Monday, June 30, 2014

US Publishers Earn More through Online Sales than Physical Stores

In a report from two entities that watch the publishing industry in the US, sales figures for 2013 show some surprising trends. These trends, followed by the Book Industry Study Group and the Association of American Publishers in their annual BookStats report, found several interesting changes in certain genres of the book market.

Adult non-fiction made the leap above juvenile fiction to be the top selling genre in 2013, but that’s to be expected since the kids’ market hasn’t had another Hunger Games to fill that gap. The lack of a repeat of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy meant adult fiction continued to do well but hasn’t been the breakout champion that it was when that series was selling.

The really interesting news, though, involved two aspects of the print versus ebook realm. First, ebooks sold better in 2013 by numbers of total sales, but actually resulted in less overall revenue than they have in the past; this may stem from the understanding of where ebook pricing should fall, and the fact that Amazon was able to discount ebooks again after the stripping away of agency pricing following the DOJ lawsuit against the Big Five publishers.

What is really telling, though, is that publishers in the US continue to far outsell in print and make more of their revenue off of physical editions, but that in 2013 they sold far more titles through online book retailers than they did through physical stores. While this can obviously be attributed to the dangerously low numbers of bookstores that are able to keep their doors open, it does speak to the issues such as the current battle between Amazon and Hachette Book Group.

If publishers are making the bulk of their revenue through online retailers, and Amazon is arguably the largest internet-based seller of books, why are publishers so afraid of the retailer’s behemoth grip on the industry? Why is there such a focus at publishing industry events on how to “take down Amazon” and conduct business in ways that don’t involve working with the “evil empire?” If it’s not broke, why are publishers scrambling to fix it?

The very simple answer is publishers are afraid of the control that Amazon holds over the market, and are even more afraid of what the bookselling landscape will look like once the last brick-and-mortar store closes its doors a la’ Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. For now, though, publishers would be wise to continue to reap the revenue that they can in order to put that income towards establishing their own connections with direct-to-consumer platforms.

US Publishers Earn More through Online Sales than Physical Stores is a post from: Good e-Reader

Libraries Starting to Adopt Pay Per Use for Digital Content


Library Collection Managers often have to buy the titles they want to make available to their patrons. eBooks, audiobooks, music and streaming movies all have to be purchased in advance in order to have them included in the catalog to be loaned out.  Sometimes the digital offerings take up a tremendous amount of capital and if a librarian is out  of touch with the needs of the community, money can sometimes be wasted.  An emerging trend is starting to catch on that may solve this conundrum, pay per use.

The pay per use model is starting to be embraced by a number of companies such as Overdrive and Hoopla. The concept allows the library to include the entire catalog of content and only pay when a customer borrows it. Instead of selectively deciding what audiobook or movie to buy, they can just display everything. Backend tools allow the collections manager to set monetary thresholds to insure they don’t go over budget.

Hoopla is an established audiobook company that has been in business for close to 20 years, but has only been doing digital for the last two. The company has one of the largest selections of audiobooks and do not charge libraries any sort of fees to use their system. Whenever a customer borrows an audio editions from the app or the website they can immediately listen to them without having to download any 3rd party apps. Librarians dig the ability to make their own collections, incase they want to manually curate the way everything is displayed.

Overdrive is experimenting with pay per use as part of their new arrangement with Warner Brothers. The company is making many backlist titles available within their Media Console App. Libraries will not have to buy the movies in advance and instead only pay when a patron borrows a title. Backend tools allow librarians to establish a daily, weekly or monthly revenue threshold, similar to Hoopla.

One of the main benefits of the pay per use model is that publishers are likely to embrace this as an avenue to further monetize their eBook sales.  Penguin Random House, Hachette, Simon and Schuster and HarperCollins all have different mindsets when it comes to selling content to libraries. Some only have a 26 checkout limit before librarians are forced to buy the title again, some expire after one  year and others mandate libraries have to sell eBooks directly. The Pay per Use model would insure frontlist and backlist titles would always be purchased, which would help drive down prices to less than wholesale.

