BookBub – it’s Groupon for ebooks

27 January 2015

From The Guardian:

In 2010, the daily deals website Groupon launched a competition to find a person willing to live off nothing but their discount vouchers for a year – in return for $100,000 (£66,000) cash at the end of it. They weren’t short of entrants, and the winner, a 28-year-old unemployed accountant from Chicago named Josh Stevens, even made it over to the UK as part of his discount tour.

. . . .

Having requested recommendations [from BookBub for] the autobiography, history, non-, sci- and lit-fiction categories, the three to five recommendations that pop into my inbox every day have duly cleaved to the Groupon style: mostly self-published works, bios of the less authorised kind, and multi-book epics with interesting cover fonts. They’re definitely good deals, though, with most discounted to 99p, and plenty of free offers.

. . . .

BookBub’s own figures confirm these biases: the average subscriber reads seven books a month (and romance fans, who account for 20% of sales, read 11).

Link to the rest at The Guardian

blinkbox Books to close after Waterstones talks fail

27 January 2015

From The Bookseller:

Tesco will close its e-books service blinkbox Books at the end of February after talks with Waterstones to buy the platform broke down.

All 60 core staff who work on the blinkbox Books platform are now expected to enter a consultation period over their jobs and are likely to be made redundant.

. . . .

“We have taken the decision to close our e-book service blinkbox Books. We’ve learnt a lot since launching the service and whilst we saw encouraging levels of take up, we believe that we can do more for our customers by focusing on our core business. The service will close by the end of February.” The spokesperson added: “Our focus now is on the colleagues affected and our customers.”

Tesco bought the e-book platform, then called Mobcast, for £4.5m from author Andy McNab and business partner Tony Lynch in September 2012 and rebranded it under the blinkbox name, to coincide with the film and movie streaming platform the supermarket had also bought in order to compete in the digital entertainment market.

Reports surfaced in October that Tesco had put all three arms of Blinkbox up for sale.

. . . .

Tesco’s e-book platform went live in March last year, with managing director Gavin Sathianathan saying the platform launch was “just the beginning”, with the service to “evolve” in the coming months.

Publishers welcomed its launch at the time as providing diversity in the digital marketplace to rival Amazon’s near 90% share of the e-book market.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Draft2Digital and Tolino Join Forces

27 January 2015

Ebook distributor Draft2Digital has announced that it has entered into a partnership with German bookselling conglomerate Tolino.

From the press release:

A powerful partnership between an American ebook distributor and a German bookselling conglomerate promises to bring many new books to a hungry European market. Starting today, any author who is part of Draft2Digital’s catalog of 40,000+ books can opt into Tolino’s digital stores.

Originally a German response to Amazon’s Kindle, the cooperative of five German tech and media companies have made moves into other European countries as well.  Through partnerships with Belgian, Italian, and Dutch booksellers, Tolino has created a significant footprint in central Europe. Recent reports suggest that Tolino has as much as 42% of the German ebook market, which is the third largest English-language ebook market in the world.

Tolino offers their own proprietary ebook readers that tie into an infrastructure allowing the partnered companies and booksellers to share development and maintenance costs for both the online stores and ereader technology.

Draft2Digital is pleased to add to the power of the Tolino market with their catalog, but even more excited to open a whole new, international market for their authors.

. . . .

Checking a box is all an author needs to do in order to opt into the Tolino markets.

More information at Draft2Digital

China’s Book Consumption in 2014

26 January 2015


China’s largest online book retailer,, released its 2014 book consumption report on 13 January 2015.

. . . .

E-book consumption has increased dramatically along with the development and popularization of smart phones. The ratio of e-book sales to hardcopy sales rose from 10 percent to 30 percent in 2014. The top three sales regions are also the biggest e-book markets: Guangdong, Beijing and Jiangsu. It has become popular for readers to read and buy e-books by mobile phone. In 2014, 60 million e-books were downloaded, which is equal to 20 percent of hardcopy sales. That figure is 10 percent higher than that in 2013.

. . . .

