Ebook/Ereader Growth

Are You an Adult Who Reads YA Novels? Congratulations, You Saved Publishing in 2014

17 December 2014

From Flavorwire:

We won’t have the full picture until sometime in 2015, but as it stands right now, book publishing had a profitable year in 2014. In the face of constant fighting between the Big 5 publishers and Amazon, book sales are up across all categories by 4.9 percent, according to the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

Even trade sales, as it turns out, are up 2.8 percent this year. And — in a turn of events that should surprise no one — those trade sales were buoyed by a substantial increase in sales of Young Adult and Children’s books, up 22.4 percent over 2013. When you also consider that religious-press books are up by a meager 2.1 percent, and that, horrifyingly, Adult Fiction/Non-Fiction is down by 3.3 percent over last year, it becomes obvious that YA/Children’s books are keeping the industry out of the red.

Ebook sales — which were thought to be declining — are up by 5.6 percent in trade. Hardback sales are down a percentage point, while paperbacks are still strong at an increase of 4.9 percent.

But here’s where things get curious: ebook sales are up by nearly 53 percent in the YA/Children’s book category.

. . . .

It now seems clear that the healthiest market for trade books in 2014 includes adults who buy ebook versions of YA/Children’s books. In a way, these numbers retroactively justify a year of debates over the distinction between children, teenagers, and adults.

. . . .

Although it remains to be seen how the dominance of serial fiction has affected the publishing industry in 2014, we do know that Amazon’s list of 2014 best-sellers featured a majority of fiction serials. It’s no secret that among the subsections of trade books listed by the AAP, YA and Children’s books are the more likely to feature serial storylines.

Link to the rest at Flavorwire and thanks to Meryl for the tip.

What device are you reading on?

16 December 2014

From TeleRead:

Our friends at Book Riot have been on fire in the last week or so, posting a ton of great stuff. One of my favourite posts of the week was this participation-required roundup called ‘What Are You Reading On?’

At the time I myself took the poll, 49% of respondents had listed an e-ink Kindle amongst their stable of devices, which surprised me. I was anticipating that more people than not would have abandoned their Kindles for the world of the tablet. So…why haven’t they? Why are e-ink devices still holding their share in the marketplace?

I think that for many serious readers (and Book Riot caters more to that market than to the casual one or two book a year crowd) there is still a desire to have a separate device for reading. e-Ink Kindles have some software features that have not made it into the app version yet (such as the Vocabulary Builder and WordWise features). Others in the comments also cited the more eye-friendly screens, the smaller form factor and the longer battery charge as factors.

Link to the rest at TeleRead

PG uses his tablet for lots of things, but still prefers his e-ink Kindle for long-form reading.

Another E-book Dip

15 December 2014

From Publishers Weekly:

E-books lost a little bit of sales ground in the third quarter of 2014, according to data from the latest survey of book-buying behavior from Nielsen Books & Consumers. E-books accounted for 21% of unit sales for the year to date through September 30, down from 23% in the January-through-June period. After the first six months of the year, paperbacks represented 42% of units sold; after a slight increase in sales during the third quarter, their share rose to 43%. The hardcover segment’s share of purchases held even at 25%.

The mystery and romance categories had the largest shares of e-book units, at 32% and 36%, respectively, but in both genres paperbacks still accounted for the highest percentage of units sold. In mystery, paperbacks accounted for 37% of purchases; the paperback format took 52% of romance purchases. The Nielsen data also show that e-books lost some of the ground they gained in the young adult category in the first half of 2014, when e-books were 30% of unit sales (on the strength of hot sellers, such as the Divergent series, that performed well in the e-book format). By the end of the third quarter, however, e-books were down to 27% of units sold in the young adult segment.

. . . .

 E-commerce outlets, led by Amazon, accounted for 39% of unit purchases at the end of the first six months of 2014, which remained the same through September. Bookstore chains, too, had the same share at the end of both the six-month and nine-month periods, at 21%.

. . . .

 The Nielsen survey of consumers also found that 57% reported buying their e-books through Amazon in the first nine months of 2014. Amazon’s single closest competitor was BN.com/Nook, which had a 14% share of unit e-book purchases through the first nine months of the year. Apple had only a 6% share.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Stamford library faces changing reading habits

12 December 2014

From the Danbury (Connecticut) News-Times:

Along with the rest of the media world, libraries have been evolving rapidly to keep up with a public that has access to nearly limitless options for reading in many forms other than a traditional, shelved book.