Pay per use is not yet a fixture at libraries yet, but established players are starting to adopt. This system is still in its infancy and there is little financial information available on the costs libraries are paying or if the business model has long-term viability. Still, showing the entire catalog of content is fairly compelling. Hopefully companies like McGraw Hill and Follet start adopting pay per use to assist in more widespread adoption.

Libraries Starting to Adopt Pay Per Use for Digital Content is a post from: Good e-Reader

Smashwords Launches Summer Author Promotion

Just in time for summer travel, Smashwords is offering up an author opportunity that is too good too miss. In exchange for a multi-tiered discount on their titles, authors can be included in Smashwords’ Summer/Winter Promotion. Why Summer/Winter? Because it’s not summer everywhere that Smashwords’ books are bought.

By enrolling on the link on Smashwords’ homepage, authors can choose to enter any or all of their titles in the promotion by listing them at a discount of 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100%. The understanding comes in that the book must still cost a minimum of 99-cents after the discount in order to cover processing fees on Smashwords’ end.

A number of authors have criticized the concept of free book giveaways or listing ebooks at substantially lower prices, based on the belief that this will translate into not only higher rates of piracy, but also lost sales from readers who would have otherwise paid full price. This fallacy overlooks the fact that authors are reaching readers who would not have otherwise made a connection to an unknown author’s works, which may prompt some authors to only list some of their backlist in a promotion such as this. Smashwords’ marketing of this month-long event allows authors to select which of their books to include, and therefore encourages backlist promoting.

As for concerns over piracy, no study has yet demonstrated any connection between issues such as price or DRM-status and higher incidences of piracy. In fact, Tor Books presented at this year’s IDPF and stated that stripping DRM encryption from its titles had no impact at all on both the sales or the rates of piracy of their titles.

To participate in the event, authors need simply log in and submit their pricing based on the clicks onscreen. Authors whose books are already listed for free do not need to do anything further to be included in the special promotional catalog.

Smashwords Launches Summer Author Promotion is a post from: Good e-Reader

Google Schedules Orkut for Shutdown

Video Review of Onyx Boox T68 Lynx, 6.8″ Android 4.0 E Ink eReader

Today I put together several video reviews of the Onyx Boox T68 Lynx ebook reader, a new 6.8-inch ereader that runs Android 4.0 and sells on Amazon for $199. The Boox T68 is one of the first E Ink ebook readers to run Android and come with Google Play onboard to install Android apps. Since […]

Homestretch for Reading Rainbow Kickstarter Campaign


Those of us with a love of books have been watching the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign rather closely. The original goal was $1 million, but that was reached rather handily early on –prompting a revision that made the goal $5 million. If you haven’t already made a donation, Seth MacFarlane (known best for the creation of Family Guy) has upped the ante –pledging to donate up to $1 million of his own money to the cause… matching all donations from $4 million up to $5 million.

If successful, $6 million dollars will be enough to build the website as promised with free subscriptions to 12,500 classrooms in need. LeVar Burton’s initiative is the most successful Kickstarter campaign in history, boasting more than 91,000 supporters (and climbing fast).

There are only 45 hours remaining in the campaign: just enough time for you to still give the gift of reading to children everywhere.

Homestretch for Reading Rainbow Kickstarter Campaign is a post from: Good e-Reader

Stream Google Play Movies, TV Shows Using YouTube App

Blek Game Arrives on Android

McGraw-Hill Education Unveils New Digital Platform for K12 Teachers

With so much happening in the world of digital publishing for the higher education market, it’s easy to forget that the public education sector is lagging behind at a pitiful pace. Ironically, it’s this K12 market that could really stand to benefit from digital learning solutions, both in terms of cost and in the ability to reach all learners in the ways that serve them best.

McGraw-Hill Education announced a new platform at a conference today that can change all that. Presenting at the International Society of Technology in Education conference in Atlanta, the company unveiled Professional Learning Environment that will help educators take charge of professional development and seek out new opportunities to stay on top of their fields.

