Amazon’s dominance ‘damages’ progress

27 March 2015

From The Bookseller:

Amazon’s position in the market is damaging progress in the book trade, according to the president of the Booksellers Association, Tim Walker.

Speaking on a panel about publishing and technology at the Nielsen BookInsights conference yesterday (25th March), Walker said that Amazon’s dominance of the e-book market was having a negative impact on bookselling.

“I do a have a concern that Amazon’s dominance is causing problems”, he said. “We estimate Kindle has a 95% market share of e-book sales in the UK and this is having a damaging effect… Consider the struggles of Barnes & Noble and the Nook platform, the problems of the established Txtr in Germany, and the decision here of Tesco to pull out of Blinkbox Books.”

Walker also spoke of concerns about free library e-lending, which he said “has to be done right, or it will do harm to the book trade”.

However, he said that publishing on the whole “embraced” new technology. “I think publishing can come in for quite a bit of stick but we’ve done a lot to embrace technology.”

. . . .

Gavin McLauchlan, consultant at Nielsen Media Services said publishers did not put enough money into advertising. “Only 0.67% of book revenue is put back into advertising,” he said. “It is very low, even compared with the fast moving consumer goods category.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Online book shopping overtakes in-store for first time

26 March 2015

From The Bookseller:

Print book sales showed “continuing resilience” in 2014, with overall spending on print and digital titles increasing across the year. Meanwhile, online book buying overtook in-store book buying for the first time last year.

In 2014, sales of print and e-books stood at £2.2bn, up 4% from the previous year. The data was revealed today (25th March) at Nielsen Book’s annual conference, BookInsights.

Overall, e-books accounted for 30% of book units purchased in 2014, with the fastest growth coming in non-fiction and children’s categories. However, digital migration in those categories still remains limited, while there were signs that migration in categories such as romance and fantasy was slowing. Altogether 56% of the 36,000 book buyers in Nielsen Books & Consumers UK Survey owned a tablet by the end of 2014, up from 41% in the previous year, with 25% owning an e-reader.

. . . .

2014 also saw online spending on books overtake in-store spending on books for the first time. However, bookshops actually gained share in the print market, and remain ahead of online sales for children’s books, impulse buys and the gift market.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller and thanks to Dave for the tip.

A Bookstore has Value

23 March 2015

From the Letters to the Editor of The New Milford Spectrum:

To the Editor:

. . . .

In case you don’t know, Vanessa and I bought the Book Nook last year. We celebrated our one-year anniversary Feb. 21.

When we bought the store, we had no experience in retail and our only background with books was the time we spent buying them.

Despite the lack of experience, we saw it as a labor of love, not profit. We only hoped to break even.

For us, it was an opportunity to engage in a business that feeds the soul. After a year of ups and downs, plenty of sweat but no tears or blood, we still feel that way.

. . . .

[Before purchasing our store] I gave no further thought to [having ordered a book from Amazon after the bookstore didn’t have it] until I saw the store was closing. I understand now what I failed to then; the difference between value and price. A book has a price; a bookstore has value.

We sell more than books at the Book Nook. We provide a place to browse, pick them up, get a feel for them; we provide a place to talk about books, make suggestions, research what you may like; we are a welcoming light after dinner or as you come blinking out of the movie theater.

If we simply sold books, we could never compete with Amazon. We provide a place in our town and in our world for you, our readers and customers.

. . . .

And when we don’t have the book you want, think about letting us order it for you. We can’t match Amazon, but if you’ve stepped foot in our store, we’ve already provided something that Amazon cannot.

David and Vanessa Gronbach

Bank Street Book Nook

New Milford

Link to the rest at New Milford Spectrum

The man who transformed bookshop chain Foyles

16 March 2015

From the BBC:

It used to be rather difficult to actually buy a book at one of the UK’s oldest and best-known bookshops – Foyles.

Run by the indomitable Christina Foyle for 54 years until her death in 1999, she had an eccentric way of doing things.

Firstly, books were not ordered alphabetically at Foyles’ vast, but ramshackle store on London’s Charing Cross Road. Instead they were grouped together by publisher.

If you eventually found what you were looking for on its 30 miles of shelving, then your problems were far from over. Because instead of simply going to pay at a till, you were required to queue three times.

To begin with, you had to collect a paper invoice for the book in question, which you were required to take to a different part of the shop to pay. Then you had to go somewhere else in the building to finally be given the book.

And the staff were often not particularly happy, no doubt due to Ms Foyle’s rule of sacking everyone after they had been there for one year.

. . . .

When she died, control passed to her nephew Christopher Foyle, a grandson of one of the two founders.

He immediately started to modernise the business, but, with the company continuing to make a loss, in 2007 he decided to bring in the firm’s first boss from outside the family.

