Ebooks: Is digital opening up a new chapter for publishing?
With ebook sales on the rise, how is the publishing industry embracing the world of digital?
Next week some of the biggest names in publishing will gather at the Hilton in London’s Park Lane for The Bookseller Industry Awards.
This year sees the introduction of a new category – the Digital Strategy Award – which recognises how the introduction of new technology is opening up the market.
It comes at a time when UK sales of consumer ebooks leapt by 366% in 2011 helping to offset a decline in the demand for printed books.
Last week it was revealed that the Pottermore ebook store sold £3m-worth of Harry Potter ebooks in its first month, with more than £1m of sales taking place in the first three days.
Sam Missingham, of The Bookseller’s digital publishing blog FutureBook, says 2012 is the year that digital has become embedded into publishers’ thinking and is no longer “just an interesting experimental playground for the cool kids”.
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Where Is Publishing Headed? The Future Of Books In 7 Easy Steps
Today, the publishing business is in turmoil. For 500 years, the methods and practices of book publishing remained largely unchanged, but today the industry finds itself faced with the greatest challenges since Gutenberg.
These challenges are the outcome of two processes. On the one hand, the publishing business has been transformed beyond recognition by a set of profound social and economic changes that have been underway since the 1960s, resulting in the publishing landscape we see around us today: a handful of large corporate publishers based in New York and London and owned by large multimedia conglomerates; an array of powerful agents who have become the unavoidable gateway into publishing for writers and would-be writers; and a retail landscape dominated by a dwindling number of retail chains, mass merchandisers and Amazon.
On the other hand, the technological upheaval associated with the digital revolution is now having a major impact on the book publishing business. After a decade of numerous false dawns, e-books have now arrived and they are here to stay. In 2006, e-book sales amounted to only around 0.1 percent of the overall revenue of large US trade publishers – an accounting irrelevance. Today this figure is around 20 percent, and for some kinds of books, like romance, science fiction and thrillers, the percentage can be 60 percent or more – a huge change in five years. The digital revolution is disrupting many of the traditional practices of the publishing industry, opening up new opportunities and at the same time threatening to dislodge some of the players who have shaped the business of book publishing for half a century or more.
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Carnegie UK Trust warns library services ‘must adapt’
Public library services need to adjust and develop to “a changing world” in order to keep attracting visitors, a charity has warned.
The Carnegie UK Trust said in a report that libraries were at a “crossroads”.
The warning came as an Ipsos-Mori poll conducted for the trust suggested 76% of Scots thought libraries were still important or essential to their community.
It also suggested 61% of Scots used a library at least once in the past year.
This was higher than any other part of the UK.
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Paper books still well-read but ebooks set to be bestsellers
NET RESULTS: READ AN ebook lately? Chances are, you didn’t – at least, if Irish reader preferences are in line with those of their British counterparts.
Statistics out last week indicated the lion’s share of books are still purchased in print format. Some £489 million (€610 million) in sales of print books were made in 2011, according to the UK Publishers Association’s Statistics Yearbook.
That compares with £70 million spent on digital-format novels, part of a total £92 million in digital download sales – a figure including the short stories that are becoming increasingly popular purchases from big-name authors such as Stephen King.
But that is a bit of a misleading comparison in a sector that is experiencing explosive growth. What’s needed to fully appreciate this is context: digital sales were up an extraordinary 366 per cent on 2010, when e-novel sales totalled just £16 million.
Digital sales nearly recuperated the loss in print sales for publishers – there was a £54 million increase in digital sales and a £57 million decline in print sales compared with 2010.
Now, about 6 per cent of books are sold online, and in the US, the value of sales of ebooks outpaced that of paperbacks for the first time a year ago. The majority of all e-book sales are made through Amazon’s dominant Kindle platform, said to account for 60 per cent of ebook sales in the US.
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Where Do e-Books Go When You Do?
It turns out that, yes, you can take it with you when you head for that great reading room in the sky. All my mourners will have to do is tuck my Kindle (and cable) into my casket and I’ll be set. Grave goods like these will be the envy of heaven or hell.
Why should this work? Because, dear readers, your Kindle e-books never die so long as you keep your account open. They are immortal. I have this from the e-book seller’s mouth, even though it came out sort of sideways at first.
To the question, “So what happens to all my Kindle e-books when I die?” Amazon replied, “I’m sorry; Kindle content can’t be resold or donated, or transferred between accounts. The purchase and download of digital content from Amazon.com, including content from the Kindle Store, is associated with the Amazon.com account used to make the original purchase. As a result, Kindle content can’t be transferred to another person.”
So, if I’m reading this right, I can’t give my e-books away before I go, not one of the entire 70 I’ve purchased so far. By the way, I appreciated the “I’m sorry,” which was comforting even though it did sound a bit like I had already passed away, something I don’t expect to do anytime soon.
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Amazon likely to launch color e-book readers in 2H12, say sources
Amazon is likely to launch color e-book readers in the second half of 2012, with makers in the supply chain to begin shipping related parts and components in May, according to industry sources.
Amazon’s new color e-book readers will be built with multi-touch capacitive touch panels instead of infrared touch panels used in the previous mono-color e-book readers, the sources noted.
E Ink Holdings also plans to unveil color EPD products soon, according to company chairman Scott Liu. The color EPD products are likely to be adopted by Amazon, indicated the sources.
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Amazon conjures Harry Potter e-deal
Amazon says it has signed a deal for the electronic books rights to all seven Harry Potter titles in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish for its Kindle lending library.
The deal allows subscribers of the Amazon Prime service, which requires an annual subscription, to borrow the electronic versions of best-selling JK Rowling books.
Amazon said it inked the exclusive license with JK Rowling’s Pottermore website to make the titles available to its customers via the Kindle e-reader.
But the deal only allows for borrowing of the ebooks, with Pottermore remaining the only place to buy the electronic versions.
“We’re absolutely delighted to have reached this agreement with Pottermore. This is the kind of significant investment in the Kindle ecosystem that we’ll continue to make on behalf of Kindle owners,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive.
“Over a year, borrowing the Harry Potter books, plus a handful of additional titles, can alone be worth more than the $US79 cost of Prime or a Kindle. The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library also has an innovative feature that’s of great benefit for popular titles like Harry Potter – unlimited supply of each title – you never get put on a waiting list.”
The Amazon lending library has now grown to over 145,000 books that can be borrowed for free as frequently as once a month, with no due dates.
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