The Year in Review Part 3: Bestsellers

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

In my Pocket Reader app, I stored a September article from BBC News as much for the article’s title as its content. That title? “When Is A Bestseller Not Necessarily A Bestseller?”

I think that’s been the burning question in publishing for the past ten years. Bestsellers haven’t entirely lost their meaning, but they’re not relevant the way that they were twenty years ago. Back in the day when traditional publishing controlled 99% of the books that we saw on shelves (before ebooks), a bestseller was the book that sold the best out of the myriad of bookstores.

Even then, those bestseller lists were rigged. I can’t tell you how many times I had colleagues who gamed The New York Times list (the easiest one to buy your way onto, if you had the list of “acceptable” bookstores). It was a relief to have USA Today base its list on actual reported sales across all stores, including the chains. Even those numbers were flawed, though, because they were self-reported by most of the publishers.

Data has never been traditional publishing’s strong suit.

Last week, I examined traditional publishing and the mess that it has become, a mess that has led at least one industry expert to conclude that the services traditional publishers provide are essentially meaningless.

The anecdotal evidence has existed for years. I know several Big Name romance writers who can no longer live off their royalties like they did twenty years ago. Fortunately, a lot of them were good at money management, so they have cash stashed away and their homes are paid for.

Last year, Kat Martin, at 20Booksto50K here in Las Vegas, stated,

I think [the backlist is] a real negative for traditional publishing. Once you sell them your book, they have your book and they own it for years. And they do pay you a nice fat fee up front, so it’s kind of a trade off, but it’s not a long-term, it’s not a retirement thing, because they’re making money off the backlist. You don’t. They give you a percentage, but…the big money, I think, for long term is probably in self-publishing.

. . . .

Because everyone comes to Vegas at one point or another, Dean and I had a lot of opportunities to talk with writer friends who are (or were) traditionally published bestsellers. Dean had lunch with a person whose work would be considered a major (mega) bestseller. That person expressed shock that the backlist, which once earned a tidy income, earned little more than a trickle now.

That person could no longer sell their books to the Big Five, despite the continuing good numbers on the backlist. The small publisher the person went with is going belly-up, and the author was looking at other ways to publish.

I can’t tell you how many conversations we have with writers in a similar position.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Here’s a link to Kris Rusch’s books. If you like the thoughts Kris shares, you can show your appreciation by checking out her books.

PG started TPV nearly twelve years ago to talk about the book business with an emphasis on self-publishing.

For those with long memories, PG blogged about the 2012 antitrust litigation brought by the US Justice Department and 33 state attorneys general against Apple, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Books, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette Book Group, Inc., alleging that the defendants conspired to fix prices in the sale of e-books, primarily motivated by the challenge presented by Amazon’s price discounting of books to their traditional business model and agreement to keep ebook prices high to support their print book business and their close-to-exclusive access to prime shelf space in traditional bookstores.

Some of the major publishers caved and settled charges against them by paying large fines. Apple Penguin, and Macmillan didn’t settle and ended up losing at the trial level and in the US Circuit Court of Appeals. Apple tried to take its appeal the the US Supreme Court, but that court declined to accept the case, meaning that Apple, Penguin and Macmillan ended up losing and paying large fines to the US and the 33 states that joined in the antitrust suit.

In essence, Apple and Big Publishing tried to crush Amazon’s book business and, especially, its ebook business, an effort that flamed out in spectacular fashion. Amazon kept doing its thing and grew into one of the largest tech companies around, including selling more books than anyone else by a large margin.

Traditional publishers continued their long decline as self-publishing through Amazon kept growing. Unfortunately, Covid shutdowns finished off more than a few bookstores and nobody pays much attention to Barnes & Noble any more.

PG hasn’t seen anything about the physical bookstore business in the UK or Europe recently, but would be surprised if ebooks weren’t steadily increasing their market share in those places as well.

As for himself, PG reads about 98% of his book pages electronically. He has a hard time finishing the occasional physical book that comes into his hands because his Kindle allows him to read while his creaking spinal column is in a far more comfortable position.

26 thoughts on “The Year in Review Part 3: Bestsellers”

  1. “In essence, Apple and Big Publishing tried to crush Amazon’s book business and, especially, its ebook business, an effort that flamed out in spectacular fashion. Amazon kept doing its thing and grew into one of the largest tech companies around, including selling more books than anyone else by a large margin.”

