” when you buy the Kindle edition?

Indeed it does.

And $3.99 + $2.99 is much less than $26.95. Less than $14.95 too. In fact, it’s more than 55% off the Audible subscriber price!

And that’s really all there is to it. I’ve done it for 10 different books now and the only consequence is that I’ve got a lot of great audiobooks to read.

Here’s another even more extreme example:
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You can get The Winds of Khalakovo for $2.98 vs $29.95 for the Audible edition by itself.

And just to clarify, this isn’t just for author’s who are offering these books themselves (independently published). I’ve bought Perdido Street Station, Blackbirds, and No Return like this. If you go check right now, all of those are a lot more expensive, but since we’ve already assumed that you don’t need to buy one of them right now, you can wait until the author or publisher decides to throw a discount your way and then go take shameless advantage.

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The Valkyrie Project is free on Amazon!

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It’s no April Fool’s joke: From March 30th through April 3th, The Valkyrie Project is free, as in beer (and who doesn’t want free beer?)

If this is the first time you’ve heard of The Valkyrie Project, here’s the back cover synopsis:

Men in a black hovervan grabbed Ana’s brother off the skywalk as she took him to school. That was sixteen years ago, but Ana hasn’t let it go. It doesn’t help that their parents left her to fend for herself. And it definitely doesn’t help that Memo still sends her cryptic messages from, well, somewhere.

Ana took the job at the US Intelligence Agency so she could use their resources to find Memo. Unfortunately, that also means she has to work for them.

So when a shadowy organization know as the Continuum starts going after the people that the agents of the Valkyrie Project are supposed to protect, Ana finds herself facing down technology decades ahead of its time, as well as questionable decisions the Agency has made.

She understands that there’s a lot of classified material in the Agency, but when those secrets include modifications they’ve made to the only man she’s ever considered falling in love with, Ana has to decide where to draw the line.

Does she want to fight an elusive, exceptionally well-armed enemy for a government that treats its employees like drones? Or does she really just want to find her brother?

After you get your free copy, don’t forget to add it to your To Read list on GoodReads!

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Kindle Pre-Orders for Self-Published Authors

Just as we call out Amazon when they do something stupid, so must we praise them when they do something smart. Just after their “Let’s all send nastygrams to the CEO of multinational corporation” email, Amazon followed up with this:

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I think the email there pretty much says it all. I know this is something that self-published authors have been asking for since Amazon first started letting them publish via KDP. I’m guessing when KDP started, Amazon assumed that people would just throw up pre-order pages and then never deliver a book. They’ve taken care of that by requiring that you upload at least a draft version of your manuscript in order to have the pre-order page created.

I know I’ll be using this when I finally get Valkyrie Project 2 edited! 90 days seems like a good goal date… Maybe I should go upload the first draft right now. 🙂

Stop Using Your Authors As Leverage

In which Amazon asks its KDP authors to use themselves as leverage to tell Hachette to stop using its authors as leverage. (The content of that page was also emailed to all of Amazon’s self-published authors this morning)

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I mean, I know there’s a lot of confusion and argument over how to use the word “irony” properly (I’m pretty sure I don’t know), but if literally can mean figuratively, then I’m pretty sure this is the precisest example of irony that I’ve ever seen.

Chuck Wendig theorizes that maybe one of the microservices over at Amazon has gained sentience and posted this of its own volition (among other things – his post is well worth reading, though NSFW). I think it’s also just as likely that this was an April Fool’s prank posted on the wrong date (and emailed to all KDP authors just to really get the LOLZ).

Seriously. Come on, Amazon. You are literally asking people to email the CEO of a huge multi-national corporation and then copy you on it so you can then report on the number of people who decide to support you. I haven’t seen that kind of strategy since middle school (though I think it happens in high school and even higher education, but I made a point to purposely distance myself from people who pulled that kind of BS). I guess with adults it’s a little bit more like…

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and some of this…

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Don’t get me wrong. I love Amazon. I buy books there because the Kindle Paperwhite is really nice and it also syncs with my iPad and iPhone (better than any other booksellers apps). I buy all kinds of other things there too, because SHIPPING. I’ve ordered something on a Saturday night and had it delivered on Sunday. Delivered on SUNDAY.

But Amazon has already won the eBook pricing collusion case. What they’re talking about now is straight up legitimate capitalism. If Hachette wants to charge a certain price for their eBooks, then you either charge that price or you don’t sell that product. And if their eBooks are so over-priced, then aren’t they just going to go out of business because of that unsustainable practice? And once Hachette publishing has been swallowed up by the black hole of its own hubris, won’t the authors who provide the content of their books simply take their new content to a different publisher? Maybe even to Amazon? So… it just doesn’t make sense to me when I look at it from Amazon’s Economic Powerhouse perspective.

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(And don’t try to tell me it’s because Amazon cares about authors making more money – that’s the most transparent attempt at favor currying that I’ve ever seen. If there are authors out there who buy in to that, I’ve got this awesome book-based start-up that I’m taking investments in. It’s gonna be HUGE!)

It also doesn’t make sense if I look at it from the perspective of a self-published author. If I have decided not to publish with Hachette or any of the other Big Guys (almost said Big Five Guys, but that would be a tremendous insult to Five Guys… so good…), then why would I want Hachette to be more competitive? Why would I say “Hey Hachette, because of your decision to sell eBooks for $14.99, you’ve opened up an entire market for self-published authors to sell their books at, well, anything less than that. Can you stop selling your books so expensive now so that people will want to buy more of your stuff and less of my stuff? Thanks.” Why? Why would I do that?

I had an analogy in here, but it was kind of weak, so let’s just leave it at that. I have a competitive advantage. Why do I want someone who keeps shooting their self in the foot to stop and instead aim their gun at my head?

I’m seriously tempted to write to Hachette and ask them to please continue selling their eBooks at high prices so that I will continue to have the opportunity to self-publish and sell my books to people who are looking for something that doesn’t seem so outrageously priced. I wonder what readers-united@amazon.com would think of that…

Meanwhile, now all I can think of is Five Guys and curry. Wouldn’t that be delicious?

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Digital Book Day!

Shameless-ful self-promotion follows…

Digital Book Day

I’m putting The Valkyrie Project up for free as part of the Digital Book Day organized by CJ Lyons.

I know that I’m going to download at least a few of the books that are already being advertised on there, and since I have a book that I can give away for limited periods of time (at least until I put out the second one and get them both into other eBook markets), I figured I could submit and promote (for what little it’s worth).

So, from July 13th until the 15th (2014), The Valkyrie Project will be free on Amazon. Tell your friends! And tell them about Digital Book Day too… an easy way to jump start an eBook collection or find some new indie/underground authors.

Some call the ability to publish digital without any sort of corporate representation (of any size) the “eBook revolution”, so it is very fitting that this first Digital Book Day coincides with France’s Bastille Day. Even more so since I will be celebrating this Bastille Day in France! #terriblehumblebrag

No go forth and download!