Monday, September 27, 2010

Thoughts on Mercedes and the Kindle

I've seen a lot of controversy on the web regarding the Kindle "Pool ad" .

I honestly think it is like the Mercedes advertisements. I've always been told (is it true?) that Mercedes ads are intended for their current customers. By making their current customers feel better, they 'sell the product' to their friends.

The more I think about the Kindle pool ad, the more I believe it was created to make current Kindle owners feel better about their Kindles. I think it worked.

Side note: How many Kindles have you sold? Me? I know of about 40 people I've influenced to buy a Kindle. (Yes, 40.) Only a few did yours truly really influence them to buy a Kindle. e.g., my parents after I suggested the Kindle as the 'splurge' Christmas gift as a reward for providing multiple grandkids. Although my brother *might* be even more responsible in selling the Kindle...

Now, among those 40, I think I accelerated the purchase by an average of 6 weeks. In other words, they would have bought an e-book reader anyway. So 40 Kindles * 1/2 book per week sold * 6 weeks=120 extra Kindle books sold. Not a bad strategy to accelerate that trend...

I'm waiting to find out if any of a group of friends bought a Kindle this weekend. I was reading as I arrived 1/2 an hour before everyone else for dinner. As in I arrived the stated time rather than SoCal 'on time.' I also showed my Kindle to a curious bystander when I was reading at the beach. It is certain that individual wouldn't buy a Kindle; but now he knows a screen can be read in bright sunlight that even 'washed out' his watch.

What has this to do with the pool ad? I think its working. I know of three people that carried their Kindle around a bit more since seeing the ads. Those people influenced the sale of 3 to 4 more Kindles because of it. If nothing else, the 'pool ad' will mellow out 'Kindle evangelism' so that it is more effective.

Amazon needs to pursue a Mercedes advertising strategy where half of their TV ads are to make current customers sell the Kindle. The other half of the ads should be focused on new customers. The 'pool ad' was obviously geared towards current Kindle owners.

Got Popcorn?

A few Indie books to recommend

I was asked what Indie books would I recommend on anther blog. So I'll recommend a few Indie books and a few published books.

Indie books: Perhaps books I just couldn't find a reason to believe were from an established publisher?

A mystery that has been a lot of fun for someone into history as much as I am:
Billy Boyle is even free today! Available in print by Soho press, 'an independent book publisher.' I'm currently reading the sequel...

A fantasy recommendation (I know Dad... just move on and accept I like the genre.)
City of Rouges albeit Ty Johnston has older books when he was in the conventional publishing business.

More Sci-fi
The Second ship by Richard Phillips. Note: Synergy press is for 'independent authors.' I laugh at the $13.95 list price, the book sells for $0.89 and has for a month!

Here is one that is in between indie and published that would never have seen a bookstore. It is from an online audio publisher; I count that as Indie, but I can also see why others wouldn't. It is the best naval story I've read in a decade. Better than Patrick O'Brien, but not as good as CS Forrester's Haratio Hornblower series:
Quarter Share

A fun scifi, not to be taken seriously and you will have to read through a few pages that *need* a re-edit:
Galaxy of Heroes, by Gus Florey. A few typos, but just fun!

Now for some good stuff from the "backlists". Note, the Baen stuff is free over tat their site.

Space Prison, the survivors.

Ok... I hope I'm not the only one waiting for Pournelle's backlisto to hit the web. Some of those works haven't been in a bookstore since I discovered this author. I found a few used, but there are a few I missed.

And something new for a publisher I enjoyed enough that it has to be recommended, even at $7.99:
Ghengus, birth of an empire

Ok, enough. My daughter woke up, so time to be a daddy. :)

Got Popcorn?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

July Sales

July Sales Figures are out with a nice spike in sales. I've added a few more captions as to why sales might have changed. We're back to growth. I believe due to the e-reader price war started in June. The market should be price conscious. A spike in e-ink reader sales should spike e-book consumption.

To me, the impact of the publishers going to the agency model in February is obvious; there is an instant cut in e-book sales instead of the prior (nearly) constant growth trend. Just as lower prices will spike sales, the sudden increase in 'hardcover' prices stunted e-book sales. :(

It is only recently that Indie authors on Amazon have been treated to 70% of revenue (for books $2.99 to $9.99). With the agency model becoming universal, the number of excellent Indie author e-books is exploding. I do not know about others, but starting in August, most of my e-book purchases have been from Indie authors; in this I include 'publishing houses' that sell only one author. ;) The few others have been from small publishers who dropped prices below $5.

There were a half dozen authors I was willing to pay high e-book prices on. One just published a lousy book; a book I paid $14.99 to download. I'm now gun shy on e-books above $5.

