Big Publishing

‘The ebook is a stupid product: no creativity, no enhancement,’ says the Hachette Group CEO

19 February 2018


With over 17,000 new titles each year and sales of $2,826 million in 2016, the Hachette Livre Group of companies comfortably sits among the Big Five English language publishers, alongside Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and MacMillan Publishers. Headquartered in France, its authors include John Grisham, Enid Blyton, James Patterson, Robert Ludlum and Stephen King. While its India subsidiary just completed 10 years of operations in India, the parent company has been in business for almost two centuries.

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The Chairman and CEO of the Hachette Live Group since 2003, Arnaud Nourry, was in India recently to celebrate a decade of Hachette India and spoke to about their strategy and the future of publishing.

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Is Europe still your largest market? Which are the emerging markets with the most potential that you see right now?
One-third of our business is in the French language across France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada and other French-speaking countries, 25% in the US and English-speaking Canada, 20% in the UK, India, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, 10% in Spanish, and another 10% in the rest of the world.

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In 2014, Hachette famously took on and won against Amazon in deciding who gets to control ebook pricing – them or publishers. Looking back, has that victory helped?
When I took the job of Chairman and CEO of Hachette in 2003, I studied what had happened in the music and video industries, or in the present, take the example of the magazine industry. I realised that they made two mistakes. The first was to delay the digitisation of their product, which helped piracy to emerge. The second mistake was that they didn’t keep control on the price point of their creations, so they were unable to protect their turnover, the revenues of their singers or writers.

So, in the year 2006-2007, when ebooks came to our market, I was absolutely convinced that when we jumped into the ebook market, we needed to keep control of our price. This wasn’t just coming from thinking of our revenues. If you let the price of ebooks go down to say $2 or $3 in Western markets, you are going to kill all infrastructure, you’re going to kill booksellers, you’re going to kill supermarkets, and you are going to kill the author’s revenues. You have to defend the logic of your market against the interest of the big technology companies and their business models. The battle in 2014 was all about that. We had to do it.

It’s not that we’re against ebooks. People have to pay a price that is about 40% lower than the print price. And it works. The ebook market has gone down a little bit, not much, from say 25% to 20% in some countries. There is still a readership for ebooks but at a price that keeps the ecosystem alive. That’s absolutely key because the music business has lost half of its turnover in ten years. I love music but books are about culture, education, democracy, so it’s even more important to keep the diversity in book publishing, more so than music publishing.

It’s been a little over ten years since ebooks came to the market in the form of Kindle. You mentioned a small decline – do you think the market has plateaued? Are there formats other than ebooks that publishers should be looking at?
There are two different geographies to look at for this. In the US and UK, the ebook market is about 20% of the total book market, everywhere else it is 5%-7% because in these places the prices never went down to such a level that the ebook market would get significant traction. I think the plateau, or rather slight decline, that we’re seeing in the US and UK is not going to reverse. It’s the limit of the ebook format. The ebook is a stupid product. It is exactly the same as print, except it’s electronic. There is no creativity, no enhancement, no real digital experience. We, as publishers, have not done a great job going digital. We’ve tried. We’ve tried enhanced or enriched ebooks – didn’t work. We’ve tried apps, websites with our content – we have one or two successes among a hundred failures. I’m talking about the entire industry. We’ve not done very well.

I’m convinced there is something we can invent using our content and digital properties beyond ebooks but I reached the conclusion that we don’t really have the skills and talents in our companies because publishers and editors are accustomed to picking a manuscript and creating a design on a flat page. They don’t really know the full potential of 3-D and digital. So we acquired three video game companies in the last two years to attract talent from different industries and see how we can nurture one another and how we can go beyond the ebook on digital. We need to offer different experiences to our consumers.

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Do you really think their role is limited to discoverability and advertising? In term of impact, while not being direct competitors to traditional publishing, they are also providers of content and free content at that. Is that something for publishing to factor into their long-term plans?
I don’t think we’ll ever be publishers who give content for free. It’s not something we’re good at. We’re good at selecting, curating, promoting and selling value-added content, which is kind of the reverse of what others do. I don’t think there’s any kind of competition with Google or Facebook. There is only one thing – it’s that the time spent reading books tends to decline everywhere and goes to social networks. So yes, we are competing for people’s time. It’s why we need to be more attractive in the way we deliver our content. But not beyond that. Even self-publishing, which Amazon does a lot and is sometimes pitched as competition, is the opposite of our business. Our business consists of saying no to three thousand manuscripts and saying yes to one. And self-publishing says yes to three thousand and doesn’t see the one that there should be investment and support around. But yes, because of digital, we are competing against all other forms of leisure. We do need to take that into account.

