Month: August 2011

The Opportunity Apple Just Created For Publishers

Apple did book big book publishers a favour some time ago when, by giving the big six leverage over Amazon (with the launch of their new ebook platform iBooks), they enabled those large publishers to enforce Agency pricing for ebooks.

That gave the big six the power to set prices and extract a higher share of the revenue from their sales then had been the case for print books. It was a major moment in the development of the ebook market and one that has received a lot of attention and, at least from within the industry, a lot of praise.

Apple’s more recent decision to enforce tough rules on in-App sales of content has been less popular. It has forced Amazon, Google, B&N and Kobo among others in publishing and other creative industries, to change their Apps to disable links to their ebook or content stores. Further it made it impossible for an ebook retailer to sell an ebook through the Apple in-App purchase system without giving 30% to Apple. Nasty eh?

The opportunity this created and that everyone missed , even me (till this weekend when it dawned on me), is for publishers to go direct to consumers and launch their own apps selling ebooks to readers.

Think about it, ebook retailers cannot make money from selling ebooks via Apple’s in-App sales because their margins simply won’t stretch that far. In the case of Agency titles they would be losing money, even on self-published works they might be losing money. However, a publisher, selling direct through their own app, or even a branded app in partnership with a number of other publishers in a given genre, could easily afford the 30% charge and even an administration charge too so long as it was kept low.

Apple has shifted the economics of the App-economy to disintermediate the distributors and empower the content producer. Sure, in doing so they have gained power and revenue potential for themselves, but they have created an opportunity for a savvy publisher who has a brand that readers identify with.

It’s interesting that no-one has written about this yet. I suspect that might be because some of them are working on just that kind of app …

Fine evening here,
Eoin

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Go Read This | Will print and ebook publishers ultimately be doing the same books? – The Shatzkin Files

Mike Shatzkin looks at the current realities of ebooks and print books and what is happening. I think we are only a few months shy of encountering the kind of events I describe here, at least in the US:

In fact, the current improvement in the profit picture suggests that the big houses have done a remarkably good job of managing the transition from print to digital so far. What is implied by the reported numbers, but receiving little attention, is that print sales are down pretty dramatically. Print runs are down with one trade house telling me that their midlist non-fiction first printings having typically declined by 40%. A larger house suggested that the print being shipped from their warehouse is down 35% in less than two years. I’m not close to the numbers but that might mean that for segments of their list shipments are half what they were less than two years ago.

Smaller press runs mean higher unit costs for printing and binding but they also mean fewer units are sharing the cost of design and page make-up. Many of the fixed overheads in publishing houses: warehouses, production departments, catalog creation, and lots of IT, are really only necessary to support the print component of the business. For the past two decades, commercial success in book publishing and, as the demise of Borders has made clear, in book retailing depended on an efficient supply chain. Being in stock but not overstocked, shipping quickly, being able to get fast turnaround on reprints, processing returns promptly to facilitate collecting accounts receivable, and providing accurate data to accounts as well as to internal stakeholders all require investment but generate value that shows up in

via Will print and ebook publishers ultimately be doing the same books? – The Shatzkin Files.

Go Read This | Agents have to do it, but their new service offerings change the publishing ecosystem – The Shatzkin Files

Interesting note from Mike Shatzkin this:

Many of the agents, but not Waxman with Diversion, are specifying that their services are only for existing agency clients. That’s a good way of putting a toe in the water and it’s a good way to minimize the concern of publishers. But it’s not likely to last as the policy for any of them that do this kind of work successfully. If their ebook publishing services actually work and the business is shifting in that direction, why would you turn down an opportunity that came from outside the client base. Why would you turn down the opportunity to offer the same suite of services to all the clients of some other agency that doesn’t want to build this themselves? (That’s an opportunity almost certain to arise for all of them.)

Publishers are also working on self-publishing services. Distributors have been noodling for some time about packaging these services for agents. Knight has promised to do a lot, including a substantial per-book investment, for 15% of the revenue. Are any of these other players now going back to the drawing board to reconsider their pricing? I would think so.

via Agents have to do it, but their new service offerings change the publishing ecosystem – The Shatzkin Files.

Go Read This | Push Pop Press Acquired By Facebook

I’m not certain what this means, but it is damn interesting that’s for sure.

“this is one of the most elegant, fluid, impressive apps you’ve ever seen. It’s a showpiece for the new world of touch-screen gadgets.”

Now we’re taking our publishing technology and everything we’ve learned and are setting off to help design the world’s largest book, Facebook.

Although Facebook isn’t planning to start publishing digital books, the ideas and technology behind Push Pop Press will be integrated with Facebook, giving people even richer ways to share their stories. With millions of people publishing to Facebook each day, we think it’s going to be a great home for Push Pop Press.

via Push Pop Press — About Us.

Exclusive: Indie Author Michael Wallace Signs 5 Book Deal With Amazon | David Gaughran

Fascinating post over on David Gaughran’s blog from Michael Wallace on why he signed a deal with Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer imprint:

My sales accelerated from a handful, to a bunch, to hundreds and then thousands. I sold over 20,000 books in April and nearly that many again in May. The Righteous climbed as high as the Top 20 on the overall Kindle Store.

A funny thing happened. Agents and editors started querying me. Most of the interest was in The Righteous, a series of thrillers set in a polygamist enclave. It was the same series that had been shopped already and had nearly been picked up for good money before everything fell apart.

What had seemed risky a couple of years ago, now seemed like a sure bet, with tens of thousands of sales to prove it. I had an agent already, and I decided to concentrate on the interest from Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer imprint.

via Exclusive: Indie Author Michael Wallace Signs 5 Book Deal With Amazon | David Gaughran.

Ebury reveals Less Ordinary digital list | The Bookseller

There’ll be a lot more of this, or at least you’d hope there will be, as publishers look to profit from their existing content in more ways. This is a pretty good example of what an established player can do with a bit of application and thought:

Ebury has launched a digital imprint, initially focusing on abridged versions of Eburys narrative non-fiction titles, called Lives Less Ordinary. Deputy publisher Andrew Goodfellow is behind the new range of digital shorts, which has begun by releasing 10 titles. The titles will be from 3,000 to 20,000 words, and will be priced under £1.99 on a sliding scale, according to length.The launch titles comprise How to Understand Paul Gascoigne by Danny Baker, How to Win the Worlds Greatest Road Race by Mark Cavendish, How to be an NYPD Drugs Cop by Edward Conlon, How to Hunt an LA Gangland Killer by Miles Corwin, How to Seduce Marilyn Monroe by Tony Curtis, How to Escape a Taliban Ambush by Paul Grahame and Damien Lewis, How to Become an Internet Billionaire by David Kirkpatrick, How to Survive on Tour With a Rock Band by Stuart Maconie, How to Live Forever by Sue Nelson and Richard Hollingham and How to be a Modern Man by Danny Wallace.

via Ebury reveals Less Ordinary digital list | The Bookseller.