Ebooks

CoreSource® Connects 750+ Publishers to Microsoft’s Digital Bookstore

25 April 2017

From Ingram’s public relations department:

Ingram Content Group has been working with Microsoft to build inventory for the initial launch of the new books category in the Windows Store. CoreSource®, Ingram’s digital asset management and distribution platform, is already delivering content from over 750 publishers to the Windows Store.

With the Windows 10 Creators Update we are excited to bring books to the Windows Store,” said Alex Holzer, Director, Microsoft Digital Stores. “With books in Windows Store, you can discover and read e-books from your favorite authors across genres you love. We are pleased to work with Ingram’s team and CoreSource technology to bring content to readers.”

. . . .

“We’re always looking to add more distribution channels to CoreSource for our customers,” said Lewis Pennock, Director of Digital Retail Sales at Ingram Content Group. “Offering books in the Windows Store is one of the highest potential sales channels to come to the market in several years; it will be a great opportunity for our publishers to get their books into more readers’ hands across multiple devices.”

Link to the rest at Ingram

PG says there’s an art to writing good press releases. To quickly study that art, compare and contrast this Ingram press release with any press release issued by Amazon.

Sorry, Ebooks. These 9 Studies Show Why Print Is Better

15 April 2017

From The Huffington Post:

Don’t lament the lost days of cutting your fingers on pristine new novels or catching a whiff of that magical, transportive old book smell just yet! A slew of recent studies shows that print books are still popular, even among millennials. What’s more: further research suggests that this trend may save demonstrably successful learning habits from certain death. Take comfort in these 9 studies that show that print books have a promising future:

Younger people are more likely to believe that there’s useful information that’s only available offline.
While 62 percent of citizens under 30 subscribe to this belief, only 53 percent of those 30 and older agree. These findings are from a promising study released last year by Pew Research, which also found that millennials are more likely to visit their local library.

. . . .

Students opt for physical copies of humanities books, even when digital versions are available for free.
While students prefer reading digital texts for science and math classes, they like to study the humanities in print. A study conducted by the University of Washington in 2013, and quoted in The Washington Post, shows that 25 percent of humanities students bought physical versions of free ebooks.

Link to the rest at The Huffington Post and thanks to Ron for the tip.

And because studies have shown that the audience remembers more from a live stage play than from a television show or movie, the latter two media formats have no future.

Book publishing in the digital age

11 April 2017

From TechCrunch:

In 2012, we launched Thought Catalog Books. With Thought Catalog the website, we mastered producing short-form writing for the web and we wanted a new challenge. We hoped to build a counterweight to Thought Catalog’s trendy digital brand with a more contemplative spin-off brand as a book publisher.

There were two questions driving the identity of our book startup: In the age of algorithms and social media, can we create an enclave where creative and intellectual sophistication still matter? Can we build a publishing model where readers instead of advertisers are the main stakeholders?

It’s critical to understand Thought Catalog Books in the context of the website because when ThoughtCatalog.com went live in 2010, it wasn’t a viral publisher. The non-buzzworthy “Thought Catalog” name reveals a total lack of foresight into the viral publisher trend. Thought Catalog was supposed to be an “experimental cultural magazine.”

The problem was, the experiment with journalistic writing had a conclusive and dire result. Long-form writing like profiles of musicians, book reviews and cultural analysis would bankrupt us, and we pivoted. Audience insights from Facebook data become our publisher, Google data our editor in chief, and Twitter signals our managing editor. Thought Catalog was one of the first magazines built by data from social media and that made us, along with BuzzFeed and a few others, part of the first gold rush of digital publishing.

Money wasn’t the only goal, though. Money is a lifeblood for any company, but we still had higher ideals. We wanted readers, not just visitors; artistic appreciation, not just social likes. This desire to elevate the conversation is what separates a content company from a media company, and we consider ourselves the latter. Well-funded media companies deal with this by commissioning what is deemed the “important stuff” as a loss leader.

. . . .

The book business model is kinder to long-reads. A 5,000-word piece commissioned at $1.00 a word requires about one million reads for the publisher to break even on an optimized ad setup. Often even viral lists won’t get one million visitors, let alone long-form investigative journalism or in-depth creative work. With book publishing, you would only need about 2,000 people to buy the e-book at $4.99 to recoup your investment.

. . . .

We were surprised to learn that print books and digital books were almost two distinct businesses with totally different operating models. While a print book and an e-book share identical content, they reflect diametrically opposed media formats. Print books are luxury goods and e-books are utility, and this has real implications in the strategy and workflow behind the marketing and production of each.