    What they actually succeeded at was killing interoperable ePub in the US/UK.
    At the time they cooked up their scheme, Amazon had a 54% ebook market share, B&N had a 24% share and the rest was split among Kobo, BooksOnBoard, DieselBooks, and a handful of white label stores that competed with time-limited sales, bundles, and rebates.

    Agency left all the non-walled garden stores without BPH contracts (or inventory) for over six months and encouraged B&N to think they could undercut Amazon on ereader pricing by going near-cost. Amazon countered with ad-supported Kindles (which anchored what is now a multibillion dollar a year businessfor them) within hours. Between the two, they foreclosed the hardware-only readers from the US market for over the three years when ebook adoption exploded. And then came KU.

    Walled gardens surged to over 90% and Amazon rules that realm.

    Ten years later Amazon has over 75% ebook share, over 50% of the pbook space, and a dominating share of the Indie market. (90%?) And the B&M shelf space the BPHs monopolize adds up to less than 25% of the pbook mark.

    Moving forward, the economics of pbooks are getting ugly. (Declining paper supply/higher price, high energy costs, declining China publishing plant capacity/higher costs, higher staff costs, etc. Plus a new age of high inflation and multiple competing industries focused on narrative entertainment.)

    The legacy authors complaining about the perpetual backlist are correct that competing with older, *known good* titles is hurting them, but they are failing to add two plus two: the backlist that is killing them is the ebooks they agreed to give up half their royalties (50%–>25%) in return for ~2% higher pbook royalties plus the ebooks of authors who chose to become their own publishers. While the BPHs actively limit their new ebook sales, they quite happily promote their backlist (out of print) ebooks: sunk costs and high margins, what’s not to like on the corporate balance sheet?

    Sorry to say, if they think their market is tough now, what is coming next isn’t getting better.

    • Good points, as always, F.

      Back into history, Big Publishing was very connected with physical bookstores. In the US, Barnes & Noble was their largest customer, having killed off (or in the process of killing off) its major competitors. Remember Borders and Waldenbooks stores? Victims of Barnes & Noble aggressive price competition. The mom and pop bookstore on the corner was also feeling the pinch from BN.

      Even though it was much smaller then than it is now, Amazon was a disruptive force in the book world.

      1. Zon offered a much larger selection than any physical bookstore could afford to stock, given their low margins, physical shelf space limitations and lack of much room in the back to store cases of books that weren’t selling well. That’s why all major publishers would give bookstores full refunds for books not sold and shipped back to the publishers.

      2. Zon offered prices lower than a physical bookstore could afford to match because of physical size limitations, bookstore staff wages (even at minimum wage), the cost of retail rental space, etc.

      3. Not everyone in the US lived within a reasonable distance from a physical bookstore. Zon would ship books anywhere that UPS or Fedex, etc., delivered. If you ordered from a physical bookstore, they would send it to you via the post office spending the least amount of money (book-rate, delivered whenever postal staff had nothing else to do) and you’d get your book in a week or two or three in a package that looked like it had spent time in a hyena cage at the zoo.

      4. Amazon offered a sophisticated online book discovery and selection environment. You could search by author, title, genre, etc. In a physical bookstore, you had to ask a staff member to help you find a book and, given minimum wage salaries, a staff member would probably have to call the manager.

      5. On Amazon, you could read reviews left by lots and lots of readers, to get an idea of what a book was about. Back in the day, no reputable newspaper or magazine reviewer would touch romance. If you wanted romance suggestions, instead of a snooty, down-the-nose response from a part-time local bookstore employee/graduate student studying 19th century British Literature of the best sort, you could find comments on Zon from other intelligent, articulate and ardent romance readers who had read every book the author had written and could compare them in detail. If you wanted to find a romance with just the right amount of heat, not too much or too little, Amazon let you connect with like-minded people who liked reading the same sort of books you liked.

      You’re absolutely correct about ebooks being the most profitable way of doing business for traditional publishers because all they had to do was send an organized group of electrons to an online bookstore/books distributor, etc., then watch the electronic money transfers come in.

      Of course, Amazon understood this fundamental fact eons before the thought entered the heads of traditional publishers/middle-persons. Zon already had a way for authors to publish ebooks and POD hardcopy and, over the years, has cleaned it up/improved that path (although not enough in my opinion). Zon created another nice revenue stream by offering its online advertising portal to indie authors, instead of just to advertising agencies and/or traditional publishers.

