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Go Read This | 10 Things You May Not Know About Ebook Prices — LuzmeLuzme

Fascinating piece on ebook prices in the UK versus ebook prices in the US. Makes you wonder whether it was a good thing for Irish publishers that Irish Kindle readers were offered the chance to switch to Amazon.co.uk rather than Amazon.com for their ebook purchases:

In the UK, there is usually a fierce price war going on between Amazon and some new entrant; currently it is Sainsburys, previously it was Sony and Nook. But there is usually someone trying to buy market share by discounting the price. Previously we had the 20p offer from Sony, now 99p seems more common.

via 10 Things You May Not Know About Ebook Prices — LuzmeLuzme.

Go Read This | BEA 2013: The E-book Boom Years

Fascinating stuff:

During the 2008–2012 period, trade sales overall rose a total of 14.2%, with the increase due entirely to the introduction of e-books. During the period, sales of print trade books fell 8.4%, from $13.1 billion to just over $12 billion in 2012. The BookStats figures document the important role adult fiction has played in the growth of e-books. In 2012, e-book sales in the segment rose 42%, to $1.8 billion, while sales of adult nonfiction increased 22%. Within the trade category, children’s/young adult had the strongest gain, with sales jumping 117%, from $215.9 million to $469.2 million.

via BEA 2013: The E-book Boom Years.

Go Read This | U.S. settles with publisher Macmillan in e-books case | Reuters

I think it’s fair to say this is more of a whimper than a bang!

Under the proposed settlement agreement, Macmillan must lift restrictions on discounting by e-book retailers and must report to the Justice Department its communication with other publishers.

Justice Department lawyers “expect the prices of Macmillans e-books will also decline,” as happened after settlements with the other publishers, Jamillia Ferris, chief of staff of the departments Antitrust Division, said in the news release.

via U.S. settles with publisher Macmillan in e-books case | Reuters.

Amazon Steals Everyone’s Thunder Again (But Quietly)

Fascinatingly clever (if predictable in many ways) move from Amazon to extend the reach of its Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) to the UK, Germany and France. By doing so it demonstrates very clearly that it is Amazon who is really driving the pace of development in ebook adoption and ebook retail. What’s more, it is making clear that its rivals are struggling to match its services to authors and readers within their own ecosystems. As the focus of ebook growth moves rapidly beyond the USA (has moved already in truth), Amazon is making the case for giving it exclusivity even more compelling.

Amazon.com, Inc. today announced that the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library is coming to the UK, Germany and France later this month, bringing Kindle owners with a Prime membership over 200,000 books to borrow for free as frequently as a book a month, with no due dates. Independent authors and publishers using Kindle Direct Publishing KDP who enroll their books in KDP Select can be included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library in the UK, Germany and France, as well as the US. With the new lending libraries launching this month, the KDP Select fund has been increased by $100,000 to $700,000 in October, with a larger increase anticipated in November. Authors will earn money every time their book is borrowed from any of the lending libraries – in September, authors earned $2.29 per borrow, which is more than many KDP books earn per sale.

via Amazon Media Room: Press Releases.

What amazes me the most about this move is just how dangerous it is for the ebook retailing rivals who have yet to open their doors to self-published content. In reality only Kobo has a fully functional platform for self publishing authors beyond the USA (Apple does too, but only to the extent that those who have a nice Mac can access their iBookstore, but not everyone has a Mac).

Nook’s platform is US only, though the talk is that this will change soon, the longer B&N & Microsoft exclude non-US citizens from the service, the longer Amazon has to lock in exclusive content for three months at a time. It’s not that the content individually is necessarily compelling, but given the wide field of talent in question, some is sure to be winning material, even if much of it isn’t great. The trick is, of course, that Amazon is armed with the tools to sort, grade and sift through this mass of titles and to promote, suggest and even work with the best (or just the most saleable, let’s not forget that the goal is money-making not literature spreading).

I’ve talked before about how important authors are to the success of an epublishing platform and ecosystem. Sometimes I think the retailers agree with me on this, other times I think they only pay lip service to the idea. Perhaps that’s a lingering snobbery regarding self publishing authors (which is foolish, idiotic and wrong-headed in an age when some of the biggest writers are rapidly moving towards self publishing, are already self publishing or have emerged from the self publishing space). Perhaps it is a desire to avoid dealing with so many small accounts and the headaches of customer service and platform development that entails. Who knows, but the longer these ecosystems remain closed shops to direct author engagement the larger a lead they allow Amazon to build up on them.

