Non-US

Germany’s Blloon launches in UK

22 October 2014

From The Bookseller:

Subscription e-book service Blloon launched in the UK today (22nd October), with titles from publishers such as Allen & Unwin, Faber and Profile.

The German company founded by Txtr boss Thomas Leliveld plans to target young people who “read up to 12 books a year”.

. . . .

The Blloon app can be downloaded from the iTunes store for free and the company said it has designed “a beautiful app with gamification at its core” which it believes will engage young people.

Anyone can read 1,000 pages for free and can continue reading by sharing and recommending books – or by inviting others to join the service. “Research shows that 85% of young people would be likely to recommend books if rewarded for it – this gamification gets young people talking about books and Blloon, while getting something in return,” the company said.

Further pages can also be bought as top-ups or provided monthly by upgrading to a premium membership at a cost of £3.99 for 500 pages.

. . . .

We aren’t offering an expensive ‘unlimited’ service simply because that isn’t the demographic we are targeting. And people can only read so much. We’re welcoming young people, the majority of whom currently read up to 12 books a year.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

What the closure of Bilbary tells us about the market

21 October 2014

From Futurebook:

Full disclosure. I liked Bilbary. I even went on BBC Radio 4 to say so. The site seemed to be an attempt to take the skills of the shop-floor bookseller or librarian onto the web, while at the same introducing a new way of acquiring that content, lending. I also thought its link-up with libraries was smart. There’s no particular reason why libraries should acquire e-books in the same way they acquire print titles, and Bilbary offered an alternative model. Was it then doomed to failure? Probably.

According to the liquidator’s account, which The Bookseller reports on today, while there was initial “interest from publishers, they later proved unwilling to enter into contracts allowing the trade books to be loaned, consequently the company secured content for sales only to enable it to get to the market sooner”. Liquidator Portland blamed “fundamental gaps in the company’s understanding of the market and the rise in level of competition that had developed” for Bilbary’s demise. “Despite the company’s efforts to cut costs by terminating staff contracts, vacating the rented premises and closing the Luxembourg office, funds of £1.5m was needed to continue with a re-structure of the business. An external investor had pledged to invest £750k, provided this was matched by existing or new shareholders, unfortunately the investor later took the decision not to invest.”

Bilbary’s likeable founder Tim Coates has his own take. The former Waterstones m.d. told my colleague Benedicte Page that the site was hampered by the terms discussions between Amazon and Hachette USA, meaning that investors could not be certain what business model would arise in the future. “The dispute between Amazon and publishers on e-book pricing [and the agency model] makes it impossible to invest. We are in a situation where investors are terrified of risking a new venture because no-one knows what the pricing structure will be. As long as the argument has been going on, any investor says, ‘What is the pricing model?’ and you can’t answer them. Bilbary was caught in the crossfire from the industry dispute and we weren’t alone.”

The liquidators were appointed on 29th April 2014—just as the dispute between Hachette and Amazon broke cover, but it is possible to understand why investors were jittery even before that. The shift to agency four years before meant a new way of doing business with publishers gaining new controls over how e-book content could be sold and at what prices. Surprisingly, a lot of booksellers were against agency: they recognised that it removed a key lever from their customer offer, and knew that publishers would take years to understand how to price to the consumer. The Department of Justice’s intervention in 2012 meant even this new way of doing business had to be re-written. During that time Amazon first lost, and then gained marketshare, with competitors such as Apple, Kobo, and Nook largely failing to make significant head-way in the major markets of the US and UK. At the same time, the massive growth in those two markets halted, at least for the major publishers, while a huge shadow market around self-published books rose – virtually out of nowhere.

Link to the rest at Futurebook

How Soon Will the Majority of Books Be Self-Published?

21 October 2014

From Publishing Perspectives:

Among the many ideas that rose to the forefront of discussions at this year’s Women’s Writing Festival was the idea of collaboration among writers, an idea that has come of age with the digital revolution. The best example of collaboration is the creation in 2013 of EWWA, the European Writing Women Association by Italian authors Elisabetta Flumeri and Gabriella Giacometti – primarily an Italian organization but open to all Europeans and engaged in a series of networking activities, with now some 165 members. Collaboration was a leitmotiv at the Festival this year too and often came into the discussion which centered on the “digital disruption” in the book market.

As might be expected in any discussion about the digital revolution and self-publishing, points of views diverged and the discussions between panel members were often heated. High points were reached when Maria Paola Romeo moderating a panel playfully suggested that the figure of the editor/publisher was on her way out.

But it was [agent] Andrew Lownie [who] made the boldest predictions, stating that in five to ten years from now, 75% of the books would be self-published, 20% would be publishing assisted by agents, and only 5% traditionally published.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives and thanks to Dana for the tip.

Man spends evening locked in Waterstones after staff shut up shop

17 October 2014

From The Telegraph:

Being locked in a bookshop over night with thousands of novels at your disposal might sound like a bibliophile’s dream.

