Huge rise in eBook sales offsets decline in printed titles
Despite an increase in digital sales of 366% last year, printed books remain the choice for the majority of readers, figures show.
Consumer eBook sales in the UK increased by 366% last year helping to offset a decline in the market for printed books, according to new official figures.
Drawing its data from information provided by 250 publishers, the Publishers Association’s Statistics Yearbook put the value of consumer eBook sales – fiction, non-fiction and children’s digital titles – at £92m in 2011. This is a 366% increase on the previous year, the Publishers Association said, and consumer eBooks are now equivalent to 6% of consumer physical book sales by value.
But the strong digital sales come at the expense of print, the yearbook reveals: consumer print sales were down by about 7% in 2011 to £1.579bn. And last year’s decline in print sales is continuing in 2012: £313.6m was spent on printed titles in the first quarter of this year, according to the Bookseller, the lowest first-quarter figure since 2003. Physical book sales in the first three months of 2012 were down 11%, or £39m, compared with the same period in 2011, the Bookseller says, with fiction down 18%, non-fiction down 9% and children’s down 2%.
“The story of  is a decline in physical sales almost being compensated for by a strong performance in digital,” said Publishers Association chief executive Richard Mollet. “That said, physical books remain the format of choice for the vast majority of British readers, underlining the continued importance of a strong high street sector.”
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Research: Amazon Latin American and US Hispanic markets – Spanish Kindle store: The numbers
With nearly 300 million unique visitors monthly worldwide (according to comScore figures), which is equivalent to 20.4% of the Internet population (or 1 out of every 5 web users), Amazon has cornered the global market like no other e-commerce company. Today, taking advantage of the e-books boom and its own e-book reader, Amazon has opened its new eBooks for Kindle en Español store—a move that gives the company direct entry into the Latin American and U.S. Hispanic market.
The store offers over 30,000 titles and reading applications in Spanish. “We hope that our Spanish-speaking customers will enjoy both our newly added books as well as the improved shopping and reading experience, including customer service in Spanish,” says Russ Grandinetti, VP of Content for Kindle.
The market for Kindle en Español, according to Google
The term ‘Kindle Español’ started appearing in Google searches in late 2010, reaching its peak in January 2012. Today, the term is looked up an average of 22,200 times a month worldwide. The term ‘libros kindle español,’ or Spanish kindle books, shows up in searches 5,400 times a month.
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Why the death of DRM would be good news for readers, writers and publishers
The decision by Tor Books to ditch digital rights management signals the beginning of the end of the ebook format wars
A Kindle 3G electronic book reader. Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty Images
At the end of April, Tor Books, the world’s largest science fiction publisher, and its UK sister company, Tor UK, announced that they would be eliminating digital rights management (DRM) from all of their eBooks by the summer. It was a seismic event in the history of the publishing industry. It’s the beginning of the end for DRM, which are used by hardware manufacturers and publishers to limit the use of digital content after sale. That’s good news, whether you’re a publisher, a writer, a dedicated reader, or someone who picks up a book every year or two.
The first thing you need to know about ebook DRM is that it can’t work.
Like all DRM systems, ebook DRM presumes that you can distribute a program that only opens up ebooks under approved circumstances, and that none of the people you send this program to will figure out how to fix it so that it opens ebooks no matter what the circumstances. Once one user manages that, the game is up, because that clever person can either distribute ebooks that have had their DRM removed, or programs to remove DRM (or both). And since there’s no legitimate market for DRM – no readers are actively shopping for books that only open under special approved circumstances – and since the pirated ebooks are more convenient and flexible than the ones that people pay for, the DRM-free pirate editions drive out the DRM-locked commercial editions.
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Ebook Consumers Say Yes to Tablets, Says BISG Study
Ebook consumers’ preference for tablets is accelerating rapidly as dedicated e-readers drop in popularity, according to the Book Industry Study Group’s (BISG) closely watched “Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading”survey. The second installment in Volume Three of the study shows that, over the course of just 6 months, consumers’ “first choice” preference for dedicated e-readers, such as those from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, declined from 72% to 58%. Tablet devices are now the most preferred reading device for more than 24% of ebook buyers, up from less than 13% in August 2011. Further, the increase in tablet preference was not primarily for Apple’s iPad (which rose by more than 1%), but for non-Apple tablets—overwhelmingly from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. These non-Apple devices increased from 5% to 14% over the same period.
