Non-US

Half of UK households now own a tablet

28 May 2015

From Broadband Choices:

The popularity of portable slates has surged since 2011, when just 2% of UK adults owned one. Now, 54% of the population regularly use a tablet and that figure is set to increase to 63% by 2016 – driven by the success of devices including the Apple iPad, Google Nexus and Amazon Fire.

Tablets are the most popular amongst 35 to 54 year olds where take up now stands at 64%. Comparatively, 60% of young adults aged between 16 and 34 use one, and only 37% of over 55s do. Kids are also increasingly tech savvy as 71% of them have now had access to a tablet with a third owning one of their own.

Link to the rest at Broadband Choices

Indigo Books returns to ‘growth mode’ with eye on new store openings

28 May 2015

From The Financial Post:

After several years of what Indigo Books and Music Inc.’s chief executive called the retailer’s “transformation” — a hard drive to bump up sales of non-book items as its core bricks-and-mortar business grappled with the rise of online sales — the company is ready to expand again.

“We are pretty much in growth mode — looking for opportunities to open new stores,” Heather Reisman told analysts on a conference call Wednesday to discuss the company’s improved fourth-quarter results.

Indigo operates eight fewer stores than it did a year ago and has been increasing its offering of electronics, gifts, paper and home décor items to its lineup over the past five years in an effort to diversify its business as the music and book industries made shifts into digital formats and online sales.

Link to the rest at The Financial Post and thanks to Tudor for the tip.

Books Fighting Back In Battle With E-Readers

28 May 2015

From SkyNews:

After years of being under threat from the growing popularity of e-readers, sales figures show the printed book now appears to be holding its own.

The latest statistics from the Publishing Association show that although physical book sales are slightly down, the two mediums are co-existing – with digital revenues accounting for 35% of a sector worth £4.3bn.

At The Hay Literary Festival in Wales, thousands of book lovers flock to read, discuss and dissect their favourite works.

John Boyne, the author of best-selling novel The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, believes the digital danger has passed.

“I think the novelty of e-book has worn off, people have their Kindles, I have a Kindle and I use it when I’m travelling,” he said.

. . . .

“It’s easier than putting books in a bag but people who like books tend to like books as a physical object, so I think the moment when e-books could have superseded books is gone.”

. . . .

“It’s not just about thinking ‘Oh I want to read this important book so I’m going to download it on my kindle’. I want to have the thing; it’s like a badge of identity.”

Link to the rest at SkyNews and thanks to C. for the tip.

Primary school class self-publish charity mystery novel

27 May 2015

From UTV Ireland:

Students at a primary school in Donnybrook, Co Dublin, have written and published their very own mystery novel – all in the aid of charity.

. . . .

Brilliantly entitled The Catas-Trophy, the book is a classic whodunnit centred on the theft of a prestigious basketball trophy from a school in London.

The concept, plot and character development for the novel was devised entirely by the 29 girls in Class 5, aged between 11-12.

Each student wrote a chapter, complete with illustrations, to create the 140-page book. During the writing process regular votes were taken to decide the direction the story should take.

“It was a great lesson in diplomacy,” said class teacher Caoimhe Ní Fhaoláin.

. . . .

“Their attention to detail and commitment to the project has astonished me; they have worked together to fully develop the characters and ensure that the plots are flawless throughout.

“It is a fantastic story. The younger girls in the school have loved reading it,” she said.

. . . .

It has been published by a local printer and is currently being sold to students in the school.

Next week it will be launched on Amazon, with all the proceeds from Kindle downloads going to the Irish Cancer Society and Down Syndrome Ireland.

Link to the rest at UTV Ireland

The Bloomsbury way

19 May 2015

From FutureBook:

Bloomsbury Publishing’s full-year results, published today, show how different bits of the publishing market are transitioning to digital at different rates, and with differing results. Its trade e-book sales fell year-on-year, but digital sales at its professional and academic businesses accelerated as it was able to expand with new business models.

Bloomsbury reported that sales of digital titles in its academic and professional division grew by 35% year on year to £4.2m, more than double the overall industry growth rate in 2014. They now represent 12% of total revenues in the division (2014: 10%).

Bloomsbury noted that its digital strategy reflected the changing needs of scholars, students and librarians.

. . . .

