Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

12/07/2015

The Parallel Universe of Publishing


In the traditional or conventional publishing world, there is more and more ‘dark matter’ flying around that it cannot control or measure. This dark matter is generated by the ever-increasing and evolving digital or ebook side of the publishing universe; AND, since traditional publishing (TP) cannot control or measure all the new digital data with the old paper-related devices such as ‘rights’ management (that’s “precisely what DRM represents: an absurd and pathetic attempt to recreate in the digital realm a command-and-control system that profits off the characteristics of *paper*”) then TP simply makes statements such as “digital or ebooks are down or losing sales.”

Truth is, TP cannot ‘measure’ all this increasing ‘dark matter’ that holds much more favorable digital data. So their statistics are skewed or inaccurate based on incomplete data.

Talk about publishing intrigue!

Len Epp, a contributor to TechCrunch, delves into this dark matter in detail in tonight’s research/resource article:

 

On The Dark Matter Of The Publishing Industry

Key excerpts:

“Recently there were a pair of revealing eruptions in the world of ebooks and the volatile book publishing industry more generally.

The first was the announced demise of Oyster, an ebook subscription startup based in New York and backed by $17 million in VC funding.

While the announcement of Oyster’s shutdown is remarkable for its lack of transparency, apparently after its sun sets, Oyster’s excellent e-book reader expertise will be transferred to Google in the form of its founders and probably some of its tech or even the entire company, but perhaps not its pricey ebook contracts with publishers.”

“Now, there were some very smart people backing Oyster, and I suspect that a) they correctly saw that awesome tech would succeed in driving ebook reading, b) they had some kind of plan to monetize their user base, but ran into the common problem of being unable to finance a longer runway than they hoped for, which happened because c) their West Coast-y VC-style optimism prevented them from fully internalizing the willfully destructive, cynical recalcitrance of the incumbent publishers who, perhaps knowing what they were doing, forced Oyster into senseless, self-sabotaging ebook contracts.”

“There was more bad, meaning good, news to come. The next day, the New York Times gleefully reported that ebook sales were down in general. The surprising news was predictably greeted with what Mathew Ingram memorably called “a whiff of anti-digital Schadenfreude”.

Problem was, the news wasn’t just untrue, it was obviously untrue.”

“Essentially, the numbers the New York Times article was based on were limited to just 1,200 publishers, all of them being what is euphemistically referred to as “traditional” publishers — meaning “doorstopper” paper codex publishers whose business is essentially composed of a highly structured web of legal arrangements that historically evolved to maximize profit from the various physical characteristics of, you guessed it, the paper codex.”

“It was like the “traditional” publishing industry just pretended the ebooks being traded outside its own grumpy universe didn’t exist, because their “traditional” methods of tracking couldn’t see them.”

Open the door into the rest of the dark matter and publishing intrigue in The Parallel Universe of Publishing.

 

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02/15/2014

A Current View of the Publishing Revolution


It’s always been extremely hard for the outsider analyst (or any other uninitiated person of interest) to gather unit sales figures for books — Why? Simply because book sale data are secret. This nontransparency is not true of any other media outlet – only books.

However, some book and publishing industry entrepreneurs (and authorpreneurs) have devised their own analytical models based on certain assumptions and have produced some fairly logical conclusions RE unit book sales.

Now enters an author and publishing pro with a high level understanding of advanced programming who has designed software that supposedly grabs all this secret unit sales book data from online bestseller lists. With this data, more accurate charts with some interesting numbers can be produced (such as the one at left).

Let’s dive into these figures a little more with tonight’s great source reference article published on io9.com with exceptional links and comments from readers (sorry, I can’t link this site. Just paste io9.com into your address bar):

This chart ought to make the publishing industry very nervous

Wool author Hugh Howey has been beating the drum for self-publishing for a long time — but now he claims to have data to back it up. His new report on author earnings contains some startling figures, but none more so than the above chart showing indie authors beating traditional publishers on unit sales.

As Howey himself admits, the data in his new “Author Earnings” report is incomplete at best, because publishers and booksellers (including Amazon) don’t release raw book sales figures. You can find out exactly how much a movie made in its opening weekend, and how many people supposedly watched last night’s TV shows — but book sale data is secret.

