Author Steve Laube

E-Book Sales: Behind the Stats

There is mixed news with regard to book sales in May of this year. Store sales were down 2.6% but publisher sales were up by 9.8%. Read all the various stats here. Remember these are simply comparison of 2010 monthly numbers with 2009.

The biggest area of growth, percentage-wise, is in e-books (up 162.8%).

But let’s look at actual dollars, not percentages.

Publisher sales (according to the Association of American Publishers) were $715.3 million in May. Of that total, e-books accounted for $29.3 million…or about 4%. If this was a 162% jump over 2009, then e-book sales in May of last year were $11.2 million.

There is no question that this is a huge leap. But it still means that 96% of all sales are still in hard copy.

Many experts claim that in five years (by the year 2015) that e-books will “tip” and account for over 50% of all book sales. I’ve heard this from two major publishers (one was the head of the digital initiatives for that publisher) and from my friend Randy Ingermanson in his excellent e-zine (read pages 2-11 for his full report on the issue).

For that to happen a 100% growth rate would have to be sustained. That would mean 2011 would have e-books at 8% of sales, 2012 at 16% of sales, 2013 at 32%, etc.

I’m not arguing that it won’t happen. Just that it may not happen quite so fast. Sustaining that rate of growth is a lot harder than it looks on paper (no pun intended). Please read my earlier blog post “Is Print Dead” to go further behind these type of statistics (in that post I attempt to show that hard copy CDs still account for nearly 70% of all music sales).

I’ve written earlier that I own a Kindle and like it. I have bought a number of books for the device. And in fact have purchased many books that I already owned in paper…sort of a “best of” or “favorites” bookshelf. Why? Because I’m a collector. And having those books with me at all times is a neat thing. Plus they become searchable. It also means that I can have access to these books forever and from wherever I am. And I’m not in fear of losing books when the corner of the garage collapses in a big rain storm (true story). However, if there are a lot of people like me, then the “growth” is somewhat skewed.

I hesitantly compare this to the transition from record albums to cassette tapes to compact discs. Or the transition from VHS to DVD (and now to Blue-Ray). I suspect many of you purchased albums or movies that you already owned because you wanted them in the new format, for whatever reason. They were your favorites. So initially some of your expenditures were not for new material. Of course, eventually we began purchasing 100% of all new music or movies in the new format. And that is where the direct comparison with books breaks down.

There are legion of readers who will not convert to e-books. An amateur poll I’ve taken of folks (family, friends, professional acquaintances) has been very interesting. Most are intrigued by the Kindle device. One showed me their iPad (with an accompanying gloat). But few were ready to embrace switching from p-books (paper) to e-books (electronic). And none were prepared to go all digital any time soon.

I reiterate what I’ve said before. This is one of the most exciting times to be in this industry. The changes are rapid, they are innovative, and they are creative. Writers who can create dynamic content have nothing to fear. The consumer continues to demand great content in whatever form they can get it. Literary agents like myself, make it our job to watch these developments carefully and to continue to safeguard our client’s revenue and their ideas.

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ICRS Observations 2010

Some have asked for my thoughts on this past week’s International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) in St. Louis. I’m glad to answer. This was my 29th consecutive booksellers convention. At its height there were approximately 14,000 in attendance, many years ago. That is no longer the case. Statistics released indicate …

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In Memory of John Wooden

Last night the great basketball coach John Wooden passed away at the age of ninety-nine. As you can see from the photo to the left I had the privilege of attending one of his basketball camps during the Summer of 1974.

by Steve Laube

Last night the great basketball coach John Wooden passed away at the age of ninety-nine. As you can see from the photo above I had the privilege of attending one of his basketball camps during the Summer of 1974.

It was a John Wooden and Bill Sharman (then coach of the LA Lakers) camp in Honolulu. We lived and breathed basketball 24/7 during that week. We drilled during the day, sat in classes, and scrimmaged in the afternoons and evenings. It was heaven for an aspiring athlete. (For the rest of the world that week was notable because President Nixon resigned that Thursday August 8, 1974.)

During one drill Coach Wooden pointed at me and said, “Come here young man and show me how you rebound the ball.” I sheepishly came out in front the other players and for a couple minutes Coach Wooden schooled me on how to box out. No matter what I did, spinning, pushing, hip-checking, and jumping, he always snagged the rebound. I couldn’t believe this gray haired “old man” who was at least five inches shorter than me could do that. (Coach Wooden would have been 63 years old at the time.) It was only later that I found out that he was in the Hall of Fame…as a player (inducted in 1960)! No wonder he taught this skinny kid a lesson!

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Book Review – Inbound Marketing

In February I was in the Denver airport waiting for a flight. As usual I couldn’t resist browsing the bookstore shelves. Something about the book Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah caught my eye. So, on impulse, I bought the book and began reading it on the plane. I learned a lot about this phenomenon called social marketing and thought that it would be a great book for all authors to read. But I never got around to writing a review!

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New Releases May 2010

Below are new books published last month which our agency represented. (In alphabetical order by author. Descriptions are from publisher’s web sites). May 2010 Claim – Lisa Bergren David C. CookSent west by their father to make a new life, the St. Clair siblings have done so-but hardly as he’d …

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What’s up with Christian Retail?

Twice in the last 30 days I have been interviewed about the “state of the industry.” The journalist’s questions were insightful and thought I would share some of them with you. My answers have been expanded beyond the original ones since I have more space to work with here.

1. What do you believe to be the most important trend in Christian publishing and why?

This can be a complex question depending on which part of publishing being discussed. The obvious answer is the digital revolution. While e-book sales are still only a tiny percentage of the whole, the foundations being laid today will have long term implications.

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New Releases April 2010

Below are new books published last month which our agency represented. (In alphabetical order by author. Descriptions are from publisher’s web sites). April 2010 Who Speaks to Your Heart?: Tuning in to Hear God’s Whispers – Stacy Hawkins Adams Zondervan‘I wrestled with whether a God that I couldn’t see or …

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HarperStudio is History

Back on March 17 I blogged about the changes at HarperStudio and asked if this could mean that division would close down. Today it was announced that it has come to pass, the division is no more.

HarperStudio had made big news by setting up a low advance model in exchange for high royalties. It was termed a “profit sharing” model. (of course define “profit” first… 🙂 ) Plus they sold their books on a non-returnable basis to the stores, both online and brick & mortar.

It was a highly creative idea and caused quite a stir, especially when there was talk of a 50/50 profit split.

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New Releases March 2010

Below are new books from March 2010 which our agency represented. (In alphabetical order by author. Descriptions are from publisher’s web sites). March 2010 Lady Carliss and the Waters of Moorue – Chuck Black MultnomahDetermined, smart and a master of both the sword and the bow, Lady Carliss has proven …

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