Consumer e-book sales rose 10% in the first quarter of 2014, according to the Publishers Association, with strong performances from children’s e-books, and digital downloads of audio titles.
E-books will not replace printed children’s books, bestselling children’s author Judith Kerr told the BBC.
Some books are “alright” as e-books, but only if they’re the type of book that is read once then cast aside, she said. “I don’t think printed books will ever disappear, they’re a totally different thing.”
Hodder Children’s Books have announced HodderSilver, a digital-only list of classic sci-fi titles, launching tomorrow.
Editorial director Jon Appleton explained (to The Bookseller) that sci-fi seems to be the genre bloggers are discussing. “We’re really excited to try and reach a new audience. We think the market is out there so we’re reaching out to them.”
The list is launching with five out-of-print books:
- Catweazle by Richard Carpenter
- Plague 99 by Jean Ure
- Starstormers by Nicholas Fisk
- The Ennead by Jan Mark
- Journey Through Llandor by Louise Lawrence
The books will be available on all e-reader platforms for £2.99
Hodder plans to publish 21 titles between May and September and is open to suggestions about what to publish next. “We would love to hear from people about possible candidates,” said Appleton.
Apple announced that it will begin requiring a new level of keyword protection on children’s, teens’, and educational titles in the iBookstore beginning in June of this year. The term “interest age” will now have to be stated and labeled on titles from publishers and self-published authors alike.
Interesting breakdown of US print/ebook reading habits – by age, gender, income etc.
The Pew Internet and American Life project has released a new report on reading, called E-Reading Rises as Device Ownership Jumps. It surveys American book-reading habits, looking at both print books and electronic books, as well as audiobooks. They report that ebook readership is increasing, and also produced a “snapshot” (above) showing readership breakdown by gender, race, and age. They show strong reading affinity among visible minorities and women, and a strong correlation between high incomes and readership.
Spark, Bloomsbury’s new digital imprint, will be “asking authors to be a voice for the imprint”…
It wasn’t long ago that publishers thought of digital media primarily as a marketing tool for the books they were already publishing.
No longer. Digital is at the center of several new initiatives in young adult and children’s publishing.
“Ebooks are definitely different,” said Cindy Loh, publishing director of Bloomsbury Children’s Books, speaking at the Launch Kids conference at Digital Book World 2014 in New York today, “the way you experience them, the way you create them, the way you market them.” According to Loh, that new reality drove the launch last month of the digital imprint Bloomsbury Spark.
In addition to aggressively pushing translation rights to develop global markets on a local basis, Spark will also market its line of titles together to develop its brand profile. That means “asking authors to be a voice for the imprint,” said Loh, so that the imprint can serve as a virtual community for readers.
The key measure of success, though, is whether voracious young adult readers are coming back for more. Audience engagement is at least as critical to publishers’ success as are individual sales.
Alison Flood of The Guardian asked several ‘industry luminaries’ to look forward into the immediate future of digital publishing. Here’s what Kate Wilson of Nosy Crow had to say…
Kate Wilson, Nosy Crow managing director
“The ebook market for children has been slow to grow, but ebooks aren’t the only way that children can read on-screen. As well as publishing print books and ebooks, we make highly interactive, award winning apps, so we are particularly interested in the opportunities to use digital devices to blur the edges between storytelling and games. In a way, this is something that great children’s books like Where’s Spot and The Very Hungry Caterpillar have done for young children for decades, but technology makes it possible to take playfulness further. Our next app, Jack and the Beanstalk, releasing in the next few weeks, is our most ‘gamified’ book app yet: the reader helps Jack complete tasks to him get back down the beanstalk with different objects. The happiness of the ending depends on the reader’s level of success in the tasks. It’s different each time and rewards success with more story.
“We think that educational use of tablets will increase: more than 40% of primary schools in the UK are using iPads now, with many adopting a ‘one-iPad-per-child’ approach. Several apps encourage children as creators too, and personalisation is one of the trends that we’d expect to see.
Early indications show the number of printed sales in 2013 will be down almost 9% on 2012, a year which was itself down 4% on 2011. But Amazon’s reluctance to release data about Kindle downloads is a frustration for Nielsen’s BookScan team:
For Nielsen’s Russell Bremner, Amazon’s refusal to release figures for Kindle downloads is “the big issue for ebook sales”. With electronic books accounting for 17% of UK sales by volume according to consumer research conducted by Kantar World Panel and the internet retailer accounting for 79% of those sales, ebook figures for popular fiction remain something of a mystery, Bremner said. “We have no idea, unfortunately. I wish we did.”
Bookseller editor Philip Jones takes the positive view, clearly viewing the slip in print sales being more than compensated for by the rise of digital:
Despite the continuing fall in print sales, Jones remains bullish about prospects for 2014, suggesting that with almost 50% of the sales for big commercial titles shifting to digital editions and falling off the charts, a slide of 8% is “not bad”.
“We saw a lot of optimism at the London Book Fair and Frankfurt in 2013,” he added, “a lot of buying. Publishers have discovered that the more their business shifts to digital the more profitable it becomes, and they were spending some of that this year. Publishing is remarkably robust and incredibly positive, though with Amazon’s domination extending over more and more of the industry, who knows what the future will bring.”
Smashwords’ CEO, Mark Coker, gives us 14 New Year Predictions for the publishing industry. Here are his predictions #8 through to #11. For the full piece follow the link below…
- It’s all about the writing – It’s back to basics time. In a world where readers face an unlimited quantity of high-quality low-cost works, the writers who achieve the most success will be those who take their readers to the most emotionally satisfying extremes. Books are pleasure-delivery devices. It doesn’t matter if you’re publishing a cookbook, romance novel, gardening how-to, memoir or political treatise. Your job as the indie author is to write that super-fabulous book. That involves great writing and professional-quality editing. It also means avoiding all the mistakes that create unnecessary friction that prevent readers from discovering, desiring and enjoying the book. To understand these points of friction, and how to avoid them, check out my discussion of Viral Catalysts in The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, or in my Youtube video on best practices.