According to Howey, this new data comes from “an author with advanced coding skills who had created a software program that can crawl online bestseller lists and grab mountains of data.” The data all appears to be just for Amazon, which means you have to trust Amazon’s accuracy on top of the accuracy of crunching the numbers. And there’s also the fact that looking at unit sales is possibly misleading — if you sell 1,000 copies of a book at $1 each, you might be getting way more unit sales than an ebook going for $10 each, but the revenue will still be low.

But Howey also includes some charts that claim to break down author income by publishing type, and they show a number of self-published authors making hundreds of thousands, or even over a million, dollars per year.

Howey adds:

Research article continues here

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09/01/2013

Seems the Public has Always Been a Mystery to the Publishing Industry


What do they REALLY want to read?

What do they REALLY want to read?

And that’s why traditional publishing (TP) is being forced to change — AND why, even though they’ve made millions in the past, they probably left many millions MORE on the table!

 

The fresh air being breathed into the publishing industry through technology and self-publishing has writers and readers walking on air with anticipation of accessing “on demand” content for an infinite number of hybrid niches that were considered ‘unacceptable’ or ‘unmarketable’ in the past by TP.

Targeted excerpts from tonight’s feature resource: 

“Andrew Crofts – whose latest book, Secrets of the Italian Gardener, was optioned for film rights via Wattpad, even before it was published – is buoyant about the fresh air that is being breathed into publishing. “Before you were helpless as a writer; there was an awful despondency. The business people had convinced us that if a book does not make business sense, it’s not good art. Now the writers are back in control. We are working more like the artist.” 

“In 1917 Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard unpacked a small printing press in the front room of their home. They set up the Hogarth Press to enable them to print small volumes of books that “the commercial publisher would not look at”. The Hogarth Press gave the writers of the Bloomsbury circle, which included T.S. Eliot and E.M. Forster, the freedom to write what they wanted, rather than write what established publishers judged sellable.”

“I am a refugee from traditional publishing,” says Orna Ross who had two novels published by Penguin, before becoming a self-published author and founding the Alliance of Independent Authors. “The trade pinkified my writing (pigeonholed it in the Chick-Lit genre) and sold my books to supermarkets. It left me feeling empty. I chose to self publish because it gives me creative freedom.”

“Writers can now sell direct to readers, who armed with their Kindles, iPads and all manner of e-readers, can decide what rises into the bestseller charts. Readers are the new tastemakers and gatekeepers. During the week 22-27 July 2013 (and most weeks), four out of the top 20 titles on The New York Times e-book Bestseller list were self-published.”

I KNOW you’re just dying to read the rest of this intensely, insightful feature resource that will tie all the above excerpts together while providing some great inside numbers, links and an informative video — To continue go to the title linked below:

 

Self Publishing: Here To Stay?

 

 

 

08/29/2012

Bookworld to Compete with Amazon


More intrigue in the publishing kingdom!
 
The company says its new Bookworld.com.au site is aiming to compete with Amazon on price and delivery, offering free shipping with two-to-three day delivery to any capital city on Australian books. Bookworld has about 100,000 e-book customers and a total of 750,000 customers on its database.” — Global publisher Pearson
 
Pearson publishing bought failing Boarders (after Boader’s owner REDGroup’s collapse last year), turned it into ‘Bookworld’, and is taking the first step in providing what they feel will be real competition for Amazon.
 
Many who have visited the Bookworld site feel they still have some hurdles to clear.
 
I believe Bookworld is a good first step in bringing much needed, real competition to the digital book industry — and Bookworld should improve with time. 

Chris Zappone, reporting for Business Day in The Sydney Morning Herald, has this to say: 

Global publisher Pearson has internet giant Amazon in its sights with the launch of an Australian-based online bookseller.

The publisher has rebranded the Borders.com.au site which Pearson bought for less than $5 million after owner REDGroup’s collapse last year. The company says its new Bookworld.com.au site is aiming to compete with Amazon on price and delivery, offering free shipping with two-to-three day delivery to any capital city on Australian books. Bookworld has about 100,000 e-book customers and a total of 750,000 customers on its database.

“You’ve got to have a price that will get you to market and clearly Amazon are the benchmark,” said Bookworld chief James Webber.

“We compete with Amazon very effectively that includes no shipping costs.”

