In this week's Self-Publishing News, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway takes a look at the role data should play in the life of an indie author.
The past week has seen one of my favourite sporting events of the year, The Spine. It's a 268 mile non-stop foot race across England's toughest terrain. One of the fascinating things about events like this is that while they seem impossible, many complete them each year. And they do so despite navigation errors, injury, and often just crawling over the line. Another way they are a wonderful metaphor for writing.
One of the big stories we reported on from last year’s Futurebook was statistics. Specifically, the relevance and reliability of statistics. We have always, naturally, taken an interest in such things – after all, our writerly income depends upon them. We got excited by Data Guy’s portrait of the indie landscape. We continue to be excited by the growing markets for audiobooks. And we live in an age where big data buzzes everywhere – from market trends to audience segmentation. Yet at the same time we have always known that some of the book industry’s figures are, how shall we say, selective. Nate Hofelder has been reminding us for a decade that industry sales figures exclude indies. And Data guy’s figures were solely based on Amazon. Only last week, we saw what a skewed picture you get if you leave out library downloads.
Data are vital for us, but it is essential we place them all in context and sprinkle liberally with scepticism. After all of which, let’s have a look at the big figures breaking this week. First of all, picking up on my earlier comments, Forbes questions the role of Bookscan's statistics in the coming years. And the Association of American Publishers revealed that a small increase in overall sales was driven primarily by a much larger rise in young adult books. This comes, encouragingly, just as the media is picking up on research done here in Oxford which shows that screens are not the evil for teenage brains they are often claimed to be. So expect those opportunities to grow.
From data to dates. Before Christmas we looked at the Jolabokaflod Reading for Pleasure Prize. This was designed to find ways to get more people reading for pleasure. The winner is the rather fabulous idea of the “book date.” Partnering publishers and public spaces (or even just home delivery platforms), it offers you the chance to choose a topic, and arrive at a place of your choosing to find a book waiting for you. You can start reading over dinner, or coffee, and then take your date home with you. Let’s hope there’s a chance for indies to get involved.
Libraries have been in the news again. It’s been a torrid week for them, with new threats to their ability to get people reading. This time it’s not publishers who are picking the fight, it’s lawmakers. State legislation under discussion in Missouri would allow parents to empower libraries to withhold age-inappropriate material from minors. And any librarian who dares to provide illicit literature would be subject to sanction. Libraries will be taking centre stage next week, at the American Libraries Association Midwinter event. You can follow the programme here.
Subscription streaming has been one of the big stories of the last year or so. At the forefront have been platforms like Storytel and Bookbeat. Now Penguin Random House has announced it will be withdrawing its books from such platforms. On the one hand, like the battle with libraries, this clears some space for indies. It also raises the question what they are planning to do instead. Are they thinking of launching their own subscription services? If Storytel and Audible are the Spotify of the book world, and Wattpad is the Netflix, might we about to see the lanunch of the HBO.
This week over at the ALLi podcast, among many other things Howard and I talked about libraries and OverDrive. Do make sure you keep up to date – podcasts are every week and you only have to cope with me one week a month!Big data and the indie author, Penguin Random House withdraws titles from Storytel and top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy… Click To Tweet
Over to You
How do you use data? What trends do you watch and how does this affect what you do? Let us know in the comments below.
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