Tag Archives: ebook

Digital books and devices: An opportunity or a Threat?

Interesting article on the shift of paradigm within the publishing industry. where ebooks are no longer perceived as a threat but an opportunity (or may be I should say less perceived as a threat).

Peason and Bloomsbury reported that their ebook revenue increased by 186% and by more than 18 fold. In fact Bloomsbury had undergone a recent re-org in response to the ebook growth.

I am wondering, if this is a clear indication of the publishing industry embracing the digital world in fear of extinction? (specially with Amazon’s self publishing services). In that case is it truly perceived less as a threat and more as an opportunity? Interesting article.

 

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The Ebook Market Is Growing Faster As It Grows Larger

The ebook market is growing faster as it grows larger.

The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) on Friday reported U.S. wholesale ebook sales for January, 2010 were $31.9 million, up 261 percent from the same month a year earlier.

To put this in perspective, I created the chart at left. The chart compiles annual ebook sales data from the Association of American Publishers. For 2010, I took the latest IDPF January data and annualized it.

The data is collected from only 12-15 U.S. trade publishers. This means it dramatically understates what’s really happening in ebooks, because thousands of large and small publishers, as well as tens of thousands of independent authors, aren’t reporting their data. The data also doesn’t capture ebooks sold outside traditional retail channels.

The above omissions in no way invalidate the data, because as an indicator of direction and momentum, the AAP/IDPF data provides the best publicly available trending information I’m aware of.

What you see from my chart is that ebook sales grew nicely between 2002 and 2007, but were really too small to register on the radar screens of most industry watchers. Starting in 2008, however, the growth rate started to accelerate, and then this acceleration continued throughout 2009 and into the first month of 2010.

According to the AAP, in 2009 ebooks accounted for 3.31% of all trade book sales, up from only 1.19% in 2008. Even if sales stay flat from January onward in 2010, we’re looking at ebooks accounting for 6-8% of U.S. book sales in 2010. If sales accelerate further, a 10% monthly run rate is certainly likely by the end of this year. These numbers are dramatically higher than most reasonably-minded industry watchers predicted even a few months ago.

The rosy numbers above still dramatically underestimate the impact ebooks are having on the bottom line of authors, publishers and retailers. In January, during Amazon’s quarterly earnings conference call, Jeff Bezos announced that for books it sells in both Kindle and print formats, ebooks were then accounting for 60% of unit sales.

What’s driving the torrid growth of the U.S. ebook market?

Amazon deserves most of the credit. In January, Rory Maher of TBI Research reported that his publishing industry contacts were telling him that Amazon was accounting for 90% of all ebook sales. Other analysts have since confirmed those estimates.

The upcoming April 3 launch of Apple’s iPad, along with more aggressive moves by Google, Barnes & Noble, Sony and scores of other new ebook device makers and indie retailers, will no doubt try to chip away at Amazon’s purported 90% share.

The real story is not how or if these competitors take share from Amazon. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that an ever-growing pro-ebook crowd of powerful consumer-facing companies are pulling out all the stops to help spread the joy of ebooks to every corner of this book-hungry globe.

Why are consumers going ga ga over ebooks? Back in October, I blogged some of the reasons in my Huffington Post piece, Why Ebooks are Hot and Getting Hotter. I listed several reasons, such as the proliferation of exciting new e-reading devices; screen reading rivaling paper; content selection; free ebooks as the gateway drug; lower prices; and great selection.

If we boil it all down to what really matters, it’s about customer experience. People who try ebooks are loving ebooks.

Lest we think ebook reading is all about pricey jet set devices like the iPad, Kindle, Sony Reader and B&N nook, it’s worth considering some telling data that came out of the latest Book Industry Study Group survey. As I reported in my Tools of Change conference wrap-up, BISG found that 47% of all ebook reading is happening not on these new-fangled devices, but on ordinary computer screens.

Complete Story taken from here

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Another Author bows to ebook trend – John Grisham

John Grisham, one of the best known thriller author across the globe has finally decided to open up all his backlist of 23 novels in ebook format. Which means that owners of Kindle, Nook, Sony ereader and soon iPad will be able to read all his backlists on their device.

Is this just a small change in the direction of authors working directly working with ebook retailers like (Amazon, Apple, Google , B&N) to launch their books 🙂 My bets are that this is bound to happen in few Genre (Thriller, Romance), where the form factor of ebook readers and laptop give the end users a fine reading experience.

I personally believe that the true inflection point for the ebook industry would come the day J K Rowling decides to make her books available as ebooks 🙂

I have decided to create a list of Authors that decide to go the ebook way.

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3 Reasons Why E-Book Failed In 2000 And What It Means For 2010

There is no doubt that 2010 has a lot to gain from the e-book industry. There are six e-book devices (Kindle, Nook, iPad etc) in the market and more soon to be released. As per predictions from a major business magazine up to seven million of these devices will be offered for sale next year.

Moreover, one of the major consulting firms have predicted that e-book sales will account for close to 10 percent of the the publishing market in five years. Clearly that indicates the rate at which more and more publishers will switch to electronic book publishing.