      Prior to closing my online law practice, I helped a number of traditionally-published authors break out of their traditional publishing contracts and regain their book rights so they could make more money self-publishing.

      Some authors, including new authors, are still making the mistake of signing terrible publishing contracts and forgoing gobs of future income in return for the ability to say they’re represented by the CDE literary agency who got them a publishing contract, including an advance, with XYZ Publishing and their publisher, in turn, got them a book review in The New York Times. These naifs mistakenly think that this accomplishment will transit them into “real authors” who can make a lot of money from their books, summer on Cape Cod and mix with the right kind of people forever and ever.

      • Number 3 was critical: whdn BORDERS went under, the corporate publishers who…facilitated it… pushed them over the edge because 75% of Bordets stores were within a couple of miles of a B&N. The idea being that B&N and Borders were interchangrable so closing one would move their share to the other.
        Uh, no.
        What turned out was thst Borders customers were Borders customers because they chose not to be B&N customers. Some did stay with B&N but they were numerically matched by the number of B&N customers who moved to Amazon. By the time the dust settled Amazon grew by roughly the size of the Borders share. And kept on taking share from B&N.

        To this day, they still haven’t shown an understanding of what Amazon brings to the table: a mix of availability, speed, and yes, pricing. They keep griping over pricing and forgetting that under agency they took away pricing as a differentiator on ebooks and Amazon kept merrily rolling along. All agency did was magnify Amazon’s other, more important advantages, like catalog size and kill off the biggest threat to Amazon: interoperable ePub.

      • Zon offered prices lower […] because of […] bookstore staff wages (even at minimum wage)

        It is really not just wages – it’s efficiency. Bookstore staff is there to receive, stock, arrange, take your money and just make sure there is someone inside the store while the doors are unlocked. An Amazon employee handles a book twice, very briefly. Once to put it in a bin somewhere, and again to take it out of the bin and put it in the shipping container. Cost assignable to a given book sold is is tiny. Computers take the money and support the customer experience. For POD, machines handle it all – the book goes into a labeled envelope and no human is involved.

        Back in the day, no reputable newspaper or magazine reviewer would touch romance.

        What is more important is that back in the day, reviewers did not give really honest reviews. They ran in the same circles as the authors and were loathe to say what they thought, assuming they really thought at all, because they didn’t want to damage their social interactions. Remember that when Amazon started, book reviews were only written by a few on-staff reviewers. Then they fired them all and switch to user-supplied reviews. Horrors!

  2. If self-publishing is so clearly superior to traditional publishing, why does KKR and others invest so much time and energy repeatedly bashing traditional publishing while ignoring the downside of self-publishing–the writer invests time, energy, and money with only a highly speculative ROI?

    • A public service for the younger generation? 😮

      Remember, 90%+ of titles entered in the query go round go nowhere. Zero ROI or even negative if sending it to agents with “reading fees”.

      Indie pub isn’t for everbody; not everybody is willing to do the required homework and may prefer the Sue Grafton/Chuck Palahniuk approach of “trusting the universe to take care of them”.

      But if they run into KKR’s blog at least they’ll know what they’re getting into and *choose* a path, instead working out of ignorance and dated “received wisdom”.
      Today’s tradpub isn’t grandpappy’s.

    • It is indeed a public service. Copyright will last all of the author’s life, plus 75 years after death. Young writers who sign the wrong contracts will have a long, long time to regret it. And who will be supplying those contracts? Trad publishers.

      The concept of “caveat emptor” is older than the English language. There’s no reason why writers should not be made aware of what to watch out for in contracts. Must the implications of the contractual terms be asymmetrical, with the writer having less information than the publisher? The virtue of that set-up completely escapes me.

      The downsides of self-publishing don’t compare nearly as much to being fleeced of income, or the right to write about your own characters you created.

      If telling the truth about someone’s actions puts them in a bad light — “bashing” — then the problem is their action, not the telling of it. If the publishers weren’t offering terrible contracts that steal from the writers, and committing other misbehavior that screws over writers, there wouldn’t be any “bashing” for KKR & Co. to do.

      • One small correction, J.

        For works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years in the U.S.