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France, where Hachette is based and which forms your biggest market, has legislation restricting the amount a bookseller can discount a book. It stands at 5%. But what about a market like India where deep discounting is a big part of bookselling strategy? Do you think that’s just a way to develop an untapped market and eventually all book markets should reach a place like France? Or is there always going to be this difference in consumer behaviour across geographies?
The purpose of the law, which was voted in 1981, was to protect all the independent booksellers from the bigger players by preventing them from discounting and putting the small ones out of business. It worked very well. If you’re in a city in France, you can go to a newsstand, a bookstore, or order from Amazon and you’ll get the book for the same price. This being said, there is no such agreement in the US and the UK, where deep discounting flourishes and that also works. There are independent bookstores that specialise in backlists, curation, they still exist. That environment, in fact, helps sell more copies of one book, which in France is more difficult.

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You just mentioned the continuous acquisition of smaller publishers. How does that affect the publishing and editorial landscape – when smaller publishing houses end up under the umbrella of a larger conglomerate, sometimes swallowed by it?
You’ve used a word I hate – conglomerate. I’m not a very good swallower. Acquiring a publishing company to swallow it is the stupidest thing you can do. Its value comes from the fact that it is a different imprint. Of course when you acquire an independent publisher, you’re not going to keep the accounting department, the IT department, etc., – that doesn’t make any sense. In most cases, these companies don’t have huge profits due to costs that bring them down. So we get rid of that and let them grow and develop their publishing list and have entire freedom.

Link to the rest at and thanks to Nate for the tip.


Children’s Book Industry Has Its #MeToo Moment

18 February 2018

From The New York Times:

 The week began with the world of children’s and young adult literature celebrating its most prestigious awards, the industry’s version of the Oscars. It ended with surprise and confusion as trade groups, literary agents and a publisher broke with several best-selling authors over allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior.

The loudest boom landed Thursday afternoon when Random House said it would not publish any future books by James Dashner, the author of “The Maze Runner,” a top-selling dystopian science fiction series that was turned into a film trilogy.

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The industry’s sudden reckoning with the #MeToo movement primarily involved complaints that a long list of prominent writers and editors exploited their power and position at keystone industry events to make sexual advances, particularly toward female authors hoping to further their careers.

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 Some of the accused included well-known writers whose books are found on recommended reading lists at school and library shelves across the country. Among them were Mr. Dashner and Jay Asher, the author of “Thirteen Reasons Why,” which was recently made into a Netflix series.

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Mr. Dashner’s agent, Michael W. Bourret, parted ways with him on Monday. So did Mr. Asher’s literary agency, Andrea Brown, writing on Twitter that it had “counseled Jay to take a step back from the industry” and was no longer working with him.

Then, on Thursday, Mr. Dashner posted a long statement on Twitter that said he was shocked by the allegations against him. But after a few days of intensive soul-searching and discussions about harassment in the publishing industry, he concluded that he had been part of the problem.

“I didn’t honor and fully understand boundaries and power dynamics,” he said, and offered an apology and pledged to amend his behavior.

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 “Think about all of the books that haven’t been created by the women who have been driven away, or silenced, or just reduced in spirit,” she said. “It takes a lot of courage, focus and discipline to write a book, so when you’re feeling uncomfortable, it’s harder to create.”

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Women dominate the publishing industry. But its roughly 80 percent female work force has not protected members — or those who aspire to join their ranks — from lewd comments, unwanted and aggressive sexual advances, and groping.

The flood of allegations was “an eye opener, especially for men in the community who were not aware this was happening,” said Gwenda Bond, a writer.

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 Industry heavyweights offered support. Rick Riordan, whose “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series was adapted to film, wrote in a “soul-searching” blog post on Sunday that, while he was “not surprised these things happen in the children’s publishing industry,” the allegations left him feeling “angry and disgusted.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to Jan for the tip.

PG notes yet another benefit of self-publishing and staying away from the low-lifes in New York publishing.

Publishing’s remarkable resilience is amazing: Hachette UK’s David Shelley

18 February 2018

From LiveMint:

In 18 short years, David Shelley has gone from being an editorial assistant and then publishing director at independent publisher Allison and Busby, to becoming chief executive of Hachette UK last month—a career that’s nothing short of phenomenal. Along the way, the Oxford graduate in English literature has also been the CEO of Little, Brown and Orion.