Bloomsbury does not break out all the figures: but it notes that sales of digital titles fell by 4% to £11.7m (£12.2m in 2014), which was 12.1% of its total revenue from sales of books. But that includes sales from its academic and professional division, meaning that consumer e-book sales from its adult and children’s businesses were worth £7.5m in 2014. Last year Bloomsbury noted that digital sales from adult titles were £7.1m, representing 14% of sales: in children’s digital sales were reported to be 8% of total sales of £23.6m at £1.9m. In total therefore there was a drop in consumer e-book sales from £9m to £7.5m. Yet in its report Bloomsbury noted: “Whilst e-book sales are down year on year, also reflecting the success of Khaled Hosseini’s books last year, opportunities for growth continue in many territories and the advent of new devices and new business models such as subscriptions will continue to expand the market. We are beginning to see material sales in India, parts of Europe and the Far East.”

Bloomsbury’s trade business is, perhaps, too small to act as a barometer for the other e-book publishers, but the report again emphasises that successful commercial publishing will lead to buoyancy in an e-book market that is incredibly receptive to certain types of books and certain price points but overall shows distinct signs of maturity.

. . . .

E-books have been good business for trade book publishers, leading to margin improvement and in some cases expanding markets, but there is already a sense that this golden period may be coming to end. Witness for example, the management changes at Orion, announced yesterday, or Bloomsbury’s redundancy of respected editor Bill Swainson. The big publishers are either consolidating, or retrenching. Two senior publishers have told me recently that they are expecting their costs of doing e-book business to increase (from author royalties to retailer discounts and in the UK due to the impact of VAT) and are responding appropriately.

Link to the rest at FutureBook

Digital age poses a new challenge to Iran’s relentless book censors

16 May 2015

From The Guardian:

It is an unlikely setting for an international book fair. But around this time of year, the spacious prayer halls of Tehran’s gigantic Mosalla Grand Mosque are transformed into a labyrinth of stalls occupied by publishers exhibiting their latest titles.

Offering generous discounts, some sell more books in 10 days than in the rest of the year. The fair attracts nearly 5 million visitors, dwarfing international counterparts such as Frankfurt.

All the books on display have been vetted before publication and some heavily censored, as is routine for every book printed in Iran. Visiting the fair this week the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, received a copy of Henry Kissinger’s On China in Farsi as a gift. Also on display is the Farsi translation of Hillary Clinton’s memoir, Hard Choices.

In parallel, however, is an unofficial Iranian book fair. It is online and free from the shackles of censorship that dominate the traditional publishing in Iran.

. . . .

But now there are digital alternatives to the old ways. Nogaam, an online Iranian publishing house, helps writers publish their work as ebooks that can be downloaded from Google Books or the publisher’s website.

Its editor, Azadeh Iravani, said it had published 25 titles since 2013, mostly by authors who are living in Iran and know they have no chance of making it into print due to censorship. It is not clear what, if any, penalties writers could face for online publishing deemed unacceptable.

“If you’re in Iran and your book is rejected or censored to the bone then you had to either bin it or put it in a shelf to gather dust. So online publishers like Nogaam are giving people a new choice,” she said.

. . . .

“E-publishing in Iran is still in its infancy, and there remains a fair amount of scepticism among writers and publishers as to its potential benefits. Despite this uncertainty, diaspora organisations and self-publishing authors inside the country are starting to find some success marketing ebooks,” he said.

“There have been reports of self-published authors selling more than 10,000 copies of their books online, while diaspora publishers such as Nogaam are helping to share banned books with Iranian readers via e-pub formats.”

. . . .

“One of the big problems we face is that Amazon and its Kindle reader don’t support Farsi language,” he said. “Also because of international sanctions people in Iran cannot buy our ebooks from Amazon or similar foreign-based sites.”

Setareh’s firm instead has come up with a creative solution: users in Iran can donate a book’s price to a charity of their choice and send its receipt. They will then be allowed to download the book. Every month, at least 300 books are sold to readers in Iran using this method.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

Royalties and industry image debated at PA a.g.m

15 May 2015

From The Bookseller:

Publishers should start to spread money from the sale of e-books fairly between themselves and authors, and not make assumptions when they start to experiment with new channels that “an author is going to be thrilled with it”, Association of Authors’ Agents president Sam Edenborough has warned.

Speaking at The Publishers Association AGM on Wednesday (13th) on a panel about changing the perception of publishing, Edenborough said that authors often viewed publishers, no matter what their size, as “massive, implacable things they can’t really deal with”. To change that perception, publishers needed to communicate more frequently with authors.