. . . .

You can’t create much markup on utility, whereas you can create a great deal of markup on luxury. This has been perhaps one of the most important insights driving Thought Catalog Books’ growth. The print books department needs to be run like a luxury goods company, while the e-book department needs to be run like a technology company. The content is the same, but the medium dictates an entirely different business model.

. . . .

Online native content is effective for short-form stories, but if a brand wants to cut deeper and build an in-depth story, the print book is the perfect medium. Native and sponsored content is short-form content that readers only engage with for a few minutes. With sponsored books, advertisers tap into an in-depth branding opportunity using the most time-tested storytelling technology out there — a printed book, where readers often spend hours if not days with their content and keep it perhaps forever on their bookshelf.

. . . .

As e-books become increasingly popular, selling physical books on Amazon might make less sense. At Thought Catalog Books, Amazon is a dream partner for digital distribution and certain kinds of print distribution. Amazon doesn’t make sense, though, for selling our premium print books. For us, there is more personality in ordering the book through a more custom e-commerce experience or through an independent brick-and-mortar retailer. If books are truly luxury items, then just as a high-end clothing brand doesn’t want to sell on Amazon, we, as a specialty book publisher, don’t want our products there either. This might eventually be the case with other, larger publishers at some point which, at the very least, may begin limiting their print distribution on Amazon.

Link to the rest at TechCrunch and thanks to Felix, who says “A couple interesting insights surrounded by a lot of weird ideas. The weird won,” for the tip.

PG says another difference between “online native content” and printed books with advertising is that an advertiser can measure whether anyone actually reads online content and can’t measure whether anyone reads a printed book.

As for publishers “limiting their print distribution on Amazon,” readers seem to be helping to limit the distribution of printed books on and off Amazon.

eBook Sales Are Dead & Connecting with Readers

4 April 2017

From Indies Unlimited:

“My sales have flat-lined. Nobody is selling any books.”

“There are no readers left. We’ve swamped them with too many free books.”

“Print is more popular, eBook sales are dead.”

Have we officially entered the season of dread and negativity? Is there no positive energy left in IndieBook Land? I heard variations of the above statements recently and I didn’t like it. And, I don’t agree.

I ran a contest the other day. It was simple. Click on a free eBook then email me the title and you’re entered to win one of two $10 Amazon gift certificates. I sent it out in a newsletter that also advertised a bunch of free eBooks from various authors. I wasn’t sure whether ten bucks would be enough to entice readers to enter but I thought I’d try anyway. It was enough. It worked. The results were really interesting.

The open rate for my newsletter was 70%, and the click rate was just a shade under 40%. Those are strong numbers. I’ve never sent out a newsletter with those kinds of returns.

. . . .

The readers who emailed me their entries talked to me. Some just sent the title of the book they had downloaded, but many of them sent me messages.

. . . .

“I’m on a limited budget. Thank you for sending me the links to the books.”

“I had already downloaded Pam of Babylon, and now I’ve found another that I liked. Thanks!”

“What a great project for us. I’ve already got lots of books from these giveaways.”

Link to the rest at Indies Unlimited

Author Earnings has also demonstrated that a huge proportion of ebook sales are by indie authors and don’t show up on any of the traditional sales reporting services.

Tencent plans e-book IPO

25 March 2017

From LiveMint:

Tencent Holdings Ltd is planning to spin off its e-book business as it boosts spending on payments and content to lure users and keep them glued to its WeChat service.

An initial public offering of the Kindle-like business is planned for Hong Kong, the Shenzhen-based company said on Wednesday after posting quarterly earnings that trailed analyst estimates. While net income surged 47% to 10.5 billion yuan ($1.5 billion), that trailed the 11 billion yuan expected by analysts.

. . . .

China Reading Ltd, as Tencent’s literature unit is known, is said to have asked bankers to pitch for a role arranging an IPO that could raise about $500 million. President Martin Lau said it would also consider other spinoffs without identifying targets. The company also operates a music and video-streaming service.

While Tencent’s services have a massive reach in China, growth is slowing as it nears saturation in its home market. In addition to new games, it’s funding blockbusters including “Kong: Skull Island” and “Warcraft” and sitting atop a plethora of intellectual property for anime and online novels distributed via its websites. The company has aspirations to eventually create a Marvel-like movie empire, as it competes with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd for users.

