Much to think abut in the aftermath of Hugh Howey’s data dump! Thos is just one of the many god posts on it:
The reality is that publishing anything is a unique path. If you have a book, and you’re trying to decide whether to self- or traditionally-publish, there is only the apparition of help for you in these figures. It might be that you traditionally-publish and sell 100 copies, and would financially have been better off self-publishing. It may be that you sell a million copies through traditional publishing. That doesn’t mean that you’ve left money on the table simply because those million sales if self-published would have netted you more. You can’t say what might have happened had you chosen a different route – whether you would have got those 100 or those million sales or something different. This is one problem I see with Howey’s piece (and numerous others). The number of copies a book can sell is not some intrinsic part of its make-up. The way you choose to sell it, and what happens along the way, will play a huge part and can’t be discounted.
via the left room» Blog Archive » some quick thoughts on that report on author earnings.
Very good piece looking at the competing fortunes of Quercus and Waterstones. I’d add a small amount of caution here. Firstly, the Waterstones figures are for the year up to April 2013 whereas the Quercus figures are more up to date. Even so you can follow the logic through from April 2013 until today, in many ways that makes sense because the impact of the kind of policies highlighted here would be more dramatic on publishers in the key Christmas Trading period than at any other time:
Now, cash management is closely related to stock management, so it should come as no surprise that Waterstones’ stock has come down as their cash has grown. I have no knowledge of the state of Quercus’ stock management, but it’s a pretty safe bet that they’ve got too much stock, probably of extremely good titles, sitting in a warehouse, intended for those big orders that never came from the retailers with those challenging conditions.
For independent publishers to remain independent, and sadly it looks as though Quercus will not, we need a relentless focus on cash management and cash generation. Our businesses and the titles and content that make them need to be profitable, and we need to use the digital print and e-book technologies that enable us to hold the lowest stock possible. Easy to say, and probably pretty obvious, but if we don’t hold it as a top priority we can easily be caught out.
via Waterstones up, Quercus down—what’s the story? | Independent Publishing Guild in the UK | IPG.
Mike is smart, very smart this paragraph nails the problems of booksellers and publishers too:
One distracting fact for analysts considering this question has been the apparent slowdown in the growth of ebook sales, suggesting that there are persistent print readers who just won’t make the switch. The encouraging fact is distracting because it is incomplete as far as predicting the future of shelf space at retail, which is the existential question for the publishers, wholesalers, and bookstores (and, therefore, by extension, for legacy authors too). We need to know about changes in the division of those sales between online and offline to really have a complete picture. If ebook takeup slows down but the online buying shift doesn’t, the bookstores are still going to feel pain.
via The future of bookstores is the key to understanding the future of publishing – The Shatzkin Files.
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.
It’s kind of remarkable that this still has to be repeated so often, but it does, it really does:
I spoke this past week with the communications director at a think tank who has their publishing arm reporting to him. He’s new to the world of books. He reports that his team keeps portraying Amazon as the enemy; from his perspective, they are “the answer”. Yes, he’s worried about whether their increasing hegemony over the book-buying public could ultimately result in some nasty cuts to his margins. In fact, probably they will. Amazon is likely the most profitable account for almost every publisher because their sales are massive and their returns are minimal. Some publishers report that even their demands for co-op spending are less onerous than Barnes & Noble’s. Of course, they will probably push the envelope over time and claw back more of that margin from publishers. Most retailers would.
via Don’t blame Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter for the fact that technology changes behavior – The Shatzkin Files.