Every author Amazon signs up for KOLL is three months of exclusive sales for Amazon, three months lost revenue for their rivals. More importantly it is three months of sales data and analysis for Amazon that no-one else will have. That’s especially important when a title is loaded into KDP & KOLL for the first time, before getting a look in elsewhere. What will happen when one of those sign ups turns out to be the next EL James? What will happen is that Amazon will sign that author up directly, before the KOLL period ends and the game, for that author, is up for the other platforms.

It is not just dangerous to rival retailers though. If Amazon succeeds in convincing enough authors that KDP & KOLL are the way forward and along with them, exclusivity, companies like Smashwords and other aggregators of self published content will be put in the position of having to justify their offering. As long as a vibrant market for content persists of course (and despite this move, we do have a vibrant market for content) everyone has room to move and grow.

So yes, this move is illuminating, it suggests that Amazon is still the pace setter and is capable of moving faster and more aggressively than anyone else (still, after five years). Kobo has started something of a price war for self published authors though, by offering a higher royalty to authors who use their self publishing platform. If this keeps self publishing writers committed to an non-exclusive policy then it will have been a wise move. I’m sure it is a smart response from a smart company, even if it is one that admits to a certain weakness in terms of the capability of their platform, but then competition doesn’t (and indeed shouldn’t) always mean matching your rivals move, but finding clever and novel ways to best them where your strengths lie.

What that in mind, Kobo and other Amazon rivals would do well to pay attention to Baldur Bjarnason‘s piece on FutureBook about how Ebook publishing platforms are a joke, pay attention that is and offer some of the services he mentions to self publishers asap.

Interesting Story From The Irish Times Today | Unlikely tale of the playwright and the pugilist – The Irish Times – Thu, Sep 23, 2010

Shaw & the boxer to boil it down, worth reading!

He was introduced to the bard by a fellow marine en route to France with the American Expeditionary Force; by the time he fought for the heavyweight championship he had plowed his way through the collected works of Shakespeare, and could recite Hamlet in its entirety. Invited to Yale to lecture on Shakespeare, he did so creditably, and without notes.

Tunney’s intellectual bent was not universally admired. Will Rogers (no relation to Roy), wrote in his folksy newspaper column, “Let’s have prizefighters with harder wallops and less Shakespeare”, and Paul Gallico, the Columbia-educated sports editor of the New York Daily News�, made light of Tunney’s chances in his 1926 challenge to Jack Dempsey, opining: “I think Tunney has hurt his own game with his cultural nonsense.

via Unlikely tale of the playwright and the pugilist – The Irish Times – Thu, Sep 23, 2010.

Go Read This | Nook Drives 21% Increase in Revenue for Barnes & Noble

For some reason I’m amazed by the success of Barnes & Noble (and Kobo formerly of Indigo now independent) retailers when they move into the ebook space.

It makes me wonder what the difference is in Britain and Ireland and why ebooks haven’t had the same impact at the retail level. Perhaps it’s the power of OWNING your own reader as both B&N and Kobo do?

Whatever the reason, I’m sure there are retailers in Ireland’s who’d welcome this kind of growth in digital sales.

The company cited sales of its e-reading device, the Nook, as the driving force behind the increase in online revenue. Sales of the device itself accelerated even further after the company reduced its price from $259 to $199 and added a $149 Wi-Fi-only version to its shelves in June. The bookseller also released apps for Android and iPhone devices this summer.

Barnes & Noble claims that e-book sales continue to accelerate week-over-week, and that owners of the company’s e-reader, which was launched nine months ago, have increased their spending with the bookseller by approximately 20% Barnes & Noble Chairman Leonard Riggio fixed that number at 17% during a conference call with investors in June. Roughly a quarter of these device owners had never before purchased anything from the company’s website.

via Nook Drives 21% Increase in Revenue for Barnes & Noble.

An Indian finds himself on the Emerald Isle

Very interesting article on the connection between Ireland and the Choctaw Indians, by way of the famine:

White Deer has just spent two days traipsing around the city with a filmmaker from Dublin, working on a documentary about the Choctaw-Irish connection. Among other places, they have visited the Irish hunger memorial garden in lower Manhattan, a quarter-acre grassy hill with the remnants of a famine-era stone cottage imported from Mayo. Etched into the stone base is a reference to the generous donation by “the Children of the Forest, our Red Brethern of the Choctaw nation.”

via An Indian finds himself on the Emerald Isle.