        • Whoops. I make that same mix-up on the freeway, too. But cops spot you 5, so it’s never been an issue. That said, if I had to choose between going to a judge for doing 75 over 70 vs. going because I signed a bad contract I can never get out of, I know which option I prefer.

    • Because they’ve been burned by tradpub, A, and B, because your list of downsides to self-publishing also applies to tradpub. With tradpub, not-yet-published writers expend time and energy creating their work and then send it off, with rather low odds of it being accepted. Then, IF the book is accepted, the author usually must expend time and energy doing things like marketing, because the publisher is usually going to put the bare minimum of effort into that. Then, after that, the author had better pray that the book earns out, because if it doesn’t their contract is NOT getting renewed. Then, if the book does earn out, the math publishers use to calculate royalties is as honest as the math Hollywood and the music industry use. And then, assuming all those hurdles are met, the author royalties aren’t even a dime on the dollar.

      TL;DR: Every tradpub author expends time and energy for a highly dubious ROI, and if they end up hiring a professional marketer (to say nothing of doing a book tour, which the publisher will not fund until such time as the author doesn’t really need to do book tours), they expend money as well.

      However, a lot of young writers don’t get this, and end up serving as yet more grist for the mill of the tradpub companies, whose treatment of their authors and staff, thanks to the relatively high ratio of supply to demand for both, is utterly abysmal. So that’s why.

  3. Is it reasonable to conclude that consumers don’t give a hoot about walled gardens? Don’t even see the walls?

    • Of course they see walls … when there’s more than one. I remember VHS vs. Betamax. Fortunately, my parents always bought VHS because that’s what the VCR was. Felt sorry for the Betamax people when VHS won. That’s the reason I sat out HD vs. Blu-Ray, and waited until Blu-Ray won before upgrading my DVD player.

      Publishers missed their window of opportunity to have the e-reader equivalent of VHS and Betamax coexisting side by side. But consumers only care about not having to format shift more than once. To consumers:

      1 – Dead tree book –> ebook = good.
      2 – Dead tree book –> ebook format –> some other ebook format = bad.

      Option two is especially bad if the content from the loser format can’t be accessed in the winner format.

      Since Kindle is the VHS / Blu-Ray in this scenario, the answer is no: consumers do not care. Shrug.

      • In a rational world, Adobe would have fixed their (really bad) support issues and interoperable ePub would be king, forcing Amazon to support ePub book sales. KDP would still be market leader (with lower share, though) but Kindle readers wouldn’t be unchallenged.

        As Kindle Scribe just proved, there are usage cases for ebooks other than paperback replacement that go unaddressed because of Amazon’s *hardware* domination. Which exists because of Amazon’s software market share. And, again: Agency. The gift that keeps on giving, a decade later.

    • 1- They no longer *have* a choice. Name an eink reader marketed in the US that *only* uses interoperable ePub. Name an eBook store with significant market share selling solely those books. Google Play?

      2- Before Agency educated ebook shoppers had multiple choices for devices and stores outside the Kindle ecosystem and even a couple of non-chain bookstores that sold interoperable ePub. Prices varied weekly with promotional discounts, like pretty much any other retail business. This was not theoretical, it was real and growing. eReaders? There was Sony, Pocketbook, Acer, Asus, Samsung, and a dozen startups. Only Pocketbook (out of Ukraine!) survives today, mostly off european sales.

      eBooks aren’t like gaming consoles, the other (much, much larger) market built off walled gardens where online multiplayer security and integrity justifies the walls (today! whole other story before XBOX arrived). Unlike pre-streaming home video with Beta vs VHS, where consumer needs and choice settled the matter of which would be the universal format but much like HD DVD vs BluRay (settled by big multinationals bribes) ebooks weren’t allowed to evolve via any technical or business reason. The entire debate was short-circuited and the market gifted to Amazon.

      Walled gardens aren’t even like DRM, which *is* unobtrusive enough that most consumers really don’t care, which has a nominal reason to exist by limiting casual ebook sharing. Walled gardens exist solely to restrict competition to BPH-approved vendors and in any rational world would have been part of the Agency antitrust case but the DOJ was and still is fairly tech-illiterate, more so than even the ideologically-driven FTC. (Whole rant, off topic.)

      TL:DR, consumers cared about interoperable ePub while the choice existed. Agency removed it.

      • Presuming, of course, that one reads one’s e-books on a dedicated reader.

