According to a recent survey from the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group, sales of ebooks more than doubled in 2011 to $2.07 billion for the US publishing industry.
Digital sales grew from $869 million in 2010. Last year, ebooks accounted for roughly 6 percent of overall publishing revenues. The survey also indicated that the number of ebooks doubled to 388 million, and represented 15.5 percent of total books sold in the “trade sector,” fiction and non-fiction for adults and children.
The most significant gains for ebooks came in adult fiction, which accounted for 30 percent of revenues. Adult fiction sales were up 117 percent and produced $1.27 billion in revenues last year, the data stated. Contrast with overall sales for the publishing industry which managed a slight increase for the year of 0.5 percent at $13.97 billion.
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So how can the little guy – the local bookstore – compete with the likes of Amazon?
Some market analysts speculate that Amazon sales will account for 50 percent of all book sales in the US by the end of 2012, which is stunning since book-selling has actually become the minority revenue stream for Amazon now that the company has branched out into a market for everything from video games to sex toys. Amazon has become a primary competitor not just to Barnes & Noble but also to Walmart, eBay, Apple’s iTunes, and even Netflix.
Amazon’s influence has allowed it to position itself not only as the largest bookseller in the country but also as a distributor. This means that it has effectively cut the middleman out of publishing, allowing it to offer books to the reader at the lowest price while paying the publisher a larger percentage of the sales. For me as a publisher, this means that not only can you get the latest title from my press, Black Ocean, for less from Amazon, but my little indie press will also probably make more off that purchase than if you had bought it at your local bookseller.
In the Boston area, two bookstores have managed to not only survive but thrive: the Harvard Bookstore (not affiliated with Harvard University) in Cambridge and Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, MA. These two stores have a few elements in common that have undoubtedly contributed to their lasting success:
In addition to new books, they also sell a great selection of used titles at lower prices.
They have robust websites that offer options to buy online with quick local delivery (the Harvard Bookstore even offers next-day delivery by bicycle to select areas) as well as blog posts and features.
They have interesting and revelatory staff selections.
They each host over 100 readings a year (Brookline Booksmith hosts around 150, and Harvard Bookstore is closer to 300).
Both stores have been enthusiastic with their response when approached by Black Ocean to sell our titles.
Apple could be hosting a special media event in New York City this month. The event won’t be about Apple’s next iPad if reports are believed to be correct. Instead, Apple will be talking directly to the publishing industry.
The theme of the event will be publishing and e-books. Considering reports indicate Eddy Cue will be prominently involved, it’s a focus area that makes a lot of sense.
Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services, Mr. Cue is in charge of the iBookstore, as well as the iTunes and App Stores, iAd and iCloud. Cue is the one who took the stage the last time the company had a publishing event, when it unveiled News Corp.’s publication The Daily.
Rather than working with a traditional publisher, controversial billionaire and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban has caught the wave and is publishing a new book, How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do I, as an eBook through digital publisher Diversion Books.
The content for comes from Cuban’s blog and he figures he can market the eBook to his readers through his blog, Twitter and Facebook.
Cuban told the Wall Street Journal: “All I have to do is get them to pay attention and hit a link.”
To make it in digital book sales, authors and publishers need to be available on every platform possible to attempt to control the market share. Amazon and Barnes & Noble have recognized this on top of the hardware that they have produced…
Distribution and the storefront is one area where these two points have really converged into one thanks to digital book sales. Not only do players like Amazon and Barnes & Noble have control over both of these points for e-book sales, but they also have the power now to sign on publishing contracts themselves on top of their self-publishing platforms for authors. READ MORE
In some ways the transition from paper to digital distribution for book publishers and independent authors is a boon. It’s true that most e-books currently have high profit margins, and are free from many of the drawbacks of print. Peter Osnos, who is the founder of PublicAffairs Books, states that the biggest challenge small publishers face is managing their inventories. Print too many books, and lots of them will be returned by stores. Print too few and publishers will forgo sales while they order reprints (at higher prices). None of these problems exists when distributing books digitally.
The economics of the book business are changing so rapidly the publishing industry barely looks like it did just six months ago.
Divining the profitability of a book is a mysterious art. But basic book economics suggest an e-book is more profitable than a hardcover, even at substantially lower consumer prices, due mostly to the inventory and return costs associated with physical books.
Law firm Finkelstein Thompson LLP filed a class action complaint against Apple, Inc. and six major book publishers alleging a horizontal conspiracy to fix and increase the price of eBooks in the United States. These allegations, if proved, may entitle purchasers of eBooks to monetary damages. The publishers include Hachette Book Group, Inc., HarperCollins Publishers Inc., Macmillan Publishers, Inc., Penguin Group (USA), Inc., Random House, Inc., and Simon & Schuster, Inc. The action is currently pending before a New York State judge.
The complaint alleges that six of the defendants implemented price-fixing agreements contemporaneously with Apple’s introduction of the iPad in April, 2010. Defendants allegedly did so by coordinating the introduction of an “agency” model for eBooks sales, where the publishers are the direct sellers of the eBooks and dictate the price at which online retailers, such as Amazon.com, can sell the eBooks as agents for the publishers. The book publishers and Apple allegedly agreed among themselves to simultaneously raise the price of eBooks, often from $9.99 to $12.99 or higher.
If you are interested in discussing your rights, or have information relating to this investigation, please contact Finkelstein Thompson’s Washington, DC offices at (877) 337-1050 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The success of e-books is affecting all aspects of the publishing industry, recently leading to a change in the material discussed at Columbia’s Publishing Course, a annual six-week summer session to educate college graduates on book editing, sales, cover design and publicity.
This year, the course focused on “The Digital Future” of publishing and the transition to e-books. The course… [CLICK HERE]