Abandon your dignity and write a racy page-turner

5 March 2015

From The Independent:

Writers should “abandon literary dignity” and write page-turning versions of their thoughtful masterpieces for the e-book audience, the acclaimed author Fay Weldon has suggested.
The 83-year-old author, who has written more than 50 works including The Life and Loves of a She Devil, told an audience at The Independent Bath Literature Festival that a different type of reader needed a different type of writer.

Authors should write a literary version for publication in print form, and a racier “good-bad” version for those who use e-readers such as the Kindle. Weldon revealed she had considered expanding a recent e-book novella for print.

“Writers have to write now for a world where readers are busy, on the move and have little time for contemplation and reflection,” she said. “The writer has to focus on writing better, cutting to the chase and doing more of the readers’ contemplative work for them.”

Weldon expands on the theme on her blog, quoting a survey in The Bookseller last year which showed that 90 per cent of book buyers read e-books with genre and commercial fiction comprehensively outselling literary fiction. One e-reader company, Kobo, also revealed the most read books last year were romance, followed by crime and thriller novels and fantasy.

Link to the rest at The Independent and thanks to Sandra for the tip.

There’s Bad News for E-Readers — And Great News for People Who Still Love Actual Books

5 March 2015

From Arts.Mic:

Out with the “e,” in with the “book.”

Continuing a recent trend, e-reader sales have continued to drop from their 2012 high — to the point of affecting overall revenue at major publishing houses, according to TechCrunch. Publishing giants Penguin Random House and Simon and Schuster shed an average 8.8% of their total profit in 2014, TechCrunch reports, and e-book sales at both houses are a big part of that loss.

It’s the extension of a gradual pushback against e-readers: Whether it’s bookworms at Mashable pointing outthe future irrelevance of the platform or the Guardian declaring predictions of their death (a little) prematurely, e-books are no longer guaranteed to be the future of reading. But regardless of how close e-readers are to the grave, there’s no doubt that they’re headed the wrong direction — to the benefit of traditional hardback and paperback books.

. . . .

Though there will likely continue to be sales spurts for e-readers — especially around holiday gift-buying times, as GeekWire noted in December — this trend downward for e-books is likely to continue. As Mic noted in September, that’s great news for those who love the printed word: Print books have been shown to lead to better comprehension and health for readers.

Link to the rest at Arts.Mic and thanks to Bill for the tip.

Around the world in 80 ways

3 March 2015

From FutureBook:

In 2011 Evan Schnittman said that you know you have a robust e-book market when the Kindle lands in your region.

At the time Kindle had only recently moved out of the States into the UK, and looked like it could be the pioneer behind digital marketplaces the world over. There was also hope back then that both Barnes & Noble (via its Nook platform) and Kobo could challenge Amazon’s hegemony of these robust markets, and warnings that the big tech players such as Apple, Google, and even Facebook could monopolise the routes to the customer.

Much has changed since then, of course, but that comment about Kindle has largely remained true. Where Kindle is strong, digital marketplaces—in all their market growing retail destabilising glory—are also strong, and even when starting out show robust rates of growth. Where Kindle has little presence, growth is much slower and the digital marketplace much flakier.

At least that was and has been the theory. But I wonder now whether this view might be increasingly off the mark.

. . . .

Kindle’s spread has been matched by others. Apple offers e-books in twelve countries, while Kobo says that it now sells ebooks in more than 190 countries, and has localized stores in Canada, the US, Brazil, France, the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, South America, India, and Japan.

But in terms of actual market growth the data is sketchy. We expect Amazon to be in the lead wherever it lands, but in some regions it has been matched by Kobo, Apple, or other strong local players, such as Tolino in Germany. In other markets such as France, Italy, Brazil, and Spain, local players are less strong, but the digital market is still so marginal Amazon’s dominance is not yet fixed. In Italy, according to consultant Marcello Vena, Amazon has 50% of the €40m e-book market; in Brazil, according to journalist Carlo Carrenho, Amazon is only narrowly ahead of Apple, and local player Saraiva. In Scandinavia, where there are large numbers of English-language readers, Amazon is still readying to launch officially, but is being outgunned by local operators such as Mofibo (a Danish-based subscriptions company).

. . . .

According to consultant Rüdiger Wischenbart, who compiles the annual Global eBook Report, e-book growth has continued to be very limited all across continental (non-English) European markets, with a “flattening out” at very low levels. He blames a variety of reasons: from fixed prices, to piracy, to VAT.