Link to the rest at LiveMint

eBook Pirates Are Relatively Old and Wealthy, Study Finds

24 March 2017

From TorrentFreak:

A new study has found that people who illegally download eBooks are older and wealthier than most people’s perception of the average pirate. Commissioned by anti-piracy company Digimarc, the study suggests that people aged between 30 and 44 years old with a household income of between $60k and $99k are most likely to grab a book without paying for it.

In 2017, people can download any digital content they like from the Internet, but that’s still most likely to be movies, TV shows and music. Bubbling underneath, however, is a steady demand for pirated eBooks.

Ebooks are relatively cheap when compared to other digital content, but their handy file size and ubiquity ensures that millions of titles are just a few convenient clicks away.

A new study, commissioned by anti-piracy company Digimarc and conducted by Nielsen, aims to shine light on eBook piracy. It was presented yesterday at The London Book Fair and aims to better understand how eBook piracy affects revenue and how publishers can prevent it.

In previous studies, it has been younger downloaders that have grabbed much of the attention, and this one is no different. Digimarc reveals that 41% of all adult pirates are aged between 18 and 29 but perhaps surprisingly, 47% fall into the 30 to 44-year-old bracket. At this point, things tail off very quickly, as the remaining ~13% are aged 45 or up.

There are also some surprises when it comes to pirates’ income. Cost is often cited as a factor when justifying downloading for free, and this study has similar findings. In this case, however, richer persons are generally more likely they are to download.

Around 13% of pirates have an annual household income of under $30k, with those earning between $30k and $59k making up 19% of the total. At this point there is a sizeable leap, with 36% of pirates claiming to earn between $60k and $99k per annum. Around 29% make more than $100k a year.

Overall, the majority of illegal downloaders are relatively well-educated, with more than 70% having either graduated from college or in possession of a post graduate degree.

. . . .

Also of interest are the methods used by pirates to obtain their eBook fix. Sharing joint top position with 31% are public torrent sites (such as The Pirate Bay) and cyberlocker sources such as 4shared or Uploaded.

Link to the rest at TorrentFreak and thanks to M. for the tip.

Did technology kill the book or give it new life?

23 March 2017

From the BBC:

Digital technology has certainly had a profound effect on the traditional book publishing and retailing industries, but has it also given the book a new lease of life?

At one point it looked as if the rise of e-books at knock-down prices and e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook posed an existential threat to book publishers and sellers.

“Literature found itself at war with the internet,” as Jim Hinks, digital editor of Comma Press, succinctly puts it.

But contrary to expectations, the printed book is still surviving alongside its upstart e-book cousin, and technology is helping publishers and retailers reach new audiences and find new ways to tell stories.

. . . .

In the UK, roughly £1.7bn was spent on print books last year, compared with £393m on e-books, says Nielsen Book Research’s Scott Morton. The digital newcomers’ share of the market seems to have settled at about 30%.

On the high street, Waterstones saw physical book sales grow 5% over the Christmas period compared with the year before, while Foyles saw sales rise 8.1%.

The era of the printed book, it would seem, is far from over. But a lot depends on the sector you’re looking at.

Adult fiction – particularly romantic and erotic – has migrated strongly to the e-book, whereas cookery and religious books still do well in print, as do books with illustrations. All for fairly obvious reasons.

. . . .

London-based tech start-up Bookindy is using technology to encourage people back to struggling local bookshops.

It does this with a Chrome browser plug-in – each time you search Amazon for a book, a window pops up saying how much it would cost at your nearest independent bookseller.

Founder William Cookson, who describes himself as “just an average sort of book reader”, says his creation took just three days to code.

It helped that he could tap in to an existing network of 350 independent British bookshops called Hive, which enables retailers to check stock and fulfil orders.

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

Lords call for digital literacy to be ‘fourth pillar’ of education

21 March 2017

From The Bookseller:

A group of Lords has called on the government to make digital literacy sit alongside reading, writing and mathematics as a “fourth pillar” of education.

The Lords Communications Committee report “Growing Up With The Internet” has demanded intervention “at the highest level of government” after hearing evidence that the internet does not take sufficient account of the fact that the needs of children are different to those of adults.

The current regime of self–regulation is “underperforming”, it said.

The committee said that digital literacy -the skills and knowledge to critically understand the internet – is vital for children to navigate the online world and should sit alongside reading, writing and mathematics “as the fourth pillar of a child’s education”.

. . . .