Shelley is seen as one of the hottest young talents in global publishing and has worked with authors such as J.K. Rowling and Mitch Albom. A passionate advocate for publishers adapting to the digital environment, Shelley also oversees Hatchette UK’s inclusion initiative, Changing the Story.

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Congratulations on your new position David. What are your plans now for Hachette UK?

I think one thing is really exciting: there is the potential for understanding consumers better. Very successful businesses like Amazon or Netflix are extraordinary in the way they use data, algorithms, artificial intelligence and machine learning. In book publishing, we’re just sort of starting on that. So I feel for me this is an exciting time coming to the job I’m doing. At the moment, we’re publishing a book, putting a cover on it and hoping for the best. I think it’s really probable that in the years to come, we will test a book before we publish it. We will also look to see what people’s reactions are. We ought to know how to describe a book in a way that excites people, and what cover to put on that really interests readers. We’re only as good as the authors we publish. On the other hand, we will be a brilliant partner for authors if we can get them to as many readers as possible.

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Opinions are divided within the sector about the health of the publishing industry. What’s your take?

I think that publishing is a little bit like farming. If you get a group of farmers together, they’re always going to disagree about the harvest or the market. I think it is the same for publishers. It often feels like something very big is happening—certainly in the UK, a few years ago, supermarkets started keeping books and this started destroying small bookshops. Now we have Amazon. I think these things come and go; the amazing thing about publishing is its remarkable resilience, and that’s because of people’s desire for long-form content, both fiction and non-fiction. If you look at book sales, then the value can go up and down but actually the number of sales remains very stable and strong. The industry probably needs to become more a part of the digital world. And that doesn’t mean just publishing e-books, but how we operate in the digital environment. We need to understand online retail very well, as well as the connection between offline and online retail. We are in a pretty strong place, with some challenges.

Link to the rest at LiveMint and thanks to Suzie for the tip.

Testing a product with potential customers before releasing it has been routine in the reality-based business world for 60 years, maybe more.

PG suggests the bar for qualifying as one of the “hottest young talents in global publishing” is extremely low.

Book Publishers and Book Lovers Are Destroying the Planet

15 February 2018

From TCK Publishing:

Is your love of books hurting the environment?

Every year we trash more than 16,000 truckloads of books that were never even read once. That’s enough books to fill both the British Library and the Library of Congress twice.

The sad truth is that around 10 million of the trees that are killed to create books die in vain each year, because the books end up getting destroyed instead of being read.

“The book industry is hurting the planet through inefficient manufacturing, distribution, and forecasting,” said Tom Corson-Knowles, CEO of TCK Publishing, an environmentally friendly book publisher based in Indianapolis. “Part of our responsibility as citizens of the planet is to be aware of when things we love might have unintended consequences.”

TCK Publishing is calling on publishers and readers to:

  • Become aware of the detrimental environmental impact books make on the planet
  • Discuss the problem and propose solutions

Book Publishing’s Environmental Problems

The publishing industry hurts the planet in several ways:

  1. When a traditional large book publisher decides to release a book, they estimate about how many copies they’ll sell, and then add a margin of error. Most of the time, though, those tens of thousands of copies don’t all get sold. Books often get left in the publisher’s warehouse without ever being ordered or shipped to customers.
  2. If a bookstore can’t sell its copies, it’s entitled to request a full refund from the publisher. However, shipping books is expensive. So instead of sending the books back, bookstores often rip the covers off and send only those back to the publisher as proof that the book has been taken out of circulation. Those damaged books are often pulped: ground up, mixed with certain chemicals, and recycled into paper for other uses.
  3. The paper recycling process involves a lot of energy (typically generated from coal, natural gas, or other fossil fuel sources) and also a lot of chemicals like bleaches and solvents meant to break the paper down so that it can be cleaned, processed, and made into new products.
  4. Printing books is environmentally expensive. Paper manufacturing is the third-largest user of fossil fuels worldwide, requiring significant amounts of oil and gas at many phases of the process of turning trees into books.

“Is that really how we want to do things?” he said.

Link to the rest at TCK Publishing and thanks to Suzie for the tip.

Sexual Harassment in the Children’s Book Industry

11 February 2018

From Medium:

Sometimes, it’s in the form of inappropriate comments.