Edenborough added: “I think that the best way to keep authors happy as publishers is to be fair in the way you deal with them.

“What we’re seeing at the moment as agents is publishers wanting more rights and to take more of the author’s property and to try and put it in as many different places as possible, but they want to pay less money and don’t necessarily want to increase the royalties in certain areas. And I think unfortunately, and I know you’re sick of hearing this from agents, but it’s a massive problem. And it’s not just an agent’s problem, it’s an author’s problem.

“It’s been a long time since now you started publishing e-books and we’re not seeing a shift in how the money is being spread around.”

. . . .

“The other thing is don’t make assumptions when you start to experiment with new channels that an author is going to be thrilled with it,” Edenborough said. “It’s a really good idea to ask first then do it later, rather than just assuming you probably have those rights and it would be alright probably to bung the book into a subscription service or into a library.”

. . . .

Alice Bonasio of Elsevier, who is a member of The PA’s communications task force said that a “major challenge” in publishing was “that in such an established industry people have perceptions of what publishing is, what it stands for, how it operates”.

“Whether they’re true or not doesn’t matter,” she added, saying that there were good stories about innovation in publishing, and that more needed to be done to get these stories heard.

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

How This Tokyo Bookstore Made Me Fall Back In Love With Print

14 May 2015

From Medium:

Most devotees of print culture lament the time when Barnes & Noble began to swamp cities across the country with its superstores, driving a lot of independent booksellers out of business.

But there was an upside to that invasion, which New Yorkers of a certain age will remember fondly: the masses of readers able to crowd around the magazine racks at those retail behemoths. For the first time, rather than face the stern warnings of newsstand proprietors (“No looking! You look, you buy!”), readers were free to peruse hundreds of periodicals and acquaint themselves with topics as varied as pro wrestling and punk rock.

These same magazine areas, which then seemed like beacons of a friendlier, more accessible reading culture, now look sad and lonely — dark corners of a dying enterprise.

So I was more than a little surprised when I recently entered the flagship Tokyo store of a multimedia chain called Tsutaya, and saw throngs of people eagerly crowding the magazine section. The store, in the Daikanyama district, felt like a testament to the continued power and relevance of the written word — a place where browsing, reading, and buying books and magazines was a popular and pleasurable experience.

. . . .

Japan’s book and magazine industry looks radically different than our own: though many smaller stores have shuttered, casualties of online commerce, E-books have yet to make a major dent in the business, and many magazines disdain the need for a website. For some reason, the Japanese have remained much more connected to the printed word than Americans.

The longer I spent roaming the stacks, the more I became convinced that this store holds the key to understanding that deeper connection. I also felt like I was falling back in love with the printed word myself, which came as something of a shock — I’m a self-confessed, early-adopting, SIM card-swapping travel geek, currently on my seventh Kindle. This was not a nostalgic, Luddite moment, but a response to five specific principles that became increasingly clear to me as I wandered, browsed, read, and reflected.

. . . .

1. Writing and reading are fundamentally physical activities

The T-Site store has done more than just amass a formidable collection of books and magazines: it has also figured out how to celebrate the physicality of writing and reading. Take the decorations at Anjin, a luminous bar and lounge on the second floor. The walls are filled with bound volumes of visually inspiring magazines, dating back decades, all available for customers to peruse while they down a sandwich or sip a whisky.

. . . .

 At one end of the floor is a shop that stocks what is probably the world’s most comprehensive range of writing instruments, and that also serves as a mini-museum featuring over a thousand different pens, displayed as if each were a work of art. The effect is to make these objects seem slick, sexy and desirable, rather than relics of the past.

. . . .

 The spine and cover designs of books, which used to be the predominant decoration of most of my friends’ apartments, offer a different kind of solace than that which comes from knowing that everything you’ve read lives somewhere in the cloud. Covers and spines are not just decorative items; they are external, tangible reminders of something that may have transformed you internally, emotionally, intellectually. To be able to call them up on your iPad simply isn’t the same as having them surround you — constantly reminding you, when you glimpse them, of the multitudes contained within each one.

. . . .

5. Printed books help to make you who you are

There are, of course, other ways of seeing this. For some, Tsutaya just illustrates one more quirk of Japanese society, like the way the country still buys most of its music on CD. Or worse: One could call it a triumph of fetishism, materialism, and consumerism over what ought to be the unadulterated power of pure words.

