ebooks

Go Read This | Smashwords: 2014 Book Publishing Industry Predictions – Price Drops to Impact Competitive Dynamics

Mark Coker continues to be one of the smartest and most insightful thinkers on ebooks, what they mean and where they are going. His predictions post for 2014 is interesting but this point in particular strikes me as very relevant:

Ebook growth slows – Here comes the hangover.  After a decade of exponential growth in ebooks with indies partying like it was 1999, growth is slowing.  We all knew this day was coming.  Year over year growth of 100% to 300% a year could not continue forever.  The hazard of fast-growing market is that it can mask flaws in business models.  It can cause players to misinterpret their success, and the assumptions upon which they credit their success.  It can cause successful players to draw false correlations between cause and effect.  Who are these players?  I’m talking about authors, publishers, retailers, distributors and service providers – all of us.  It’s easy to succeed when everything’s growing.  It’s when things slow-down that your mettle is tested.  The market is slowing.  A normal cyclical shakeout is coming.  Rather than fear the shakeout, embrace it.  Let it spur you on to become a better, more competitive player in 2014.  Players who survive shakeouts usually come out stronger the other end.

via Smashwords: 2014 Book Publishing Industry Predictions – Price Drops to Impact Competitive Dynamics.

Making Frenemies: Kobo, Easons & Ebooks In Ireland

20131030_192630Easons, which once had ambitions to launch its own ereader, has joined forces with Kobo. The deal will see Easons selling Kobo devices in its 60 stores and has attracted little negative comment unlike Waterstones deal with Amazon last year. In fact it seems, so far, to have been pretty universally welcomed in the Irish trade.

Easons has, despite the aforementioned ambitions, chosen the path of least expense with regard to making its ebook offering credible and coherent. That meant, although its e-store concept was attractive, it was selling several different brands of device and its ebook platform was off the shelf and was not always as smooth as possible. What’s more its options were somewhat limited. Tesco has been selling Kindle ereaders since before last Christmas at prices well under €100 and Amazon has spent hundreds f millions making those devices and the ecosystem surrounding them, very user-friendly. The Waterstones Kindle match-up has sat oddly with the trade, the deal has also put Kindle ereaders and tablets in front of readers in many places. So Easons has been faced by deep pocketed rivals and the most likely platform partner already pretty much wrapped up with rivals.

We don’t yet know how successful this move to partner with Kobo will be. Easons is still offering Sony ereaders from its website (on 2nd November) and Kobo’s ebook offering not yet live through the retailer’s website either. Even so, Kobo has launched a new consumer facing ebook site for Ireland which will surely power Easons ebook store when the partnerships rolls out properly. The site’s not perfect yet, for instance, I can’t yet find out where to but one of the company’s tablets in Ireland yet, but that’s an easily resolved issue.

Irish facing stores are a rarity in the ebook space, on Kindle, users must choose between buying their ebooks from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. While the process is fine and workable, it still presents pricing challenges and means picking out Irish bestsellers can be hard. Apple offers an Irish facing ebook store but there’s every indicator that sales through the store have been relatively low.

The bigger question for me is what will all this mean for ebooks in Ireland. The last year or so has seen most Irish publishers begin to take ebooks very seriously with some publishers quietly indicating that digital sales are no accounting for double-digit percentages of units sold (though often a lower percentage of revenue given the disparity in price). The best indications I’ve seen suggest that while fiction is the leader, there are some fine performances  in non-fiction too and that backlist is proving its worth yet again.

“One in five books sold on Easons.com are ebooks”

Interestingly, Conor Whelan, Easons MD, said at the launch of the Kobo/Easons partnership (which took place at the launch of Kobo’s new Irish offices, itself during the Dublin Web Summit) that: “One in five books sold on Easons.com are ebooks” a fact that sailed over many people’s heads, but struck me as a very nice nugget of information. It indicates that Easons is doing much better at selling ebooks on its own than we might previously have imagined, thus suggesting the Kobo partnership might really drive ebook take up and sales in Ireland if it can connect with readers.

I’m intrigued that the offering will include more that just the ereaders. Kobo’s tablet offering is really quiet good (in the non-iPad league that is) and at €149.99, the Kobo Arc 7 will provide Easons with a reason to get non-readers in the door that the ereaders on their own simply will not. In fact at that kind of price point, the tablet may well be the most attractive part of the device line up.

Kobo has found a strong partner to grow mind-share and market share in Easons. It does have a very large presence on the high streets of Ireland as well as an impressive brand and awareness in Irish readers mindsets. The company also runs highly successful media campaigns in the run-up to Christmas and ereaders and tablets will be a leading gift category yet again in 2013 and ebooks still have lots of room for growth in Ireland.

The problem is that Kindle is dominant and massively so, and will not be pushed aside  easily. It will require a by a determined new brand and dogged execution both on the device side of things (which means hoping Easons can deliver) and on the ebook sales and promotion side of things (which means work for Kobo and its staff).  It does seem to me though that even if Kobo only manages to build a secure second player position, it could be to both its and Easons advantage. It the companies can make it work, we might begin to see the kinds of percentages that the US & UK have been seeing over the last year or 25-30% units being sold in digital form.

