Thursday, November 13, 2014

Deal reached?

Seems Amazon and Hachette have finally reached an agreement.

Amazon and Hachette Reach A Deal on E-Book Pricing

Would be interesting to see the details, but doubtful it'll be fully made public. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Literary Enemy No. 1

A great article on Vanityfair about the Amazon vs. Hachette drama.  Read it here.

If you think that anything over a couple of pages online is tl;dr (the article is six pages), I've included some of my favorite bits below.

When Amazon first appeared, in the mid-90s, mailing books out of the Seattle garage of its founder, Jeff Bezos, it was greeted with enthusiasm. The company seemed like a useful counterweight to the big bookstore chains that had come to dominate the book-retailing landscape. 
How times have definitely changed!  Where I'm at we only have a Books-A-Million.  The Borders shut down and the nearest B&N is an hour south in Nashville.

Amazon launched the Kindle in the fall of 2007. It was not a revolutionary concept (it was merely “the iPod for books”) nor a revolutionary technology (Sony had already used e-ink in several readers) nor a particularly attractive item (with its thick plastic body and rows of keyboard buttons, it resembled nothing so much as an early-80s PC). 
Time does fly!  It seems like yesterday when I first saw the Kindle and eventually bought one for my husband (2009).  Back then I wasn't "into" ebooks and still preferred to read on paper.

In 2013, e-books accounted for about 27 percent of total adult books sold. In the U.S., revenue from e-books is now about $3 billion annually. Amazon controls about two-thirds of this market. It also controls about two-thirds of all print books sold online. It is the biggest bookseller in the world.
Wow!  Those are some crazy numbers.  I can attest that Amazon is my biggest market with about 75% of my sales coming from them.  Now if only I could get a bigger slice of that $3 billion!

Before too long, Apple claimed a 20 percent share of the e-book market, and publishers, happily, were able to set their prices—usually from $12.99 to $14.99. Despite the higher prices, the e-book market continued to grow.
In comparison, Apple makes up about 10% of my sales.

Losing the fight over margins would be an immediate blow to the publishers’ profits, but losing control over pricing could be fatal. “If Amazon succeeds,” said Wylie, “they will lower the retail price—$9.99, $6.99, $3.99, $1.99. And instead of making $4 on your hardcover, you’ll be making 10 cents a copy on all editions. And, Keith, you will not be able to afford to write a book.… No one, unless they have inherited $50 million, will be able to afford to write a serious work of history, of poetry, of biography, a novel—anything. The stakes are Western culture.”
I find this paragraph the most ridiculous in the entire article.  Yes, I'm sure he was exaggerating to make his point, but the $50 million amount is so outrageous as to be insulting.

If the Kindle didn’t have any books on it, guess how many Kindles would be selling,” Wylie said, putting up his fingers to indicate zero Kindles. 
Obviously a very "traditional publishing" mentality.  Let's discount all the public domain books and all the "self-published / small publisher" genre books.  While the market wouldn't be as nearly robust as it is without the traditional author books online, and that the ebook market might have taken longer to gain it's current size, the truth of the matter is that ebooks were an inevitable evolution.

The next day I flew to Silicon Valley and visited Amazon Lab126, the Amazon subsidiary that develops all of the company’s Kindle products. A tremendous amount of thought and research has gone into these devices. At Lab126 there is a “reading room,” where test subjects are asked to read on various devices for hours at a time. They are filmed and studied. People reading in a chair will, naturally, hold their Kindle differently from people standing up (on the subway, for example), but even people sitting in a chair will shift their positions over time. Eighty percent of page turns are forward, by the way, but 20 percent (20!) are backward. 
That's pretty neat.  Would love a job where they pay me to read books!

Another big player is Apple, which, after its bad experience with the anti-trust lawsuit (Apple lost in court but is appealing), seems ready to try to compete again through the medium of its iBooks Store. The company has sold 237 million iPads and an astonishing 550-million-plus iPhones. Amazon, on the other hand, has sold something like 80 million Kindle devices, both e-readers and tablets combined. 
Wow!  Those are some huge numbers.  Even the "small" number of Kindles at 80 million is insane.  I would be very interested to see what the majority of my readers use as their preferred e-reader.  I know most of you purchase from Amazon, but I know that I also read on my iPad mini with the Kindle App.  Feel free to post your device of choice in the comments!