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View Full Version : Can you search the kindle store for non-self-published books?



defyalllogic
02-08-2011, 06:20 AM
First of all, No offence.

Is there a feature or cheat or strategy to look at ebooks and know if you're looking at things you'd find in a bookstore rather than someone's first draft?

Now, I don't mean I only want books that have print editions and have e-versions. I mean books that have editors and probably went though the slush pile.

example: Julia Kinight's "Ilfayne's Bane" or Scarlett Parrish's "Long Time Coming"

Is there a way to search amazon's kindle store for ebooks and not have to wade through Attutr Iam's "Boook bye ME!!!" ?

(I acknowledge there are plenty of well done self-pubed books, I'm just not an early adopter when it comes to books. I like to hear about how good it is before trying it.)

muddy_shoes
02-08-2011, 06:46 AM
The short answer no, as far as I'm aware.

The long answer is no, but if experience is anything to go by your question will have people putting popcorn in the microwave.

cameron_chapman
02-08-2011, 07:07 AM
There isn't. I'd say your best bet is to check the bestseller lists, and then view who the publisher is. You can also search and see the star ratings (including how many reviews have been given) before clicking through to the book. While that's not necessarily going to tell you for sure whether something is self-pubbed or traditionally pubbed, it will at least give you an idea of whether something is quality.

Another trick I use is to always check the lowest-rated reviews. That's where you'll hear about things like formatting issues or poor editing.

Steam&Ink
02-08-2011, 07:12 AM
I just went to the kindle store and had a play, with the bright idea that maybe you could sort by publisher (and therefore ignore the blocks in the list which came from only self-pub publishers). But, no can do.

defyalllogic
02-08-2011, 07:13 AM
Cameron - great suggestion.

Steam - same here.

cameron_chapman
02-08-2011, 07:18 AM
Cameron - great suggestion.

Steam - same here.

Ratings are you friend. Plus, with Kindle, at least you can download a sample before you buy. The first 10% should give you a reasonable idea of whether a book is up to your quality standards.

Remember, too, that just because a book is traditionally published does not guarantee it's any good either. :)

muddy_shoes
02-08-2011, 07:27 AM
Filtering by just looking at the star ratings and number of good reviews will only get you so far. Some of the top rated self-published works are excellent examples of the sort of thing I'm sure you're trying to avoid. Checking the number of reviews against the sales rank is sometimes revealing. A book with 50+ five star reviews and a sales rank suggesting that it's selling in the single digits per month range is clearly something to be suspicious of.

It still requires looking quite closely at the individual book page, although a little less work than reading the sample.

defyalllogic
02-08-2011, 07:47 AM
Ratings are you friend. Plus, with Kindle, at least you can download a sample before you buy. The first 10% should give you a reasonable idea of whether a book is up to your quality standards.

Remember, too, that just because a book is traditionally published does not guarantee it's any good either. :)

definitely. I've had to put down a book that had a great story because it was so poorly edited. I'm no expert but something are just distracting and really ruin a story. It was a regular book I picked up at a store. come to find in the amazon reviews, I wasn't the only one who had that issue.

rainsmom
02-08-2011, 08:00 AM
I haven't looked in the Kindle store specifically, but on Amazon, I always check the publisher name. If I don't recognize it, I google it. If it comes up as either a self-pubber or it's linked only to that authors book(s), I skip that book (except for some niche non-fiction).

I check out reviews and check out first few pages too. Agree with the tips listed above.

gothicangel
02-08-2011, 01:54 PM
If you're specifically looking for a certain title, search for the print edition. Then the book's page will say 'this title is also available as a e-book.'

Jamesaritchie
02-08-2011, 02:20 PM
Unfortunately, I haven't found a way to do so, which means I search outside the Kindle store first. It's easy on Amazon.

Jamesaritchie
02-08-2011, 02:21 PM
Remember, too, that just because a book is traditionally published does not guarantee it's any good either. :)

It means it's better than any self-published book you're likely to find and waste good money on.

cameron_chapman
02-08-2011, 04:37 PM
It means it's better than any self-published book you're likely to find and waste good money on.

That's just ignorant.

charmingbillie
02-08-2011, 05:24 PM
I have also started to do my looking outside Amazon (though I still buy the books from Amazon so they will back them up for me) and through the print side. As a reader, I am not willing to pay money to be a slush-pile reader. Some of those books might be good but since I can find more books than I can possibly read without searching through stack after stack of not-good stuff I don't have much incentive to do it.

And I've found the ratings to be not at all helpful.

The search engine ereaderiq.com lets you exclude public domain works (though it's not perfect). There might be a way to tweak the search criteria there, though I haven't spent much time on it.