An author wrote, “An editor who was considering my work commented very thoroughly on my body type as a possible personal advantage of working with me.” For her now, “it makes submissions feel like a minefield.”

For an author/illustrator, it was at a book party with a famous illustrator; “I introduce myself to him,” she writes, “and he makes a crack about my breasts.” After enough incidents like these she’s “completely stopped socializing in this business because each time it becomes another abuse story.”

Sometimes the comments are more pointed, like for the publicist who says her supervisor told her he had a crush on her and if he wasn’t married and twice her age he would ask her out. Or a writer’s conference attendee who says that a faculty member asked her if she was “kinky” at the opening mixer. Or the aspiring illustrator who won a mentorship contest, and at the end of her meeting with the mentor she said she had to go get a drink of water because she was hot. According to her, “he said ‘Yes, you are.’ And squeezed my arm. And raised his eyebrows in a suggestive way.”

These are the sort of events we’re told to brush off — they’re jokes, they’re flattering, no big deal. But when you believe you are a professional and someone informs you they see you as a sex object, it can shatter your sense of self and your sense of safety.

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And sometimes, the stories reveal serial predators unchecked by an industry that does not want to acknowledge such things could be possible of its men.

We work in children’s books, and we like to think we are different, somehow. We value “kindness.” The ranks of publishers are populated with women. And everyone is so nice, right?

But we aren’t different, and before we can do anything about sexual harassment, we need to face that reality. And the reality is that a culture of “kindness” can silence people who have been harassed, that women can be complicit in a culture of sexual harassment and gender discrimination, and that the people who we work alongside, whose books we care about, who we like, can be sexual harassers.

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“Kidlit is filled with women,” writes another editor, “but a lot of the senior staff are still men…How many women have left the industry because of hostile work environments who could be running things today? We shouldn’t have to suffer to earn respect.”

Link to the rest at Medium

PG says this is one more reason to indie publish. You avoid all the perverts that infest traditional publishing.

He should have started counting the reasons to indie publish a long time ago, then he would have a specific number to quote. Something in the zillions.

Book Publisher Revenues Flat for First Three Quarters of 2017

7 February 2018

From The Association of American Publishers:

For the first three quarters of the year publishers’ revenues (sales to bookstores, wholesalers, direct to consumer, online retailers, etc.) were flat (-0.5%) compared to the same period in 2016. Trade books saw slightly declining revenues (-0.9%) for the year-to-date.

The book publishing industry’s largest category (31.1% of the market) Adult Books – was flat (+0.4%) for the year-to-date. Conversely, both Children’s and Young Adult Books (-3.5%) and Religious Presses (-3.3%) saw declines.

The categories with the most growth were those with small shares of the overall book publishing market -Professional Books (+6.2%) and University Presses (+4.6%).

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Downloaded audio has been growing by double digits over the past three years, and the first three quarters of 2017 reflect continued growth, with publisher revenue up +26.2%.

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Publisher revenues for eBooks generally decline, with publisher revenues down -5.5% for the first three quarters of 2017 vs 2016.

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Publisher net revenue is tracked monthly by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and includes sales data from about 1,200 publishers.

Link to the rest at The Association of American Publishers

AAP Approves New Mission Statement

6 February 2018

From Publishers Weekly:

Maria Pallante has kept a relatively low public profile since taking over as president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers last January, but the organization’s January newsletter gives an indication of some of the things she has been working on.

In a note to members, Pallante said that the AAP has been “focused on questions of governance and strategic direction, working to ensure that we are strongly positioned for the future.” To that end, the AAP’s board has crafted a new mission statement, which they adopted on Nov. 2, 2017. The statement reads:

“The Association of American Publishers represents the leading book, journal, and education publishers in the United States on matters of law and policy, advocating for outcomes that incentivize the publication of creative expression, professional content, and learning solutions. As essential participants in local markets and the global economy, our members invest in and inspire the exchange of ideas, transforming the world we live in one word at a time.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

PG notes the photo accompanying the OP shows the new president standing in front of a nine-volume set of Nimmer on Copyright (PG thinks it’s up to 11 volumes now).  Nimmer is not something you want to read while lying in bed lest you wake up with a permanent dent in your sternum. Even if you escape the dent, you’ll wake up as an ardent proponent of ebooks.

If you order Nimmer on Amazon, be prepared to offer your UPS delivery person a tip and a cold drink of water, particularly if you live above the first floor in a walk-up building.


