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B&N nook announced they have 25% of the eBook market.

Kobo announced that they have 10% of the eBook market.

Apple announced that they have 10% of the eBook market.

Between the three, that adds up to 45%.

Amazon didn’t announce anything regarding their eBook marketshare (they are too busy becoming a publisher). But most estimates have them between 60%-70%. Split the difference and it is 65%.

25% + 10% + 10% + 65% = 110%. Yes, we are always told to give “110% percent”, even though that is impossible.

But what about Google? Sony? All of the other eBook vendors? Publishers selling direct to consumer like Harlequin and Ellora’s Cave?

I realize this is a highly competitive emerging market. These accounts are fighting for adopters, customers, faith and signs that they are making headway. I wish they were all right — the more the merrier. But the math doesn’t add up.

I would love to see an independent organization report the market share. Individual publishers know exactly which retailers are selling their books. Can’t something be done to aggregate these numbers and give the industry real numbers and not press release exaggerations?

 

enso

05.15.2011, No Comments, Uncategorized, by .

The ENSO is a Zen symbol.

It represents the “circle of enlightenment.”

Symbols are powerful.

In my mind, ENSO represents a life, each with a unique perspective.

ENSO represents a new chance.

ENSO represents everything coming full circle.

What was before, will be again,

ENSO – The Zen Circle of Enlightenment.

 

Instant books on bin Laden

05.05.2011, No Comments, Uncategorized, by .

 

The entire world found out earlier this week that US special forces killed one of the most wanted men in the world. It was everywhere. Information is still sketchy and there are thousands of web-sites feeding information to the general population.

The book industry has also responded with announcing a few “instant books.” These are titles that are put together in a few weeks and rushed into stores. In the past, the physical book was a means of telling how the story unfolded. It was more than a magazine piece although done by a journalist. Today, I am not sure of the value of these “instant books.”  At least not on the physcial side. By the time these books hits stores, it will be 2-3 weeks old. New information will have appeared and it will not be in the books.

Hell, the morning newspaper is out of date by the afternoon. News travels instant on-line. Books are out-of-date before they hit the stores.

eBooks definitely are much better than paperbacks in this case. But even those can be out of date quickly.

The world has changed. The instant book -so much an opportunity for publishers in the past – is now that important at all.

Adapt or die.

Klout

04.21.2011, No Comments, Uncategorized, by .

Everyone says that ‘you must go on-line and develop a social network.’ So people do so and create a Twitter following, a Facebook page, start blogging and join LinkedIn. But then what happens? You get a few followers on Twitter, your friends multiply on Facebook. People you forgot in high school are now contacting you to be connected.  You spend a lot of time crafting your words and send them into cyberspace.

Hopefully someone reads something.

“If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it make a sound?”

“If you tweet and no one reads it, did you really tweet at all?”

There are some analytics to gauge your web-site especially Google. But how do you gauge your Twitter influence. Ok, the sheer number of followers is the easiest and most direct. But how much spam is included. Does anyone retweet you? Does anyone reply? Is it better to have 10 retweets than to have an additional 100 followers? How many lists are you on? The questions go on and on.

I stumbled across one of the solutions. KLOUT.

KLOUT assigns an influence number from 1-100 to each Twitter account. The higher, the more influential. I am at 50. I know I am not that influential on-line — not yet. I was 44 a few weeks ago. I found that many individuals are higher than corporate accounts. This makes sense to me given people generally seem to have more to say than many publishers. It is fun, it is something that I feel everyone should check out.

KLOUT also breaks your score out to ‘True Reach’, ‘Network’ and ‘Amplification.’

Check it out. There must be ways to analyze all the data to figure out what truly is going on… online.

Zite – Personalized Magazine

04.11.2011, No Comments, Uncategorized, by .

I stumbled across ZITE about a month ago. It is now the first place I look for news that interests me. ZITE is a Canadian start-up that went live about the same time as the iPad2.  It is a company to watch.

ZITE is a personalized iPad magazine. You go through various categories and click on the subjects that interest you. Although there are many categories to choose from, I do wish they would start doing ‘micro-subjects.’ Possibly this will come soon in Zite 2.0.

ZITE also works like PANDORA in that you can give each article a thumbs up or down.  ZITE will use your preferences to choose stories and articles to pump into your magazine. I have not used it enough to see how effective this is, but look forward to figuring this out.