Sheryl Nantus
02-08-2011, 06:08 PM
And I've found the ratings to be not at all helpful.


This.

I've given up on getting any honest reviews from Amazon for many books because when I see 342 Five-Star reviews.... er, I know the deck is stacked. No matter how much you love a book there's got to be at least ONE person who gives it only four stars.

I've also read about self-pub authors chasing down and erasing anything less than a five-star review because they feel "slighted"... so I generally don't trust any book reviews on Amazon that all say the same thing.

I'd rather see a three or four star review detailing what they liked and what they didn't like instead of "OMG! THis is the BEest book ever!"

:(

Phaeal
02-08-2011, 06:37 PM
I run the same check on any book, print, e-, or self-pubbed:

I read a few pages. Works every time.

:D

Kate Thornton
02-08-2011, 07:50 PM
I run the same check on any book, print, e-, or self-pubbed:

I read a few pages. Works every time.

:D

This.

But also, I pretty much know a lot of authors - both established and emerging - whose works I want to read. And I get lots of good recommendations here and through the lists I subscribe to. I have specialized tastes, too - I love good genre works. I've bought from lots of folks here on this board.

And review sites make it easier, too.

And I don't cheap out on price. I know I'll be paying top dollar for the new Lee Child. But I also know the new Leighton Gage is a bargain.

I love my Kindle - I don't have a problem shopping for well-written books for it. I've always got something good to read.

As to self-published works - one of the best field guides to architecture in a specialized location I ever bought was a self-pubbed book. I think I have an excellent self-pubbed cookbook or two around, too.

For fiction, though, there is a lot out there - if you are willing to do a little homework, you will get an excellent book at a reasonable price.

And of course, I recommend my own - at only $5, it includes compelling stories that have been through the editorial process twice!


..

ccbridges
02-08-2011, 08:37 PM
For such a large service, Amazon's advanced search function is really pretty poor. Like everyone else, I check the publisher info and stay away from most things listed Createspace etc.

Although I've bought at least one set of self-published short stories put out by an author with novels commercially published.

defyalllogic
02-08-2011, 08:58 PM
For fiction, though, there is a lot out there - if you are willing to do a little homework, you will get an excellent book at a reasonable price.

..

yeah, that's the thing though. I don't want to do homework and guess work and advanced stats to find a book. I want it to be as easy as it is IRL.

I could go to individual publisher's sites, but that's completely inorganic to me.

I like the recommendations on amazon. and kind of following leads. OH! do self-pubbed books come up in the recommendations and stuff?

s.m.s
02-08-2011, 09:10 PM
I have this same problem at B&N with my nook. So many self published books to slog through. I try to start my browsing at a price somewhere around $3.99, but sometimes I worry about missing non-self published books that are offered at a super low price. Thankfully B&N highlights discounted books in a separate section but I don't think they feature every available super cheap traditionally published book.

Libbie
02-08-2011, 11:42 PM
(I acknowledge there are plenty of well done self-pubed books, I'm just not an early adopter when it comes to books. I like to hear about how good it is before trying it.)

I have nothing cogent or mature to add to this thread. I just wanted to giggle at this awesome typo.

heeheehee. Self-pubed.

You may now resume serious discussion.

Steam&Ink
02-08-2011, 11:43 PM
yeah, that's the thing though. I don't want to do homework and guess work and advanced stats to find a book. I want it to be as easy as it is IRL.


Yeah, I agree with this. I hope that one day soon the online bookstores will catch up to what readers want - ease of use.

Sheryl Nantus
02-08-2011, 11:50 PM
For such a large service, Amazon's advanced search function is really pretty poor.

It helps to remember that books are *not* Amazon's only source of income. You can buy almost anything and everything you can there, so it stands to reason that they're going to use a search function that'll encompass the wide variety of products. From soup to nuts, it's up there on Amazon.

Which is why I sort of avoid them for books. They're not really a bookstore, they're a sort of online Walmart with everything and anything that'll make cash. I'd much rather give my money to a dedicated online bookstore that doesn't feel the need to advertise fitness equipment alongside the newest releases. But that's just me.

I read somewhere that Amazon was intentionally taking a loss on ebooks in order to corner the market. Which sounds good for the self-pub crowd until you realize that at some point Amazon's going to want to MAKE money.

hmm.

*wanders off, muttering to herself*

Ineti
02-09-2011, 12:00 AM
do self-pubbed books come up in the recommendations and stuff?