Libraries are offering more classes, are making increasing numbers of e-Books available to their customers and are scheduling more author appearances to make up for the decline in area bookstores.

. . . .

The Stamford library entered the world of e-Books 11 years ago, offering mostly academic books to a relatively small audience, but as the platforms for reading have expanded from Kindles and Nooks to iPads and iPhones, the interest in getting electronic books has steadily increased.

“We had a huge increase (last year) just from December to January. It seemed to start overnight,” she said.

While e-Books still only account for about 5 percent of the material used by library patrons, this year has seen 19 percent growth in e-Books at the Ferguson. October was up 29 percent over the same month last year.

. . . .

“E-books can be very expensive and you don’t own the material,” he said, adding that in most cases libraries purchase a fixed number of downloads on a title (this is why the waiting time for an e-Book loan can be just as long or longer than the wait for an ink-and-paper book).

Shell said that very often two traditional books can be bought and shelved in the permanent collection for the cost of one temporarily leased e-Book.

. . . .

The emergence of e-Books has made it easier and cheaper for writers to self-publish and circulate their work.

The Danbury Library has offered regular sessions on “the ABCs” of e-Books, Shell said.

“We want people to understand self-publishing,” he said.

The growth of self-publishing via e-Book has resulted in more of these writers having their work added to library collections in Danbury and Stamford.

“We read it and vet it and put it in our collection,” Shell said.

. . . .

“Some of our prejudices about self-publishing have disappeared,” Knapp said. “Some of them are fantastic. When it comes to Stamford authors — (traditionally) published or self-published — we’re going to collect them. But they have to earn a place on the shelf.”

Link to the rest at Danbury News-Times 

Wal-Mart Should Buy Barnes & Noble’s Struggling Nook Division

5 December 2014

From The Street:

Since his promotion to CEO of Barnes & Noble  in January 2014, Michael Huseby has been preparing the struggling Nook digital media division for sale, but so far no suitors have shown themselves. Huseby should look no further than the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores .

Wal-Mart has been steadily investing in and growing its digital businesses and needs to find more ways to compete with Amazon. While Nook has been failing since 2012, it still has underlying assets — a catalog of millions of e-books, thousands of relationships with publishers and suppliers, and a robust self-publishing services business — that would be valuable for a company interested in investing in e-books and would be hard to build from scratch.

. . . .

“It is definitely a good idea if Wal-Mart cares about being in the book business or the digital media business long term,” said book publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin. “If that’s a priority for them, acquiring Nook would probably be the cheapest way to ensconce themselves in the game.”

With Nook, Barnes & Noble was once solidly the No. 2 e-book retailer in the U.S., behind Amazon, with a reported 25% market share to Amazon’s 65%. That was in 2012, when Nook revenues eclipsed $900 million and then-CEO William Lynch charted a course to reach $1 billion in annual revenue.

The plan involved Nook continuing to sell more Nook devices in the growing tablet business, as well as selling more e-books on those devices and increasing digital content sales across the board.

Neither of those things happened.

. . . .

What’s next for Nook?

Barnes & Noble has said that spinning off Nook as a separate public company is also an option to exit the business. With a consistent track record of losses and declining revenues, it’s not a very good one.

Instead, Barnes & Noble should sell Nook to Wal-Mart.

According to one source who did not want to be named, the big retailer is exploring entering the e-book business. Buying Nook would be an easy and inexpensive way for the company to do so. Wal-Mart declined to comment.

Like many Amazon competitors, Wal-Mart has been trying to expand in digital. It expects its e-commerce sales in 2015 to increase to $12.5 billion after accelerating its digital investments to between $1.2 and $1.5 billion, up from $1 billion in 2014.

While $12.5 billion is nothing to sneeze at, it’s a fraction of Amazon’s projected 2015 revenue, which will eclipse $100 billion. And it’s less than 3% of Wal-Mart’s $473 billion in sales in 2014, which are expected to grow 2% to 4% in 2015.

A Wal-Mart spokesperson said that funds for digital acquisitions would not come from its capital expenditures on digital expansion and pointed out that the company has made 14 e-commerce acquisitions in the past several years.

“We are open to acquisitions if they fit into our enterprise strategy,” the spokesperson said, via email.