But this was not the case in the year 2000. Here are a few reasons for what went wrong in 2000 for the e-book industry and how could those mistakes be avoided in2010.

1. Lack of sufficient e-books – One of the mindsets that users of e-book devices had and still have is that if they don’t get to read all the books (literally all books under the sun) on their device then the worth of the device starts losing its value. If voracious readers are asked how many books would they like to read on their e-book device they would just say all (else there is no point spending hundreds of dollars on the device).

But in 2000 there weren’t much e-books available. They were expensive to covert to an e-book format and publishers were too reluctant to think in those terms. Today, the scenario is different – far better (although much scope to improve). Almost all of the top 10 New York Time Bestsellers were available in e-book format. Although some issues around the availability is the timing. Barnes & Nobles had 15 books i its Coming Soon List but made only 6 out of those 15 were made available in eb–k format the same time as the print release. That still is and will continue to be a huge concern for users and this is somethig the ebook industry should be careful about.

Another concern that needs to be addressed is the gaps in the way the books are available. For example many of the books of popular authors are not available in the Kindle store but are available in Nook device. There needs to be some consistency here in order to increase the e-book adoption rate.

2. Pricing – In 2000 many of the ebooks were priced the same as their print versions. But the way a user percieves a hardcover book is different from the way he would look at an e-book. Hardcover  books gives a nice feeling, has more substance and they can keep it in their book shelves to show how tasteful they are. But all of this is missing in an e-book. Moreover, due to the same reason the cost of publishing an ebook is much lower as compared to  a paperback/hardcover.  So why not pass on that cost saving to the users. keeping the same price is definitely not justfiable.

Amazon had been trying to resolve this by pricing the ebooks much lower than their print versions but this arrangement could not be carried on due to challenges raised by Macmillan. And now Apple also in a way supporting what Macmillan had been asking for the industry is shifting towards agency model pricing (where the publisher and NOT the retailers decide the price of the ebook at which the retailers will have to sell to the end users).  Pricing still remains a big topic of debate in 2010.

3. Poor Marketing – One of the ways by which a market for tech prodcucts are created is by identifying a groups of users and some of the problems they are facing and then trying to solve their problem with the product. I am not sure if ebook had succeded in filling up this gap back in 2000. But even now I am not sure if that need for an ebook device/reader is felt very highly. I think most of the buzz and envestment in the ebook industry is still being driven a lot by strategy than by user needs. Its just that ebooks are considered to be a huge area of oportunity and so all publishers and electronic companies are jumping into making their own device just to be sure to take full benefits of the opportunity. I think the need/benefit for an ebook needs to be better pronounced. Check out Amazon’s announcement of why one should use kindle – Point to see is that it lists all the features but not the benefits to the users.

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What Rights Do You have on your Digital Books

Really interesting article in Electronic Frontier Foundation site. The article talks about various rights issues that the user should think about before buying a digital books.

Some of the issues covered by author

    Does it (your e-book reader/service/tool, etc.) protect your privacy?

    Does it tell you what it is doing?

    What happens to additions you make to books you buy, like annotations, highlights, commentary?

    Do you own the book or just rent or license it?

    Author points out the fact that when you buy these e-books you most of the time are just buying the license to the book

    Many readers expect that the same rules will apply to their e-book purchases. However, electronic books have often been treated as “licensed” content, subject to legal and technical restrictions (primarily, DRM) that block readers’ ability to resell, lend, or gift an e-book. More ominously, last year Kindle readers realized that their provider (Amazon) could actually reach down into their devices and pull books from their virtual shelves

    Is it burdened with digital rights management (“DRM”)?

    Does it promote access to knowledge?

    Does it foster or inhibit competition and innovation?

    Complete article here

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    What Stops Users From Buying an Ebook

    American Editor recently ran a poll to figure out what stops users from buying an ebook. The results are out and no surprises.

    1. 57% of the users feel that they are not comfortable buying ebooks due to DRM restrictions set by publishers

    2. 26% of the publishers think that pricing of ebooks above $9.99 is detrimental in them buying an ebook. This seems to support the argument given in a recent NYT article about ebook pricing which was condemned by publishers.

    3.  8% of the respondednt think that price  greater than $4.99 is an issue.

    Clearly, the sweet spot for ebooks lies somewhere between $ 3.99 and $9.99. Now its upto publishers, Google, Apple and Amazon to use their brain power to figure out what price they want to support.

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    BISG report on e-book industry!

    Some quick findings from the report:

    • Roughly 1/5 of survey respondents said they’ve stopped purchasing print books within the past 12 months in favor of acquiring the e-book editions.
    • Most survey respondents said they prefer to share e-books across devices. Only 28% said they would “definitely” purchase an e-book with Digital Rights Management (DRM); men were more likely than women to say they would not buy an e-book with DRM.
    • Survey respondents indicated a clear preference for e-reader devices used as of November 2009, with computers coming in first (47%), followed by the Kindle (32%), and other e-reader devices at roughly 10% apiece.
    • Although certainly growing, 81% of survey respondents say they currently purchase an e-book only “rarely” or “occasionally.”

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