“We strongly believe that teachers are at the center of all learning, and that their power to influence student success surpasses that of any learning tool,” said Peter Cohen, president of McGraw-Hill Education’s School Group, in a press release. “The launch of our available-anytime Professional Learning Environment reaffirms our commitment to that belief, and, like every one of our digital offerings, aims to support teachers with the best tools possible as they work to prepare students for the future.”

McGraw-Hill Education is also showcasing its student-centric digital offerings at the ISTE conference, including Engrade, LearnSmart, Time To Know, and more. The tools provide learning and assessment tools for the K12 classrooms, helping to target instruction to a more individualized approach based on what the students still need to practice and learn.

The company will be focusing on putting these tools in front of educators and administrators throughout the conference.

McGraw-Hill Education Unveils New Digital Platform for K12 Teachers is a post from: Good e-Reader

France Takes Action to Protect its Treasured Bookshops

Amazon Fr
As booksellers around the world continue to feel the pinch of trying to do business in an online retail climate, the French Parliament has taken action that at least intends to protect bookshops in some small way. After passing what it has dubbed the “Anti Amazon Law,” it’s now illegal to offer free shipping on books in the country.

This law is an update to a decades-old law called the Lang Law. Under that 1981 law, books in the country were sold at a fixed price, which was meant to protect small booksellers from the ravages of big box discount stores and retail chains that were already cropping up even then. Several other countries is Europe also have their own versions of the law as it applies to books, although France’s take on it did allow for up to 5% discounting on titles.

This new law, which French officials promise isn’t intended to target Amazon despite its nickname, will prevent any online retailer from offering free shipping on books. The goal is to let people shop online if they choose, but also still remove any incentive to click the mouse instead of visiting one of the country’s 3,500 bookstores, about 35% of which are owned by independent business people.

France has had a recent tradition of supporting Amazon, going so far as to absorb penalties from the EU for not charging VAT on ebooks sold within the country. However, Amazon (and many other international corporations) has come under fire in Europe for basing its operations in Luxembourg to take advantage of the lowest business tax rates in the EU. This has allowed Amazon to underscore locally owned bookshops in other places, a fact which has had booksellers and publishers alike crying foul.

This law may not be enough to protect bookshops though, many of which have not been able to stay on top of the ebook demand. Also, Amazon and other retailers have the financial power to offer the 5% discount consistently–perhaps even making it a standard policy–whereas smaller book retailers may not have the means to drop prices just because Amazon did.

France Takes Action to Protect its Treasured Bookshops is a post from: Good e-Reader

Bedroom Apollo mission

Jeff Highsmith is from Make. His Mission Control Desk (a homework desk which, when you’ve finished learning your spellings and writing about what you did on your holidays, magically turns itself into an Apollo Mission Control station, complete with bleeps, bloops, and the ability to disastrously stir the oxygen tanks) is a project that got a lot of you very, very excited when we featured it. Jeff is King of the Maker Parents.

He’s not been idle since then - after all, he has two sons, and the younger one needed a project for his own bedroom to go alongside his brother’s envy-inspiring Mission Control Desk. This is what he ended up with. Please make sure you’re giving your jaw plenty of support before hitting play, so it doesn’t hit the floor when it falls open with amazement.

Jeff has a good understanding of what gets kids’ imaginations going – this isn’t a game to win, but a prop for encouraging imaginative play. There are 38 switches, knobs, potentiometers and buttons to flick and poke, many of which trigger sequences of events. There’s video from the real Apollo missions. There’s a removable panel with pipes and screws behind it to tinker with. There’s a tactile transducer (a big bass amp that makes the whole spaceship shake and rumble) to simulate takeoff. There is a robot arm in the payload bay. And there’s lots of audio – a Raspberry Pi is in there to deal with logic and sounds.

We love it, despite the fact that it makes us feel highly inadequate. There is good reason for the top comment under this video on YouTube at the moment being “Please adopt me, even though I am 44.”

You can see more of Jeff’s projects at Make. Thanks Jeff, thanks Make, and thanks kids – depwoy the paywoad!