JA Konrath has a post on e-book sales versus pricing. Look at how pitiful sales are for higher priced e-books. The only reason to price e-books high is to protect p-book sales. Too late.

SciFi and Rommance sales are apparently two of the hardest hit groups. I'm not surprised, it is among the genres that are the hardest to explain when someone sees the cover and asks for an explanation of 'why are you reading that?'

Book stores are losing the best customers at an accelerating pace. We keep hearing about more an more authors putting their backlist up on Kindle. I think it will be a year before the majority realize how many good books are available in e-book form only.

I'm excited e-book sales are back on the growth trend. I'm bummed the data trails by so long. For I would bet e-book sales are exploding in this month (September 2010). Oh well, we'll find out at the end of November...

Got Popcorn?

Late edit on 9/26/2010: I should have mentioned that July is when Amazon reported e-book sales exceeded hardcover sales.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Welcome and some book data

I've been out of the blogsphere for a bit. I've decided to switch topics; I will add data to my previous blog, but I am switching my primary focus to e-books.

I'm not in the literature business other than as a consumer. Quite the consumer of e-books. I converted over with the launch of the Kindle 2 to e-books from p-books.

I'm amused that one can clearly see the impact of major devices upon e-book sales. The Sony e-reader launch moved e-book sales off a very low floor. The Kindle (original) started a slow rise in e-book sales through 2008.

The April 2010 Ipad launch also seems to have a small impact. But far less than the Kindle 2. Considering how many people web surf and play games on Ipads, I cannot say I'm surprised to find it has a small impact. But the post Christmas slide in e-book market share was stopped right at the Ipad launch.

The real 'birth of the e-book market' came with the Kindle 2. The slope change is very perceptible.

I also notice a jump in e-book sales at the start of 2009 and 2010 year. To me, this implies that Kindles are a popular Christmas gift. So I expect the Kindle 3 to boost e-book sales on two counts:
1. Lower price. i'm a believer in the elastic nature of consumer markets.
2. That lower price makes it a low enough price gift. Above $200 is too much of a splurge.

I still recall the rush for Christmas 2008 Kindles. The backlog was extensive. To say the least, the jump in e-book sales between December 2008 and January 2009 signifies the Kindle coming of age.

To the charts:

E-book sales, in dollars:

Note the spike in sales after Christmas in January 2009 and 2010. I'm looking forward to the AAP data to catch up and show how Kindle2 price reductions and the launch of the Kindle 3 impacted sales.

There has been a theory that e-book sales have been at the expense of mass market paper backs. (MMPB). While plausible... The big drop being at the Nook launch time? I think that is a recessionary coincidence.

I do a different take on e-book market share. I take e-book sales in dollars and divide it by Adult sales (hardcover and paperback), children/youth sales, University sales, and technical book sales. I remove higher-ed and K-12 due to the volatility of those markets. (They can go from +$1 billion in a month to -$100 million due to returns.)

I'm left with one big question. It looks like Amazon feeds into the Census data (note, I am searching for confirmation). If so, the flat e-book sales of 1H2010 are an indication that it takes device sales to boost the book sales.

A bit on this blog. I'm not doing device reviews. As far as I'm concerned devices are to sell the e-books. I'm not going into the p-book vs. e-book debate. I'm an e-book enthusiast, so I'm going to celebrate e-book sales. I am curious as to how cell phones and tablets will enhance the market. Also, I'm going to remain device vendor neutral. I have my favorites, but my desire to grow the e-book market out-weights any fan loyalty I might have.

So I will delete in the comments any nasty comments. I do not care if the nasty comment is pro-Kindle/Ipad/Nook/Sony/e-book or p-book. Stay polite. Oh, be a fan, but be polite about it. And provide links. ;) I also accept many book purchases are impulse buys.

Also note, I have no patience with the 'publishers validate' argument. That was dis- proven on JA Konraths blog in the comments. Reader willingness to pay ($ sales) are what I use as validation.

I do plan to stay numbers oriented. So if you disagree with my posts, please post links to data sets. Note I ignore any one data point. The trend is what matters. Book sales data is inherently noisy (weather, holidays, school start, release of popular books or lack thereof, vacation season, etc.) There is a reason I'm not a stock day trader...

I'm excited for where e-books are going. I see tremendous growth in for the next few years. Why?
1. Lower e-reader prices. We're finally getting down to mass market gift pricing.
2. Tablets. In particular the flood of tablets predicted for January 2010. I expect these to effectively be portable laptop replacements a la the Ipad.
3. New e-readers (flexible?, dual screen?, larger cell phones that bring in the 'one book a year crowd)

I expect the 'tipping point' on e-readers to be in 2012. Due to the above three points, I expect to see e-book sales growth from now until then (with noise and seasonality in the data, of course).

Got Popcorn? ;) (Tag from the last blog)