Mr Webber said that 50 per cent of Bookworld’s stock was sourced in Australia.

REDgroup was unable to compete with global retailers like Amazon and Book Depository because of higher book prices in Australia.

Under current pricing offers, the cost of Christopher Hitchens’ book Morality is $23.95 from Amazon with delivery taking up to a month. Bookworld offers the same book at $19.99 to its club card holders with three-day delivery.

Bookworld said it has sold more e-books than physical books in the past month in another sign of how quickly the book industry was changing.

Read and learn more

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05/11/2012

Ebooks Trending Up or Down? Does it Really Matter?


Ebook Trends Up or Down?

Ebooks growth has been nosediving a bit of late; but, are the lackluster trends really something to be expected after such a rapid period of  initial, and probably, unsustainable expansion.

Probably.

Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director of Digital Book World, dives into some neat gadget numbers and analyses while providing some expert links:

Wave of ‘Bad’ E-Book News Dark Cloud or Blip?

A mini-wave of middling news has hit the e-book world in the past several weeks in contrast to the usual positive narrative about explosive growth and boundless opportunity. Is it a dark cloud on the horizon or just a blip on the radar?

Mixed metaphors aside, what’s really going on with e-books right now? Despite the “bad” news, experts and observers say that e-book publishers have little to worry about.

Profits are down at romance-book publisher and e-book vanguard Harlequin due to print declines that were not offset by digital gains. The Association of American Publishers announced weaker-than-expected adult trade e-book growth in February, the most recent month for which numbers are available. The rate of increase for Simon & Schuster’s digital sales continued to decline, according to the company’s first quarter results. And after a banner fourth quarter 2011, sales of Amazon’s Kindle Fire reportedly fell off a cliff in the first quarter of 2012 (which could be good or bad news for e-book publishers, depending on how you look at it).

“I’m not hearing alarm bells from publishers yet,” said James McQuivey, Ph.D. and principal analyst at Forrester who covers the book industry. “So I can’t say whether there is an overall softening or just unevenness in the data or just that each of these things is potentially explainable as due to circumstances specific to the players involved.”

While the above news isn’t exactly “bad,” it contrasts somewhat with the long-term narrative of e-book growth that has been steady since the Kindle came out in 2007.

“We’ve become addicted to the pace of change,” said Thad McIlroy, a Vancouver-based digital publishing consultant. “So if any market numbers emerge that suggest that the pace of change may be in some way slowing, we react with disappointment.”

Publishers of e-books should be reacting to such news with “quiet celebration,” said McIlroy.

“Every executive in publishing today already has a 70-page ‘to-do’ list,” said McIlroy, suggesting that a slow-down in the pace of change would give publishers a moment to catch up with it.

Regarding the reported slow down in Kindle Fire sales, industry observer Chris Rechsteiner doesn’t buy it.

Read and learn more

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04/15/2012

Is the Ebook Juggernaut Slowing ?


Ebook Sales Falling ?

Matthew Flamm, senior reporter for Crain’s New York Business, wrote the following article today, and, although I get the overall gist of it (I think), I’m left confused by parts of it 😦  

I interject questioning comments in the body of the text. I welcome informative comments to help me out.

E-book sales growth is slowing  by Matthew Flamm:

‘The Justice Department’s lawsuit charging publishers with conspiring to fix e-book prices isn’t the only headache the industry has right now. Insiders say there are concerns that the e-book juggernaut is slowing down.

“It’s not growing the way it was a year ago,” said an executive at a major publisher. “And Barnes & Noble is ordering fewer and fewer books.” Senior execs at the house had been counting on rapid growth in digital sales to make up for the expected erosion of physical book sales, and are now worried about meeting their projected budgets for the year.

In January—the most recent month for which numbers are available—e-book sales spiked 49%, to $100 million, compared with a year earlier, according to the Association of American Publishers. For all of 2011, e-book sales grew 117%, to $970 million. (John’s Note: So far so good)

It was expected that coming off a larger revenue base, the monthly percentage increases would grow smaller (Why? What does this mean?), but executives fear that sales are starting to plateau. Experts say the lower bar of entry for e-book publishing may be a factor (What lower bar of entry for ebooks? What exactly does he mean by this?). “Bigger publishers are starting to lose market share to independent publishers and self-publishers,” said consultant Jack Perry (Does this mean then that the ebook juggernaut is NOT slowing for indies and self-publishers?).’