Link to the rest at FutureBook

OverDrive Blames Kindle eBook Problem on Technical Snafu

27 February 2015

From Ink, Bits & Pixels:

If you’ve been checking ebooks out of your library over the past month, you may have noticed a certain problem with OverDrive. Numerous library patrons have been complaining on Amazon’s forums and elsewhere that new titles which libraries are adding to their catalogs are no longer available to read on the Kindle.

. . . .

OverDrive is having an issue with their system. It affects titles published since the beginning of the year, and it is impacting publishers both big (Macmillan, Harlequin, HarperCollins) and small (Overlook Press, Sourcebooks, and more).

. . . .

To start, It’s safe to assume that this is not an action taken by the major publishers; this issue is also hitting smaller independent publishers.

. . . .

So what’s going on here?

At this point I really don’t know, but in the absence of any new info my working hypothesis is that this really is a technical snafu. It’s a wide-ranging and very embarrassing technical snafu, but I have no evidence at this time to disprove that claim.

. . . .

Some newly published titles are getting through OverDrive to the Kindle platform, including Big 5 titles.

Link to the rest at Ink, Bits & Pixels

Own the book? Get the ebook free.

17 February 2015

From BitLit:

How it works:

Take a Shelfie

Snap a pic of your bookshelf. We’ll identify all of the books.

Eligible Books

Based on your Shelfie, we’ll let you know which books are available to download.

Claim Your Book

Now that you know which books are available, take a photo of the cover of your book and sign your name on the copyright page in ALL CAPS.

Read Anywhere

Your ebook will be delivered to you via email. From there you can load it to any of your devices.

Link to the rest at BitLit and thanks to Dave for the tip.

E-Books Aren’t Killing Print

12 February 2015

From Forbes:

WHEN AMAZON launched the Kindle in 2007, book purists bemoaned the imminent demise of print. Yet far from heralding a publishing apocalypse, e-books have been adopted only gradually despite their affordability. Although half of U.S. adults own a tablet or e-reader, e-books make up only an estimated 23% of the $35 billion industry–and Pew Research reports that just 4% of Americans are e-book only.

Sales show digital market share differs greatly by genre, though: While guilty readers of dog-eared Harlequin romances have flocked to the format– Nielsen notes 36% of units sold in that genre in 2014 were e-books–most nonfiction and school textbooks are still purchased in print, per PwC research. The tame-looking Kindle hides many a cheap thrill, too: Digital mysteries accounted for 32% of the genre’s units last year, while e-books made up more than a quarter of young-adult units sold, up from just 8% in 2012, according to Nielsen. Three of the top five Kindle bestsellers of 2014 were YA novels; Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch were the only grownups included. John Green’s teen weepie The Fault in Our Stars was the true standout, however–it was both the top print and e-book seller of 2014.

Link to the rest at Forbes and thanks to Nirmala, who notes that the author hasn’t read the latest from Author Earnings, for the tip.

eBook Revenues are Down at Hachette

11 February 2015

From Ink, Bits & Pixels:

We’ll never have complete data on the ebook market, but if we had to judge by the reports from the major publishers then the news would not be good.

Both HarperCollins and Hachette have released quarterly reports this past week which show flat or declining revenues for the publishers.

According to PW, Hachette parent company Lagardère announced that its publishing revenues had dipped in the US, UK, and France:

Revenue at the Hachette Book Group USA fell 8.4% in the fourth quarter, and was down 4.8% for the year, parent company Lagardere reported. The drop, Lagardere said, was thanks to a stronger publishing lineup in 2013, as well as problems stemming from the publisher’s standoff with Amazon over sales terms. Total revenue for Lagardere dropped 5.5%, to 2.00 billion euros for the year, and declined 3% in the final quarter, to 537 million euros.

E-book sales took a big hit at HBG in the fourth quarter, comprising 19% of trade sales in 2014 down from 27% in the fourth quarter of 2013. Once again, Lagardere blamed a stronger publishing schedule in 2013 and the Amazon dispute for the drop in e-book sales. For the full year, e-book sales accounted for 26% of all trade revenue, down from 30% in 2013.

While the unresolved contract dispute with Amazon might be to blame for the dip in US revenues, Hachette Livre also saw similar dips in the UK (4.6%) and in France (8.6%).

Link to the rest at Ink, Bits & Pixels

FCC Extends Accessibility Waiver for Kindle, Kobo eBook Readers

1 February 2015

From Ink, Bits & Pixels:

Just over a year ago the FCC granted US makers of ereader devices a limited exemption from complying with certain accessibility regulations, and this past week the FCC extended that waiver for another year.

As I reported last year, this waiver excuses Amazon et al from having to make ereaders which comply with the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. As I reported last year, this law requires that makers of “advanced communications services” make sure those services are accessible to the disabled.