The person he appointed as the new chief executive was an accountant-turned-business leader called Sam Husain.

. . . .

Now 67, Mr Husain immediately realised that with Foyles he was going to have “his hands full”.

Although Mr Foyle had ended the need to queue three times, and started to order the books alphabetically, many other aspects of the business needed to be fixed and modernised.

One problem was the thousands of old books clogging up the shelves. Nobody ever bought them so Mr Husain says he made the “brutal” decision to simply bin them.

“We cleared out £1m of stock,” he says. “And when you realise that the average price of a book is about £7, that is a lot of books.

Link to the rest at the BBC and thanks to Brendan for the tip.

Barnes & Noble to Close Fewer Stores Than Forecast

11 March 2015

From The Wall Street Journal:

Barnes & Noble Inc. showed hints of progress in its turnaround efforts in the fiscal quarter ended Jan. 31, and even said it would close fewer stores this fiscal year than previously forecast.

But the bookseller’s shares tumbled 10% in Tuesday trading as earnings came in below Wall Street’s forecasts.

Net income grew 14% to $72.2 million, or 93 cents per share, up from $63.2 million, or 86 cents per share, in the year-earlier quarter.

. . . .

At the Nook segment, which includes devices, e-books and accessories, revenue dropped 51% to $78 million, while digital content sales declined 29% to $41 million.

. . . .

To attract more holiday shoppers, Barnes & Noble added such products as craft beer kits and portable turntables together with a wide selection of signed books.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)


B&N 3rd Quarter: Store Sales Stabilize, Profit Below Expectations

10 March 2015

From Shelf Awareness:

At Barnes & Noble, in the third quarter ended January 31, consolidated revenue fell 1.7%, to $1.96 billion, and net income rose 14.1%, to $72.2 million.

. . . .

Sales at B&N’s retail segment, which includes Barnes & Noble bookstores and, fell 1%, to $1.4 billion in the quarter. The drop was primarily attributable to lower sales of Nook products. At stores open at least a year, sales fell 0.3%, and at those stores sales of non-Nook products–both books and non-books–rose 1.7%.

B&N CEO Michael P. Huseby attributed the gain in non-Nook sales to “the continued stabilization of the physical book business, as well as continued growth in non-book core categories such as Educational Toys & Games and Gifts.”

Link to the rest at Shelf Awareness

Waterstones shops should be ‘more entrepreneurial’

6 March 2015

From The Bookseller:

[James] Daunt said that the “point at which we become more confident in retailing, bookselling, and our shops has begun” but that many people at Waterstones were still “immersed in the culture which is central direction”.

“As much as we encourage it, booksellers in Waterstones are not taking risks at the moment,” he added.

However, the business is slowly changing, with a number of Waterstones staff choosing to stop wearing a uniform last year and staff retention rates improving.

The Waterstones’ estate will continue to change over the coming years, but it is only in London that the company is being priced out of current locations. If Waterstones was able to close around 20 of stores, it would be “healthily profitable”.

Asked about Waterstones’ digital strategy, Daunt admitted there the chain does not “have a sensible offer” digitally which is “remotely competitive” with the likes of Amazon and Kobo.

. . . .

Daunt also revealed that the Waterstones loyalty card database currently has about 4m members, of which 2m are active, and 1m are contactable by Waterstones. The database is old, said Daunt, and needs updating.

. . . .

“The most unpopular thing I have done, apart from sacking half our managers, was stopping [publishers’] rep visits in the shops and stopping our booksellers actually buying the majority of the new titles [that way],” said Daunt. Buying from reps meant Waterstones’ shops were stocking books they could not sell. The easiest way for publishers to make shops aware of their books is by email, and approaching the central buying team is the best option for publishers.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

PG says if visits from publishers’ representatives in England are like visits from sales representatives of all types in the US, the reps brought free books, coffee, croissants, donuts, tchotchkes, etc., for store managers and staff and generally livened up the stores when they visited.

Barnes & Noble To Spin Off College Business, Form Two Companies

4 March 2015
Comments Off

From Tech Times:

The latest tale in the dwindling brick-and-mortar print book business finds Barnes & Noble spinning off its college bookstore assets.

In a plan to separate out Barnes & Noble Education and form it into its own publicly traded company, Barnes & Noble put in an S-1 registration filing Thursday to split its legacy retail bookstores and Nook digital tablet business from its college business.

. . . .

The challenges in front of Barnes & Noble are quite significant. Amazon, the company increasingly making gains in the e-book distribution model, and other Internet sellers have surpassed Barnes & Noble in sales. Meanwhile, the Nook device has fallen out of the spotlight as consumers double-down on Apple’s iPad tablet and Amazon’s Kindle e-reader. According to Barnes & Noble, the dissolution of its two properties is meant to be a tax-free move for current shareholders, and will be completed by the end of August.

