Tag s | E-Books

All About E

This was the year of the E word. “E-Books.” The topic replaced the other “e” word…the Economy…as the number one topic among authors, editors, publishers and agents. And the news media reported every nuance with breathless excitement. The iPad, the iPhone4,  the Droid, the avalanche of tablets, the Kindle, the Nook, and a deluge of e-reading devices, all commanded our time and attention.

But the story is not over. In fact 2011 promises to continue this conversation as our industry writhes in chronic pain from its various twists and turns.

Two articles that you should read to help with some year end thoughts….

First, from Dominique Raccah, the CEO of Sourcebooks, very openly talking about the mistakes they made in trying to do a one-day e-book promotional giveaway of their Jane Austen books.  This is evidence of the veritable labyrinth called the e-book marketing and sales world.

I’ve heard authors express their misunderstanding of publishing by saying, “But e-books are easy to sell. Just make the conversion and put it up on Amazon!” But  this CEO’s article should divest you of that thought.

This past Summer I sat through a two hour presentation from Hachette regarding their Digital initiatives. I came away discovering that it is far more complex than I ever realized. And came away very glad that publishers were working hard to maximize both revenue and opportunities for my clients.

Second is an article that will be published in Sunday’s LA Times but the online version released today.  In it David Ulin claims that “E-books are Good News for the Literary World.” Here is a key quote:

The issue is not what we read on, just as the issue is not what we read. The issue is that we read, that we continue to interact with long-form writing; by altering the conditions of the conversation, e-books and e-readers have already served an essential purpose.

Well said. Note that in the article he admits to rarely using e-readers, but that he appreciates and accepts their use.

Thus 2010 added a new letter to our vocabulary. Instead of just the three Rs (readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmatic) we have added an “E.”  Bu wouldn’t that make it ER? (an unfortunately pairing of letters when applied to the state of publishing).

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E-Book Buyers Buy More Books

New research by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) has made some interesting discoveries.

E-book consumers say they are buying more books overall, but fewer in print, and are decreasing their total dollars spent More than 40% of e-book readers have reduced the number and dollars spent on hardcovers and paperbacks. Retailers are becoming more important than publishers as a source of information about e-books. General fiction and mysteries are the fastest-growing e-book genres. More respondents received e-readers as gifts than bought them for themselves.
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E-Books Redux: Behind the Stats

I had hoped to let yesterday’s post put much of my thoughts to rest on the issue of e-books…at least for a while.

But today I came across this article “What Amazon Didn’t Say About E-Books” by David Carnoy for CNET. In the article he makes some very strong statements regarding Amazon’s claim of reaching a “tipping point” with regard to Kindle sales and its impact on e-book sales.

Do yourself a favor and read the article.

Then vow to lay it all aside for the rest of the Summer and write your book!

And no, the picture for this post is not our cat. I simply found the picture and thought it might get your attention. Feel free to submit your own caption for the photo in the comment section.

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More E-Book News: Behind the Stats

Today’s Wall Street Journal online quotes Amazon.com as saying that ebooks have outsold hardcover books over the last three months.

Additional statistics from that article include: “Amazon sought to suggest that Amazon remains the leading retailer for e-books. The company said that of the 1.14 million James Patterson e-books sold as of July 6, nearly 868,000 were from Amazon.” Also, “in June, Apple CEO Steve Jobs had claimed that his company’s iBookstore, which launched in April, had taken 20% of the market.”

My observations of these developments are two-fold.
One. Everyone is claiming “dominance” but no one is sharing actual verifiable data. It’s like standing on the playground in pre-school and saying “my Dad can beat up your Dad.”

Two. Claiming that e-books have outsold hardcovers is disingenuous if they are counting free downloads as sales. Remember when Amazon claimed that on Christmas Day they sold more e-books than p-books? Of course they did. Everyone who received a Kindle as a gift, turned it on and downloaded books. Who else was shopping for books on Christmas Day?

Remember the news adage “if it bleeds it leads.” So just because something makes a great headline and a press release doesn’t necessarily reflect day-to-day mundane reality.

By the way, take a look at the comments section of yesterday’s blog entry. Randy Ingermanson provided some great thoughts and I responded with a couple other things to consider as well as part of the ongoing discussion on this issue.

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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 lets 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.

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