Bookselling Data has been one of the biggest buzzwords over the course of the last few years. Some of the leading digital and traditional publishing companies have been speaking about some of the measures they employ at BEA, Digital Minds, CES, and Digital Book World. In essence, book data is the sales metrics, relaying who is buying your book, how many copies are being sold, and where they are buying it from. Indie authors enjoy unfettered access to most of this information via Kindle Direct Publishing, Kobo Writing Life, and Nook Press. Traditional publishers and authors find that even finding out how many books you have sold can often be an exercise in futility.
Traditional publishing companies often do not share metrics with the author and in many cases don’t have real time information to this sort of data themselves. Due to the pipeline of distribution companies, such as Ingram and the retail stores themselves, it is hard to get a sense of how many copies were sold. We have spoken with many authors who have had bestselling books, listed in the New York Times. When asked how many copies they have sold, or how much money they have made, they shrug their shoulders. Sure, you can gain access to Nielsen sales data on stores that participate in their reporting scheme, but the access costs a ton of money. It is not even a true indication on how many books are being sold at smaller retailers and internationally.
Indie authors on the other hand have way more access to their sales information. Kobo Writing Life is the most advanced self-publishing platform that gives authors the ability to see how many copies of your book has been sold and what cities/countries are buying them. This is useful when you are on a book tour and want to find out what cities are performing and what ones aren’t buying your book online. The data on sales is compiled every 24 hours, which is solid to gain insight on your overall metrics. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing also gives you metrics on book sales, but does not give as much information as Kobo does. Nook Press only allows American authors to market their books, so is limited in scope.
Really, Self-Publishing dashboards give you a ton of book selling information that really keeps you informed on what is going on with your book. Traditional authors do not receive this kind of information due to many extenuating factors. Agents, distribution, retail, international, and many other factors make compiling this information take quite awhile and is a far cry from the immediate satisfaction of the self-publishing crowd.
As much data that is available to digital publishers and self-published authors, it is very general. Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Apple, and Google do not share their big data with anybody. No one really knows how many page views a book entry has had, the ratio of viewers and buyers, and how many people are clicking, even how many people type your book name into the search field. The big companies hoard all of this information for themselves and use it to play a game of one-upping each other for better search and a more intuitive buying experience and newsletters based on your searching habits.
When you visit any major online bookstore your privacy is wide open for whatever company your buying from to glean everything about you via cookies. They monitor every aspect of your experience while visiting the website and you basically sign your privacy away. Publishing companies need the real-time intelligence and data that these companies squirrel away. Every major company we talked to is deadlocked on what exactly they should do to negotiate terms or even approach Apple or Amazon. These two companies represent fortunes that eclipse most countries total GDP, bargaining with them over anything is hard.
When major publishers came together to fix the prices of ebooks to develop a standard of pricing, the European Commission and Justice Department smote them for collusion. The only thing the big six can do to have more bargaining power is to merge themselves and seriously takes years for the entire process to conclude. Penguin and Random House will form a super publishing company sometime this year and will account for 1/4 of all books printed. There are rumors of the other big six companies also merging, in order to compete.
Absolute Big Data and Sales Metrics on the whole, is simply not available to anyone. No matter who you are, how big you are, or how dynamic and savvy you are, you aren’t getting the information from the major online and offline retailers. In the rare instance you get some data, it is often very general and does not paint the entire picture. In the end, self-published authors have an easier time scoping out their sales data and analytics than the traditional ones.
Stay tuned for the next part of our feature that looks at some new digital start-ups that are seeking to bridge the gulf of big data and provide the metrics to publishers and authors alike for online and offline sales.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Welcome to another Good e-Reader Video Tutorial! Today we are going to show you three different programs that facilitate the transfer of ebooks on your Kobo Aura HD. We are, of course, talking about Calibre, Adobe Digital Editions, and Dropbox.
Calibre is a free program that gives users a tremendous amount of flexibility in augmenting your ebook experience. Not only does it allow you to simply copy ebooks to your Aura HD, but provides some very cool features. For example, you can change the title, author name, and cover art. This is very useful for books that came from the internet and may have details you want to change. You can also convert ebooks from one format to another. In this part of the tutorial, we overview the program and the basic features you can employ. We also show you two different methods to copy books directly to your e-reader.
Adobe Digital Editions is one of THE best tools for copying both library books and books you have purchased from other websites. The Kobo Aura HD’s primary book format is EPUB. This is the most common book type that is sold on many of the leading online stores, such as Barnes and Noble. ADE is the best program you can use to copy purchased books and books you borrowed from your local library via Overdrive, Axis 360, or 3M. We will show you exactly how to transfer books over to your Aura.
