Go Read This | Penguin and The Economist form partnership | Media | guardian.co.uk

I’ve been wondering why this hasn’t already happened. I expect to see parts of Penguin get event closer to parts of the rest of Pearson as publishing companies shift and adapt under pressure from digital change. The tools of The Economist in particular could be valuable to Penguin as this effort shows:

The Penguin Economist Specials will launch tomorrow (1 March) with five titles priced at £1.99. The subjects include China by James Miles; employment prospects by Matthew Bishop; mobile digital gadgets; the increasing success of video games; and women’s continuing workplace problems.

via Penguin and The Economist form partnership | Media | guardian.co.uk.

Go read This | Jackie Collins to Self-Publish – GalleyCat

Kind of telling how something like this can happen to so little fanfare, discussion or debate:

In our forthcoming So What Do You Do? interview with Collins, she reveals exclusively to us, that within the next three weeks she will release an eBook for The Bitch, a complete rewrite of her previous version of the novel, with a price point of $2.99 or less.

via EXCLUSIVE: Jackie Collins to Self-Publish – GalleyCat.

It’s a real sign that the industry is REALLY changing and that it is the authors that are driving much of that change (as I’ve written about before way back in 2006 and again in 2010).


Why JK Rowling’s New Book Might NOT Be A Boon For Booksellers

I’ve been seeing quite a bit of commentary about J K Rowling’s newly announced book along the lines of the tweet below(1):

The Bookseller also reported some great positive comments like:

Jonathan Ruppin, Foyles web editor, said: “It is clearly huge news, it is the talk of the office already. It will be the biggest selling book of that time, I am sure other publishers will move their books out of schedules to make room for it.

But the truth is there are reasons to expect that the book will NOT be a boost to booksellers. Many reasons in fact, but here are just four:

1) Supermarkets. Like they did with Harry Potter, it seems highly likely that supermarkets will attempt to attract buyers into their stores by selling the new book below cost. Such competition makes such highly hyped titles difficult to sell for independent booksellers and even chains have trouble competing with the likes of Tesco.

2) Ebooks. Well the truth is that booksellers will largely NOT benefit from ebook sales, rather Amazon, Apple and Kobo along with whoever sells the ebook editions will.

3) Online Sales. I suppose the online retailers will do well, but pre-orders, especially through Amazon and Amazon owned sites will probably be the key winner in this space, rather than through independent or chain bookstores.

4) The Economy. So J K Rowling will do well from this but in an environment where free cash is limited the likelihood is that the book will simply change purchasing patterns in the book trade rather than expand the market. Rowling’s big name will attract money and books released around the same time will do less well than they might have with the overall impact being neutral to moderately positive rather than massive. Thus isn’t, I stress, an attack on Rowling, simply the reality of how things go.

All told I’m fairly pleased to see Rowling move past Potter and I think it was wise to move publisher at the same time enabling a proper brand extension. There’s a big part of me hopes that I am wrong, but a bigger part that expects to be right!


(1) And I am not picking on The O’Brien Press here!

The Growth Of The UK Ebook Market

Really fascinating glimpse of the development of the UK ebook business from BML/Bowker (as a teaser for their annual conference in March):

The survey also looks at how the e-book industry fares by genre. The adult fiction market saw spectacular e-book growth in 2011, up from 2.8% of purchases in the four weeks ending 26th December 2010 to 12.5% in the four weeks to 27th November 2011. But again, as e-books are being bought for lower prices, they accounted for only 7.1% of adult fiction spending in the latest period

via Bowker – British Book Buyers are Switching to “e” from Print and Spending Less.

Let’s start with the increase. From 2.8% of purchases to 12.5% of purchases that an increase of 346%.

Not bad going, especially when you consider the report doesn’t include the key Christmas period. That’s the same period by the way that saw Hachette, HarperCollins and Random House each sell over 100,000 ebooks on Christmas Day alone.

That suggests strongly that the 500% increase suggested by at least one UK publisher and referenced by The Bookseller’s Philip Jones in the excellent Futurebook email newsletter:

Were e-book sales in the UK worth £105m in 2011? That was the figure implied by Hachette UK when it stated last week that its e-book sales of £21m amounted to a 20% share of the UK e-book market. Hachette added that its own e-book sales had grown by “nearly 500%”.

We do not know if Hachette’s figure was stated at invoiced or published prices, and whether it included audio-book downloads and/or app sales, but either way it seems unlikely that Hachette’s own e-book growth will not have been reflected in the wider e-book market, meaning a second year of growth at 500%.

Jones has much much more of value in that newsletter this week so I encourage you to go read it. As Jones points out, if that £105m is correct and the market grows at a similar pace in 2012, that would bring digital sales to £500m and around 30% of the market! Pretty impressive growth.

Of course as I pointed our earlier this month, as ebook sales increase the have to overcome larger hurdles to show such large percentage gains. I’m not sure 2012 will deliver that in the UK, but it sure will be fun to find out if it can.


Go Read This | New EPUB spec gives tech companies the edge | Arthur Attwell

Arthur nails it. One of the many concerns I have for small and medium sized publishers is that they will simply lose the technical ability to service large parts of the market should that market start to demand more than just straight forward text:

But for publishers, these possibilities extend the technical skill level required to create market-wowing products. EPUB 3.0 has great bells and important whistles, but you’re going to need actual software-development skills in-house to use them properly. In other words, ebooks just took a big step towards becoming software, rather than elaborate text files.

This is huge for publishing businesses, many of whom are only beginning to get their teams’ heads around reflowable text. Add the need to cost for a software development process to compete in, say, the college market, and you’ve got instant editorial heart failure.

via New EPUB spec gives tech companies the edge | Arthur Attwell.

Sure that’s an alarmist perspective but it’s one worth planning to avoid!


Go read This | For the First Time In History, Print Is Optional. Now What? | Publishing In the 21st Century

Interesting paragraph in a very interesting piece by Richard Curtis:

More significantly, by electing not to print a book at all, these so-called legacy publishers put themselves in danger of losing the very thing that defines them. What profiteth a publisher to gain the world and lose its soul? Today Random House is a completely different species from independent e-book publishers like Open Road.  But by becoming a pure e-book publisher, the playing field is leveled, and the difference between Random House and Open Road becomes simply one of scale.

via For the First Time In History, Print Is Optional. Now What? | Publishing In the 21st Century.

Go Read This | Ebook sales are being driven by downmarket genre fiction | Media | The Guardian

You would be forgiven if you read this piece and thought afterwards that the only print books sold in bookshops were literary fiction and non-fiction and the bulk of them Booker prize winners. Of course we know this isn’t true and just as readers of digital books like their genre fiction, so too do print book readers.

I honestly struggle to see the point of such articles. Shock horror they seem to say, people read the same crap they read in print form in this new digital form:

There is a literary snobbishness at play here, clearly. Reading has always been a competitive sport. Why else would anyone have read Ulysses? Consider those boys who read ostentatious poetry to pull winsome girls; the girls who read Vanity Fair to let the poetical boys know that they are clever and minxy.

The reading public in private is lazy and smutty. E-readers hide the material. Erotica sells well. My own downmarket literary fetish is male-oriented historical fiction histfic. Swords and sails stuff. Im happier reading it on an e-reader, and keeping shelf space for books that proclaim my cleverness.

via Ebook sales are being driven by downmarket genre fiction | Media | The Guardian.