The UK’s leading high street bookseller said that sales of the Kindle ebook reader had plummeted this Christmas as a physical books market battered by ecommerce showed signs of improvement.
Waterstones said that sales of Amazon’s ebook reader had “disappeared to all intents and purposes”. The lossmaking chain of 290 bookshops had previously touted Kindle as the way to “solve the digital question” in 2012 when it launched a partnership with Amazon to sell the devices.
However, physical book sales at Waterstones rose 5 per cent in December as the company reaped the benefits of its store refurbishment programme and a relinquishing of control to local store managers who could respond to the tastes of local communities, said James Daunt, chief executive.
Foyles, the London chain of bookstores, said like-for-like sales of physical books had risen 11 per cent this Christmas. Sam Husain, chief executive, said sales of Barnes & Noble’s ebook reader the Nook were “not as impressive as one would expect them to be” and that physical book sales had outperformed ebooks.
Froma a Guardian Ebooks post by Anna Baddely:
Research recently published by the National Literacy Trust and educational publisher Pearson shows that among low-income families, technology can be a “more engaging learning tool” for three- to five-year-olds than books. Boys were twice as likely as girls to spend more time with stories on touch screens than printed stories.
Early years are the vital time to get hooked on books. As boys get older, quiet reading takes a back seat to friends, homework, sports and computer games. Children’s author Jeff Norton was himself a “game-obsessed… very reluctant reader” as a youngster. His popular series MetaWars was deliberately conceived to be as immersive and addictive as a video game. Former teacher (and keen gamer)Simon Scarrow’s novels about Roman gladiators Cato and Macro have been wildly successful, and have now inspired a free app game. With the ability to unlock book extracts, it’s a clever way of connecting with reluctant readers.
Tempting boys into fiction isn’t just about building literacy skills for the sake of passing tests: it’s about developing empathy and encouraging escapism. Novels, according to Scarrow, “offer a far greater degree of creative action for a reader and therefore [a] greater sense of immersion”.
The writer Jonathan Emmett who wrote Pigs Might Fly caused an uproar earlier this year when he said there are not enough books with characters and stories which interest boys, which is putting boys off reading. He attributed it to ‘female gatekeepers’ – female editors and mums buying the majority of books for their sons. Do you think there are enough books for boys or do you think they shouldn’t be gender-specific?
Perhaps I am redressing the balance- looking back I notice that many of my lead characters (Duck, Eddy, Bobo) are ‘boys’, although I really enjoyed having a female lead in my last series Nat the Cat (the Nat is short for Natalie).
The danger I suppose is falling into stereotypes – giving a message that ‘this is how a boy is meant to be, this is how a girl is meant to be.’
Nat is nurturing and loving (traditionally female qualities) but she is also strong, she is the leader of her little group of friends.
I would say that I try to write books that aren’t gender specific, because I’m interested in writing about feelings, and we all have those.
The gap between boys and girls’ literacy development is already significant at the age of five. Why do you think this is and what can be done to combat it?
To be honest I don’t know why this is. The best things to be told when doing visits is that one of your books started their son/ daughter off reading. So the only thing I can do is keep creating the best picture books I can, in the hope that through reading one of them, some child out there (whatever gender) gets pulled into a lifetime love of reading.
Are you worried about digital e-books taking over from printed picture books? Do you think that will change the experience of reading your books?
They both have a place, and are different. For me, nothing will replace the experience of a book, opening it up and physically turning the pages. Yes, digital books can have extra features where they animate or play music but nothing beats the child sitting there and making their own noises to go with the book. That’s more interactive than just touching an icon!
A study by the National Literacy Trust says tablet computers are a ‘vital new weapon’ to combat poor reading:
Jonathan Douglas, the trust’s director, said it was crucial “that we recognise the opportunities that technology brings for engaging boys and poorer children in reading”.
“Our research confirms that technology is playing a central role in young children’s vocabulary development,” he said. “Nearly all children have access to a touch-screen device at home and as technology advances and digital skills become increasingly important, we need to harness these developments to encourage children to become avid readers, whatever format they choose.”
The study – jointly carried out with the publisher Pearson – was based on a survey of more than 1,000 parents with young children combined with a poll of 567 early years workers. It also analysed the link between vocabulary and reading practices among 183 three- to five-year-olds.
Interesting ebook sales data from US:
YA/children’s books are fuelling e-book growth in the US, according to new figures from the Association of American Publishers (AAP).