What do you think ?

Read and learn more

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03/28/2012

Association of American Publishers: Book Sales Up in January :) Get the Numbers


Book Industry Growing Today

The AAP (Association of American Publishers) has some good news for the book industry. Random House sales were up in 2011 and overall book sales jumped in January 2012.

The two main reasons for this profit growth were cost-cutting and increased sales of e-books.

Matthew Flamm , Crain’s New York Business, reports these inside numbers:

Good news for the book industry

The book industry got good news on two fronts on Wednesday. Profits were up in 2011 at Random House Inc., parent company Bertelsmann reported. And book sales spiked in January, according to the Association of American Publishers.

At Random House, the world’s largest trade publisher, earnings before interest and taxes rose 7%, compared to the prior year, to $246 million. The gains came from cost-cutting and increased sales of e-books, which have better margins than physical books. Revenue for the year fell 4%, to $2.3 billion.

George R. R. Martin’s five-volume fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire also helped, selling 8 million copies in North America.

For the industry, overall trade book sales in January spiked 27%, to $504 million, compared to the same month in 2011. Among the fastest growing categories were children’s hardcover books, which were up 69% to $57 million; adult hardcover, which increased 22% to $70 million, and e-books, which grew 49% to $100 million.

The January figures marked the debut of a new methodology for the Association of American Publishers, which is now tracking 1,149 publishers, up from an average of 75 to 90 in the past. The newly added publishers have contributed year-ago numbers so that the comparisons are on a like to like basis.

Read and learn more

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03/14/2012

Publishing Intrigue Con’t: Is Government About to kill Real competition to Save Appearance of Competition?


Gov't Killing Competition?

Hopefully not!

The jury is still out. While the Justice Department is weighing the past, present and future course of the publishing industry (in trying to tame the nefarious price-setting practices of e-books — and by extension of all books), opinionated speculation is running rampant!

This digital-era-caused publishing shipwreck upon ‘conscience island’ could just be the best thing that has ever been visited upon the publishing empire.

Why ? Because the forced dealing with recent ethical questions like price-setting below profitable margins just to run peripherals out of business and create a more monopolistic advantage, will hopefully lead to a clearing up of abuses and unethical practices that existed under the old traditional publishing business model as well!  

But, in order for this to take place, the DOJ must put it’s best foot forward with a real commitment to create a publishing landscape that fosters open and fair competition. Good prices for all concerned will then follow — based on fair market value — not cookie-cutter, one-price-fits-all, dip-shit prices (that will be raised, without any recourse, in the future when the true monopoly is firmly established).

This from Carolyn Kellogg of the LA Times:

Scott Turow: Apple didn’t collude, it offered an e-books life raft

Last week shivers shot through the world of publishing when news broke that the U.S. Justice Department warned Apple and five major publishers that it was investigating them for alleged collusion, the Wall Street Journal reported. At issue was the price of e-books: When Apple launched the iPad, five major publishers adjusted their pricing schemes from a wholesale/retail model to an agency model.

In December, Justice Department official Sharis A. Pozen told a House subcommittee that the antitrust division was investigating e-book pricing. A source told the New York Times that the department hopes to decide by the end of April, when Pozen is leaving, whether to file suit against Apple and publishers  Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Penguin, HarperCollins and Macmillan.

That would be a mistake, writes Scott Turow, a bestselling author, a lawyer, and head of the Authors Guild. In an update on the Authors Guild website, he writes:

We have no way of knowing whether publishers colluded in adopting the agency model for e-book pricing. We do know that collusion wasn’t necessary: Given the chance, any rational publisher would have leapt at Apple’s offer and clung to it like a life raft. Amazon was using e-book discounting to destroy bookselling, making it uneconomic for physical bookstores to keep their doors open.

Just before Amazon introduced the Kindle, it convinced major publishers to break old practices and release books in digital form at the same time they released them as hardcovers. Then Amazon dropped its bombshell: as it announced the launch of the Kindle, publishers learned that Amazon would be selling countless frontlist e-books at a loss. This was a game-changer, and not in a good way. Amazon’s predatory pricing would shield it from e-book competitors that lacked Amazon’s deep pockets.

