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Piers Karpinski May 7, 2016

Areobooks 2.0 is here!

Over the last few months we’ve been updating and improving the site.  We hope you like it!

In the first blog post for the new site I want to return to the beginning and talk about what areobooks is, why we’ve created it, and what you can expect to find on our blog and in our newsletter.

Areo-what?

Areobooks is a platform for authors and readers to meet, read and connect.  As we say in our manifesto, the relationship between authors and readers is primary and our aim is to help it flourish.  Of course, other relationships in the book industry are helpful – provided they add value.  At areobooks we’re always striving to add value.

The areobooks vision focuses around two words: control and simplicity. 

Control because areobooks gives authors control over their content, no strings attached.  Like I said, areobooks is a platform.  Areobooks gives authors the tools; how authors use those tools is up to them!  Every author gets their own Author Page, which is their central hub on the site.  Author Pages belong to their authors and authors control what appears there.  Check out the Author page for more details.

Simplicity because the best ideas are the simplest.  One area where this is borne out is our straightforward approach to pricing.  Areobooks doesn’t charge any fees and authors get paid immediately.  This means authors get a greater share of the money spent on their ebooks.  And we think that’s great!  We also have a royalty calculator so authors can see what they’ll earn from each sale.  Check out the Pricing and payment page for more details. 

In fact, we’re really excited about our approach to pricing, which stems from the belief that authors should earn more from their books.  My next post will discuss pricing in more detail and ask whether the current models for ebooks are fit for purpose.

Areo-why?

It’s all in the name!  Our name shares its first four letters with Areopagitica, a tract written by John Milton in 1644 at the height of the English Civil War.  In it Milton attacks traditionalists and complacent people who are afraid of change and debate. Areopagitica is among history’s most influential and impassioned philosophical defences of the principle of a right to the freedom of speech and expression.  Written over 350 years ago, a lot of Milton’s ideas continue to resonate today.  For example, Milton says that Truth will triumph if she’s freed of constraints.  Put slightly differently, progress is fastest when ideas can move freely.  Stories are fantastic conduits for ideas and important agents of progress.  I know that sounds rather grandiose, but the point is this: it doesn’t matter whether you’re writing Harry Potter, War & Peace or The Martian; it’s all part of the flow that moves us forward.

Books are a great catalyst of progress and so is the internet.  Combining the two has obvious benefits for everyone.  But these benefits aren’t being realised.  Not yet, anyway.  Other things have got in the way – egos, balance sheets, corporates, capitalism, status quo, whatever.

The book industry is emotional.  The reaction to Amazon opening its first physical bookstores and rumours that it will open hundreds more is a great illustration of this.  Amazon sells books.  Those who create books should be delighted that hundreds more bookstores may open in the near future.  And many are.  But many aren’t.  The simple fact that the topic is so divisive is revealing.  I won’t go into detail here (a couple of posts specifically on Amazon will follow this one) other than to say that something isn’t working as well as it should.  It got complicated.

It feels like a huge opportunity is being missed and the end loser is everyone.  One of the many reasons it’s important to find a solution is because, as Milton puts it, “The light which we have gained was given us, not to be ever staring on, but by it to discover onward things more remote from our knowledge”.

Stand on the shoulders of giants.  Not to enjoy the view, but in order to climb higher.

That’s what areobooks will do.  Areobooks will help authors and readers to meet, read and connect, and in so doing will help books and help progress.  We want to add to the debate, to shake things up.  I’m not saying we’re going to be the next Amazon, Waterstones or Penguin Random House.  That’s not what areobooks is about.  It’s not what we’re primed for.  But we are going to keep those guys honest and challenge the principles on which they operate.  And that feels like a good thing.

Areo-blog?

The purpose of the areobooks blog and newsletter is to provide you with our latest news and views and to start conversations on the biggest topics in the book industry.  Like I said, areobooks is London based, so there’s likely to be a UK/European flavour to what we say.  However, given the global nature of the internet and books, what we talk about will have a broad relevance.  Here are some of the blog posts we’ve got lined up:

  1. How print thinking continues to dominate ebook retailers
  2. 5 reasons why Amazon is the best.
  3. 5 reasons why Amazon is the worst.
  4. The European Union, Brexit and Value Added Tax.

Also, I’m an author.  My efforts to date haven’t been great, but I’ve started working on a novel that I’m really excited about.  I want to share that journey on the blog, so expect to find posts about writing too.

Above all, this blog is a forum where everyone can discuss and debate.  Ultimately, we’re all pulling in the same direction; working together we can make a big difference.