One tip of note with the latest version of Digital Editions 2.0 in a Windows 8 environment. We have heard that if you click on the app, it will load and then crash. You want to right click on the icon and then choose ‘Run As Admin.’
Finally, Dropbox is the primer cloud storage locker that gives you a few GB of space for free. This is a useful tool because you can use the Aura HD’s internet browser to access your collection and then save each title directly to your library.
The president of Bolivia Evo Morales has signed a new law today that removes the 16% tax levied on digital book and physical book sales. The new law also calls for improvements in the country’s libraries.
A number of publishers will benefit from this new law and are likely see more book sales, due to the reduced prices in their physical and digital counterparts. Scholastic is one of the largest companies that has a presence in Bolivia. Perhaps the company that will benefit from this law the most is Bolivian publishing house Martínez-Acchini, in association with McGraw-Hill. Together, these two companies have been actively selling 310 digital textbooks exclusively through a network of brick-and-mortar bookstores. The titles often sell for less than 40 % of their print counterparts and are available immediately.
Bolivia has the dubious distinction of being one of the most pirated book countries in the world. Many major publishers actually stopped selling books and textbooks to that country due to the black market. Fortunately, organized networks of irregular printers established during the '90s, both in the country and in Peru, have the power and the tools to all but instantly reproduce any paper book that reaches the market, thus undermining the industry. This has driven up the price for the legitimate textbooks, which most often have students paying a deposit and waiting three weeks for the title to be mailed out to them.
In the most ironic twist to this new law, the president of Bolivia simply hates to read. During a recent press event he said “I have that problem, I don’t like to read.” Here is hoping that his fellow Bolivians do not echo his sentiment.
HarperCollins intends on launching a new digital imprint entitled “Witness” this October. The publishing giant already has close to 100 titles ready to be published, but will start with 10 in the first month. One of the most exciting elements is the royalty payment structure; the company has announced it will pay its writers monthly, to better compete with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.
Witness will feature the same royalty structure as William Morrow/Avon's other digital-first imprints. Authors receive a 50% royalty once their book sells 10,000 copies (initial royalties start at 25%). Digital first imprints often do not give advances on the titles, such as Karina Press by Harlequin.
Digital first publishing houses often take gambles on unknown writers in the hopes they will sell enough copies to warrant a print edition. Since HarperCollins has an established distribution pipeline with thousands of bookstores, and the company hopes to sway over aspiring writers to their imprint, away from Amazon.
Witness will feature digital versions of Agatha Christie's short stories. In the fall, Witness will release all the "Hercule Poirot" short stories as digital singles, and then together in a single omnibus edition with a foreword by Charles Todd.
Trekstor has seen a little bit of success with its Pyrus Mini e-Reader in Europe, but is virtually unknown in North America. Today, the company announced a new device that should resonate a little bit better, mainly due to its eight inch screen. It should fill the gap in the market with the severe lack of larger screen e-readers currently being offered.
The Pyrus Maxi features an 8 inch display screen with a resolution of 1024×768 with 160dpi. It has 4 GB of internal memory and the ability to enhance it further with a Micro SD card up to 32 GB. It will be able to read ePUB, PDF (including Adobe DRM), TXT, FB2, RTF, and PDB ebook file types. It also has a solid amount of language support with the ability to read English, German, French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish, and Ukrainian
This device is fairly basic with no audio functionality, no touchscreen, and no WiFi wireless connection. Instead, you will navigate around the e-reader with physical buttons, like the older e-readers of yesteryear. Considering the entry level price of €149, when it comes out May 14th in Italy, it will be quite expensive if you consider what you get. It is also currently available via pre-order via Amazon.de for 160 euros.
Trekstor might see some difficulty in the global e-reader market mainly due to a lawsuit filed in November from E Ink Holdings. The company has been sued over two patents that have to do with electronic screens. This lawsuit basically made the Pyrus Mini e-Reader unsellable until the trial, which is set to formally launch within the next four months. The Chairman of E Ink Holding commented: “We have filed suit because E Ink intellectual property is unfairly exploited. E Ink is the market leader in the manufacture of high-quality intellectual property in the field of electronic screens and strives together with customers, suppliers and industry partners to build a sustainable eco-system. Our intellectual property is one of our major capital investments, which we have built with the hard work by hundreds of scientists and engineers for many years and spending hundreds of millions of dollars in research and development. ”
Trekstor is not using E Ink screens. Instead, it is using display screen technology from Technologies Co. Ltd. Guangzhou OED, which is made in China. It could be considered a knock off, and E Ink is going after any company selling similar screens with extreme vigor. It remains to be seen if E Ink will seek an injunction against this new device.