e-publishing

Making Things Happen: The IPN Premium Annual Report On Irish Publishing

This series is designed to talk about some of the things I’ve been lucky/crazy/happy to get shipped (as Seth Godin might put it) in the last few months. The first post talked about The Irish Story’s first five Apps. This post is going to talk about the IPN Premium Annual Report On Irish Publishing. It might be a little long.

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Where it came from
I suppose I should say that IPN Premium is the paid for imprint of Irish Publishing News, the industry website I run that covers Irish publishing news, features and stories. The idea behind the site was to create a resource for the Irish publishing community. I have another post coming about the site itself, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

IPN Premium then comes from a realisation that Irish publishing, as distinct from other industries, is poorly served by business intelligence and business advice. There is little in the way of market resources with the exception of Nieslen’s impressive but flawed Bookscan service for the Irish Consumer Market. I say flawed because while the most comprehensive analysis available, it covers a debatable portion of the market from 60-75% depending on whose figures you accept. I wanted to change that.

The Irish bookselling industry is worth somewhere in the region of €200 million and has sales of around 18-20 million units a year. That’s not small beer, the industry shouldn’t be relying on guesses, educated or not, about industry information.

What’s more, with the approach of digital publishing and the likelihood that a portion of those sales will shift online into purely digital form over the next five years, it would be crazy not to have a dedicated source of professional information for publishers, booksellers and authors to work from.

The Report itself
So I set to creating the first product, the IPN Premium Annual Report on Irish Publishing which is, at over 30 pages, longer than I intended and filled with more information than I realised it could possibly hold.

It is also reasonably priced because while all that I’ve said above remains true, many smaller publishers don’t have large resources available to them to buy reports.

If you haven’t bought it, and you find publishing interesting you can do so by clicking here.

Over the next few years, the report will gain features, and several aspects of it will change, but I’m very pleased with the first iteration and I hope those who have bought it are too.

There is much more to come from IPN Premium and indeed from Irish Publishing News itself, but for now, I’m just enjoying the sales as they come and hoping that those who buy it, find it as useful as I intend.
Eoin

Quick Link | Seth Godin Drives Another Nail Into the Book

Mathew Ingram adds some interesting nuance to the Seth Godin reaction:

Not every author or artist has that ability, and not every book is going to find an established audience that way. There are still going to be mass-market blockbusters in publishing, just as there are in movies and music, where the marketing machine goes into high gear to reach as large an audience as possible. But for established authors and artists who specialize in a particular niche, connecting directly with readers or fans can be a far better approach than relying on the traditional infrastructure of the content-distribution industry. At the end of the day, that is a good thing for fans of both books and music.

via Seth Godin Drives Another Nail Into the Book.

Go Read This: The Future of Print | Booksquare

Really nice post this by Kassia over at Booksquare. I totally agree with her on the trajectory and have some slight quibbles (which I’ll blog about soon) on the outcome, but nothing terribly major.

The Future of Print | Booksquare.

Still True: It Only Matters That It Sells

The debate about ebooks and digital being the future IS over.

Sometimes in the whirl of debate, discussion and faux innovation that has surrounded the shift to digital, you can forget fundamental principles. Something about the tone of the discussion at the moment got me thinking about where we are and what it means.

That brought me to something I wrote just under four years ago:

Which of course is no major deal. Why on earth should publishers worry? Does it really matter if a book is sold as a paper product, as an audio CD, as a downloadable eBook or as part of a subscription based updatable online book, or indeed some combination of these?

NO. IT ONLY MATTERS THAT IT SELLS.

If anything they should be jumping in this direction as quickly and rapidly as possible. They should agree a format that is cross industry and cross device. They should look for attractive price points and better reading devices. Publishers in short should be looking for ways to grab the market and sell more books

I get the sense that most publishers at least in the UK, USA, Canada and Germany and probably in France, having tasted the sweet ambrosia of digital revenue and seen the impressive growth of ebook sales, are there now.

Maybe they don’t admit it too loudly, but I’m sure most senior level publishers have looked at the numbers, and they like them.

What does that mean?
Of course the flip side of what I said four years ago is this:

You can see then book publishers face a problem like print publishers. EBooks do not attract high prices. That is to say that I think most people feel that an eBook is less valuable than a real live (dead in Jeff Jarvis’ world) paper book. If an e-reader appears that quickly changes the market and shifts content online and into digital form as rapidly as music sales have shifted, traditional publishers will be faced with enormous difficulties. Their print runs will need to slide, their high costs need to be removed and eventually some books will simply no longer be printed in books and will remain exclusively as eBooks.

Print runs sliding and high cost cutting will not be fun. In fact it will be unpleasant for pretty much everyone in the industry, but make no mistake, if the first part of the prediction is true, then the second part is inevitable. The structure of the industry MUST change if it is to adapt (that forgoes the obvious strategic issue of whether survival in a digital world IS possible for now. There’s some discussion of this over at Mike Shatzkin’s blog recently).