- All authors become indie authors – Back in the dark ages of publishing, you were either traditionally published or weren’t published. Writers who couldn’t get a publishing deal were seen as failures, because without the access to the publisher’s printing press, distribution and professional know-how, it was virtually impossible to reach readers. Today, failure is not an option. The next generation of writers can begin writing their book with the full confidence that one way or another, it will get published. Traditionally published authors now realize they have desirable publishing alternatives they never had before. Once a writer – any writer – comes to the realization that the power in the publishing industry has transfered from publishers to writers, it opens up a new world of possibilities. Publishing no longer becomes an either/or question. The best writers will have the option to publish independently AND traditionally, or do one or the other. It’s their choice. Both options are worthy of consideration by all writers, and can be mutually complementary. Even if you’re a traditionally published author today, you’re an indie author because you decide what happens with your next project.
- Subscription ebook services will change the game – If the ebook subscription services – the most notable of which are Scribd and Oyster – can make their business models work, then they’ll drive a game changing shift in how readers value and consume books. I examined the potential implications of this in my two-part blog post on this model (read part one | read part two) . For ebook subscription service users, reading will become an abundant resource that feels free. It’ll become a utility service in the same way that water and electricity are utilities. When we flip the switch to turn on a light, or when we turn the knob on the faucet to brush our teeth, we’re not thinking about how our next 60 seconds of that service will cost us one or two cents. We pay our monthly service fee, and for the most part we use the utility as much as we want. With ebook subscription services, the reader will pay $9 or $10 a month and enjoy virtually limitless reading. Readers will be relieved of the cognitive load of having to decide if a given book is worth the purchase price. Instead, they’ll surf and sample books with minimal friction, as if every book is free. The reader’s attention, and the book’s ability to hold the reader’s attention, will become the new factor in determining a writer’s success. Even if these subscription services fail, they’ll change the future of publishing by giving readers a taste of friction-free reading-as-a-service. It’s a taste readers are unlikely to forget.
- Traditional publishers will reevaluate their approach to self-publishing – The vanity approach to self-publishing, as witnessed by Pearson/Penguin’s acquisition of Author Solutions (operates AuthorHouse, iUniverse, BookTango, Trafford, Xlibris, Palibrio, others…), has shown itself to be a boondoggle that harmed the brands of all traditional publishers. I predicted this last year. The Author Solutions business model is wholly dependent upon making money by selling overpriced services to unwitting authors. Their business model is expensive at best, and unethical at worst. It’s about selling $15,000 publishing packages to authors who will never earn the money back. The model represents the antithesis of what the best and proudest publishers have always represented. Great publishers invest in their authors. The money flows from reader to retailer to publisher to author, not from author to publisher. At the same time Author Solutions has tarnished the reputation of all traditional publishers – even those not engaged in such practices – the indie author revolution has continued in full swing. Indies are stealing market share. Indies have learned to publish like professionals. Many indies no longer shop their books to agents and publishers, and instead choose to publish their books directly to readers using self-serve publishing and distribution platforms such as Smashwords, or KDP, Nook Press, and others. Publishers are losing access to the critical deal flow that is their lifeblood. I talked about this in my discussion of black swans in last year’s predictions. If they lack an effective service offering for indie authors, the big publishers risk finding themselves on the wrong side of history as authors move on without them. The stigma once associated with self-publishing is melting away as the stigma of traditional publishing grows. How can publishers stem the bloodletting and recapture relationships with authors? The answer will come by publishers reevaluating their attitude toward authors. They must recognize that publishing is a service, and that they serve at the pleasure of authors. Now that authors have choices, the publishing game can no longer be about, “What can the author do for the publisher?” Authors no longer need to bow subservient to publishers, so business models based on this old practice and attitude will be rejected. The new publisher mantra must be, “What can the publisher do for the author that the author cannot or will not do on their own?” Publishers need to broaden their author services menu by creating an inclusive business model that allows them to take a risk on every author, to be able to say “Yes” to every author when the prior attitude was to say “No.” Authors want a spectrum of options, from self-serve to full-serve, and they shouldn’t have to shell out cash to their publisher for any option. Publishers must abandon the culture of “No,” because authors no longer have the patience or tolerance to hear “No.” Authors have choices, and they’ve gained a taste for the joys of self-publishing. What’s this new model, where the publisher can say yes to every author, yet still earn a profit? The answer: they need to build or acquire their own self-serve publishing platform. A self-serve platform would allow them to take a risk on every author, and to form a relationship with every author. By operating a free publishing platform, the publishers would have the ability to serve the diverse needs of all authors. DIY authors would select the self-serve option. Authors with proven commercial potential who don’t want to hassle with the responsibilities of being one’s own publisher might opt for a path somewhere along the spectrum between DIY and full-serve (what has been heretofore been known as traditional publishing), assuming both the author and publisher desire that. The compensation models and level of publisher investment could vary based on the level of publisher service. Such a full-spectrum approach to publishing, where authors pay nothing, is 100% aligned with the author’s interests, and 100% aligned with the best practices of the best publishers. A good self-serve platform doesn’t employ sales people. It doesn’t take money from authors. And that’s how it should be. So the question is, can publishers introduce their own free self-serve platforms to broaden their services offerings? Time is running out.
Some interesting book industry Ebook predictions for 2014 from Digital Book World:
Seeing as though 2013 is just about over, we’ve gathered more publishing experts to predict what extraordinary events are to come in book publishing in 2014.