“It is no longer sufficient to teach digital skills in specialist computer science classes to only some pupils,” the report said. “We recommend that digital literacy sit alongside reading, writing and mathematics as the fourth pillar of a child’s education; and that no child should leave school without a well-rounded understanding of the digital world.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

They know not what they say: Why a Guardian article about young readers’ appetite for print may be misleading

21 March 2017

From Melville House:

In the Guardian this week, Sian Cain opens an article called “Ebook sales continue to fall as younger generations drive appetite for print” with this assertion:

Readers committed to physical books can give a sigh of relief, as new figures reveal that ebook sales are falling while sales of paper books are growing — and the shift is being driven by younger generations.

Her numbers come from the Nielsen Corporation, whose data are generally read as closely by publishers as by those driving other media.

. . . .

While it’s true that, as a top-line revenue marker, e-books have declined over the past several years, it is not at all clear that this shift is being driven by innate preferences among younger readers, rather than factors more specific to the particular titles those young readers are buying. Take, for instance, the new Harry Potter book published last year by Scholastic, which Nielsen lists as 2016’s all-around top-seller. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, it was the script of a play, a genre ill-suited for e-books; factor in that many Potterheads probably want their own print copies as collectables, and the fact that this particular title has sold most heavily in print seems less relevant.

In fact, looking at Nielsen’s list of which kids’ books are selling well in print, we find many titles that may be ill-suited suited to electronic reading, from the scrawl-and-sketch-filled Diary of a Wimpy Kid series to the lushly illustrated The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Both are available as e-books, of course, but in both cases it seems likely that consumers are mindful of how much better the content is served by print.

. . . .

 As Andrew Nusca reported in Fortune a year and a half ago, print books are still on the decline as a trend. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be years in which the data seem to say otherwise, but rather that a larger, overall transition from print toward digital remains visible despite them. And an inquiry that excludes consideration of how a given year’s particular titles might work in varying formats is an incomplete one.

Link to the rest at Melville House

Of course, Author Earnings has shown us that traditional sources of industry information for the book business don’t include Amazon’s massive sales of ebooks. The OP from a traditional publisher is an interesting exception to this rule.

Pulling up to a higher level, anyone who has observed groups of teenagers lately will have seen an obsessive attention to their cell phones. The use of iPads and other tablets in many U.S. schools begins during the elementary years. The lack of computer screens and tablets in a school is generally regarded as a marker of a seriously under-resourced school system.

The idea that a screen-native generation will reliably believe that stories should be read on paper seems illogical. Yes, children are intrigued by colorful objects, be they books or toys, at least up to a certain age, but is that a basis for concluding that the future of printed books is anything but bleak?

 

With Audiobooks Hot, Publishers Should Look to Bundle Them With E-Books

21 March 2017

From Publishers Weekly:

I grew up in a rural area with not much to offer an imaginative kid who’d much rather live in London—and, though my parents were very educated, the town I lived in couldn’t support a bookstore. Fortunately, our house was close to the public library, where I basically lived until I was 15, at which point they hired me as a page after school and on weekends.

Holding a new and different book in my room or at the base of the willow tree where I liked to read in summer was a nearly sacred feeling for me. Books were views into worlds I wanted to partake in—worlds where people spoke other languages, had other ways of living, and didn’t have to put up with boys stealing their calculators before chem class and dismantling them. Decades later, I moved from physical books to e-books, which I adopted enthusiastically to cut down on the sheer mass of books in my apartment and avoid lugging around the heavy sagas I love to lose myself in while traveling.

Recently, though, I’ve been part of the return-to-print trend demonstrated by the 3.3% rise of print unit sales in 2016, reported earlier this year by NPD BookScan. The feeling of holding the book, which mattered so much to me as a kid, was just too powerful to let go. I also need to curl up before bed with a long, immersive story—and screen glare tends to affect my sleep thereafter. The soft yellowish invitation of a page, as opposed to the harsh blue glare of a screen, seems more welcoming and soothing.

But I’ve just started a new consulting gig that has me commuting from Staten Island to Manhattan. And I’m not as young as I was—I don’t want to throw my back out carrying Bleak House around, and I’d alike to be able to adjust print size.

. . . .

 Since the inception of the Kindle, publishers have agonized over e-book pricing. When e-book prices from the major publishers reverted back to the agency model, Amazon retaliated by heavily discounting the paperback versions. Thanks to the first-sale doctrine, which applies to physical products, Amazon has the right to set any price it likes on titles it’s purchased from publishers. By positioning print books as a sort of loss leader—the very way they positioned e-books to gain adoption in 2007—Amazon made it more likely that consumers choose physical over digital books.

. . . .

 What the consumer seems to want, in terms of bundling, is an e-book–audio package.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

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