That is a generally good idea, but one tiny problem with the law is that the term “advanced communications services” is fairly broadly defined. It covers pretty much everything that connects to the web, from software to services to hardware, including tablets and ereaders.

. . . .

Naturally this presents a problem for ebook readers, given that most do not offer TTS. Those same ereaders also lack the verbal cues required to make their menus usable by the visually disabled. This lead Amazon, Sony, and Kobo to ask for a waiver in August 2013.

. . . .

The waiver continues to exempt ereaders from this regulation, and defines them as:

  • the devices have no LCD screen;
  • they have no camera;
  • they are not offered or shipped to consumers with built-in email, IM, VoIP or other similar ACS client applications and the device manufacturer does not develop ACS applications for them;
  • they are marketed to consumers as reading devices and promotional material about them does not tout the capability to access ACS.

Link to the rest at Ink, Bits & Pixels

New publishing trends reshaping reading

30 January 2015

From The Chicago Tribune:

In November, a pair of technology journalists issued the latest in what seems to be a constant stream of announcements proclaiming the start of a book publishing revolution. First, co-authors Jason Hiner and Lyndsey Gilpin said they would crowdfund their project, asking individuals to donate toward a $10,000 goal in exchange for free tote bags, book copies and, for $500, a chance to chat with the authors by phone.

. . . .

“Books have barely been touched by the digital revolution,” Hiner says in a video on the authors’ Indiegogo crowdfunding site. The publishing industry moves slowly. The technology world Gilpin and Hiner are writing about moves quickly. In the gap, anything a book says can be canceled by simple forward momentum while the author waits for the presses to roll.

Compared to what has happened in the music and newspaper industries, digital technologies are fueling more evolution than revolution in book publishing. But change is well under way, starting with the dizzying rise in self-publishing, the rapid growth of all-you-can-read book subscription services, a surge in crowdfunded publishing, and the growth of the e-book.

Mark Coker’s company, Smashwords, owes its existence to e-publishing. Coker launched it after a novel about the soap opera business he co-authored with his wife, Lesleyann Coker, left publishers cold.

“The more I thought about it, the more frustrated I got,” Coker says. Publishers told his agent that “Boob Tube” was a dud because soap-opera-based books always flopped. That’s what the record showed. But Coker wondered how much publishers really knew. “The vast majority of their books fail,” he says. “The dirty secret of the publishing industry is, at the end of the day, they’re really just throwing spaghetti against the wall.”

Link to the rest at The Chicago Tribune

January 2015 Author Earnings Report

28 January 2015

Executive Summary

  • AuthorEarnings reports analyze detailed title-level data on 33% of all daily ebook sales in the U.S.
  • 30% of the ebooks being purchased in the U.S. do not use ISBN numbers and are invisible to the industry’s official market surveys and reports; all the ISBN-based estimates of market share reported by Bowker, AAP, BISG, and Nielsen are wildly wrong.
  • 33% of all paid ebook unit sales on Amazon.com are indie self-published ebooks.
  • 20% of all consumer dollars spent on ebooks on Amazon.com are being spent on indie self-published ebooks.
  • 40% of all dollars earned by authors from ebooks on Amazon.com are earned by indie self-published ebooks.
  • In mid-year 2014, indie-published authors as a cohort began taking home the lion’s share (40%) of all ebook author earnings generated on Amazon.com while authors published by all of the Big Five publishers combined slipped into second place at 35%.

. . . .

U.S. ebook sales have plateaued — or are even declining, relative to print — declare some widely-cited industry statistics. Publishing pundits opine that readers’ Kindles are all “full” now, and talk about the “glut” of ebooks. News articles imply that consumers are abandoning ebooks and are returning to print books, and then those articles speculate about whether ebooks were “just a fad.” Other pundits assert that indie authors will no longer be able to compete with the Big Five traditional publishers, now that those publishers have begun to price some of their ebooks lower.

Lots of speculation. Lots of flawed studies based on 2008 methodologies. Lots of inaccurate statistics. And very few facts.

As always, we turn to the data for real answers.

This is our fifth quarterly Author Earnings report. It is based on a data snapshot of 120,000 of the best selling ebooks on Amazon, giving us a deep cross-sectional data sample comprising roughly 50% of Amazon’s daily ebook sales. According to the publishing industry’s most oft-cited estimate, Amazon controls 67% of the U.S. ebook market. Thus the title-level data used in our analysis includes roughly 33% of all daily ebook sales in the U.S. No other industry survey or ebook market-size estimate comes close to this level of accuracy or detail.

. . . .

The increasing prevalence of lower-priced Big Five titles has had no measurable effect on the Big Five’s share of titles on Amazon’s daily-sales-based ebook bestseller lists.