But the reality is not so romantic, if one tourist’s experience in the Trafalgar Square branch of Waterstones in London is anything to go by.

David Willis, from Dallas, Texas, wrote on Twitter on Thursday night that he had been locked inside the shop after spending 15 minutes upstairs.

At 10.11pm, Mr Willis posted a picture showing a shuttered door and a rack containing pictures of Kevin Pietersen’s autobiograpy, along with a message claiming he had been trapped inside for the past hour.

He wrote: “This is me locked inside a Waterstones bookstore in London. I was upstairs for 15 minutes and came down to all the lights out and door locked. Been here over an hour now. Supposedly someone is on their way. #nofilter #london”

. . . .

Other Twitter users were quick to offer Mr Willis help with some telling him to call police, some offering him food, and others giving book recommendations to help him pass the time.

. . . .

And web developer Tim Archer said: “@DWill_ @Waterstones tell them you’ll be randomly moving the books until you are released, that should speed them up a bit.”

. . . .

Waterstones recently reported a rise in book sales again after years of decline due to competition from online retailers and the growth of e-books. The firm was unavailable for comment.

Link to the rest at The Telegraph

E-books fans reading more

16 October 2014

From The Bookseller:

E-book fans are upping their reading habit because e-books are cheaper than print copies, according to new research from Mintel.

The consumer research firm’s latest study, Books and e-Books UK 2014, shows that 26% of consumers who have bought an e-book in the last year are reading more than they used to because e-books cost less than paperbacks, a figure that rises to 38% of 16 to 24-year-olds.

Altogether, 31% of e-book buyers say they would prefer to read print books, but choose to buy e-books because they cost less. While 23% of book buyers said they felt that print books cost too much, only 16% of people felt the same about e-books. 36% of book buyers buy both e-books and print books, with 42% of those saying they always buy the cheapest version available.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Amazon’s might divides opinion at world’s biggest book fair

15 October 2014

From The Economic Times:

US online retail giant Amazon may be absent from the stands at the world’s biggest book fair but it has still been at the heart of a heated debate.

Amazon threw a shadow over Germany’s book industry on the inaugural day of the Frankfurt Book Fair Tuesday by announcing the launch of a monthly flat-rate offer for unlimited access to e-book titles.

“We fear unfair competition on prices as well as authors’ fees through this service,” Austrian author Gerhard Ruiss told a discussion.

. . . .

A conference during the five-day book fair brought in to sharp focus the depth of feeling on both sides of the argument.

While one audience member stated they had “boycotted” Amazon for 20 years, another argued that the US company enabled new authors “to be published and find their readers” and pointed the finger at big publishing houses.

Online business is estimated to account for about 16 percent of the German book market, of which 50 to 70 percent are Amazon sales, according to figures by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association.

“In the last years we have invested a lot and we have learnt, even from Amazon… It’s a competitor, of whom we are not scared,” the association’s chief executive Alexander Skipis said.

But he accused Amazon of using “its dominant position to blackmail” publishers.

. . . .

“I don’t rule out Amazon ending up boosting cultural diversity,” journalist Dieter Schnaas, from Germany’s economic Wirtschaftswoche magazine, said.

“It doesn’t penalise consumers, quite the contrary,” he said, adding that he believed in the need to be cautious over calls for action against Amazon.

Link to the rest at The Economic Times

Local book industry concerned at proposed shake-up

30 September 2014

From Dynamic Business:

One of the more controversial proposals in the recent draft review of competition policy was its recommendation to lift parallel import restrictions on books, with the review warning this amounted to an implicit tax on Australian consumers.

The restriction prohibits the importation into Australia of a product by anyone other than the licensed Australian manufacturer or distributor, cutting off an important alternative source of supply.

Removing the restriction would see more books on offer for cheaper prices. The draft review, led by Professor Ian Harper, warned the continuance of parallel import restrictions would be similar to having a tariff in place because local industry remains shielded from international competition.

Australian consumers are also increasingly able to circumvent the restriction anyway. They can buy e-books or simply go online and have books shipped overseas from warehouses directly to their front door.

. . . .

He said the restrictions placed onerous limitations on the ability of bookstore owners to import products requested by customers. He said the restrictions also meant that the price of books was higher, forcing everyday Australians to pay more for their books.

“You could come into a bookshop, hold a book up and show it to them and say ‘I’d like a copy of this’. I would say, ‘I don’t have it. I’m not allowed to have it’,” Mr Strong said. “I don’t think the publishers understand it. I think they are just panicking. Embracing change helps business.”

“Lifting import restrictions is obviously better because you have access to more books and access to cheaper books.”

Link to the rest at Dynamic Business and thanks to Hugh for the tip.