The report shows that readers in Guangdong Province bought one sixth of the national total. Tianjin citizens buy the most children’s books, while Chinese dictionaries dominate sales in Hubei Province.

. . . .

Chinese people purchased 33 million books via in 2014. The top three provinces for book consumption are Guangdong with 16.89 percent, Beijing 11.39 percent, and Jiangsu 7.01 percent. They are followed by Shanghai 6.45 percent, Shandong 6.23 percent and Zhejiang 5.71 percent.

Link to the rest at

Burns Night burning a poet into a nation’s memory

26 January 2015

From TeleRead:

Burns Night, held on January 25th every year to commemorate the memory of Robert Burns, has succeeded in identifying a single poet with a whole nation more than perhaps any other country on earth. How? Well, they began soon after the poet’s death in 1796, informally among hs friends and acquaintances, but then on a more organized basis after the meeting of ”nine gentlemen of Ayr,” at the poet’s birthplace in 1801, when a haggis formed part of the meal in his memory. The first established Burns Club, the Alloway Burns Club, formed as a result of this dinner, and the Greenock Burns Club dedicated itself to his commemoration soon after.

Link to the rest at TeleRead

Critics of ‘vulgar’ book for young adults want Governor General’s award rescinded

23 January 2015

From the Ottawa Citizen:

A Kanata children’s author has joined a protest over the awarding of a Governor General’s Literary Award to what critics are calling a “vulgar” and “gratuitous” book for young adults about gender identity issues in high school.

Kathy Clark says she is among 1,500 people across Canada petitioning the Canada Council to revoke the 2014 award because of graphic content in Raziel Reid’s debut novel When Everything Feels like the Movies.

The novel is inspired by the true story of an openly gay 15-year-old California boy who was shot to death in 2008 by a classmate he’d asked to be his Valentine.

. . . .

Clark, author of two children’s books, says Reid’s use of language is inappropriate for a book recognized in the young adult classification (12 to 18) within the children’s literature category.

“I know it’s difficult to write about difficult and sensitive issues,” says Clark. “But it’s very possible to write about them in an appropriate way without resorting to vulgar language.”

. . . .

In a statement to the Citizen, the 25-year-old author said he set out to reflect what young people talk about, and how they talk about it.

“I’m not promoting a culture, I’m depicting one — and I’m doing it with the graphic language that culture uses, and with the themes that culture is consumed with: fame, drugs, sex, and selfies,” Reid said.

“For my generation, a (Facebook) Like has replaced physical warmth and affection. This has created a nihilistic society obsessed with ‘instafame’ and instant gratification. As a result, youth are facing a deeper isolation than ever before. I wrote this story so that readers can understand lost teenagers like my narrator Jude Rothesay.”

Link to the rest at Ottawa Citizen

Dutch e-book resale site has to close for now, court rules

21 January 2015

From PCWorld:

Dutch ebook resale site Tom Kabinet has to close because, at least at the moment, it cannot prove that all the books offered for sale on the site have been legally obtained, an Amsterdam court ruled Tuesday.

Tom Kabinet, which allows sellers to upload ebook files to the site, has been online since June last year. It asks sellers to verify that the ebooks being uploaded were legally obtained, via a declaration in which they also state that they will erase their copy after the upload. That, however, is not enough, according to a court.

The verdict of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal is a mixed bag for Tom Kabinet, because it also ruled that it is legal to offer a platform on which legally obtained ebooks can be resold. However, as Tom Kabinet also potentially provides a “relatively simple and lucrative opportunity” to resell illegally obtained ebooks and has no way to guarantee this will not happen, the site will have to close for now, the court said in a news release.

. . . .

Judith Mariën, one of Tom Kabinet’s founders, said that despite the mixed verdict, it is “good news” that the court ruled that the site’s business model is essentially legal.

In the coming days Tom Kabinet will try to find a way to keep the site online by toughening up the process to filter out illegally obtained ebooks, which can possibly be done by checking the digital watermarks of all incoming ebooks as well as of those in the database, Mariën said.

