Publishing

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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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.

Go Read This | Repro buys printing operations of Macmillan India

Coming on the heels of their decision to offload MPS, this suggests that Macmillan are very keen to concentrate on publishing, at least in India. It’s funny though, it’s almost as if they were tidying up their look for something.

The acquisition, which includes MPIL’s printing operations in Chennai, with a deliverable capacity of about 6 million books annually, would strengthen Repro’s foothold in the South Indian market.

Commenting on the deal, MPIL Managing Director Rajiv Beri said: “Printing is not our core activity and we would like to focus on publishing growth. This is a strategic decision which will further consolidate our investments and energies in development and delivery of quality, need-based content.”

via Repro buys printing operations of Macmillan India.

Go Read This | Book Trade Announcements – Bloomsbury Acquires Continuum

Another incredibly sensible acquisition by Bloomsbury and yet another that pulls them further away from the territory of a strict trade publisher. Good for them:

Bloomsbury’s strategy has been to increase its proportion of academic and professional revenues compared to trade revenues through retail channels. The current strength of the Groups academic sales compared to consumer sales vindicates this strategy. Academic revenues are more predictable and have lower related costs of sale with resulting higher margins, and are much less reliant on retail bookshop sales. Around 60% of Continuums sales are outside the UK, thereby increasing Bloomsburys exposure to the global book market. Through this acquisition, for the first time, Bloomsbury will have an academic editorial and marketing team in the US. Bloomsbury has an excellent track record in exploiting digital opportunities; this acquisition will enable us to develop Continuums 7,000 strong backlist through conversion to e-book formats and the creation of new subscription based academic services.

via booktrade.info – Book Trade Announcements – Bloomsbury Acquires Continuum.

Go Read This | The impact of 20 chain stores closing every day (via Front of Store)

A great piece by Philip Downer on the troubles facing even successful High Street retailers at the moment in strategic AND tactical terms.

The impact of 20 chain stores closing every day The Guardian has published the following story: “Chain retailers closing 20 stores a day” Their figures come from the Local Data Company, which estimates that 4,000 shops have closed down so far this year.  Whilst this is not a number netted against store openings, it nevertheless represents a massive change that is affecting every high street and mall in the country. It takes quite a lot for retail failures and job losses to become big news.  Th … Read More

via Front of Store

Go Read This | Pan Mac launches Compass for digital backlist | The Bookseller

Interesting stuff from Macmillan. Looks like folks at the higher levels are seeing potential for backlist, frontlist and all kinds of digital lists. I guess it’s never too late:

Pan Macmillan has launched a new imprint to bring backlist titles to readers as digital editions or print on demand titles.

Macmillan Compass will be managed by fiction publisher Jeremy Trevathan and digital director Sara Lloyd. The publisher said the imprint will establish exclusive publishing partnerships with agents, literary estates and other rights holders. It said digital pricing across all formats will be “competitive”.

via Pan Mac launches Compass for digital backlist | The Bookseller.

Monza, The Frankfurt Book Fair & A Sunny Athlone

So here’s some cool news and it comes in two parts.

The first is that I leave on Sunday for UNESCO’s World Forum on Culture and Cultural Industries, Focus 2011: The Book Tomorrow: the Future of the Written Word in Villa Reale di Monza, Lombardia, Italy. I’m very much looking forward to it. I’ll be rapporteur for a panel on Blog Vs Newspaper.

The second thing is that the same event marks the kick off of my association with The Frankfurt Bookfair’s English language blog. Starting after the conference when I’ll be blogging about copyright in the digital age (a major topic of discussion at the event), I’ll be adding blogs on the topics of rights, licensing and digitization, key concerns of the Fair.

I’m really excited by the link up and I hope folks will join me over there when I post.

In the meantime, it’s the Friday of a bank holiday weekend in Ireland and I’m leaving Dublin for the evening, heading to Athlone to watch Clockwork Noise.

If you are going, I’ll see you in Monza, if you are not, I’ll write all about it over here.

Enjoy the weekend,
Eoin

PS: Yes, that picture IS of the building where the forum happens!
PPS: Here’s a night-time shot just for fun!

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Top – AttributionSome rights reserved by ezioman

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