Nook “is a nice fit with Wal-Mart’s print book business,” said James McQuivey, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester focused on the book publishing industry. “They could probably also get it for a decent price.”

To be sure, there are significant risks. In the U.K., retailers Tesco and Sainsbury both launched e-book businesses, but Amazon still has about 90% of the market.

Link to the rest at The Street

PG says if Big Publishing thinks Amazon is tough when negotiating contracts with suppliers, they’ll gain some perspective on that subject should Wal-Mart enter the ebook business.

Amazon claims Black Friday e-reader and Fire tablet sales boom

2 December 2014

From VB News:

Amazon has announced something of a Black Friday sales boom for its flagship Kindle e-reader and Fire tablet.

Though the e-commerce giant didn’t divulge specific figures (it never does), it did reveal that it shifted four times as many Kindles and three times as many Fire tablets as on Black Friday 2013.

Link to the rest at VB News and thanks to Nirmala for the tip.

eBooks Could Finally Inch Past Print In 2018

24 November 2014

From TechCrunch:

PricewaterhouseCoopers analysts are predicting (again) that ebooks could soon edge out print as publishers’ most lucrative products. What does this mean? Essentially that a ebook popularity and pricing stabilizes, users will spend more on bits than they will on pulp. The resulting switch could be the final nail in the print coffin.

. . . .

The Digital Reader points out that PwC has been making this same prediction over and over again, year after year. Why? Because at some point they will be correct.

I honestly expected ebooks to overtake print in the US far sooner. The numbers still point to print surpassing ebooks with alarming regularity and print is still wildly popular in Europe. But this will change as cheaper ereaders become available but there is also a generational issue. Kids and older adults – audiences that bookend the book market – are still reading print books as the plethora of 50 Shades, Twilight, and Harry Potter titles at second-hand bookshops can attest. But as parents become more comfortable with leaving a tablet with the kids as they doze off I feel even the first of these hold-fasts can soon crumble. As for older adults this number is chipped away as grandparents and parents become familiar with their kids’ Kindles.

Link to the rest at TechCrunch and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

Ebook Publishing Gets More Difficult from Here – Here’s How to Succeed

20 November 2014

From Mark Coker via The Smashwords Blog:

First the good news.

For indie authors, there’s never been a better time to self-publish an ebook.  Thanks to an ever-growing global market for your ebooks, your books are couple clicks away from over one billion potential readers on smart phones, tablets and e-readers.

. . . .

Now the bad news. 

Everything gets more difficult from here. You face an uphill battle. With a couple exceptions – namely Scribd and Oyster – most major ebook retailers have suffered anemic or declining sales over the last 12-18 months.

The gravy train of exponential sales growth is over.  Indies have hit a brick wall and are scrambling to make sense of it.  In recent weeks, for example, I’ve heard a number of indie authors report that their sales at Amazon dropped significantly since July Amazon launched Kindle Unlimited (I might write about Kindle Unlimited in a future blog post).  Some authors are considering quitting.  It’s heartbreaking to hear this, but I’m not surprised either.  When authors hit hard times, sometimes the reasons to quit seem to outnumber the reasons to power on.  Often these voices come from friends and family who admire our authorship but question the financial sensibility of it all.

The writer’s life is not an easy one, especially when you’re measuring your success in dollars.  If you’re relying on your earnings to put food on your family’s table, a career as an indie author feels all the more precarious.

. . . .

1.  There’s a glut of high-quality ebooks

There’s been a lot of hand-wringing by self-publishing naysayers who criticize the indie ebook movement for causing the release of a “tsunami of drek” (actually, they use a more profane word than “drek”) that makes it difficult for readers to find the good books.  Yes, indie publishing is enabling a tsunami of poor-quality books, but critics who fixate on drek are blinded to the bigger picture. Drek quickly becomes invisible because readers ignore or reject it.  The other, more important side of this story is that self-publishing is unleashing a tsunami of high-quality works.  When you view drek in the broader context, you realize that drek is irrelevant.  In fact, drek is yin to quality’s yang.  You must have one to have the other.  Self-publishing platforms like Smashwords have transferred editorial curation from publishers to readers, and in the process has unleashed a greater quantity and diversity of high-quality content then ever possible before.

The biggest threat to every indie or traditionally-published author is the glut of high-quality low-cost works.  The quality and potency of your competition has increased dramatically thanks to self-publishing, and the competition will grow stiffer from this day forward.

