Month: November 2011

Go Read This | Taking aim at e-books with a brand-new series « News from the Mill

Damn smart move from Collca, but then that Mike Hyman is a smart man! Best of luck to him and Collca:

Diversifying its electronic publishing business from just Apple iOS apps, Collca has just launched its first e-book series called In the Footsteps of…. with three initial titles. This series of bitesize e-books covers favourite authors and people from history or fiction.

via Taking aim at e-books with a brand-new series « News from the Mill.

Go Read This | Can WH Smith defy gravity forever? | Business | The Guardian

Love this piece, and not just because I agree with EVRYTHING written there. No, I like it because it’s the kind of clear-eyed analysis that is sometimes lacking when people write about bookshops and the book industry (I’m a  victim of this fault myself).

But mottos are one thing. Common sense also says that no business can suffer declining sales indefinitely without running into problems. Take a look at those like-for-like sales statistics on the high street side since 2005-06. The run has been: minus 7%, minus 6%, minus 3%, minus 6%, minus 4%, minus 6% and, if current trends hold for the rest of the financial year, minus 6%.

A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that, on a same-store basis on the high street, WHS is selling roughly £68 for every £100 of custom seven years ago. Surely that spells trouble one day: running up the down escalator is not easy.

via Can WH Smith defy gravity forever? | Business | The Guardian.

Kobo: Publishing, Self-Publishing And Getting Bought

When Kobo announced that they were planning on becoming a publisher I meant to write  a post that said something to the effect of:

That makes sense, in fact it’s essential to their survival. What’s also essential is that they open their publishing platform to writers, and allow them to self-publish their work just as Amazon and B&N do.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble are having considerable success for a variety of reasons, but an important and, I think, underplayed aspect of that success is built on allowing authors to access their platforms.

In many ways, Kindle has become the international ebook platform of choice for writers because it has been the easiest platform to self publish through.

Other platforms have made it difficult to do the same, for instance you MUST use a mac to access the self-publishing abilities on for Apple’s iBooks (seems crazy to me). B&N, despite attractions, has Byzantine rules about providing US Bank Accounts, US Credit Cards and US Social Security Numbers before being allowed self-publish and the only other viable route to it and other markets are via Smashwords (lucky for Smashwords who do a great job) or one of the more expensive aggregators.

I suspect that if you are going to try the ebook market as a way to sell your work and Amazon make it easy (and they do) then you will push their system to your readers helping to spread the word of Kindle rather than the word of ebooks in general.

Of course you could counter by saying that it’s the quality that matters and so we deal with top publishers. That’s fine, but, I suspect, wrong.

Then I read, with some surprise I must admit, that the company (Kobo) has been sold. I hope for Kobo’s sake that the change in ownership doesn’t result in a change of priorities.

I want them to unveil their self-publishing platform and fast. The battle for position in the ebook market is really fierce and while as I argued many moons ago Ebooks Are A Cul de Sac, right now they are the most interesting game in town. Any delay for Kobo\s plans means another chance for Amazon or B&N to sneak a march on them. If B&N’s flagged move out of the US happens soon, you can expect them to ease the restrictions they place on foreign self-publishers opening an easier route to market for many writers*.

It seems clear to me that not having an open and easy to use system to facilitate self publishing is now a damaging and foolish business decision for an ebook platform.

Great chat today with interesting people!
Eoin

* I should add that the KDP is also a godsend for many small independent publishers like my own The Irish Story.

Go Read This | HarperCollins’ Acquisition Of Thomas Nelson Is An Investment In Digital | paidContent

You should read the full piece, but I don’t buy the logic. HC would be far better off spending considerably less on a decent design/code house that would bring expertise inside or even in buying the time of an outside house in full than attempting to integrate a large publisher facing all the same issues it faces itself to acquire digital innovation know-how. Two better reasons present themselves for this move, the first, content acquisition and lots of it and the second defensive market consolidation.

HarperCollins is acquiring Christian publisher Thomas Nelson—publisher of the mega-bestselling Heaven Is For Real—for an undisclosed sum in a deal that will be finalized by the end of the year. Thomas Nelson has been on the forefront of experimentation with digital publishing, and HarperCollins is buying not just the company but also that digital experience.

via HarperCollins’ Acquisition Of Thomas Nelson Is An Investment In Digital | paidContent.