Link to the rest at Tech Times

Barnes & Noble’s Dirty Little Secret: Author Solutions and Nook Press

3 March 2015

From David Gaughran:

Nook Press – Barnes & Noble’s self-publishing platform – launched a selection of author services last October including editing, cover design, and (limited) print-on-demand.

Immediate speculation surrounded who exactly was providing these services, with many – including Nate Hoffelder, Passive Guy, and myself – speculating it could be Author Solutions. However, there was no proof.

Until now.

A source at Penguin Random House has provided me with a document which shows that Author Solutions is secretly operating Nook Press Author Services.

. . . .

You will see that the postal address highlighted above for physical submission of manuscripts is “Nook Press Author Services, 1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, Indiana.”

There’s something else located at that address: Author Solutions US headquarters in Bloomington, Indiana.

. . . .

Barnes & Noble has never disclosed that Author Solutions is providing these services, either in the press release announcing same, the communications to Nook Press users, or on the site itself.

. . . .

Also, Barnes & Noble fails to disclose Author Solutions’ involvement to authors purchasing these services. The Nook Press Author Services site goes into great detail about these services but never once mentions that Author Solutions is fulfilling them. In fact, the way the FAQs on the site are worded makes it sound like Barnes & Noble/Nook Press carries out the work itself – which is extremely misleading.

Finally, authors who use Nook Press Author Services are not informed that their personal details are shared with Author Solutions, along with explicit permission to use those personal details to upsell Author Solutions’ infamous marketing packages.

. . . .

A line in the sand needs to be drawn. Partnering with Author Solutions is not acceptable. Hiding that partnership from users of Nook Press Author Services is not acceptable. Sharing Nook Press users’ personal information with Author Solutions is not acceptable. And that message needs to go out very clearly to Barnes & Noble.

Link to the rest at Let’s Get Digital and thanks to James and several others for the tip.

Here’s a link to David Gaughran’s books

The Few, the Proud, the Independent Bookstores

1 March 2015

From The Daily Beast:

Kimberly Daniels doesn’t like to give her age. She recently became the co-owner and manager of a 61-year-old independent bookstore in Southern Pines, North Carolina, and she’s considerably younger than most of her staff and customers—an unpredictable mix of wealthy retirees, equestrians, and officers from nearby Fort Bragg. Young enough to measure her life experiences in shorter blocks than years, she’s part of a new generation of passionate, tech-savvy booksellers. “Fifty months ago, in November, I was living in New York, working in production for a daytime television show, and I never thought I would leave,” she says. Then she got a call from her cousin, who owns the local newspaper in the quaint small town of Southern Pines. The bookstore was for sale. Did she want to take a look? “I’m not athletic, but I got up at 5 in the morning that morning and I went for a run because I had this feeling that my life was going to change on that day, like reallychange,” she says. And it did. “We bought the bookshop and now I’m never leaving and I really love my life.” If her industry is doomed, Daniels apparently doesn’t know it, or doesn’t care.

. . . .

It’s become axiomatic that millennials prefer to live in walkable urban centers—the Pew Research Center recently estimated that two-thirds of the country’s college-educated 25-to-34-year-olds live in cities. The indie bookstore resurgence is inextricable from the gradual reclamation and revival of hollowed-out downtowns across America. “You combine localism with the democratization of the cost of technology, and then you take this incredible entrepreneurial passion that these folks have—you put all that together and you’ve got a recipe that works,” says Teicher.

The convention’s host city of Asheville is a case in point. Its recently rejuvenated downtown core now supports almost 100 restaurants and bars and five independent bookstores, counting the relative newcomer Battery Park Book Exchange—a combination used bookstore and champagne bar.

. . . .

The success of Malaprop’s, and the revival of Asheville, eventually attracted the big chains; since Green started, two Barnes & Noble stores have opened in malls near downtown. “We freaked out,” she admits, but it soon became clear that the new stores had no impact on their business. At least one, she hears, is struggling. And oddly enough, Barnes & Noble has become a sort of ally—if a title is out of stock, she’ll call them, she says with a shrug. “At least they’re not Amazon.”

Other booksellers echo the counter-intuitive idea that the presence of rival stores can actually help an indie’s bottom line. Mark Haber, store manager at the 41-year-old Brazos bookstore in Houston, compares it to the way that the existence of more than one restaurant can help build a city block into a destination. “If you treat it like you’re all trying to do the same thing, share your love of books and literature with other people, and you’re not really competing with each other, I think everyone wins,” he says.

Link to the rest at The Daily Beast and thanks to Dave for the tip.

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