I wonder. For most voracious readers I know who came of age in the era of physical books, that physicality wasn’t tangential to the reading experience, it was central. I guess that’s why each time I enter this strange, shiny temple to reading I feel something like the primal pleasure I felt, many years ago, upon touching, reading — and buying — actual books.

And now, because I read almost everything on a device of some kind, Tsutaya reminds me of what I’m missing by doing that. When you first start reading a lot, books become your world and share your space, a reflection of their importance in your life. We lose something when they are reduced to data, as opposed to possessions that constantly remind us of what’s inside them. Books in a home were once one of the chief ways to take stock of, engage with, and understand a new friend or a new love. Now you’d need their Amazon password to do that.

Link to the rest at Medium, where there are lots of great photos. Thanks to Joshua for the tip.

Fixed Book Price in Foreign Book Markets

14 May 2015

From Publishing TrendSetter:

Earlier this year, France made publishing news headlines when its court ruled ebook subscription services like Kindle Unlimited illegal. The law cited was theLang Law, which gives publishers the exclusive right to set the price of a book. Retailers are not allowed to discount more than 5 percent from this set price.

You may be thinking, A measly 5 percent? Here in the United States, we’re used to seeing 50 percent or more slashed off our books.

. . . .

But in other parts of the world, price fixing is even welcomed— especially when it comes to books. Many countries have a fixed book price (FBP) system like France’s Lang Law.

An FBP system is an arrangement between publishers and retailers that establishes a (more or less) fixed price for each book sold in that market. Because retailers can’t compete on price, big box stores and online retailers have less advantage in the market, and independent bookstores have more opportunity to thrive. This diversity in the distribution network, in turn, is supposed to promote bibliodiversity. An FBP system assumes that variety— in booksellers and in books— is necessary for nurturing a healthy reading culture.

In practice, FBP systems look different from country to country. In some countries, FBP is a law; in others, it’s a trade agreement. Other variables include duration, discount rate, and format. For example, how long after publication does the fixed priced apply? What, if any, is the maximum discount allowed? Are ebooks included?

. . . .

The United Kingdom pioneered the FBP system, but doesn’t have one anymore. According to a report by the International Publishers Association, FBP began in the UK as pricing agreements made between publishers and booksellers in 1829; a nationwide Net Book Agreement came into effect in 1900. Then, just short of 100 years old, the Net Book Agreement collapsed in 1995 after major publishers and retailers withdrew. In 1997, it was finally ruled illegal and anti-competitive. By then, one writer for The Guardian reflects, the UK had fully converted to free market capitalism and price had become first priority.

The collapse of the Net Book Agreement has made the British book market more like ours, as predicted by the publisher John Wiley & Sons in 1996, in that it has narrowed. British independent bookstores are on a steep decline (after more than 500 closures in the past decade, the total number of stores dropped below 1000 last year). Though the loss of FBP isn’t the only cause, the worrying situation overall has prompted discussions about bringing the Net Book Agreement back in the UK.

. . . .

Paris-residing writer Pamela Druckerman provides insight into the radically different approach. She clarifies in her New York Times Op-Ed that “what underlies France’s book laws isn’t just an economic position— it’s also a worldview.”

In France, “‘books are seen as a cultural rather than a commercial product,’” echoed a Penguin Random House executive in a Publishing Perspectives article. And, one editor at Gallimard explained, since the Revolution, “‘the French state has always considered that culture is not a private matter.’” The government actually classifies books as an “essential good,” as Druckerman and others have pointed out.

Link to the rest at Publishing TrendSetter and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Most Canadian Publishers Now Selling Ebooks Direct

13 May 2015

From Digital Book World:

66% of Canadian publishers are now selling ebooks directly to consumers, according to a new survey by BookNet Canada.

That share rose 24% since 2013, when 42% of Canadian publishers reported offering direct sales.

Ebook retailers remain the primary distribution channels for most publishers, BookNet Canada finds, but the sharp growth in direct-to-consumer sales methods shows widespread interest in expanding the distribution landscape and forging direct relationships with readers.

. . . .

BookNet Canada also finds that publishers’ “high level of commitment” to digital content stems from a desire to boost sales and meet customer demand. Majorities of the publishers in its sample cited both of those reasons as motivations for producing ebooks.

According to BookNet Canada, “The majority of publishers (69%) report that ebook sales make up 1–10% of their revenue, while 17% of publishers derive 11–20% of their revenue from ebook sales.”

Link to the rest at Digital Book World and thanks to Jan for the tip.

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