Similarly, the agency-pricing control afforded by the new contracts Big-Five publishers Macmillan and Simon & Schuster have signed with Amazon.com now allows them set their own final retail prices for many ebooks. Both of them have done so for the majority of titles we captured:

  • 81.6% of Simon & Schuster titles in our dataset were tagged with “This price was set by publisher”on their Amazon.com product page.
  • 94.4% of Macmillan titles in our dataset were tagged with “This price was set by publisher” on theirAmazon.com product page.

But what effect has Macmillan and Simon & Schuster’s return to agency pricing had on the overall ebook market? Apparently not much.

The return to agency pricing by two of the Big Five has had no measurable effect on the Big Five’s share of titles on Amazon’s daily-sales-based ebook bestseller lists.

. . . .

At least a third of all paid ebook unit sales on Amazon.com are Indie self-published ebooks.

But the 33% shown is an extremely conservative lower bound on the true indie market share. The real number is almost certainly several percent higher, because the vast majority of the Uncategorized Single-Author Publisher ebooks are also self-published titles — we simply didn’t have the time (or energy) to check all ten thousand of them, one by one. And what we’ve labeled as Small or Medium Publishers — a designation we use for all publishers that are not the Big Five and not Amazon Publishing Imprints  — includes a significant chunk of multi-author collectives and tiny indie micropresses publishing through KDP. Many in the industry would classify that fraction under self-published ebooks as well.

In our past reports on Barnes & Noble’s ebook sales, we found the ratio of ebook sales by publisher type to be roughly the same on Barnes & Noble as on Amazon, and together Amazon and Barnes & Noble command at least 75% of the U.S. ebook market. The large indie ebook market share is not an Amazon-only phenomenon. It’s safe to conclude that at least a third of all paid ebook unit sales in the U.S. are Indie self-published ebooks.

But publishing industry pundits usually prefer to talk about dollar market share instead of unit market share. They point to the higher average price of traditionally-published books and say that publishers bank dollars, not numbers of books sold. So what about gross consumer dollars spent on ebooks?

. . . .

The Big Five publishers as a cohort still command just over half of consumer dollars spent on ebooks. But this website is titled Author Earnings, not Publisher Earnings. Our focus is always on authors and how much they take home in earnings, rather than how much money is spent on corporate publisher overhead. We are primarily interested in the portion of that gross consumer spend that goes to authors in the form of traditionally-published ebook royalties or self-published ebook revenue share.

. . . .

40% of all dollars earned by authors from ebooks on Amazon.com are earned by Indie self-published ebooks.

A quick aside on Kindle Unlimited (KU). The indie share of author earnings includes 8% from KU borrows of indie books. In our last report, KU was a brand new part of the author-earnings landscape. To account for it accurately, we crowdsourced borrow-versus-buy ratios from hundreds of indie authors participating in KU, and found that they averaged 1:1 (half KU borrows, half full-price purchases). We used that 50% borrow ratio as a baseline in our author earnings calculations, although we found that plugging in any other ratio instead, even 0% borrows or 100% borrows, made little difference in the overall numbers and pie charts. In November, when Amazon.com announced the size of the October KU “pot” at $5.5 million and the indie per-borrow payout at $1.33, we could now double-check our crowdsourced KU-borrow ratio of 50%. So we did:

$5.5 million / $1.33 = 4,135,338 indie KU borrows in October

Which is exactly 48% of the 8,561,293 paid monthly downloads (purchases + borrows) of Indie & Uncategorized books in KU shown by our data — quite close to the 50% we originally crowdsourced. Perhaps the wisdom of crowds is a thing, after all.

. . . .

Only seven months ago, the idea that indie self-published authors and their ebooks were outearning all authors published by the Big Five publishers combined was jaw-dropping heresy. Today, it’s boring — a widely-acknowledged fact among knowledgeable authors, if not industry pundits. Many authors who publish both ways point out their earnings disparity in favor of their self-published titles, and so this data is no longer surprising.

But what is surprising is how consistent each of our quarterly snapshots has been. And because of that quarter to quarter consistency, we can discern a few broader trends…

. . . .

The most notable change over the last few quarters is the continued progressive growth of indie market share at the expense of traditionally published ebooks. Here, we can see it in unit sales terms, in gross consumer dollar terms, and in the all-important metric of author earnings.

a1 a2 a3

Somewhere between May and July of 2014, Indie Published authors as a cohort began taking home the lion’s share of all ebook author earnings generated on Amazon.com, while authors published by all of the Big Five publishers combined slipped into second place.

Link to the rest at Author Earnings

Next Page »