#MeToo, Coming to a Bookstore Near You

1 February 2018

From The Wall Street Journal:

Literary agent Allison Hunter represents a female sommelier working on a book about sexism and harassment in the wine world. Six months ago, Ms. Hunter says, she would have been worried that it wouldn’t sell.

Not anymore.

To explore the commercial possibilities of #MeToo, observers say, look no further than the publishing industry. Editors are tweaking ideas to focus on the strength of the sisterhood, publishers are seeking collaborations with female activists and writers are citing the movement in their pitch letters to agents.

At the same time, the definition of what constitutes a feminist book is changing, expanding to include not only cultural commentaries like Roxane Gay’s “Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture,” out in May, but titles that see female empowerment and political resistance in areas as diverse as fitness, cooking, sex and crafts.

Another literary agent, Myrsini Stephanides, says about six, or roughly half her current projects, are related to #MeToo. Two have already sold. In October, she signed Shannon Downey, a feminist embroidery guru whose wry takedown of sexual harassers using a profane play on the phrase “boys will be boys” went viral last fall. At New York’s Carol Mann Agency, where Ms. Stephanides works, she says the appetite for #MeToo books is fierce. “It’s been constant conversations of ‘How can we contribute to this conversation?’ ”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal

PG notes traditional publishing has never seen a serious topic it could not trivialize in its constant quest to curate our culture.

Decolonize Our Shelves

28 January 2018

From Publishers Weekly:

WI13 keynote speaker Junot Diaz delivered a blistering political statement on Wednesday morning, in what will surely enter the annals of Winter Institute history. Diaz denounced the nativism of white conservatives who catapulted Donald Trump into the White House, as well as the hypocrisy of white liberals, in the publishing industry and beyond, who do little more than talk about promoting diversity.

Quoting Malcolm X, Diaz said that people of color always know where they stand with white conservatives, who don’t hide their beliefs. However white liberals, he said, “lure” people of color to them by pretending to be their allies. The liberals, he went on, then fail to support people of color in substantive ways.

. . . .

Admitting that he and his friends were desperate to find some respite from the daily abuse, Diaz said that while some of them turned to music or sports, or “[lost] it completely,” he “found books,” thanks to his elementary school librarian. She took Diaz on a tour of the school library and told him that “all the books on the shelves were mine.” Books, Diaz said, saved his life by providing “shelter against a white world that sometimes felt like it was trying to destroy me.”

“In a better world,” Diaz said, “that is where this story would end.” The books he read, though, reinforced the messages he was receiving in his community. From Laura Ingalls Wilder writing that there were “no people, only Indians” on the plains, to J.R.R. Tolkien’s comparing black people to trolls, books reinforced Diaz’s sense of being an outsider.

“Kids like me did not exist in the literature,” he said. “What kid doesn’t want to see themselves represented in the literature they’re reading?”

While praising the fact that there is more attention being paid to diversity in the publishing industry, Diaz said that it’s not enough. Criticizing the book industry for being a business where predominantly white gatekeepers publish predominantly white authors, Diaz said there needs to be a diversification of “our publishing infrastructure.” The book world, he declared, has to resist “white supremacy’s cruelest enchantment: that whiteness is at the heart of absolutely everything.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

A changing book business: it all seems to be flowing downhill to Amazon

23 January 2018

From veteran publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin:

Amazon showed a willingness to sell ebooks for Kindle at prices below the costs publishers charged them, the big legacy publishers became alarmed. They could see no end to the switch to ebooks and it seemed logical to figure out a way to encourage competition across ebook ecosystems.

Their solution, aided and abetted by the new Apple iBooks ecosystem that debuted in April of 2010, was to move from “wholesale” pricing, where the retailer controlled the ultimate price to the consumer, to “agency”, where the publisher was the seller to the consumer and controlled the price. The intermediary — the retailer — was just an “agent” without pricing power.

This led to anti-trust action by the US government by which agency pricing was allowed, but only by newly negotiated agreements between each of the major publishers and their vendors, including Amazon. And the DOJ made sure that those agreements entitled the retail “agent” to discount from the publisher’s agency price, as long as the aggregated discounts to consumers didn’t exceed the retailers’ aggregate margin on those ebooks.

They needn’t have bothered. Amazon was essentially done with the strategy of discounting big publishers’ ebooks. And big publishers are left wondering whether they should be glad they got what they wished for. Let’s remember that those discounts from Amazon came from their share of the price; now with agency protocols, publishers can only discount ebooks by reducing their own take!