        I don’t. Neither do most scholars; those of us of a certain age, who learned to touch-type (unlike Steve Jobs) get off my lawn, you kids!

        All seriousness aside, for academics and others who must interface with The Other Standard — PDFs — dedicated readers are not a realistic option at this time. Which should sound a great deal like quadrophenic LPs… oh, you’re too young to remember that, aren’t you?

        • Well, I wasn’t going to waste money on quads when I was spending it on comics and SFBC books. 😀

          As to tablets, yes you can read on them effectively. Today.
          Rewind ten years and you have a different story. Tablets were not a great reading experience: they were heavy, expensive, low resolution, low battery life, useless outdoors. Dedicated readers were light, long battery life, decent resolution, and very good in natural light, especially outdoors. And, thanks to B&N’s conceit, in a price war that saw ereaders got from the $300-400 range to $100-200 in a year. Just as ebook adoption was starting to hit the mainstream. Amazon will be forever grateful to Agency and B&N for their gifts.

          Tablets didn’t create the ebook market, ereaders did.
          Tablets got better for reading because they *had* to; most of their customers had smartphones and while Android ten years ago was crap it has gotten better and they have gotten bigger, brighter, waay higher res. An avid reader is better served by a cheap eink reader + a smartphone than a smartphone and tablet, with overlapping capabilities. Now, casual readers yes; tablets are fine. A bigger phone might be better, though, for the two-four book a year crew. eReaders are s better fit for the 6-10 book a month crowd, say KU subscribers.

          As for pdf…don’t get me started. Seriously. We could be here all week. 😉
          PDF is not an ebook format, it is a digital paper format. It was created to archive and sneakernet documents for printing. 70’s tech. Unscalable, uneditable, unreadable on mobile devices (PDAs and even laptops) for decades. It has been kludged over 50 years to meet those use cases but it is way suboptimal and even a vector for malware because it renders pages using Postscript which is a full interpreted programing language.

          https://www.malwarefox.com/can-pdf-have-virus/

          Overkill for commercial ebooks. In fact, the failures of PDF (some misguided souls even tried to sell DRM’ed ebooks only to fail so badly Adobr shut down the DRM server without much notice) led to the creation of OPF and its commercial spawn, mobi, Lit (effectively ePub 1.0), epub 2.0, and in an attempt to reach the academic world, epub 3, which itself is so baroque hardly anybody follows the full spec.

          Commercially, most self described epub 3 books are more like epub 2+. (The spec did help Amazon, Kobo, and Apple define their modern proprietary formats, though. Since all three use epub variants as feedstock it isn’t a complete irrelevancy.)

          Notice I keep saying *commercially*. That is because without commercial sales there would be no ebook markets, plural.Without the *paperback replacement* market there would have been no (profitability) example for the academic publishers with their empires to move to digital textbooks. (Note I still don’t consider most of those avtual ebooks, since they aren’t generally standalone transportable products. Most are web-locked and/or app-locked. Two strategies tbat failed in the trade book space.

          Finally, as to annotating PDF *documents* some (larger) ebook readers have bren doing that for five years or so (let’s pretend Kindle DX never existed, since it was sued off the market) reasonably well, but the price and limited need for the capability has marginalized it. A better success can be found in the larger 13″+ enterprise blueprint readers from Sony, Pocketbook, and other and while those accept PDF instead of ebook formats, their raison d’être is their *AUTOCAD* compatibility. Priceless for use in the field by architechs and contractors. Justifies their four-figure costs easily.

          Now, those niche 10″ annotation eink devicds do exist and aren’t going away so Amazon is back in the 10″ reader space with their just released Kindle scribe. And it *is* a Kindle–just bigger. Instantly better than all competitors (sharper, brighter loghter) though only marginally so. It does allow pdf anotations with the included pen (mandatory, alas). But it also allows using the pen with the preexisting Kindle annotations feature and an update to annotate MS WORD files is promised.

          I ordered one and just got one for my mother. Not because she cares to annotate or even view pdf but because it is an *excellent* large text ereader. The pen is still in the box and likely will never by used. But as a reader it easily beats her tablet and Paperwhite. It displays a full page of max size text easily readable by the vision impaired. Oh, and battery life is absurd, quoted as twelve between charges. More realistically, 3-4 weeks. My older Kindle fire needed daily charges and its successor goes 2+. (Still stuck with an autocorruption keyboard.)