New figures released by the group covering January to July 2014, show that the e-book revenue grew 7.5% compared to the same period in 2013. This was driven largely by a huge growth of e-book revenue in the children’s and YA category, with a 59.5% growth compared to the same period last year.
According to a new report from the United Kingdom, 50% of readers tend to use their mobile phones [for reading] books. This research is quite telling because e-reader and tablet sales are quite robust and have a high rate of availability in the retail sector.
Overall, 50% of UK mobile reading consumers used the Amazon Kindle app to read on their mobiles, followed by Apple iBooks with 31%. Reading platforms Kobo and Nook are in third and fourth places with 9% and 6% respectively. Among younger readers, iBooks is closing ground on Kindle. The study found that 41% of 18 – 24 year olds who use their mobile to read are using Kindle, versus 39% who are now using iBooks.
Roger Sutton, on why the Horn Book does not currently consider self-published books for review and why that situation is unlikely to change.
I recognise everything he says in the explanation that follows the quoted preamble, and recommend you follow the link.
Here at ACHUKA I have tried and tried to find self-published books worthy of attention. I am still open to submissions, but only because it is usually so instantly apparent what a judgement is going to be, for all the reasons given in Roger’s piece.
I think a bigger question is why “traditionally published” needs to exclude books that are published only as eBooks.
The titles on the ACHUKAbooks list have been ‘traditionally’ curated, edited and copy-edited. Some of them are by authors who have established reputations in traditional print publishing.
Books published by epublishers fall into a hard-to-promote middle ground, where traditional review coverage is not forthcoming, and the kind of self-promotion that “self-published” authors are free to indulge in is not viable.
When I launched ACHUKAbooks well over two years ago I knew that this was the situation at the time, but I felt confident back then that it would soon change and that quality ebooks would soon be given attention in the regular review press. That hasn’t happened.
Dear self-published author:
I can imagine how frustrating it is to have your book refused possible review coverage by the Horn Book simply because it is self-published. But here is why that situation is unlikely to change anytime soon.
The 16-24 generation is still firmly in favour of print books, new research shows, with 73% saying they prefer print over digital or audio formats.
Exclusive research conducted by Voxburner for The Bookseller showed that while nearly three-quarters of young people said they prefer the print form, only 27% prefer e-books and 31% said they don’t buy e-books at all.
The survey questioned more than 900 young people in the UK about their book habits.
Luke Mitchell, director of Voxburner, said the research found people in the 16-24 age group think e-books are too expensive. “They told us they like to touch books and see the creases in the spine, but for bargain-driven young people the conversion to e-books will most likely be determined by price,” he said. “In our research, 70% said that £6.99 was a reasonable price to pay for a paperback but only 10% were prepared to pay the same for an e-book.”
When it comes to paperbacks, 37% of young people said they would pay £5.00-£7.00 and 35% said they would pay £3.00-£5.00. However, they are less willing to pay as much for e-books, with 43% saying they should cost less than £3.00
from the end of a thoughtful piece on digital reading on the Barrington Stoke blog where we learn that tey will be releasing a “small number” of “locked format” digtal titles next month:
I think the lessons to be learned are:
when it comes to literacy, we need to be wise to huge commercial interests and personal hobbyhorses, put these aside and see what actually works. It’s great that Anne Mangen et al are producing some empirical data.
deep down, most of us know what books are, and what reading is, and we know that story apps might be great, but they’re not a cornerstone in developing literacy.
there’s nothing better than human interaction when it comes to learning to read, and to loving to read.
And now for a volte-face of sorts: in line with (1) above we will be letting Barrington Stoke readers try our books in digi format when we release a small number of titles in a special app in October. The books will be in a locked format available for iPads and Android tablets, and will replicate in a relatively locked format the design of our own books, but with a couple of added accessibility tools. More anon…
HarperCollins is in the midst of a total rebranding effort when it comes to selling books. In July they relaunched their United States website and started to market eBooks directly to customers. This has been a deemed a success by the top executives and they have now expanded into the UK.
The New HarperCollins UK site has been relaunched with the express purpose of selling eBooks directly. The publisher prompts users to download and install their HC Reader app, which is used to read any purchases on iOS and Android.
HC derives 24% of their revenue from eBooks, so there is still a viable market for print. You can order tangible books from the UK website, but instead of buying them from HC directly you are redirected to Amazon, Waterstones and W H Smith. The publisher hopes to make physical books available directly through the site in December.
One of the most compelling aspect of the HC UK website is author profiles. You can read their biography, check out their social media profiles, get put on a mailing list for book tours and events or look at their upcoming titles.