Here’s hoping!

Putting Things In Perspective | E-book sales data, the truth is out there | FutureBook

The Bookseller released publisher sourced data on ebook sales. There’s reason to be somewhat skeptical of the information in the sense that it is seller supplied and while non-one is saying it, there is the minute danger that some padding or exaggeration could creep in. However, the reality is that these figures are probably a very good approximation of where sales are in the UK (with the caveat as The Bookseller notes, that self-publishers are not represented*):

The basic numbers are clear. The data shows that the e-book market for traditionally published digital books is much bigger than previously thought, with estimates suggesting that a total number of 65 million e-books were sold in 2012, representing a value of about £200m – at least double what it was in 2011 in volume terms more than double. That would mean the overall book market grew in 2012, despite spending on print books falling £74m.

via E-book sales data, the truth is out there | FutureBook.

To put that in perspective, Nielsen released figures for the 2012 calendar year in Ireland that put sales at “a total of €123.4m and 11.5m units in 2012.”

Even allow for the fact that the Nielsen numbers for Ireland are widely seen as covering maybe 80% of sales, we can assume fairly happily that Irish print sales were well less that €150m and 15m units at the retail level.

Which when you think about it means that the ebook market, just for the UK is already bigger than the entire print market in Ireland. There’s no reason an Irish publisher cant attack that space aggressively and with relevant ebooks just as well as a UK based publisher.

What’s more, even if we assume a smaller growth rate for that digital share (say 10 or 20% in 2013) the market will STILL be larger than the Irish market and the space for growth is STILL more significant that that for most Irish publishers in print form.

Publishers committed to print or still unconvinced by digital sales, the alarm is ringing and you’ve pressed snooze once too many times, ignore it once more and the alarm will stop warning you and you’ll sleep through this change!

 

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*They’ve also excluded some 20p bestsellers. Which I find a little odd, but I can see where they were coming from. Personally, I would have included them.

Go Read This | Digital Lending, In Agreement | PWxyz

Awesome, in so many way:

This purchase is an example of the Smashwords Library Direct program, which allows libraries and library consortia to purchase large numbers of self-published titles in a streamlined and automated fashion using whatever selection criteria they see fit; additional large library consortia, such as California’s Califa, are expected to follow DCL’s suit. Smashwords permits its authors and publishers to set their own library prices using a web-based pricing tool; the majority of its participating authors have opted for library prices at below-market levels, reflecting the premium value they place on library exposure and promotion.

via Digital Lending, In Agreement | PWxyz.

Go Read This | The E-Reader Revolution: Over Just as It Has Begun? – WSJ.com

Think of it like the horseless carriage! I think that line about the real innovation is where it’s at:

“The real innovation in e-readers has been giving consumers a convenient way to buy books, wirelessly, without even having to use their computers,” says Sarah Rotman Epps, a Forrester Research analyst. “Giving consumers a digital storefront right in their hands, that’s what really made e-readers a phenomenon.”

But tastes and technology have moved on. People haven’t stopped reading. They are just increasingly likely to read e-books on tablets rather than e-readers, according to a recent Pew Research Center report. The polling firm found that 23% of Americans said they had read e-books in 2012, compared with 16% in 2011

via The E-Reader Revolution: Over Just as It Has Begun? – WSJ.com.

Go Read This | Why 2012 was the year of the e-single

Much noise and heat generated by short ebooks (the kind of which, TheIrishStory.com has been selling for some time). Laura Hazard Owen’s piece over at PaidContent gets to the heart of it:

They don’t cannibalize other formats. It’s nearly impossible to find a magazine that will run a 10,000-word story these days (much less a magazine that will run your 10,000-word story — even if you’re a professional journalist). Many of these stories simply would not have been published in print, and that’s not because they’re not good enough. They just weren’t quite a fit for magazine or book publishers. Now the projects can come to light, and journalists who might once abandoned these stories because they weren’t sure how to pitch them can make a little money off them.

via Why 2012 was the year of the e-single — paidContent.

Go Read This | Appearing At Harrogate – The Plot Thickens

In which an author serves a publisher:

So I explain to Ursula – and the audience – that I can write a short story in five days and am happy to sell that at the Amazon minimum of 72p which generates me an income of 25p. At this point Ursula – who runs one of the biggest publishing houses in the UK –  asked me “so you’re happy to work for 5p a day, are you?”  The audience laughed and clapped, and I was frankly gob-smacked.  I couldn’t understand why they hadn’t seen the fallacy in her comment. She was assuming that I spent five days writing a story and then sold one copy. She can’t possibly have believed that, could she?  Of course I don’t work for 5p a day.  My Inspector Zhang stories sell about five or six hundred copies a month. Each. So one story sells 6,000 copies a year. So over the next ten years it could sell 60,000 copies which means I’d get £15,000, which is £3,000 a day and that’s probably more than she gets paid.

via How To Make A Million Dollars From Writing eBooks (or How I Learned To Love The Kindle): Appearing At Harrogate – The Plot Thickens.