          TL:DR pdf is a format for a totally different business than the realm of ebooks, more enterprise and academic than consumer driven. (zand a plague upon the earth, generally. *) Comparisons are fruitless.

          And it is the latter adjective that trips up the BPHs, who see ebooks as competitors to their hardcovers instead of a replacement for mass market paperback. The two can coexist, if properly managed, which isn’t exactly a BPH forte.

          *(In the day job other facilities seemed addicted to the roach motel pdfs and kept “sharing” data in pdfs meant for printing on 11×17 printers instrad of the actually useful spreadsheet, word processing, or LATEX files we really needed. We had to spend thousands on printers, scanners, and OCR software to rescue the “shared” data. Stuck in the 70’s while we were running a network of clustered RISC workstions to outperform CRAYS. Long story that one. We were leading edge R&D and our imperialist boss believed in leading edge tools. zcentralized computing hated us.)

          • And yes, that’s the short version. 🙁

            The long version starts, like many modern computer technologies, at XEROX in the ’70’s with their development of page description languages for printers; first JAM, then Interpress:

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpress

            When XEROX, as per their custom, did nothing with the tech, two of the developers quit, founded ADOBE and used the concepts and tech to create Postcript in 1982 and shortly afterwards, PDFs as encapsulated Postscript, much like epub is encapsulated HTML.

            70’s XEROX is worth several book. Much like many countries out there the “never missed and opportunity to miss an opportunity”.

          • You’re questionably assuming that:

            (a) Reflowability is more important than preserving pagination (corollary: resizing distinct from surrounding text is appropriate — thermodynamic reaction profiles being an obvious counterexample)

            (b) Anything I was referring to is/is parallel to commercial publishing (XArchiv, judicial opinions, legislation and legislative history are just exceptionally obvious counterexamples)

            (c) Anyone who is reading these things seriously (lawyer, academic, lab technician, scientist) uses the inexcusably-cripped Adobe software to do so, thereby inhibiting their ability to annotate and summarize and such (Foxit, available for both PCs and Android, is free and makes this trivial — not to mention is faster with a smaller memory load than any Adobe product)

            And you need not preach to me about PARC; the subcults from misinterpretation of scripture over in Cupertino continue to irritate me on a daily basis. (“Simplified” does not mean “assume everyone has only a fist and no fingers.”)

            Not all “e-books” are or should be browser-like. Then, I use a separate e-mail client for reading web-based e-mail, so…

            • And you are forgetting I am being very specific of the book market I am talking about, the one eating into the market share of the BPHs, by making irrelevant their monopoly of B&M shelf space.

              In that *specific* market I focused on not only is reflowability mandatory, so is font control. (The mantra is “it’s our reader, our eyeballs, our ebook.”) Fixed page layouts are a trait of other markets, other publishing businesses, distinct from the ones the OP and I have been discussing. What goes on in other markets is off-topic to this thread.

              Nonetheless:
              I alrrady pointed out that in the early part of the century Adobe tried to establish a DRMed pdf trade ebook business and failed miserably, leaving retailers to pick up the pieces when they shut down the authentication servers. Retailers like Fictionwise were forced to pay out of pocket for licenses to alternate format (IMP, PRC, LIT, or Mobi) versions of the inaccessible books or credit the customers the purchase price. They were only able to do this because of the small number of customers choosing frozen format copies over reflowable formats.

              (That event is what drove B&N and others to abandon trade ebooks and Amazon to buy MOBIPOCKET and create their proprietary ecosystem.)

              Since then, Adobe’s comercial ebook efforts have been focused on ePub, not trying to force pdf into “narrative text” trade books, where it isn’t needed or wanted.

              Other markets can take care of themselves, most commonly with app-locked books or online only publication. Agsin, that’s a different business, as you repeated remind us. 😀

              • Can we just agree that Adobe not only missed the boat, but ran off the end of the pier trying to catch the boat half an hour after it left, while Wile E. Coyote shook his head that he’d never do anything that dumb?

                Adobe was (and, more to the point, is… as its shift to cloud-based software subscriptions demonstrates) paying far less attention to either the technology itself or user experience than to what its presentations on revenue streams to a generation of managers and investment advisors who thought Lee Iacocca and Jack Welch could/did do nothing wrong. Apple is more flexible and responsive to user/customer complaints.

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