Competing headlines may claim a decline in e-book sales, but indie authors are the ones continuing to thrive in the contested digital market. And then there’s the independent stores opening up whole new chapters in the business of bookselling. Valerie Shanley reports on how indie is increasingly where it’s at in publishing, with news from ALLi partners and friends.
Sales slump in e-books may be temporary say S & S
It wouldn’t be weekly news without yet more headlines on dropping sales of e-books. HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster (S & S) both give falling e-book sales as the reason for weaker performances for the quarter ended September 2015. As reported by Publishers Weekly, News Corp (parent company of HarperCollins) chief executive Robert Thomson said the company is “watching closely” the softening e-book sales trend in the US.
S & S CEO Carolyn Reidy takes a more relaxed view, saying she is not too worried about the decline as yet. There are lots of factors behind lowering e-book sales, says Reidy, including a change in product between last year’s third quarter and the most recent period. S&S has seen little evidence to suggest that higher e-book prices are behind the e-book sales slump and noted she wouldn’t be surprised if e-book sales started to rise again.
ALLis will be well aware that most reports on declining e-book sales ignore self-publishing which accounts for 30% of the e-book market, as outlined in our ALLi Director Orna Ross’s informative post on the blog last week.
The Mark Twain digital rule
Like the great Huck Finn author almost said, rumours of the death of digital books are greatly exaggerated. One data source which gives a fuller picture of e-book sales analysis is Author Earnings. Indie author Hugh Howey has been interviewed on the BookMarketing Tools blog on the subject of those figures and what he celebrates as “the democratisation of literature” generally by self-publishing, referencing the AE website set up in 2014 to catalogue findings and which continues to analyse sales.
“Every day we’ve looked (at figures), self-published authors are bringing in more daily royalties on e-books than all of the authors from the Big Five combined. This is massive.”
Certainly is. Click here for the full video interview.
The Bookshop is Dead, Long Live the Bookshop
Fancy a tipple as you book browse? Some music? Or see a full printing-press in operation?
This is how a new independent bookshop in London is being developed for readers seeking a different experience, reports The Bookseller. Co-founders Rohan Silva and Sam Aldenton have already converted an old carpet factory in Brick Lane into a £3m “utopian workspace” for creative companies and are now taking their hipster approach to their new bookshop (as yet un-named) due to open early December.
“We think there is a big unmet demand for the type of bookshop we want to produce,” says Silva. “If you look at many companies which started off as websites, such as Moo.com, they are starting to open physical spaces.”
Their bookstore will offer up to 6,000 titles, plus a bar, DJ turntables and an in-house printing press in what will be “first and foremost a bookshop, but one that will also offer customers a glass of whisky or wine if they want a tipple while they sit down to read a book”.
This is a golden moment for bookshops, adds Silva. And it does look like the depressing news of independent store closures in recent years are now countered by new openings elsewhere, at least in the UK and USA. London based independent Foyles have recently opened their newest “physical meets digital” store in Birmingham. Slate has this great article on how indie bookstores are on the way back because unlike the chain stores, they don't need to compete with online.
And then there is that well known Seattle online book selling giant currently in the news with its surprising about-turn opening of – what do we call them now? Bricks and mortar stores? Offline stores? Or maybe what we always called them before digital lingo muscled in… bookshops?
Users’ Comments Vital in Publishing Service Index
The Independent Publishing Magazine’s (TIPM) Publishing Service Index for October 2015, which looks at over 90 companies, shows the top performer is Amazon’s CreateSpace, just ahead of IngramSpark by a narrow margin. The index shows an overall downturn in output throughout the industry, however.
TIPM editor Mick Rooney says this downturn reflects not only last month’s findings, but a gradual slip since the start of the year.
“There were a number of USA and UK full service providers (FSPs) putting out titles in print and e-book in double figures earlier this year. A number of them have slipped into single-figure output over the past couple of months. I can only extract from this that FSP’s are beginning to struggle in late 2015 to sell the same packages/services they were during the first half of the year.”
Now in its fifth year, the index is referenced by many indie authors when searching for a service provider. In turn, feedback and comments from authors also contribute to the vast amount of information from companies and monitoring services. “Simply put, and truthfully, we cannot reflect all of this information through the reviews. That is why the comments section under each company we review is so important. It is your recording and dealings with that specific company, and a positive or negative flag to subsequent authors considering using the same company.” Check out the full index here.
Mind your language, says the ‘zon
Maybe we should always actually read those boring Terms & Conditions before clicking ‘accept’ and moving on?
That would appear wise as Amazon has removed thousands of self-published e-books from their Kindle Store for authors' violation of Terms of Service (TOS). And the offending words that had Amazon covering its eyes and ears ? The innocuous but nevertheless no-nos that are ‘Kindle’, ‘Free’ and ‘Bestseller’.
The company previously sent out emails to authors whose titles or e-book descriptions contained any of these keywords, warning that if said author did not cut a dash to their KDP site and make changes, the offending book would be de-listed.
“Authors suffered overwhelmingly and relived the tragedy online in many writer’s groups,” says The Bad Detective humorous blog post on the drama, hosted by best-selling (it’s a good word, really) US author Suzie Ivy.
Dates for your Diary
NaNoWriMo: Month of November (online)
Philly Author Fest: Nov 14, 2015. [Philadelphia, USA] Boston Writing Workshop: Nov. 14, 2015. [Boston, USA] Baltimore Writers' Conference: Nov. 14, 2015. [Baltimore, USA] Miami Book Fair International: Nov. 15-22, 2015. [[Miami, USA] ALLi How Authors Get Discovered on Kindle Scout: Nov 17th [Google+ Q & A live 8.00 pm BST London] Wollongong Writers Festival Nov 19 [Wollongong, Australia] The Bookseller's Author Day: Nov 30 [London, UK]
FutureBook 2015 Conference: Dec 4 [London, UK)
Self-Publishing Summit: Jan 2016 [London, UK ] Rock & Read Vegas Author Event: Jan 15 – 17 2016 [Las Vegas, USA]
San Francisco Writers Conference, Feb. 11-15, 2016 [San Francisco, USA]
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