Amazon

Go Read This | Waterstones turns a corner under Russian ownership – Telegraph

A curious take on Waterstones results:

The new Waterstones-branded Café W coffee shops, which have been introduced in 17 stores, are another driver of the company’s growth. “Book sales are far stronger in the Waterstones shops that have a coffee concession,” said Mr Daunt.

But the company’s partnership with Amazon to sell its Kindle e-reader tablets and e-books, introduced in May 2012, does not a make a “significant” contribution to Waterstones’ revenues, according to Mr Daunt. “Both sides are happy with the partnership, but it doesn’t materially change the business,” he said.

via Waterstones turns a corner under Russian ownership – Telegraph.

Go Read This | John Makinson Interview In The Times of India

Not terribly in-depth, nonetheless interesting. Especially when discussing the challenges of being too large (pointing to the value of imprints in the minds of authors) and responding to concerns about Amazon’s self publishing offering (highlighting in this case the ownership of Author Solutions, something I think indicates a lack of appreciation of what Amazon is doing in the digital self publishing space). Where he offers the most interesting note though is below:

At the time of the merger, you said one of the key areas of focus would be e-books . How do you plan to go about the shift?

We have to be guided by the preferences of the reader or the consumer. If they want to read a book on a smartphone we have to give it to them. It doesn’t make a difference if they are reading a physical book or an e-book . What does make a difference is channel substitution. The move from physical to digital books is not as important as the shift from bookstores to online stores. This really affects the way people find and read books.

via ‘Amazon is creating a large market for books’ – The Times of India.

Go Read This | 10 Things You May Not Know About Ebook Prices — LuzmeLuzme

Fascinating piece on ebook prices in the UK versus ebook prices in the US. Makes you wonder whether it was a good thing for Irish publishers that Irish Kindle readers were offered the chance to switch to Amazon.co.uk rather than Amazon.com for their ebook purchases:

In the UK, there is usually a fierce price war going on between Amazon and some new entrant; currently it is Sainsburys, previously it was Sony and Nook. But there is usually someone trying to buy market share by discounting the price. Previously we had the 20p offer from Sony, now 99p seems more common.

via 10 Things You May Not Know About Ebook Prices — LuzmeLuzme.

Some Thoughts On B&N’s Nook problem

The news from B&N’s Nook division is bad:

The NOOK segment (including digital content, devices and accessories), had revenues of $125 million for the nine-week holiday period, decreasing 60.5% as compared to a year ago.  Device and accessories sales were $88.7 million for the holiday period, a decrease of 66.7% from a year ago, due to lower unit selling volume and lower average selling prices.  Digital content sales were $36.5 million for the holiday period, a decline of 27.3% compared to a year ago due to lower device unit sales and lower average selling prices.

via Barnes & Noble Booksellers.

I’ve got more sympathy for B&N than some, indeed I think we should be thanking it for spending so much of its investors money to discover some important things for us.

For a time it seemed to me that Nook was a success. Perhaps that was naive of me, but it seemed like a good match, dedicated book people selling digital content to dedicated book readers. The lurch towards tablets was probably not a good one, prompted as it was by the iPad and the Kindle Fire, it might have seemed like a fabulous strategy, but in truth (but sadly in retrospect) it was too expensive and too long a game for B&N to ever win against its much better funded and positions rivals.

The big question for B&N is whether there is a profitable ebook and digital content business to be pulled from the mess of Nook. The shocking drop in digital content sells in the holiday period is blamed on two things, lower device sales and lower average selling prices.

Taking those one by one the device sales driving content sales suggests two things which would be clear to anyone looking in on Nook. For too long, the digital content side of the business has been a slave to the device side. Too little effort has been made to open content sales to those without devices, too little effort on gaining ground on smartphones and tablets other than Nooks.

If the digital content side is to thrive then B&N will have to encourage readers to buy Nook content everywhere and anywhere they can connect to the web regardless of device and to do so more easily than they currently can (which probably means rethinking the company’s current DRM strategy). In some ways the failure of the tablets (and note, I laud even what might be termed a failure here. B&N has still sold a LOT of devices) probably makes this a likely development anyway. Hopefully it will be a rapid one too.

The second issue is a bigger one in many ways. Average selling price is falling across the ebook space (or, at least, it would appear to be). Only increased unit sales will make up for that. However, if B&N is suffering more from this problem than others, not even unit sales will suffice to push it along.

What’s more, if unit sales don’t increase in line with the market, B&N will begin losing market share (if it hasn’t already). It’ll have to either increase its stock of exclusive content (which sounds like an impossible task given Amazon’s attractiveness in this area) or get market share back through converting customers of one platform to Nook readers, or grow quicker than the market as a whole, or by slowing down the flood of exclusive titles that Amazon is building somehow enabling them to capture some of that value.

I’ve written several times about the value of the KDP platform for Amazon and how valuable such a platform could be to the other ebook retailers yet how each of them in their own way has relatively closed policies with regard to them. Since I first wrote about this back in 2011, only Kobo has opened up in a real way. We are seeing the power of Amazon’s foresight in this space now. The giant added 200,000 exclusive ebooks through KDP in 2013, a perfectly avoidable situation.

B&N succeeded in selling nearly $4,000,000 worth of digital content a week in the holiday season, which is nothing to sniff at. I just hope it can push harder and increase they sales in 2014 opening up to wider audiences and starting to challenge Amazon’s exclusivity advantage with self published authors, that would be good for the wider industry as well as for itself.

Go Read This | 2014 Publishing Predictions

Jane Little’s 2014 predictions list is wide-ranging and fascinating throughout. One point that I believe warrants mention is below and relates to online communities. One curious feature of the list is that Amazon seems to have got there already with a few points. Perhaps there is a danger of us all-seeing the future of books the same way Amazon see it. That would be unhealthy. In any case, there’s so much in there you’d be best reading it yourself.

Penguin and Random will buy a large reading community.  Right now other than streamlined distribution services, the merger hasn’t resulted in much of a change. Each publisher has its own sales, marketing, editing, and acquisition teams. But data about readers is more important than ever and so is the issue of discovery. Traditional publishers need a community of readers already built. They don’t have the time to create it from the bottom up and their efforts like Bookish and Book Country have been failures.  Their best option is to buy Wattpad or Scribd and given that Wattpad is venture capitalist-backed, Wattpad is the more viable candidate.

via 2014 Publishing Predictions.