Ten years ago, publishers artificially constrained book supply by publishing a limited number of new titles each year, and by agents and publishers rejecting nearly everything that came in through the slush pile. There was an artificial scarcity of books.  The supply was further constrained by the inability of physical brick and mortar bookstores to stock every title.  Even big box stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders could only stock a small fraction of the titles published by publishers each year, and as such they were forced to return slow-selling books to make room for new releases.

. . . .

3. The rate of transition from print books to ebooks is slowing

The early adopters for ebooks have adopted.  The exponential growth in ebook sales over the last six years was driven by a number of factors, most notably a rapid transition from print reading to ebook reading, and the success of ebook retailers such as Amazon, iBooks and Barnes & Noble.  Today, ebooks probably account for between 30 to 35% of dollar sales for the US book market, with genre ebook fiction a bit higher and romance quite a bit higher.  Since ebooks are priced lower than print, the 30-35% statistic understates the amount of reading that has moved to screens.  Most likely (especially when you include free ebooks), screen reading in the ebook format probably accounts for around half or more of all book words read.  But the rate of transition from print to ebooks is slowing.  We’ve reached at state that might best be described as a temporary equilibrium.  I think reading will continue to transition to screens, but at a much slower rate of transition than during the last six years.  The slower rate of growth will therefore limit the number of new eyeballs available for the ever-growing supply of ebooks.

Link to the rest at The Smashwords Blog and thanks to Scath for the tip.

In Europe, Slower Growth for e-Books

18 November 2014

From The New York Times:

E-books have made impressive inroads into the English-reading world, but their success in Europe — even among wealthy, tech-savvy countries with robust publishing industries — remains spotty at best. In the United States and Britain, sales of e-books represent between a quarter and a third of the consumer book market and, by 2018, will edge out printed and audio books as the most lucrative segment, according to projections by the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. But the picture is radically different in continental Europe. Last year, digital books made up 8 percent of the consumer book market in France, less than 4 percent in Germany and Italy, and 1 percent in Sweden and Norway.

. . . .

The reasons for Europe’s slow embrace of e-books vary from country to country, said Rüdiger Wischenbart, a publishing analyst based in Vienna who studies emerging e-book markets. In the case of Sweden, he said, e-books are popular, but are mostly lent out for free through the library system. In France and many other European countries, Mr. Wischenbart said, there is a cultural attachment to print that’s hard for readers and publishers to shake. “When you read a book, you define yourself as being part of a cultural elite, and that elite is very conservative,” he said. “They don’t want their high status to be undermined by some new gadget.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times

Vook continues ebook publishing consolidation with Coliloquy acquisition

15 November 2014

From TeleRead:

Ebook production and publishing platform Vook has continued its rollup of competitors and complementary ebook players with the acquisition of Coliloquy, the Palo Alto-based “digital publisher of enhanced and interactive ebooks and apps,” which has apparently specialized in interactive and rich media publications on the Kindle and other ebook platforms, currently boasting some 30 titles under its own imprint.

. . . .

Vook is not slow to put forward expansive claims for its own efforts, describing its acquisition of epublishing company Byliner, as “its first step in using technology to rebuild the publishing industry from the ground up – this time, putting authors first.” It was founded in 2009 by Bradley Inman, a West Coast serial entrepreneur with several internet companies in his resume prior to Vook, and appears to be following a classic aggregation strategy of consolidating other businesses around its own platform.

Link to the rest at TeleRead

PG says that, in all likelihood, the authors who had contracts with Coliloquy will now find that Vook owns those contracts.

Vook can be expected to enforce those contracts according to their written terms. Any promises that Coliloquy made to authors that are not included in the contracts will go out the window. At least some of the people who made those promises will probably not be working for Vook any more.

A common response to a request for making a contract change is something like, “We would never do that. That’s not the way we operate.” PG’s standard reply is something like, “Great. Let’s change the contract to fit how you do operate.”

One of the problems with life-of-the-copyright terms in a publishing contract, especially for younger authors, is that in future years all the people who attract an author to sign with a particular publisher will be dead, yet the contract will continue.

Many older authors who signed publishing contracts twenty or thirty years ago find that the publishers they signed with are long gone, sucked into a big media conglomerate, and the values which governed their old publishers have disappeared.

Next Page »