Read and learn more

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09/10/2011

Publishers’ Why’s and Wherefore’s When Migrating to Digital (are all the damn apostrophes correct?)


Karina Mikhil - Publishing Executive

Indeed, when the current publishing upheaval began (it seems  just a little while ago in the scheme of things) and the conqueror ‘Digital’ came swaggering into the publishing world, publishers were at first completely devastated; then were bombarded by all kinds of options and questions for their very survival!

You can just imagine publishers’ mental angst deciding “Should I get out of this rapidly changing fireball of an industry or should I admit that the old ways are going down the drain and commit to learning a whole new process … dealing, perhaps, with an entirely new and separate tech industry?”

Karina Mikhil , a publishing executive with a Master’s in Publishing from New York University, has some excellent questions and analyses that will help these publishing execs and their firms reach a viable decision.

From Karina Mikhil in Publishing Perspectives:

Migrating to Digital Publishing? The Six Key Questions to Ask

Here are the six “Ws” you need to ask yourself before transitioning from the old to the new: why, who, what, when, which, and where.
 

The publishing industry is not generally known for being agile or quick to change, yet it is facing one of its biggest times of change probably since the invention of the printing press. At the heart of this is the migration to digital.

Prior to this migration, a time-tested process and structure existed for getting books printed: from acquisition, copyediting and typesetting, to author reviews and proofreading, to print. Although hiccups occurred and no two companies had the exact same workflow, the foundations were the same and ensured quality products got released in expected time frames.

Whether publishers are dealing with online content or e-books, digital only or both print and digital, publishers are now faced with more questions than answers as to how to incorporate the new with the old. Below I provide a framework for those questions, using the traditional 6 Ws: why, who, what, when, which, and where.

Why?

Of the six questions, this is the easiest to answer. No publisher can afford to ignore the digital any longer: the tipping point has come and gone; more and more e-books and e-readers are being sold weekly; and authors will begin demanding this, if they haven’t already. And traditional publishers need to offer all things digital to compete with the emerging “digital publishers.”

Who?

Even prior to the migration to digital, publishers would do one of two things to keep costs down: outsource as much as possible, keeping headcount down, or the reverse, which is hire talent to keep all services and costs internal. With digital, publishers have to make this decision anew. Should they invest in new talent from other industries (e.g., technology) or in educating existing talent, those who are eager to learn and have a background in publishing? Or should they turn to one of the many conversion and content solutions providers that exist in the market?

What?

Read and learn more

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04/17/2011

Ebook Sales Up 202% Over Last Year – Now King Format for American Publishing


Announcing King Ebook Format!

The digital revolution has caught up with, stomped and overtaken traditional publishing (TP) according to the latest report from the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

AND, this conquering of TP has occurred one year earlier than previously forecasted by industry analysts! How bout them apples?

Of course, anyone who wasn’t in denial saw this coming…the crowning of the e-book as the single bestselling format in American publishing. We just didn’t see it charging so fast!

Welcome, King “E”…how can we serve thee? Or, better yet, how will you serve us? Cheaper prices, faster delivery, more publishing opportunities, etc., etc.? 

I sincerely hope there is an infusion of real money in there somewhere…

Now these details from T3, The Gadget Website:

Ebook sales overtake US paperbacks for the first time

US figures show huge consumer demand for e-readers 

The digital revolution continues apace in the old-tech world of publishing. In the US, the eBook has become the single bestselling format in American publishing for the first time, a year ahead of analysts forecasts.
 
The report from the Association of American Publishers, showed February’s eBook sales were $90.3m (£55.2m), compared to $81.2m (£49.8m) in paperbacks, a leap of 202.3% on the same time last year. Philip Jones, deputy editor of the Bookseller, believes that the UK is set to follow the US trend in the take-up of the technology, “the UK are a year behind but they are catching up quite fast.”

Despite the challenge of the rapidly expanding tablet market, many of which come pre-loaded with an e-reader, the figures show standalone eBook readers have carved out an important niche in a hugely competitive marketplace. Their popularity is down to choice – there are over a million free books on the Amazon Kindle – as well as a lower price-point than tablets, speedy downloads and portability.

Read and learn more

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