The “Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading” study, powered by Bowker Market Research, points to a buoyant book market. Nearly 30% of respondents in the February 2012 survey reported an increase in money spent on books in all formats since they began acquiring ebooks, while nearly 50% reported an overall increase in the volume of titles purchased in any format. The numbers are even rosier for the ebook market: More than 62% of respondents reported an increase in dollars spent on ebooks, and more than 72% reported that they have increased the volume of e-titles they are buying. Some publishers are reporting that even when overall revenue has declined, profitability—particularly for ebooks—has increased.
In addition to “Power Buyers” (those who acquire ebooks at least weekly), this report looks at the behavior of “Casual Buyers,” who purchase one or two books a month. The study reveals that this second generation of ebook and e-reader adopters is catching up with Power Buyers in a number of ways. More than 27% of Casual Buyers now exclusively purchase ebooks rather than print, compared to 30% of Power Buyers. Further, Casual Buyers are only slightly more likely to play games (37% versus 35%) or watch video content (23% vs. 21%) on their devices. However, Casual Buyers lag significantly behind Power Buyers on the uptake of multifunction devices. Only half of Casual Buyers use a tablet regularly, compared to 83% of Power Buyers.
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Microsoft Befriends B&N’s Nook
Microsoft takes a smart step into the ebook business. Let’s hope it doesn’t trip.
I was startled this morning when I read the intro of a Los Angeles Times article titled, “Barnes & Noble, Microsoft team up on Nook, college businesses.” The opening line reads, “An infusion of money from Microsoft Corp. sent Barnes & Noble Inc.’s stock zooming Monday, as the software giant established a way to get back into the e-books business.”
What? Microsoft was in the ebook business? Where? On Neptune?
Well, I suppose Microsoft was in a rudimentary ebook business using computers and CD-ROM disks. Then there was the so-called Microsoft Reader, which was discontinued this year.
I think at one point it must have coincided with its efforts to scan books in competition with Google. It also bailed out of that and passed the millions of scanned books to archive.org, where they remain as piles of data. When Microsoft owned the scans, you could use the Microsoft search engine to find cool citations. This was a dynamite resource for students and thesis writers, as well as general researchers and the media. Unfortunately, Microsoft didn’t see the value and dropped the idea.
This is the problem. Microsoft is fickle and short-sighted. The evidence of this is everywhere, from the animatronic Barney doll (now an amazing collectible) to its encyclopedia, travel service, early online magazines, and on, and on. The company just seems to lose interest at the drop of a hat. It’s weird to witness this and at this point in history, a list of these dead-end projects and investments could fill a book.
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Latest Salvo in eBook Battles: Forget About Buying a Kindle at Target
When the Department of Justice announcing an investigation and subsequent suit against Apple and five other eBook publishers for price fixing, Amazon, the 1k pound gorilla of the eBook market and the biggest eBook publisher not named in the suit, immediately lowered its eBook pricing, by as much as a third in some cases. See, the way it works is, Amazon is using the market dominance of its Kindle (60% of the eReader market) to set prices lower than many publishers consider profitable, in an effort to collect even more of the market. Apple, alternatively, takes 30% of any eBook sales on iBooks, and requires any publisher they work with to never sell an eBook for less than the price they sell for iBooks. Are both attempts to create prices based on something other than immediate, per-book profitability? Yes. Are both of them at odds with each other and bad for physical book sellers? Yup.
Today, however, saw one of the weirder ways this fight is playing out, namely in the removal of all Amazon brand hardware from their stores.
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Amazon and Apple ebook price war results in book being pulled
Buzz Bissinger is no stranger to the literary world, having written several bestselling books. So it was all the more confusing when his recent eBook, After Friday Night Lights, recently vanished without warning from the Amazon Kindle store. It took a little time for Bissinger to sort out why his 12,000 word $2.99 Kindle title was pulled, and he wasn’t expecting to find that it was all because of a tiff between Apple and Amazon.
Mr. Bissinger found after a publicity stop to promote the book that he could no longer find its listing on Amazon. His initial feeling was that it was just a mistake, but he found that he was, in fact, caught up in an automated fight between Amazon and Apple. The difficulty is that Apple chose to list After Friday Night Lights as a featured title in iBooks, and was giving it away for free with a code.
Bissinger was still receiving royalties from Apple, but Amazon’s automated system interpreted the promotion as a price drop, and tried to match it on the Kindle. That meant the book went from being $2.99 to free overnight. Amazon didn’t have anything to do with the book disappearing; that was all the publisher’s doing. It seems that the folks at digital publisher Byliner panicked and pulled the book rather than lose sales, which they got nothing for.
After Friday Night Lights follows the life of a high school football star whose career was ended by an injury early on. The book was written exclusively for Byliner.com, a digital publishing house that is making a go of things by publishing shorter digital works. Bissinger believes that the book has lost its chance thanks to Amazon’s pricing scheme.
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