Sometimes living in Maine has unexpected advantages beyond lobster, seaside air, and friendly people, as I discovered yesterday when learning one of the newest beta sites for the Espresso Print-on-Demand system was being unveiled at a South Portland Books-a-Million store. Publerati is located in nearby Portland.
Publerati is pleased to announce all our fiction titles are now available on Overdrive for libraries and other retailers participating in the Overdrive kiosk ebook program.
We would like to thank the many book bloggers who are passionate about excellent fiction for their coverage of this extraordinary novel. Here are links to recent reviews:
With permission of the American Association of Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group 2012 data, I recently took a look at how the ebook and print book revenue and unit splits came in for 2012, just for the trade adult fiction category.
It is important to note the following when looking at this data:
1) This study measures the traditional publishing industry, not self-publishing titles. If those titles were factored in, the balance between ebooks and print would skew further toward ebooks.
2) In 2012, net book sales across all categories fell slightly over the previous year, the third straight year of declines, but with more stability. Much of that decline was within the education, scholarly, and nonfiction book categories.
3) The excellent news is that two categories grew: adult trade fiction and young adult trade fiction. Some or quite a lot of this could be due to blockbusters in each category that will be difficult to replicate in 2013: 50 Shades of Grey and The Hunger Games. Trade publishing now represents 55% of the total book market, up from less than 50% a few years ago, which speaks in part to the emergence of ebooks but also the decline of the total pie as the other sectors shrink. It’s probably a good news/bad news pie chart.
This is what I see in the 2012 Trade Adult Fiction category data:
2012 Trade Book Adult Fiction Total Dollars: $4.8b
Print books (all formats): $2.9b (62%)
Ebooks: $1.8b (38%)
When looking at the unit split, it was 40% ebooks and 60% print.
What this data cannot answer is how many people would have paid the higher paperback or hardcover price for a book if it was not available in ebook? (As in let’s pretend ebooks don’t exist.) Conversely, how many more people read the book and talked about it because they downloaded the ebook “before they forgot to buy the print book.” How many new readers were created by ebooks for that title? In the case of 50 Shades, the book might very well have never existed had it not been self-published first as an ebook and the entire 2012 industry results and Random House would have suffered as a result.
I think common sense says there is a tradeoff at play here. But is readership of adult fiction and young adult fiction going up because of ebooks? Are more people reading books they would not have otherwise read? That answer must be yes.
If someone knows what adding the self-publishing units and dollars into this mix looks like I would be very interested in knowing. For instance, of all the books sold in 2012, how many came from the publishers covered in the AAP/BISG report and how many came from self-publishing programs? (NPD retail data, for instance, typically says: this data represents 91% of all cash register rings made via our measured retailers.) I realize this data for fiction alone is probably not available.
— Caleb Mason
Otis Chandler, the Founder of Goodreads, has been very generous in sharing their reader data and did so again recently at the Digital Book World Conference. We should expect this will stop with Amazon buying Goodreads so looking at this information now is time well spent for future historical purposes.
No one truly knows where the balance between reading print and reading ebooks will be ten years from now, but two pieces of information caught my attention in the presentation he shared:
1) The age demographic of readers on Goodreads is a very even distribution across young, middle-aged, and elderly. For you marketeers out there, this is the demographic you hope to have, although reading still skews strongly to women. As a man who loves to read, I hold out hope that the new technology of e-reading will help bring more men into the fold, less we become so dumbed down we cease to exist, which is afterall, the female’s master plan. And can you blame them?
2) 86% of tablet owners report reading at least one ebook on their tablet. It would be good to know by gender what the frequency of reading on tablets looks like or is it just a function of the newness. I have been around enough new technology over the decades dismissed by those hoping it will simply go away, to know this is not going to happen here and tablets will become widely owned and adored.
So the very good news in that high correlation between tablet ownership and e-reading is the potential tablets offer for ongoing e-reading growth. Once 75% of the population owns a tablet, which will happen faster in affluent countries than many expect, same as what happened with laptops displacing desktops, the volume of ebooks being purchased will accelerate and the overall print/ebook ratios will change from what Goodreads shows now in this analysis.
The business challenge is how best to manage the shift over time and this is why the bookstores are so important right now as his report reveals. With each B&N and indie bookstore closing, the paper book volumes that humans can touch and browse in stores will continue to be impacted. Hopefully it will be a soft landing and not a crash landing. But much as what happened with print photos, my hunch is more of those print book volumes will stay online through Amazon and other direct shippers, which is a trend that has been underway for years now. Shutterfly sells more prints direct than Walgreen’s does retail.
And this is a publisher problem because Amazon as a key distributor, while also a competing publisher, will never be a situation they like. Amazon has most hurt Barnes & Noble, and publishers and many authors are hesitant to reveal that Amazon accounts for up to 40% of a book’s print sales, which was once Barnes & Noble’s share. Not even talking about ebook share here — just print.
So the key competitive advantage Amazon enjoys that I cannot see anyone matching is the age-old one of distribution. This distribution is now online versus in-store. A logical next step for them would be to buy the B&N stores once they get down to a count, geography, and cost that will be sustainable in the new overall hardware, print book, and direct fulfillment integrated sales channels, ones only they will possess. And I mean “possess.”
I imagine some large publishers are contemplating getting into retail (remember in Australia when Angus & Robertson was both a publisher and major bookstore chain?) but this is the main advantage I see for Amazon at retail: they resell everything across all classes of goods, especially consumer electronics, in addition to just books and magazines. So should they buy those B&N’s they will also be in competition with Best Buy and Walmart, which is where they really belong. But neither of those two mega-retailers can match the online and direct selling technological fulfillment expertise of Amazon. Amazon has been and will continue to use technology as their key differentiator. Just the way MacDonald’s did with fast drive-thru service. I can envision a retail future landscape where current B&Ns are Amazons, and so are current Office Max stores and others strategically located currently selling goods better sold online.
You can view the Goodreads presentation here:
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