ZITE has a very easy interface and looks similar to FLIPBOARD. But I prefer it because of the multitudes of categories and the crafting of my reading personality. I read that some publications like the WSJ and NYT are upset that their articles were linked to and asked that the be taken down. That is a shame. But I still feel ZITE will continue to deliver news in a way that is time-saving and customized to me.

The era a micro-customization is upon us.

Enjoy!

Yesterday was Opening Day for Major League Baseball. All the teams start at 0-0. There are 162 games left. Every team feels they have a chance to win it all. Well, not every team.

Kansas City Royals – Over the past 10 years, they have had one winning season and lost on average 95 games a year.

Pittsburgh Pirates – Last winning season was 19 years ago. They have finished last or next to last for the past seven consecutive seasons.

Washington Nationals – Since moving from Montreal six years ago, the Nats have been horrible. Never had a winning season ever.

Baltimore Orioles – Have had 13 consecutive losing seasons. They have no chance being in the same division as Boston and the Yankees.

For most of the past decade, these four teams have been out of the running by July. It almost seems like they don’t try.

If they can’t afford to be in the league, then sell the team.

If they refuse to pay for top talent, then get out of the league.

I like the English Premier League system of dealing with the losers. The bottom three teams are relegated to the next lower league. If you continue losing and being bad, you keep on dropping. I doubt MLB will ever do this, but why do we still have to watch the Royals every year? They once were a proud franchise that competed, but now it is pathetic. Their payroll is $36-million. One player, Alex Rodriguez (Yankees) gets paid $32-million. Something is wrong.

Compete or leave. This losing attitude is bad for the sport.

Publisher’s Weekly (PW) recently announced the best selling books of 2010. One of the list is a combination of eBooks and hardcover sales. This generally contains the biggest and highest profile titles of the year.

 

In the top 10, the following non-fiction; George Bush; Keith Richards; SHIT MY DAD SAYS and Bill O’Reilly’s crazy rants. A very bizarre group of titles.  The eBook conversion rate compared to physical was 10.4%; 4.1%; 24.1% and 3.8%. SHIT had a high rate. Given the book was hatched from a Twitter account, it does make sense. Bush at 10.4% is in line with this type of big non-fiction seller. The other two had unbelievably poor conversion ratios.  My feeling is people wanted to own Richards plus it may have grabbed a higher cut of the casual reader who probably doesn’t own a Kindle.  Bill O? I think it’s his Right-Wing Wal-Mart shopping fans also are not early movers to digital.

 

The Fiction list has 6 titles.  The authors are Steig Larssen; John Grisham; Nicholas Sparks; James Patterson; Jonathan Franzen; and Stephen King.  Larsson and Grisham both has over 29% eBook ratio! Franzen had 23%. So these author’s reflect the ‘accepted knowledge’ that 30% of best-selling fiction is digital. But it drops off considerably after these three, with Evans at 10.5%; Patterson at 6.2% (he had 5 of the top 30 combined); and most surprising of all Stephen King at 5.9%. I have always thought King’s audience would go for eBooks? Could it be the publisher’s play on digital that kept his eBook sales so low?

 

All titles in the combined top 10 were from the “Corporate 6.”

 

Looking to the eBook only list… there are 30 titles on it., 17 sold over 100,000 units. 26 of the top 30 are Fiction.

 

ALL 30 TITLES ARE FROM THE “BIG 6.”

 

So as much as people want to predict the demise of the big dinosaur, corporate publishers, they are still roaring.

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) just released their January 2011 sales numbers.

 

eBook          – JAN2011 – $69.9M  :   JAN2010 — $32.4M
hardcovers   – JAN2011 – $49.1M  :   JAN2010 – $55.4M

 

Sometimes it is easier to see in a simple graph:

photo.JPG

The blue line is eBook sales from Jan 2010 to Jan 2011.

The red line is hardcover sales from Jan 2010 to Jan 2011.

 

This speaks volumes for what is happening to book publishing.

eBooks outsold hardcovers by over $20,000,000!

A year ago, hardcovers outsold eBooks by over $20,000,000.

 

These numbers don’t include the explosion of self-published authors. The majority of their sales are eBooks. The Kindle bestseller list is littered with self-published authors so the sales volume must be significant.