. . . .

Author-driven publishing just continued to grow as Kindle and the other ebook installed base grew faster and faster when smartphones and tablets both spread like wildfire and removed the need for a dedicated ebook device. With Amazon establishing a royalty rate for its own self-published authors of 70 percent of the selling price, equivalent to what agency publishers collected, successful self-publishers could make substantial money with very low-priced ebooks and zero or near-zero revenues from print.

. . . .

[E]ach week now, a handful of those genre Amazon Publishing ebook titles are handily selling more units than most of the titles on the NYT and USA Today’s best seller lists. Amazon found it relatively easy to grow market share in those areas where the bookstore sale, and even the online print sale, was diminishing in favor of the ebook.

. . . .

That has produced the world where big publishers with their agency-priced ebooks tell us that ebook sales have flattened or declined and that print book sales are holding their own, but Amazon says ebook sales are continuing to grow. And it is also a world where the big publishers are working feverishly, and largely futilely, to make their non-Amazon sales grow.

. . . .

Data Guy, first encouraged by indie author star Hugh Howey (one of the early beneficiaries of the changed marketplace), is now one of the principals behind, an online-sales database built by scraping Amazon and other major online retailers. Bookstats’s realtime dashboard presents a consolidated, title-level view of the online US market, current through yesterday. It includes Amazon sales. It separates out Amazon Publishing from the indie authors Amazon enables. And, when used alongside data from Bookscan, Bookstat now lets us back out how brick-and-mortar sales alone are faring in relation to online.

. . . .

1. Amazon continues to grow its share of print and digital sales. It appear to be approaching half of all print sales and more than 90% of ebook sales.

Data Guy says:

On the print front, Amazon is indeed very close to half the US market: Our own Bookstat-derived total of 312 million print units sold by Amazon in 2017 is 45.5% of Bookscan’s total reported 2017 print sales of 687 million, which means Amazon sales now comprise the majority of Bookscan’s “Club & Retail” share. Even allowing for the other 15%-20% of US print sales that remain untracked by Bookscan, that puts Amazon’s US print share is at least 40%. And that’s ignoring another 10-15 million unreported Amazon print sales a year from CreateSpace titles that aren’t trackable through Ingram “expanded distribution.”

Amazon’s share of of US print sales is still growing rapidly. In the prior year, 2016, the 280 million Amazon online print sales Bookstat reports were only 41.7% of 674 million total units and in 2015 Bookstall’s 246 million print unit total for Amazon was only 37.7% of Bookscan’s 653 million reported units. So Amazon’s online print sales continue to grow by a double digit percentage each year.

Barnes & Noble — the next largest retailer of print books, from their public financial reporting, was by our math contributing 23% of Bookscan’s total in 2017 — which means that B&N has shrunk to where it now moves only half as many print books a year as Amazon, and B&N’s own financials show those remaining B&N sales are shrinking by 4% a year.

. . . .

2. The overall market is growing, but Amazon Publishing and indies are the growing segments. All legacy publishing, including the Big Five, are sharing from a diminishing pool of “what’s left” after that growth.

. . . .

3. Legacy publishing below the Big Five is suffering more, seeing their market share increase at Amazon even faster than the major houses are.

. . . .

In ebook sales, both Big Five and non-Big Five legacy publishers have ceded a huge chunk of market share to non-traditional players over the last several years; roughly half of the ebook market in unit terms, and nearly a third of it in dollar terms.

Link to the rest at The Shatzkin Files

PG has witnessed disruptive change driven by new technologies in several different industries (and participated in more than one of those changes).

From that viewpoint (admittedly personal), PG suggests that no industry has reacted to a disruptive innovation – ecommerce and ebooks – in a more pathetic and self-defeating manner than Big Publishing and its bricks-and-mortar sales and distribution infrastructure.

At every major juncture, when faced with a decision, Big Publishing has chosen the wrong path.

Antitrust violations, understanding ebooks in the marketplace, allying itself with Apple and against Amazon, failing to hire people who might have had a chance to revive a moribund industry (It’s too late now.), engaging in the sleaziest tactics with authors (Hello Harlequin!) etc., etc., etc.

PR spinmeisters (“digital fatigue” “back to print), trying to get the Justice Department to bring an antitrust case against Amazon for selling ebooks at low prices, looking at opportunity and seeing dystopia and so forth.

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