Sometimes, yes. I was checking out John Sandford's books on Amazon and noticed some JA Konrath books in the recommendation list. Fortunately Amazon doesn't seem to discriminate between indies and traditional pubbed books, at least as far as recommendations go.

muddy_shoes
02-09-2011, 12:31 AM
yeah, that's the thing though. I don't want to do homework and guess work and advanced stats to find a book. I want it to be as easy as it is IRL.

It's this part that I worry about when thinking of how Joe and Jane Average will start to recognise self-published fiction in the new world of Kindles and Nooks. Their experience so far has been that they look for books in a relatively "tame" shopping environment. There are books that they like and those they don't, but a load of filtering has already been done and there are all sorts of cues available to improve the odds that the book they pick off the shelf is at least in the ballpark of what they might like to read.

Reading samples takes time and energy and if the fishing is bad then people will start to look for ways to put the filters back on, even if they are as crude as "Remove all self-published books" or "Don't show me anything for less than $4".

This whole subject has been on my mind recently and, if you'll forgive the plug, I've started a blog about it from a reader's perspective. The first content post digs into a specific example (http://muddyfictionreviews.blogspot.com/2011/02/problem-what-problem.html) of what a customer can end up seeing in the reviews and the intro post (http://muddyfictionreviews.blogspot.com/2011/02/first-post-and-paq.html) outlines my thoughts on the indie marketing problem.

Sheryl Nantus
02-09-2011, 12:41 AM
It's this part that I worry about when thinking of how Joe and Jane Average will start to recognise self-published fiction in the new world of Kindles and Nooks. Their experience so far has been that they look for books in a relatively "tame" shopping environment. There are books that they like and those they don't, but a load of filtering has already been done and there are all sorts of cues available to improve the odds that the book they pick off the shelf is at least in the ballpark of what they might like to read.

Reading samples takes time and energy and if the fishing is bad then people will start to look for ways to put the filters back on, even if they are as crude as "Remove all self-published books" or "Don't show me anything for less than $4".

This whole subject has been on my mind recently and, if you'll forgive the plug, I've started a blog about it from a reader's perspective. The first content post digs into a specific example (http://muddyfictionreviews.blogspot.com/2011/02/problem-what-problem.html) of what a customer can end up seeing in the reviews and the intro post (http://muddyfictionreviews.blogspot.com/2011/02/first-post-and-paq.html) outlines my thoughts on the indie marketing problem.

good points.

it doesn't help when some self-pub authors decide they're going to be cute and declare themselves their own company, like "Indie U See" listed as the publisher and whatnot. Believe it or not, it's pretty easy to see and find out who's got a legitimate company where they've bought ISBN's and am going through all the work to be a publisher and those who just want a cute name so it doesn't say "Smashwords" or "Pub It" or "Amazon".

Ineti
02-09-2011, 01:10 AM
it doesn't help when some self-pub authors decide they're going to be cute and declare themselves their own company, like "Indie U See" listed as the publisher and whatnot. Believe it or not, it's pretty easy to see and find out who's got a legitimate company where they've bought ISBN's and am going through all the work to be a publisher and those who just want a cute name so it doesn't say "Smashwords" or "Pub It" or "Amazon".

This comment seems remarkably ignorant or elitist, not sure which. Not all self-publishers use a company name to be 'cute'. It can be a sound business decision to self-publish and use a doing business as / dba company name for financial and business reasons.

It's also not difficult for anyone to buy an ISBN. You'll likely need more criteria to use to differentiate self-published and traditional published works than an ISBN number and a publisher name.

kurzon
02-09-2011, 03:19 AM
In terms of finding a particular book, I just search for the book in the main page of Amazon. It will tell me if it has a Kindle edition. [Though I usually check if it's on Smashwords first, because I prefer to own, not rent, my ebooks. More and more established authors are putting out their backlist there, and some small presses seem to use it as well.]

As for the quality question, it's so easy to look at the first few pages these days. If the author is someone you're not familiar with, why not try before you buy?

Admittedly, I now buy in print from Book Depository and I've never used Amazon for random browsing. I get most of my recs from book bloggers, Goodreads, or from the "people who bought this also bought that" lists. But I look up books on Amazon because they usually accrue a lot of detailed description and information there. I ignore star ratings altogether and read the longer reviews because they usually explain _why_ someone liked or didn't like the book.

I've only been burned once recently on a book purchase, and that was a small press book, not a self-published one. Should definitely have read the first few pages of that one before clicking buy...

izanobu
02-09-2011, 03:48 AM
Yeah, I created a publishing company for two reasons: one, because keeping track of multiple pen names for tax reasons is simpler, and two, I intend to publish other authors at some point (probably through anthologies or shared world type things). Neither of those reasons were to be "cute". Though I don't mind being called cute... I'm getting old enough where that is flattering again.

