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Self-publishing News: Libraries Surge Ahead

Self-publishing News: Libraries Surge Ahead

In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks at the growth of ebook lending in libraries, and whether ebooks compete with audio.

Dan Holloway head and shoulders

ALLi's News Editor Dan Holloway

Still looking back to our Self-publishing Advice Conference, last week's #indieauthorchat on Twitter took in the lessons people learned from the event. You can read the Twitter transcript on our blog as always, here. This week's chat, at 8pm UK time tonight, will be on the much-needed subject of surviving a difficult winter.
ALLi members have access to our self-publishing advice events free for the lifetime of their membership. Visit the ALLi member zone for details of how to access and use your member code.

Does Audio Cannibalise ebook Sales?

Is selling books a zero sum game? It’s a question we’ve been asking in a lot of contexts for a long time. If I sell my thriller does that mean one fewer customer for yours? Most of us are on board with the fact that getting more people reading through someone else’s book will lead to more sales overall. And that includes for other people. But a deep-seated belief in zero sums still underpins many of the debates in the book world. It’s at the heart of most of the conversation about piracy. A pirated download is a lost sale. That’s how the conversation goes.

And more recently it has been at the heart of the fight between publishers and libraries. Publishers over the last year have introduced a series of measures that have made it more expensive for libraries to buy ebooks of new releases. Their rationale has been that library loans eat into their own sales. But is there any truth to the zero sum assumption? A new report from Bookwire called Listen and Read looks specifically at the relation between audio (audiobooks and podcasts) and ebooks.

There are many useful insights into the habits of different groups. Baby Boomers (print readers), Gen Z (listeners) and Gen X & Y (“heavy users of all media”) are neatly segmented. But the key finding is that ebooks and audio reinforce rather than competing with each other (by and large). This fits with another of the big debates of the year, of course. Audible’s captions feature provoked anger because it was an unauthorised grab of ebook rights. And this report possibly lends support to the idea that might indeed affect sales across formats. Mark Williams is offering regular updates on the report, and you can download it for free by subscribing to Bookwire here.

Immersive Reading: Panorama Project Researches How We Read

Bookwire’s findings lead nicely to the announcement of another major piece of work. This time it’s from The Panorama Project, in partnership with Portland State University. The “Immersive Media & Reading 2020” consumer survey will measure immersive media engagement and buying behaviours across key formats and platforms.

The Panorama Project to establish books’ place in the larger media ecosystem by understanding how readers discovered, accessed, and consumed the books they’ve read most recently; and how purchasing or borrowing decisions are impacted by engagement with other immersive media—specifically film, TV, and gaming. And because of the Project’s connection to libraries, a secondary goal is to establish public libraries' role in the discovery journey. You can find out more about the project at a webinar on November 5th which you can sign up to through this link.

This is an appropriate place to note that after booming during lockdown, Netflix shares have fallen after slower than expected growth in the 3rd quarter of 2020. As we look at the growth of subscription in the book world, this might cause us to ask some questions. Was the subscription boom exaggerated by lockdown, or has Netflix just reached a saturation point? I hope this survey will at least pose the questions.

Libraries See ebook Lending Grow

And a similarly related story shows that ebook lending by libraries in the UK has boomed during lockdown. As ebook sales have also grown, along with subscription, this brings us back to those initial questions about whether formats and platforms boost or cannibalise each other. And finally a very encouraging piece of news. The boom in reading has reached such a level that it has made the main BBC news in the UK. Long may that continue!

Hardship Fund for Writers Open to Indies

Creative Scotland has opened a hardship fund for creative artists badly affected by Covid. £590,000 of it will be used to help writers and administered by the Society of Authors. Please check the FAQ here for all eligibility criteria but the fund is open to indies.

What Would a Virtual Bookstore Look Like?

That feels like an odd question to ask. It would look like Amazon. Right? Or maybe, for the more indie-minded, it would look like Bookshop-org. But with the unavailability of the physical spaces we’ve come to take for granted since lockdown, more and more people are looking for ways to translate those physical experiences to a virtual world.

Bookbugs and Dragon Tales, in Norwich in the UK, has opened a virtual version of its store that hopes to replicate the experience of being in the shop as best as possible. It includes the ability to move around and browse from a first person perspective. This really will be so much easier when virtual reality tech has caught up. Take the tour by clicking this link.

Libraries see a surge in ebook lending, and top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy #publishingopenup Click To Tweet

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Help us fill this with great online events in the coming weeks and months.

Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) – Zoom meetings the 2nd Saturday of each month


Panorama Project Webinar, 5 Nov
Society of Young Publishers, 9-13 Nov

Over to You

Let us know about online events of interest to indies in the comments below.

Author: Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, which has appeared at festivals and fringes from Manchester to Stoke Newington. In 2010 he was the winner of the 100th episode of the international spoken prose event Literary Death Match, and earlier this year he competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transparency-Sutures-Dan-Holloway-ebook/dp/B01A6YAA40


This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Thanks for sharing the latest news with us, Dan. As a reader, I’m not comfortable with audio, it’s hard for me to immerse myself in the story when the physicality of the reader’s voice is there, but I know other readers who adore audio, plus it provides an opportunity to enjoy books for those have trouble reading themselves. There seems to be an increasing trend in audio, podcasts, videos to promote one’s self. I’m not entirely comfortable with either, yet a lot of writers are pursuing a promotional path relying on this particular tool.

    1. Thank you – I also struggle with audio, and a lot of my autistic friends also struggle because it ca be hard to process. But yes, there are other people for whom it really opens up new possibilities.

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