Home » Ebook/Ereader Growth, Non-US » E-book and print to jostle at Christmas

E-book and print to jostle at Christmas

11 November 2013

From The Bookseller:

Publishers are looking to reignite plateauing digital sales off the back of the new, cheaper devices hitting the market.

But some analysts are predicting that it will be physical, not digital, books that triumph this Christmas.

Tim Davies, m.d. of The History Press, said he expected e-books to grow again next year, but that a change of focus was necessary. “[The plateauing] has given us an opportunity to draw breath and think more strategically about our 2014 and 2015 e-book activity,” he said. “It’s likely that we’ll ease off cranking the handle on conversion, and focus more on utilising social media and social media ‘listening post’ platforms to market our e-books.”

Osprey Group c.e.o. Rebecca Smart said: “I don’t think this has been a year of great change, more one of consolidation. There has been a move from product innovation, to thinking about how the business model can change—whether it’s bundling or subscriptions, that will be the next phase.”

. . . .

Nathan Hull, digital product development director at Penguin, said: “There is a distinct trend this Christmas coming in the form of 7-inch tablets, and our approach is to make our apps and other products available as widely as possible. We won’t develop something for the iPad, then think about converting it to Android, we build them agnostically from the beginning. I think this quarter will see a change in the skew of the app market to mean things are less Apple-focused.”

However, Douglas McCabe of Enders Analysis predicted this year would see “a Christmas for physical books”. He commented: “Books do well when household budgets are tight. The range of Christmas titles looks strong enough. We projected that digital book sales would grow rapidly but then start to plateau early, and we are seeing signs of that happening.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Ebook/Ereader Growth, Non-US

20 Comments to “E-book and print to jostle at Christmas”

  1. Granted, I’ve had no caffeine and have been fasting for this morning’s blood draw, but holy cow! Could that article possibly have made less sense?

  2. I tend to think mid-November through mid-December, which seems like holiday buying season, will generally favor print, as print makes for a better gift to actually give someone.

    I think the rest of the year will generally favor digital, though. Haven’t there been digital spikes around December 25th through the month of January in recent years?

    • Just speaking personally, my spike’s lasted through February the last three years. It’s cold and miserable through the U.S., Canada and Northern Europe, and readers want to stay inside with a good story and a nice cuppa.

      I’m sure it has nothing to do with all the erotica no one’s reading around Valentine’s Day. :wink:

    • I think the digital spike is usually credited to everyone getting new toys and then buying reading material.

      That said, I don’t think I’m getting whatever it is they’re trying to tell me. As a gift giver, I’m going to with whatever I think will work best for the recipient. That will most likely be print books for the kids under seven, digital for everyone else.

      @Ingrid- With Amazon you can gift ebooks and in my family this works great. You can have the email sent to the recipient at a pre-scheduled time or you can send the gift to your personal email and then “wrap” up the claim code to give to someone with any other gifts. This is the method I usually use and I’ve yet to hear a complaint.*

      *Amazon does give the recipient the option of converting the gift to a regular gift card if it’s a duplicate or if they’re not interested in the particular book.

      • Gifting s nice for Americans, but not all Kindle sites are created equal.

        Gifting isn’t an option on Kindle UK and Amazon gift cards are not widely available except on Amazon. Fortunately the UK supermarkets are full of gift cards for rival stores like Google Play, W H Smith (Kobo), etc.

    • Yep. Even my my genre, which isn’t popular for gifting, I get a post-holiday spike as people a) spend gift cards and b) huddle inside waiting for winter to be over.

  3. How do you wrap an e-book?

  4. So whether print or digital will win this particular Christmas, I don’t know.

    But this:

    “We projected that digital book sales would grow rapidly but then start to plateau early, and we are seeing signs of that happening.”

    is just nutty thinking. NUTTY. The font in this little box does not go big enough to really express how NUTTY that is.

    This is the voice of people who make a living telling Publishers things that are reassuring.

    • Publishers and their yes-people often confuse rate of acceleration with rate of constant motion. Just make some popcorn, Mira, and enjoy the show!

    • It depends if they mean growth of ebooks as in “substitution of paper books by ebooks” or as in “absolute growth in ebook sales”.

      Substitution will always be rapid at first, then plateau, as the base is small to begin with, then grows. That’s natural for a zero-sum function like that.

      Actual raw number growth tends to be like that, too, as any real world exponential function is capped by resource constraints. For example, a bacteria colony on a Petri dish will grow in size quickly at first, then plateau, since the resources of the Petri dish will become exhausted in time. Similarly for consumer products – people only have so much time and money.

      Either way, plateauing will eventually occur, but one has to be careful about what that really means. Paper book publishers should not take too much comfort from this.

    • This is the voice of people who make a living telling Publishers things that are reassuring.

      I simply can’t express how very true this seems to be lately. More and more, I feel like all the people we currently hear from when it comes to publishing–and the people whose voices carry–are the people who are most reassuring. The people who get invited to conferences and panels. The so-called “experts” and oft self-proclaimed “gurus”.

      It’s just become such an echo chamber it’s sad.

  5. Digital sales will spike after Christmas, when everyone’s got their new tablets and a handful of Amazon gift cards. Before Christmas, print books will probably do better. That’s how I’ve experienced it, though my first Christmas self publishing was last year.

    Sales were good through November and December and took off in January and February. They eventually fell back down to November and December numbers.

  6. My husband’s birthday was last month. His family sent him bookstore gift cards for physical bookstores. He hadn’t even spent the ones from last year (which had expired). He will need to have a discussion with his family. My sister is the only one in the family that is clued in enough to give Amazon gift certificates.

    I try to avoid buying books. I’m afraid I’ll get the wrong book and what if they already have it? But if you want to buy a print book for someone, do it through Amazon and be sure to get the Matchbook ebook for yourself :P

  7. I’m sure DVD/Blu Ray sales go up around Christmas, too. Personally I find giving or getting at least some physical presents more satisfying than gift cards all around.

    I’m putting those nice B&N hardcover classics on my list again this year.

  8. We are going to have POD copies of our ebooks this year, for those that like to give a “shelfie” as a gift.

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