If you want to filter out most self-published books (I won't go into your reasons because I don't care), just filter by price. Many indie published books are 3 dollars or less. Sure, you'll miss bargains that way, but you'll miss decent books anyway just by filtering out indies in general. There are enough books and readers out there that I doubt this will matter much :)

Ineti
02-09-2011, 04:01 AM
If you want to filter out most self-published books (I won't go into your reasons because I don't care), just filter by price. Many indie published books are 3 dollars or less.

Yep; this will help to some degree, though it'll be interesting to see for just how long. Eventually the traditional publishers will figure out that $9.99 and up is far too high a price for ebooks and will start bringing the prices of their ebooks down closer to self-published prices.

EDIT: Might already be starting. A quick look at Amazon's Kindle list shows a bunch of traditional pubbed books at $5.00. Dun dun dunnnnn!

Stlight
02-09-2011, 09:14 AM
I thought Amazon decided on the 9.99 price. I seem to remember a huge 'fight' with the publishers to let Amazon set the price on ebooks. I seem to remember a publisher's books disappearing from Amazon until Amazon got to set the prices. So, it's kind of annoying to see people still blaming the publishers for the prices on Amazon when Amazon played dirty to gain control of the prices.

muddy_shoes
02-09-2011, 09:39 AM
I thought Amazon decided on the 9.99 price. I seem to remember a huge 'fight' with the publishers to let Amazon set the price on ebooks. I seem to remember a publisher's books disappearing from Amazon until Amazon got to set the prices. So, it's kind of annoying to see people still blaming the publishers for the prices on Amazon when Amazon played dirty to gain control of the prices.

It's true that Amazon has fought to control Kindle pricing but they were on the side of keeping prices down (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/01/amazon-macmillan-ebooks-apple), not putting them higher than the publishers wanted. Retailers trying to compete for traffic will always push to have attractive pricing. When they're trying to create a new consumer channel with a level of lock-in they're going to push very hard indeed.

Kate Thornton
02-09-2011, 10:57 PM
Amazon allowed my publisher to drop the price on my book to $5. B&N, too, on the nook version. And they discount the trade paper edition, but that seems to be by some formula with which I am unfamiliar.

I routinely buy $5 Kindle books, but I confess to paying exorbitant prices for stuff I really want ($11.99 for A Lonely Death by Charles Todd, for example, and anything by Lee Child.)

..

Kenra Daniels
02-10-2011, 04:59 AM
It means it's better than any self-published book you're likely to find and waste good money on.

Maybe you're forgetting, or weren't aware, that many established authors are now self-pubbing earlier, traditionally published works when the rights revert to them, for whatever reason. It keeps their earlier works available to new readers, even after the books are no longer available from the publisher.

triceretops
02-10-2011, 05:18 AM
I've always thought that regular Amazon print books that had tons of used copies (second, third vendor?) available for sale was an indication of a book that was really taking off or had sold through a large NYC press. Anybody else notice this?

Here's what's really strange in my case--I have a hardback on Amazon and I'm getting a collection used copy sales, but I have no GD rank yet! The only thing I can think of, it that a bunch of people couldn't wait for the hardback and bought an ARC copy from my publisher. I'll have to ask him about that. Very strange, indeedeedoodee.

tri

Stlight
02-10-2011, 08:46 AM
It's true that Amazon has fought to control Kindle pricing but they were on the side of keeping prices down (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/01/amazon-macmillan-ebooks-apple), not putting them higher than the publishers wanted. Retailers trying to compete for traffic will always push to have attractive pricing. When they're trying to create a new consumer channel with a level of lock-in they're going to push very hard indeed.


I know that was the way it was to appear, that Amazon was fighting for the reader, but the bottom line is that Amazon was fighting for the right for Amazon to put the price that they want on the books.

I believe the publisher's intent was the ebook price match that of the paper versions as they came out. Horrors! let us have 9.99 ebook price when the hardback comes out. Which would have been economically bad for publishers who wanted to pay the people who worked and wrote for them. Everyone got so into that they didn't notice that the publisher's plan was to drop the ebook price to match the mmp price when it came out. So the ebook is now 9.99 and the mmp is 7. And this is blamed on the publisher, not Amazon, which is wrong.

You see, I thought from the beginning that Amazon was trying to and did succeed in getting the right to name prices. When Amazon gets this from all publishers, I suspect the price of Kindle ebooks will go up and then up again.

Stlight
02-10-2011, 08:49 AM
I've always thought that regular Amazon print books that had tons of used copies (second, third vendor?) available for sale was an indication of a book that was really taking off or had sold through a large NYC press. Anybody else notice this?