Link to the rest at PCWorld

The UK e-book market in 2014

20 January 2015

From Futurebook:

Last week The Bookseller published, as part of its “Review of 2014″, the e-book volume numbers for all of the big UK publishers, confirming that though e-book sales outpaced print sales during the year, the rate of growth continues to relent.

Domestic e-book sales for the five groups—Penguin  Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Pan Macmillan—totalled 49m units in 2014, a 15.3% rise on 2013. Three of the five publishers recorded double-digits growth, with only Simon & Schuster down—albeit marginally—on 2013. By contrast, the top five publishers recorded an 18% rise in digital volume versus 2012, which followed that huge 105% gain in 2012 (on 2011).

For the past few years, we have used the numbers provided by the big groups to make some assumptions about the overall digital market. The top five publishers represent 56% of BookScan’s print volume in 2014; if we assume their digital market share is broadly in line with this, we can argue that the overall e-book market in 2014 amounted to 87.8m units, representing a year on year rise of 18.5% (compared with 20% in 2013). From this we extrapolate an overall market value of £370m: which is based by using the average selling price for digital content up to October as recorded by Nielsen.

. . . .

This context is important to understand when trying to figure out the growth rates of a market that is still in its infancy, and prone to tantrums. Last year I wrote that—in the UK at least—the rate of growth in the e-book market was exaggerated in 2012 because of the Fifty Shades trilogy, which also then further skewed the perceived slowdown in sales growth in 2013—for example in 2012 the companies that would become Penguin Random House reported e-book sales volume growth of 169%, but one year later their e-book sales business fell by 20%. By contrast, Hachette followed a more understandable pattern, recording growth of 82% in 2012, 58% in 2013 and 7% in 2014.

If we remove the Penguin Random House numbers from the calculations altogether, the market growth over the past three years has been as follows: 95% in 2012, 40% in 2013, and 13% in 2014.

If that looks familiar it should, in the US, e-book sales registered treble digit growth rates until 2012 when that market came off the boil and (in volume terms) recorded growth of around 50%, which then relented further in 2013, when the rate dropped to 10%.

. . . .

Of course the usual caveats apply to this piece, which is inevitably focused on trade publisher sales (and the sales of the big publishers). There is currently no way of tracking the clearly growing shadow market of independently published titles, and for the purposes of this analysis we have ignored the nascent digital textbook market, about which we will hear more when the Publishers Association releases its 2014 statistics.

There are one or two conclusions worth reflecting on.

The first, follows the view put forward by HarperCollins UK chief executive Charlie Redmayne that the traditional Christmas sales spike has “all but” disappeared, confirming what Waterstones m.d. James Daunt told us two weeks ago that e-readers are no longer a Christmas gift item. Ironically, this may help the book business, if book spend that was deviated to devices comes back to the trade.

The second conclusion, is around the “print renaissance” we have been hearing so much about. Or as Anthony Forbes Watson put it in The Bookseller last week, how the trade “rekindled its love affair with the physical book”. Rather than seeing the print book and e-book markets as two counter-vailing forces, it may be wise to figure out how they are working together. If the big fiction bestsellers are now predominantly being bought digitally, then has this created space within book stores to focus on different books? For journalists looking to report on this sector, the narrative might be how digital has helped revive and reinvent print, rather than the other way round.

Link to the rest at Futurebook

Toronto Public Library sadly embraces ‘culture of free’

20 January 2015

From the Toronto Star:

The Toronto Public Library, the largest in the country, has launched a new platform of penny-pinching ingenuity. The “Sell Books to the Library” program advertises to readers that it will buy used hardcover copies of bestselling titles listed on its website at the beginning of every month at five dollars a piece.

This innocuous sounding program is but the latest manifestation of the so-called “culture of free” that has ravaged the media, music and book worlds. Without the FBI threatening quarter-million-dollar fines or five year prison terms for copyright infringement — as it does on DVDs — the value system that supports the prospect of just reward is eroded. Individuals and companies used to paying nothing for artists’ work now do so without compunction.

. . . .

