Kindle

Go Read This | Waterstones turns a corner under Russian ownership – Telegraph

A curious take on Waterstones results:

The new Waterstones-branded Café W coffee shops, which have been introduced in 17 stores, are another driver of the company’s growth. “Book sales are far stronger in the Waterstones shops that have a coffee concession,” said Mr Daunt.

But the company’s partnership with Amazon to sell its Kindle e-reader tablets and e-books, introduced in May 2012, does not a make a “significant” contribution to Waterstones’ revenues, according to Mr Daunt. “Both sides are happy with the partnership, but it doesn’t materially change the business,” he said.

via Waterstones turns a corner under Russian ownership – Telegraph.

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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!

Go Read This | Kindle Singles and the future of ebooks | Joe Wikert

Good piece from Joe Wikert, even if I don’t completely agree with everything he says:

End the practice of artificially puffing up content
The greatest aspect of Kindle Singles is, of course, their short length. The first one I read was a Single about media and I remember thinking how a typical business book editor would have asked the author to turn this 30-page gem into a bloated 300-page mess. It happens all the time and its a function of both physical shelf presence and perceived value. In the ebook world there’s suddenly no physical bookshelf an individual title has to have a spine presence on. Now we just need to stop equating \”shorter\” with \”cheaper\”…more on that in a moment.

via Joe Wikert’s Digital Content Strategies: Kindle Singles and the future of ebooks.

Go Read This | Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX: power, with a helping hand | The Verge

You have to hand it to Amazon, its is just going at this market hard and not letting up and by the looks of things, it is learning as it goes:

Whether you’re in the market for an 8.9-inch or 7-inch tablet, the Kindle Fire HDX is a hard device to beat. Not just for the screen resolution or the high-end processor, either: at $229 for the smaller model or $379 for the larger, the HDX is among the cheapest tablets on the market that we’d even consider recommending at those screen sizes. Even the LTE models, at $329 and $479 respectively and available for Verizon and AT&T, are as cheap as you’ll find for their kind. (And they’re not even the cheapest of Amazon’s new tablets.)

If Amazon can deliver on all its promises with its core apps, from email to the updated Silk browser, and can make the HDX into both the best vessel for Amazon content and something more besides, these two tablets are going to be hard to beat. And Mayday’s going to have a lot of customers this fall.

via Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX: power, with a helping hand | The Verge.

Somehow I Missed This Incredibly Important detail of Kindle Worlds: MONEY

Five minutes ago I read a press release from Amazon about how it was expanding its Kindle Worlds project to incorporate new writers (and impressive ones at that). i was struck by how many of those new writers came from or were converts to the world of self-publishing and it reminded me once again how powerful and useful Amazon’s policy of accommodating self-publishers and small publishers has been in their development of a digital publishing platform (see my thoughts on this earlier in the week over on Medium).

And then I read these paragraphs and my brain exploded:

“Good storytelling for me starts with great characters, no matter the format,” said Kindle Worlds Archer & Armstrong author Scott Nicholson. “I’m thrilled that Amazon has been pushing the digital frontiers to open up even more sharing of ideas and building new communities around the most popular characters and stories.”

Amazon Publishing will pay royalties to both the rights holders of the Worlds and the author. The standard author’s royalty rate (for works of at least 10,000 words) will be 35% of net revenue. Amazon Publishing will also pilot an experimental new program for particularly short works—between 5,000 and 10,000 words. For these short stories—typically priced under one dollar—Amazon will pay the royalties for the World’s rights holder and pay authors a digital royalty of 20%.

Before I read those words, I thought Amazon Worlds was a clever piece of distraction from Amazon, a way to get more people on the Kindle platform, perhaps a mine for future talent and a stick to beat publishers with. After reading those two paragraphs I realised that Amazon Worlds is a whole new revenue stream for aspiring writers and established writers, it’s co-opting the edge and making it mainstream and crucially introducing a revenue model that work for everyone.  What’s more in this model, because they own the platform and delivery system they still keep a chunk of the revenue.

I’m annoyed at myself for missing the import of this earlier (I can only say in my defence that the original Kindle Worlds press release came to me while I was on holidays in spain and my mind was very far from business models and digital publishing.

Think  about this new model for a few seconds. Successful writers, who in genre fiction were already pretty supportive of fan-fiction anyway, now have an active reason to support and encourage fan-fiction that is licensed by Amazon. They have a reason to drive people onto the kindle platform because when they see stories based on their worlds and characters, they will profit from them.

Would be writers have a great reason to use the opportunities afforded to them by kindle Worlds to hone their skills, for one its free and legal, for another they might actually benefit by selling some copies of their work and finally they might get noticed by doing it. noticed by the original creator of the world they choose to writer in or about, or noticed by Amazon Publishing which can spot their talent (read sales data) and can snap it up before anyone else even notices that a new talent has emerged!

All round Kindle Worlds is a much bigger deal than I realised!

Eoin

Go Read This | Burning the Page – an instant review | FutureBook

On my kindle waiting to be read after The Signal & The Noise:

I could review this book for another thousand words, and still have more to say. In that, this book is incredibly valuable. We’ve not had much exposure to the minds of those driving the eBook revolution, and to have something to engage and in places disagree with strongly is rather novel. There are some very nice idealistic long-term statements in here, and though this is no exhaustive business history we get an idea of some of the thoughts behind the technology. I cannot in all honesty say I’ve been blown away by what I’ve read, but it has given me a more direct perspective on another experience of eBook History. Merkoski’s peek behind the curtain is valuable, it will be interesting to see if the conversation goes somewhere new from here.

via Burning the Page – an instant review | FutureBook.

In Search Of The Number

There is a number I’d like to know, if I knew it, I think it would help me explain some things that currently seem inexplicable to some and unclear to me.

I know the number exists because I can phrase questions to which the number is the answer (maybe numbers is more accurate, but it’s got less impact). Those questions can be expressed two ways:

– the first; at what £/$/€ spend does a primarily print book reader become a primarily ebook reader?

– the second; at what number of books read does a primarily print book reader become a primarily ebook reader?

It has a follow on question:

– Which indicator is more reliable, ie: is a reader more likely to shift formats because they become comfortable reading ebooks or because they have managed to spend a certain amount of money on ebooks?

I strongly suspect that the answer to the follow on question is that a reader shifts when they become comfortable reading which happens after X (where X is the number) ebooks read. That point obviously changes for different types of readers and is probably very individual. However, there’ll be an average number of books, an average I guarantee that Amazon knows, that B&N certainly knows and that Kobo, Apple, Google and Sony know (or suspect).

If I’m right, and it is about making a print reader comfortable with ebook reading, then conversion is a case of making the offer compelling enough until the formerly print dedicated reader has shifted format without really realizing it.

When you think like that, and you think about 20p ebooks, which seems to have confounded and angered so much of the industry (though to me, just lacked a clear logic that I was aware of, it HAD to have a logic, even if the logic was wrong) they start to make an awful lot of sense. Once you’ve converted the print reader to ebooks (and especially if you shift them to your ecosystem) there’ll be loads of time to drive up the revenue you earn from that consumer. The lost revenue before they convert is simply customer acquisition cost.

See why the number is important to know?
Eoin