Month: April 2011

A Kindle In Libraries Post

So, no doubt you’ve read this. You should if you haven’t but here’s the gist of it:

Amazon today announced Kindle Library Lending, a new feature launching later this year that will allow Kindle customers to borrow Kindle books from over 11,000 libraries in the United States. Kindle Library Lending will be available for all generations of Kindle devices and free Kindle reading apps.

So much about this adds up to cool news for readers, even if in the medium to long-term it suggests that Amazon is getting a pretty monopolistic hold on the ebook market (something that might have been thought to be waning).

Mike Cane has an excellent post looking at the implications of it all here. He’s got some dynamite in there too.

4) Self-published writers in their right mind won’t give a damn about whether their book is available at the Sony Reader Store, Kobo Bookstore, or Barnes & Noble bookstore. They’re all just dead. While Kobo still has an international edge, as Amazon rolls out into other countries, they’ll just crush them.

5) No one cares what the hell the eBook format is. People just want to read. Only geeks care about whether the file format is Kindle or “universal” ePub (which isn’t universal since Barnes & Noble broke it!). ePub has now become a niche eBook format. The IDPF can take as long as they want with the ePub 3.0 spec. No one cares anymore. Except maybe Apple — who can now hijack the spec until they discard it.

Don’t read just self published authors there by the way. Think small independent publishers too when you see that.

A wise man or woman wouldn’t bet on this being the winning shot in the war for Libraries (though I have my doubts about their ability to survive the transition to digital distribution) but it sure gives Amazon a healthy advantage.

Mike’s a little keener then I am on the death of print, a technology I still have some affection for and suspect has greater reserves of use then is generally expected these days, though in a much less popular form than right now (except maybe for your mass, mass-market cheap titles!), but who knows, he could be right.

I’ll say this though, it is a stab in the heart of bookstores. Way to bring ebooks to the book loving crowds in an easy seductive fashion!

Beautiful April day!
Eoin

Go Read This | Bloomsbury acquires National Archives backlist | The Bookseller

An interesting and sensible move this:

Bloomsbury has purchased the backlist of The National Archives Publishing programme, and entered into an agreement to co-publish a range of forthcoming titles.

The National Archives of the United Kingdom, in Kew, holds more than 1,000 years of government files from Foreign and Home Office records to colonial and military documents, with more than 80 million digitised records.

via Bloomsbury acquires National Archives backlist | The Bookseller.

Go Read This | Rethinking the Future: The Digital Divide

Excellent post, as per usual, from Martyn Daniels on the future of the book. Three nice observations:

The second observation is that digital is different. Many in publishing see it as merely replace the physical jacket with a digital one. Same text, same blurb same stuff. Some want to enrich it by adding more media and make it in effect ‘fatter’, but remains the same story, same stuff.

The challenge is to recognise that digital offers not just more media opportunities but a fundamental change in the amount of content produced, accessible and how it is read. Why do we still continue to produce 300 pages or the print economic model? Why does the work have to be complete? After all the serial story is not that far away? Why do we combine digital and print rights and surely its like combining film and print rights – sometimes relivant but far more the case not.

via Brave New World: Rethinking the Future: The Digital Divide.

Go Read This | E-books overtake US paperbacks

First off, don’t get TOO excited. The figures are very impressive, but they carry some health warnings the three biggest:

  • Ebook sales are undifferentiated whereas print sales are segmented
  • Thess are self reported and not the whole market
  • These may still be seeing post-Christmas loading by new ereading consumers

That said, the market is clearly growing VERY quickly still. Read the whole release from the AAP here.

Sales of e-books in February tripled over the previous year to $90.3m, the Association of American Publishers reported, exceeding adult paperback sales of $81.2m.

A 169 per cent surge in e-book revenues since the start of the year contrasted with a 24.8 per cent decline in print book sales to $442m over the two-month period. February figures showed steeper declines in some print categories, with adult hardcover sales falling 43 per cent to $46.2m and mass-market paperbacks down 41.5 per cent at $29.3m.

via FT.com / Media – E-books overtake US paperbacks.

Another Smart Acquisition By Osprey

Clock this one up to a great real-world play that adds value to an existing portfolio of titles and content while also building on Osprey’s digital potential. Old House seems like the perfect fit for Shire and like some of Bloomsbury’s recent acquisitions the opportunities to create something that extends the brand into digital publishing is very real. Oddly enough too, the acquisition suggests that Richard Charkin’s comments at the ‘Are Publisher’s Relevant?’ debate yesterday about how the new digital age makes strict focus (here’s hoping I didn’t pick him up incorrectly) less important when building list  has a real-life example, Osprey the home of a heritage, a military and a science-fiction imprint!

Rebecca Smart, Osprey Groups Managing Director, said:Old House is my ideal addition to the Osprey family. Weve worked incredibly hard with Shire over the last four years, and with real success, to establish ourselves as a major force in the British heritage market. The addition of Old House, especially bearing in mind our plans to grow and diversify its list, will really help to consolidate our position in that sector.

via booktrade.info – Book Trade Announcements – Osprey Group To Acquire Old House Books And Maps.

Go Read This | Amazon’s profits are small publishers’ losses | Books | guardian.co.uk

I don’t have much time for this argument, if you lose money on sales through amazon, stop selling through Amazon and develop a new model that doesn’t cost so much! That said, it IS a clear illustration of the tough economics of small publishing!

Here are the scary sums:

Amazon takes 60% of my RRP (in the book trade, the bigger the sales outfit, the bigger the discount they demand from the publisher: Amazon 60%; Waterstones 50%; independent bookshop 35%). On a £11.99 book, Amazon’s takings are££7.20. Mine are £4.80.

Out of this comes £2.50 to pack and post the book to Amazon, and the author’s royalties on a heavily discounted book reduced to 50p. My writers lose out on an Amazon sale, too. That leaves 82p for Linen Press, but the book cost £4 to produce. So I lose £2.18 on every sale by Amazon.

via Amazon’s profits are small publishers’ losses | Books | guardian.co.uk.

Go Read This | Go To Hellman: The Public Broadcasting Model for eBooks

This WILL happen for books. IN fact in some ways it is already starting to happen. The key is forming communities of interested audiences. It’s nicely put by Eric though:

The reason this works anyway is that radio has large fixed costs and infinitesimal marginal costs. If the listenership doubles, the costs stay exactly the same. It’s not like book publishing, which spends a lot of money pumping paper through a complex supply chain.

A book can cost a lot to produce, too. An author might devote a whole year to the writing of a book. Let’s be generous and say the author deserves $200,000. There’s an editor, a graphic designer, maybe an illustrator who also work on the book. Add some management overhead, tax accountants, lawyers, and it’s easy to get over $300,000 in fixed costs, and we haven’t even started promoting, printing and shipping the book. Many books, of course are produced for much less money. Some authors don’t get paid a cent.

via Go To Hellman: The Public Broadcasting Model for eBooks.