Canadian authors caught in e-book dispute with publisher and Amazon

29 September 2014

From The Globe and Mail:

The Betrayers, a new novel by Toronto author David Bezmozgis, was published in the United States on Tuesday. But American readers trying to order the hardcover edition from Amazon.com are being informed that the novel “usually ships within 2 to 3 weeks,” a surprisingly long wait for an anticipated new release such as this. The novel’s American publisher, however, is Little, Brown and Co., a division of French conglomerate Hachette.

. . . .

“As an author, you want your books available, that’s as simple as it gets,” says Bezmozgis, who is midway through a 10-day U.S. book tour. “And to find yourself in the middle of this dispute – it’s not a good place to be.”

The day before his book was scheduled to arrive in bookstores, Bezmozgis took to Twitter to vent: “Despite obstacles posed by V. Putin & J. Bezos, my novel, The Betrayers will be published in the US tomorrow, Sept 23. Those trying to find the novel on Amazon.com will see they are only offering it in 8 track and wax disk format. To find the book in the US, I suggest your local indie bookstore….”

“[Amazon] styles themselves as the people who make things easiest as possible for their customers,” he says, “and the peculiar thing is that now it’s their customers and the authors who are suffering the most.”

. . . .

One reason might be that Hachette does not operate a publishing arm in Canada; it only distributes international titles.

“It doesn’t feel immediate,” says Claire Cameron, whose second novel, The Bear, was published by Little, Brown in February. (While hardcover copies of The Bear will ship immediately, Amazon.com is selling them for full price, $25; the Kindle edition is $11.56.) Also, Cameron feels the Canadian market isn’t as overshadowed by Amazon as the U.S. market is. “Down there it’s so different because Amazon is so dominant,” she says. “It’s one of those things that makes me appreciate where we live.”

Link to the rest at The Globe and Mail

Publishing in the Future or the Rise of Independent Authors

27 September 2014

From The Huffington Post UK:

Publishing of tomorrow will be different due to the rise of independent authors, who write and publish their books in more formats, for more audiences and through more channels than ever before. We can see this future already in markets which leave the age of printing books fast to switch to electronic and increasingly mobile books – like China, South Korea or Indonesia. Europe will follow and we should be prepared for the changes. As authors, as publishers or as readers.

Since I joined the publishing world in 2005 a democratization of publishing has taken place, with non-traditional forms of publishing competing for the limited reader´s attention, and I find it gratifying to help texts to find new readers. When I worked for Random House as Director Business Development we were embracing new forms of online and social media marketing and worked to get in direct contact with the readers. The advent of better eInk-devices in 2007 in the US allowed the fledgling markets for ebooks to start growing and we focused first to convert our catalogue of great titles into the new format to be ready for the start of the German market. It took a lot of faith to invest so early in this still small market, to convince the authors to trust us with their electronic publication rights and convert the titles into the new formats.

But it was the right decision, in a couple of years ebooks will overtake print, something not many would have predicted only a short while ago. We saw that growing market and decided to help developing it further and in 2010 Skoobe was conceived, a joint venture of two of Germany´s biggest media companies, Bertelsmann and Holtzbrink to offer a book-flatrate similar to the Netflix-model for movies in the US. Skoobe has since garnered more than one million downloads, a very active user base and 7.942 ratings in Google Play and Apple iTunes with an average of 4.5 out of five stars. We predicted the rise of mobile and tablets for longform reading and the readers love a monthly flatrate and read as much as they want.

. . . .

We realized that books do not only compete with other books anymore, but with all other forms of entertainment, especially on mobile devices. Hence it is crucial to make a large selection available so that everybody can find the right books and do not spend their time on Facebook or other new media platforms.

. . . .

We believe, that the electronic books is actually better than any printed edition, because it is inherently more affordable, more portable and can be individualized to be read in the font size and font type the reader suits best.

. . . .

Marketing is changing as well, and to quote Robert Bidinotto: „Social media has been the great equalizer of advertising, promotion and marketing. This is essentially asymmetrical warfare. No customer going to Amazon knows what is traditionally published or independently published – and they don’t care”. The good news is, that the creativity of authors is even enhanced when unleashed from the traditional, slow and expensive publishing process and the readers can expect more great novels than ever before.

Link to the rest at HuffPo UK

‘Showrooming’ carried out by 43% of Brits

25 September 2014

From The Bookseller:

British consumers’ intent to buy e-books online has tripled since 2011, according to Nielsen’s Global Survey of e-commerce.

The data company also found that British consumers are almost 40% more likely to buy items online than Europeans as a whole.

In data released today (25th September) Nielsen said that between 2011 and 2014, the number of UK respondents who intended to buy e-books online in the next six months increased 200%.

Over the next six months books are set to be purchased online by four in every 10 people in the Britain.

Six in 10 (59%) people in the UK said they can usually get the best price online for a product, while more than four in 10 (43%) said they often check out products in a shop before buying online – a practice known as “showrooming”.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

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