Go Read This | Bill will end low prices for new Hebrew … JPost – National News

Wowzers! How crazy is this?This makes publishing Hebrew Books pretty uncompetitive. How does all this work with ebooks?

The bill also states that for the first 18 months authors will receive a minimum 8% royalty for the first 6,000 books sold, and royalties of at least 10% for all books sold after that number.

For the next seven years, publishers will be obligated to pay authors at least 16% royalties on profits from their books.

via Bill will end low prices for new Hebrew … JPost – National News.

Go Read This | Barnes & Noble, Taking On Amazon in the Fight of Its Life – NYTimes.com

B&N has, it seems to me, a pretty good sense of what it is doing in the digital space. What’s more, because it is converting heavy readers to digital reading it is gaining pretty credible market share. That is leading to some significant changes in the company. I was struck by the paragraph below while I read this rather good piece on the shift in The New York Times:

In one room, a virtual wallpaper of Nook color devices hangs in rows neat as a checkerboard. A common area holds a foosball table and a cooler of VitaminWater. Some of the walls are made of silver-colored mesh. Some of the cubicles are lime green.

via Barnes & Noble, Taking On Amazon in the Fight of Its Life – NYTimes.com.

Sounds like Google or Facebook or a dozen other tech start ups no?

Go Read This | How Barnes & Noble Can Take a Bite Out of Amazon « The Scholarly Kitchen

Easily the smartest piece I’ve read so far this year. What’s more I think it’s so good it’ll hold that title until the end of the year too. This just a flavour:

I don’t believe that B&N has fully tuned into the economics of working in a network environment. For all the talk of the democratization of the Internet and the Long Tail, network economies tend to be winner-takes-all. Amazon is fast approaching a position where it becomes a virtual monopoly like other tech giants before it — Microsoft with Windows and Office, Facebook with social networking, Google for Web search, and Apple (through iTunes) for music consumption. All of these monopolies reach a plateau at some point, where other products and services begin to restructure the paradigm (e.g., the role of Cloud computing and mobile telephony in eroding Windows’ base), but while the party lasts, it is one heck of a profitable ride. It is far more urgent for B&N to prevent Amazon from reaching that point than it is for B&N to strive to achieve that point itself. B&N should be hell-bent on destroying the e-book paradigm, not on trying to control it.

via How Barnes & Noble Can Take a Bite Out of Amazon « The Scholarly Kitchen.

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.

Bookshops, You Have Three Choices

It is becoming increasingly clear that bookshops, both chains and independents, are the first segment of the trade book publishing industry to face wrenching decisions that amount to bets on survival in this digital transition.

Publishers, agents, authors, wholesalers and many others all need to respond and some have already made significant efforts to do so, but it is clear that bookshops are the facing the full thrust of this change right now.

The way I see it bookshops have three choices:

1) Bet On Digital
Betting on digital means much less emphasis on real bricks and mortar locations. In order to win in this space you’ll be taking a leaf out of Barnes & Noble‘s book and building a real platform for content that provides self-publishing access AND access for traditional publishers direct to your platform and be shifting readers to your platform in your store(s).

Waterstone’s looks like it is about to embark on this strategy by launching its own device next year, I fear it will be too late. Barnes & Noble is two years into this strategy and is well on the way to building a convincing platform with a significant share of the US ebook market. They could still fail, which only goes to emphasize the importance of acting quickly.

Make no mistake about this choice, it means closing bookshops and shedding staff and soon. It’s a hard choice for chains because up until recently floor space devoted to print books were hallmarks of success. That is no longer true.

Smaller chains and independent book stores are faced with an impossibly high barrier to entry here, their own device is an excessive cost, as is creating their own platform and I don’t see a real way for them to pursue this strategy unless they can develop a loyal customer base for a curated ebook offering. It’s not an impossible prospect, but it will be damn hard for them to take this option.

2) Bet On Retail
This is perhaps the hardest decision for a bookseller to make because in essence it involves admitting that the product that to date has defined your business, books, is no longer the most important aspect of your business.

It seems to me that WH Smith has decided that its focus should be on retail, that its retail space can be best used to sell anything and perhaps over time that means fewer books and more of the other things it sells. If that is the case, then being in the digital book business is a distraction not an essential element in its future, hence the Kobo Deal.

By working with Kobo, Smiths leverages the book portion of its business to gain revenue and to sell devices while shifting its actual in-store focus towards products that deliver more revenue and profits. The company may feel some regret about that but as a retailer it will have to be unsentimental and profit driven. The flip side of not developing its own platform and device is a significant investment saved for another opportunity.

On balance, I think it’s probably the right decision. Either ebooks take off and WH Smith must replace a large section of their product line up OR ebooks plateau and what has the company lost?

I suspect that here in Ireland Eason is following this strategy, but the signs could point either way.

3) Bet On Print
By betting on print, bookshops will be making the assessment that they cannot compete in another retail space (or that they choose not to) and, as I suggest above in 1, they simply don’t have the resources to compete in digital.

Nothing about betting on print prevents a bookshop or a chain from doing a deal with an ebook platform to sell a device and provide access to an ebook library. That will bring some revenue but it won’t  (in all likelihood) be enough to replace the revenue lost to most bookshops of falling print sales.

The bet here is that YOUR bookshop or chain will the lucky one. The one with just enough customer loyalty, just the right location, just the right level of population density, just the right amount of print loving readers, just the right range of books in the right formats and at the right prices, just the right amount of business nous and just the right amount of marketing know-how to rise above the other bookshops hoping the same thing.

Sadly, some bookstores probably most of them will lose this gamble. Many will lose because of bad luck or poor location, nothing to do with how good a bookstore or a bookseller they are which is a slightly depressing reality, but one we should face.

The winners may well do pretty well because although the overall market for print books shrinks, they will have an increased share of that market and also because the market for print will change most likely towards higher value books.

There’s a final choice of course, which is to do nothing and keep on rocking. I don’t hold out much hope for survival for those who make that choice.

Go Read This | Amazon in Talks to Launch Digital-Book Library – WSJ.com

Amazon has told publishers it is considering creating a digital-book library featuring older titles, people familiar with the talks said. The content would be available to customers of Amazon Prime, who currently pay the retailer $79 a year for unlimited two-day shipping and for access to a digital library of movies and TV shows.Amazon would offer book publishers a substantial fee for participating in the program, people familiar with the proposal said. Some of these people said that Amazon would limit the amount of books that Amazon Prime customers could read for free every month.

via Amazon in Talks to Launch Digital-Book Library – WSJ.com.

Go Read This | Amazon to Acquire The Book Depository – Yahoo! Finance

UPDATE: According to a tweet sent this afternoon, the copany will retain operational independence from Amazon.

http://twitter.com/#!/bookdepository/status/87876554142658561

Congrats to the Book Depository team. I guess this is a case of, ‘How do you know you are doing something right? Amazon acquires you!’

It’s hard to know what the play is here. It could be any of:

1) Increasing UK and European exposure
2) Building a better position in Australia
3) Defensive market-share building

Or any number of other things. There must be some worries about competition approval, at least in the UK, with this.

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN – News) today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire The Book Depository International. The Book Depository is an online bookseller offering over six million books for delivery worldwide.

“Customers in more than 100 countries enjoy The Book Depository’s vast selection, convenient delivery and free shipping,” said Greg Greeley, Amazon’s Vice President of European Retail. “The Book Depository is very focused on serving its customers around the world, and we look forward to welcoming them to the Amazon family.”

Amazon to Acquire The Book Depository – Yahoo! Finance.