Here's what's really strange in my case--I have a hardback on Amazon and I'm getting a collection used copy sales, but I have no GD rank yet! The only thing I can think of, it that a bunch of people couldn't wait for the hardback and bought an ARC copy from my publisher. I'll have to ask him about that. Very strange, indeedeedoodee.

tri

I looked into this a little at one time. I know that Alibris buys copies of books as they come out, including self-published ones. They will then put them on the Amazon collectable lists pricing them as high as $40, when the original book cost $12 or less. The ones I found were not ARCs, or special editions, they were part of the lot that the publisher produced, trade paperbacks for $40.

muddy_shoes
02-10-2011, 09:16 AM
I know that was the way it was to appear, that Amazon was fighting for the reader, but the bottom line is that Amazon was fighting for the right for Amazon to put the price that they want on the books.

I didn't say they weren't. The fact still remains that Amazon's general desire is to price books lower than the publishers would wish. If someone is complaining that Kindle prices are too high then it makes little sense to say "well that's Amazon's fault and not the publishers'" as if the pubishers want the prices lower. It makes no sense at all if the prices are from one of the publishers who are setting their own prices on Kindle.

There's nothing new in this battle, it's just a re-run of the Net Book Agreement (https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Net_Book_Agreement) back and forth between powerful retailers, publishers and legislative bodies interested in market competition that occurred in the UK. There too, the main beef was that retailers wanted to discount the publisher prices, not push the prices higher.

Stlight
02-10-2011, 09:49 AM
I was not aware that Amazon had lost the battle to control their pricing of the Kindle ebooks. I htought amazon was opposed to a sliding scale of ebook prices to relflect that of the paper books, higher for ebooks when the hardbacks first hit the shelves, lower when the mmp come out.

I thought Amazon won the fight to price the books as they wish, which for now is at 9.99.

deborahlea
02-10-2011, 09:55 AM
I run the same check on any book, print, e-, or self-pubbed:

I read a few pages. Works every time.

:D

This is my preferred approach. I've come across one or two exceptions, but it's highly accurate nevertheless!

Skye Jules
02-11-2011, 07:15 AM
It means it's better than any self-published book you're likely to find and waste good money on.

Excuse me, but the top book on the Kindle right now IS self-published (children's books), and I know it's pretty high on the list of Kindle e-book bestsellers. It's got good ratings and doing marvelously with sales. Enough to make the NYT Bestseller's List.

defyalllogic
02-11-2011, 08:36 PM
yes, but that and the few other examples are exceptions mostly. I recognize there is good self-published work. and even great and fantastic self-published work. but there are dozens of crap self-published works for each one. (it's easier for someone to bang out crap and toss it on the internet than to painstakingly labor over their book and respect their audience enough to edit and bata it.)

Some one has to Justin Bieber (yes I'm verbing the Bieb) out of the heard and some people have to be the pack and some have to drop the bar so low you have to dig for it. the bell-curve for self-published work is definitely not the same as that for ebooks and print books, no matter how far out the outliers lie.

Why do epublishers have to compete with self-published work. it seems unfair to both them and the consumer because a different standard is set and typical. the typical is really the important factor.

a typical ebook by a reputable epublisher is far more desirable than the typical ebook by a self-publisher. but, alas, there's no way to tell them apart with out jumping through a few hoops....

HisBoyElroy
02-11-2011, 08:47 PM
Download the sample of any work that interests you to your kindle. Takes 2 seconds, even less to determine if the writing is any good. Doesn't matter if it's self-pubbed or not, a sample's a sample. Saved myself a ton of money this way and found a few gems I would have overlooked.

the bunny hugger
02-11-2011, 10:20 PM
If enough customers want to be able to search according to this criterion, I imagine Amazon will find a way to make it possible. Such is the nature of the free market.

kurzon
02-12-2011, 03:28 AM
I expect it will eventually be possible to filter by publisher or something, or perhaps number of books published by a particular publisher.

Though filtering out self-publishers will filter out some of the books by authors like Kristine Kathryn Rusch, whose latest, "The Ballad of Davey Jones" is self-published. She's also self-publishing her backlist, but "Ballad" was rejected by all and sundry and so is a direct to self-publishing book (because there's no market for fiction about musicians, apparently).

I'm afraid I don't see any unfairness in self-published books being part of a list you can scroll through on Amazon. The mere existence of a book in a list doesn't effect TBR piles. If readers don't trust the reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, and find scrolling through lists tedious, then find a handful of book bloggers whose recommendations match your tastes and use them to expand your reading list.