Alarmingly, this phenomenon of exploitation includes the very institutions whoseraison d’être (you would have thought) demand a respect of writers and their product, acting not as custodians but instead pushing for their own chance to outwit circumstance and pay nothing. The amendment, in 2012, of Canadian copyright law to include “education” as the object of legitimate “fair dealing” has faculties across the country brazenly copying entire chapters or 10 per cent of a book for the assembly of fat study guides, for which not a single writer is paid, meted out to hundreds of thousands of students.

And now the Toronto Public Library is zealously joining the cheapskates’ fray. The books it has listed on its “Sell Books to the Library” website page are not books that the public does not want; their authors are not ones who, the great lie of media and festivals, stand to benefit from extra publicity. No, the list is comprised of books so popular that the library is having a hard time meeting existing demand. December’s inaugural list includes, for instance, Canadian authors Margaret Atwood, David Bezmozgis, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Kathleen Reichs, Peter Robinson, Carrie Snyder, Miriam Toews, as well as Sean Michaels and Thomas King, winners of this year’s Scotiabank Giller and Governor-General’s Literary Award for Fiction respectively.

Instead of ordering copies of books that furnish a royalty, and supporting the trade, as all honourable purchases do, the TPL is buying off the back of a public truck it has ushered into the courtyard, depriving writers and the companies that invest in them of their just reward. It can do so because it has decided that the lowest possible price to be paid is the right one.

Link to the rest at the Toronto Star

Meet Irish women behind publishing powerhouses

12 January 2015


Publishing has undergone many changes in recent years, due to the increasing influence of technology and the effects of the recession.

However, when it comes to the industry’s consumer base, the facts remain the same: with research showing time and time again that women make up the majority of the book market.

So who are the women at the forefront of publishing in Ireland and what is it like to work in publishing these days?

Lisa Coen and Sarah Davis-Goff founded their publishing company, Tramp Press, in 2013. The pair previously worked together in Lilliput Press, where Davis-Goff discovered the award-winning writer Donal Ryan.

“Sarah was covering someone’s sabbatical at the time and I was doing an internship. Neither of us remember who had the idea first but we kept talking about what we would do if we had our own publishing house. We decided to go for it when we left at the end of 2012. We set up a website and spent a year getting the company running before we launched last April,” says Coen.

. . . .

Coen says that most of the changes in publishing have been beneficial.

“There is a lot more mobility now. We don’t have an office and we don’t need one. Sarah and I work from our homes and are constantly in contact through email, so that’s cut out a huge expense. Publishing has been cleared out after the recession and those who are left are the real die-hards, which can only be a good thing. The days of signing an author for a two-book deal, then dumping them when things don’t work out, is a thing of the past.”

Although women are the main readers of fiction, Coen has noticed a reluctance within the industry to publish female writers.

“A lot of really good writing by women is overlooked. The first book we published was by a woman and we were told it would be hard to sell. The reality is that we are on our third reprint. The industry is telling people what they want but readers are buying books simply because they are good.”

Vanessa O’Loughlin has been part of the literary scene in Ireland since 2006, when she was one of the first people in the country to set up fiction-writing workshops.

“I had previously worked in event management so I decided to set up my own company, Inkwell, and offer writing courses with well-known authors. I based the courses on a corporate model and they were really lovely days out.

“Inkwell changed during the recession, as people weren’t doing as many courses as they would have liked to. We evolved into a publishing consultancy, now called The Inkwell Group, and we work on a one-to-one basis with authors.”

. . . .

“Publishing is an exciting place to be at the moment, as there are different opportunities opening up every day online. Digital publishing and self-publishing offers a great opportunity for writers to get their work out there, as due to the constraints of running a publishing house, not every good book can be published.”

O’Loughlin says that editors’ resources have been stretched in recent years and that their expectations and standards have risen as a result.

“Publishing houses have had to trim their cloth due to the recession and the reduction in book sales. So now, when a writer submits a manuscript, it really needs to be publisher-ready. Editors just don’t have the time to search for a glimmer of genius.”

. . . .

One of the biggest developments to shake up the publishing industry in recent years has been self-publishing. Research carried out last year at Kingston University in the UK, showed that 65pc of self-published writers are women.

Link to the rest at

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