The debate about ebooks and digital being the future IS over. What’s going on now is the shake out of how publishers change and adapt. I get the feeling that, for many people, this will be far more painful.

Beautiful morning here in Dublin, almost makes me hold back in posting this!
Eoin


Image with thanks to Flickr user Cloudsoup and CC

Waterstones Logo

Luke Johnson Agrees With Me

Waterstones LogoA few months ago I wrote this:

As readers shift to digital, the economics of book shops will become skewed, favouring online emporia. Booksellers can react by hand-selling to customers and making themselves relevant, in the way that Raven Books in Blackrock, Co Dublin, has. (I am increasingly sure of finding a pile of relevant books there every time I walk in). No doubt this will mean concentrating on older, out-of-print, and second-hand books, titles that appeal directly to the customer, and print-on-demand works (though I am less convinced of the economic case for this).

Whatever way you look at it, as a big book-buyer I should be a chain store’s best customer. Instead, like many avid readers, I’m what’s killing them.

The Sunday Times – Think Tank: Lost In The Amazon
&
Eoin Purcell’s Blog – Bookshop Are Dead And I Killed Them

Then today I read an interview with Luke Johnson who ran Borders for a time. this is what he said:

I bought Borders thinking we could turn it around. I believed wrongly we could reverse the downturn in high street book sales. It’s a great sadness that we couldn’t. In my opinion, the high street book store is doomed.

He did say, that there was hope for stores like Watersones and that:

Publishers I’ve spoken to agree that the one-size-fits-all bookstore doesn’t have a future. But there is still room for independents that know their customers.

I agree the local independent have a chance. But the utterly depressing reality is that at least in the UK and Ireland, big high street stores are in trouble. Eason remains dominant here and may well gain some advantage from that, especially as supermarkets have been slower to take big steps into books (though Tesco is having an impact) but the slide is inevitable.

It contrasts fairly remarkably with the confidence of Barnes & Noble as pointed to in the last post.

One point that struck me yesterday was Waterstone’s belief in the power of ebook sales to drive their growth in their press release they said they had and ‘Excellent start for e-books at waterstones.com, approaching one million downloads.’

That makes two major booksellers on different sides of the water with hope of decent sales of ebooks. Interesting news I think anyway. perhaps if they can peel some of the sales away from Amazon in print, drive for sales in ebooks and slowly but surely wind down their bricks and mortar stores, they can avoid the downfall scenario I had originally envision and emerge as slimmer chains selling mostly virtually.

Here’s hoping,
Eoin

Wordpress Books Tag Page

Links Of Interest (AT Least To Me) 01/07/2010

Wordpress Books Tag PageI’ve been doing some fascinating reading the last few week and thought I’d share the ones that stuck with me. You may have noticed a few reblogs appearing in the stream. I’ve been using WordPress’s reblog button and loving it very much! These are non-reblogged though. Also impressed by their much improved tag pages. Like this one, for books.

An excellent open letter by Brian O’Leary to Scott Turrow about piracy, data and good and bad decision making.
Here

A very fine article over at Slate (Thanks to SarahB for the tip) on ebooks and paper and why one will not replace the other. Agree or disagree, the writing is solid.
Here

A nice find in general, Slow Media, one I was directed to by the excellent blog Casual Optimist.
Here

James Long over on Speculative Horizons has a great list of four upcoming titles by four of my favourite fantasy writers.
Here

Smashing line for literature at the Kilkenny Arts Festival this year.
Here

Philip Jones points to the clash in perception of the future for books in the digital age between Jeff Bezoz and Hachette UK’s George Walkley. Nicely done too.
Here

With the Russian spying scandal in the US, Yale University Press talks spies! Well worth the read and considering a new book purchase too.
Here

Despite a tough market, Barnes & Noble have been very upbeat about the future in terms of digital and print sales. I hope they are right.
Here

The summer seems to be rolling in this year (when does it not), but at least it’s been a good one so far!
Eoin

Digital Book World

Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn Bridge Park
Creative Commons License photo credit: brew ha ha

I’ll be travelling for the next two weeks.

I was invited to speak on a panel at Digital Book World, an amazing and exciting conference on digital change in the world of Trade Publishing, in New York City on Tuesday 26th. I’ve decided to hang around for the second day of the conference as well.

The event is chaired by Mike Shatzkin, CEO and founder of The Idea Logical Company (an exceptionally smart man, you should be reading his blog) and by F+W Media (a very impressive company).

I’m really delighted to be taking part and especially pleased that I will be meeting so many of the people I have been discussing these topics with over the last few years. Some of them I was fortunate enough to meet when I was speaking at TOC Frankfurt and it will be fun to see them again as well.

After the conference I’ll be travelling Northwest to Chicago for some well earned rest. I’ll make scathing comparisons between how they cope with snow in Illinois and Ireland I am sure.

So, feel free to drop me a line but don’t be too surprised if the email takes a bit longer to elicit a response than normal.

Eoin