 

Any publisher that has not embraced eBooks and added as an integral part of their launch strategy is missing out. eBooks are the drivers, invest there.

 

Why do some still insist on focusing on the hardcover sales when at the same time making the eBook an afterthought?

 

Why do some publishers not put their smartest people on the eBook marketing but keep them on the HC? Ideally it would be combined, but many have not done so yet.

 

What is holding publishers back from embracing eBooks?

 

If not now, when?

How the Eagles have changed…

03.16.2011, No Comments, Uncategorized, by .

As with all of us, the members of the Eagles have aged over the years. But my point is not to discuss the physical changes but the attitudes.

 

In 1972 the Eagles released the single TAKE IT EASY. It was their first hit and introduced their ‘laid back California life-style.’ The lyrics speak volumes:

 

“Take it easy, take it easy
Don’t let the sound of your own wheels
Drive you crazy
Lighten up while you still can.”

 

The Eagles broke up nine years later and then feuded with one another for 14 years.

 

But the money to return was too much. The demand was enormous.

 

They came back with the album HELL FREEZES OVER.

 

In 1990, the first new song released was called GET OVER IT and their attitude definitely changed and the positive outlook was replaced by cynicism.

 

“Get over it
Get over it
All this whinin’ and cryin’ and pitchin’ a fit
Get over it, get over it.”

 

How times have changed.

 

The lesson? When they were broke, their songs were TAKE IT EASY and happy. When they were filthy rich, they wrote GET OVER IT and talk about killing all the lawyers and that the world doesn’t owe you a thing.

 

Money doesn’t equal happiness.

Random House is Agency now.

03.04.2011, No Comments, Uncategorized, by .

Earlier this week, the USA’s largest book publisher, Random House announced a change of terms regarding eBooks. They switched from the ‘wholesale plan’ to an ‘agency plan.’  By doing so, they joined the five other largest publishers with this plan. They comprise 65-70% of the published titles and closer to 85-90% of bestsellers. So an industry standard has been established.

Wholesale plan:  Based on the policies for physical books (esp. Amazon). The publisher establishes a “digital list price.” It is usually pegged to the retail price of the lowest print edition. The retailer generally pay 50% of this price to the publisher. The retailer is then free to charge the consumer any price they prefer. So if an eBook comes out when the HC is issued, it’s price would match. The publisher may put a $30 price tag on the HC and the same on the eBook. The publisher would receive $15 (50%). The retailer can price it at anything, many bestsellers were listed at $9.99. The retailer took the hit.  The revenue for the publisher was fixed tagged to the digital list price.

Agency Plan: Based in the policies for iTunes and established by Apple. The publisher establishes a “consumer price.” This is usually set at $9.99; $12.99 or $14.99 although there are many other pricing bands. The retailer is forced to charge the consumer the price set by the publisher. Under this plan, the retailer pays the publisher 70% of the price. The account takes 30%. If the consumer price changes, then so does the revenue that goes to the publisher.

When the iBookstore went live a year ago, five of the biggest six publishers changed their terms of sale to Agency. HarperCollins, Penguin, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster and Hachette all set the standard. Random House held out and their books were excluded from the iBookstore. But they were still available on Amazon’s Kindle and sold very well. After a year of holding out, Random House and Apple have come to an agreement and now 17,000 RH titles are available on the iBookstore. This is good for choice and consumers. But the prices on eBooks is rising because of it.

So, for most of the eBooks, prices are set across all retailers. Some feel this is a good thing. I am not as much a fan. I feel it artificially keeps prices higher than they should be. I would like to see price competition.

Now that the biggest publishers are all Agency plans, will the smaller, independent ones follow? Probably. It will depend on whether the retailers will accept it. Apple requires it, but it will be seen if the others do too.

These terms of sale issues are invisible to the consumer – and they should be. But publishers will now be responsible for pricing strategies. Historically this is a skill reserved for retailers. I believe publishers will create upper-level positions responsible for manipulating and dictating eBook pricing. Because the pricing is fluid and can be changed easily, publishers can start to experiment and track the effectiveness of price changes.

This is potentially a position that can earn (or lose) publishers millions of dollars each year.

It’s a brave new world. I love it!