Saturday, April 30, 2011

1.5% of coworkers buying ereaders per week

I just occurred to me how significant a population is buying ereaders. I was chatting with a friend noting that just as many coworkers bought ereaders this week as last week; the friend naturally asked, "is that a significant fraction, you work for a big company."

So I took a sample size of 200. Of that sample, 3 per week are buying ereaders; a pace maintained for over a month. Now, I probably should divide that 1.5% by 2 or 4 as they are buying for spouses, kids, and parents too.

Once again, it is large fonts driving the buying. People who in the past would have given up on reading are going ebook. Boomers are driving ebook adoption in the UK.

“Large-type books have always gone out of print quickly, and if their sales drop and publishers stop printing them, your patrons with poor eyes may eventually have no choice but your digital book collection unless they qualify for service from the Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.”

If I seemed obsessed with people buying ereaders for large type ereading... it has been over four months since a week went by without me running into someone who 're-discovered' reading thanks to the ease of font size switching on ereaders. I'd love to know how this meme gained such 'legs.'

The other fast growing group of readers I know is the 'convenience' readers which I just blogged in my prior article. These are the individuals who will now read more as they are carrying a device that allows ebook reading. :)

Got Popcorn?

Devices for ebooks

I love ebooks. I love how they can be read on multiple devices. I'm excited how quickly the 'enabling technology' is progressing; money flowing into a sector always does that. :)

Part of this is the CPU/wireless chips and expanding integration. I'm not going to go into the details, but there are chips out there I'm truly excited about what they offer the consumer from: Nvidia, Freescale, Qualcomm, TI, and Samsung/Apple. Some has to do with reduced cost (Freescale & Qualcomm), and some has to with the performance. (I would love to be able to watch movies on my e-reader too.) Billions are being spent in this area. This will provide hundreds of millions of new ebook capable devices. :)

The number of people I know 'catching a book' on their smartphone (mostly 4"+ screen Androids) is staggering. (I'm aware of more people reading on 4" Android than Kindle and Nook +Nook color combined!) As the volume increases, the screen cost and quality will only improve. :) I'm also looking forward to an e-ink/lcd screen combo smartphone. (Again, combine a great e-reader with movies.)

I've been seeing Kindles in the wild more than ever. I used to be the only one to bring one to my favorite dinner... Now I'm one of a handful. :) One lady at my daughter's ballet class is very notable with the Kindle DX. Intense readers will stick with the Kindle. The bulk of the Kindles I've seen were purchased/gifted recently (as in December or more recently).

In my opinion, low cost tablets will be the bulk of casual e-reader growth in 2011 and 2012. In this category I include the successful Nook Color. Too many people realize that tablets are going to progress too quickly to expect to utilize one more than 2 years and that means they'll buy cheap.
I know quite a few people who read on the IPad. We have an IPad and really like it but learned how limited its capabilities really are when its 'host computer' crashed last weekend. :(

This rambling article has one point: there will be hundreds of millions of new ereader devices delivered to customers over the next few years. Most casual readers will read off devices bought 'for other purposes.' The hot devices of today will look quaint or over-priced in six months; so all companies will have to create new products and drive cost out of existing products.

So those who lock onto the meme of ebooks being limited to 50% market growth need to wake up and smell the touchscreen. Good weather will slow device sales... but once Fall hits, expect there to be a renewed push from pbooks to ebooks.

Its an exciting time for ebook authors. Good luck to you!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Professional and scholarly 75.9% of ebook sales

Ebooks dominated by Professional books?

"According to a press release from Simba Information, a well-known book publishing market researcher, professional and scholarly books — which include science, technology, medical, business, and legal – “hold 75.9% of the $1.76 billion U.S. E-book market.” That’s a percentage of a dollar volume, which makes sense, as these will be among the more expensive titles."

First, that puts the ebook market a wee bit larger than I was expecting!
Then again, we've been focused on novels and other entertainment books.

Most IT professional I know buy several texts per year and practically all of them switched to ebooks (mostly pdf format) a few years ago. Could this be biased by a few industries?

If technical books are already that far to ebooks... We're not just past the tipping point, we're about at the point where *all* the kids studying science at the college level will swap to ebooks.

I wonder at the survey. I'm a little surprised at the text sales levels. Now, this won't show up in my graphs (they're not 'trade' books). But this 'teaches' a huge group a people to use ebooks...

Late edit:
Another article linking the same survey:
“Librarians understand these needs, which can only be serviced on an electronic platform.”

Makes sense, my employer put the google desktop on all our machines so that we could search our own work... Why buy a technical reference without search?

Got Popcorn?

Borders needs more financing

Huffington post link.


A little humor on the decline of Borders

Had thus FUD:
"But authors are panicking, because books will be carried in 200 fewer Borders stores, and there are fears that they might skip mid-list titles and only invest in names they know they can sell."

Authors panicking? Is that what the AAP14 are calling authors self-publishing? ;)

B&N is entering their cash drain
part of the year. Heck, we just exited their most profitable time of the year and nook investment took their cash flow negative. :( Not that I disagree with them investing in the Nook... I just do not see the turn around for a few years.

It doesn't make me happy that bookstores are hurting, but there seems to be no slowing of smartphones, tablets, and ereaders. Three coworkers were giving Kindles as Easter presents to older relatives who have read out their local library's large type section.

I liked the 'pull' stage to ereaders for that was discussing the fun aspects of reading. Now I suspect as many new ereaders are due to negatives or "push:"
1. Inability to find large type books.
2. Local bookstore closing
3. Fewer new authors being picked up in print
4. Publishers targeting 80% sell through (which means some stores run out).

We still have pull:
1. More reading due to the convenience of having the ebook there (in particular on smartphones).
2. More variety (you either wanted this or didn't care).
3. More books per year from favorite authors. (What was with the 1 book per year from the AAP14?!?)

The bookstore scene has changed faster than the bulk of predictions. It makes some predictions amusing.

Got Popcorn?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Link on Ereader sales (last year 3rd quarter)

Nice link on 3Q2010 Ereader market share.

Note: The link ignores the IPad and Smartphones and only talks dedicated e-readers.

So some food for thought:
41.5% were Amazon Kindles with
16.1% were Pandigital (Who?!?)
16.5% were the Nook (Barnes and Noble)
8.4% were the Sony Ereader
8.2% were the Havon Wisereader (who? Apparently sold in China)

Now this is prior to the Nook Color. So I expect B&N is solidly up at #2 despite the low international presence (this is a global market share, not US market share).

I personally chuckle at the 15 million ereader sales predicted in 2011. It will be higher (despite tablets and the popularity).

Yet from that time Amazon had 76% ebook market share in the US.

So this implies:
1. Amazon is losing out in some international markets (China is certainly going to be a weak point.)
2. Applications are almost certainly a substantial part of the ebook market (no duh...)

#2 is important. I personally think that if ebooks in one form are not available on a preponderance of devices, that format will find 'growth resistance.' e.g., where is the iBookstore app for the PC?

I wish the data didn't have such a huge time lag...

Got Popcorn?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Where are ebooks going

Mims meme on ebooks plateauing at 50% seems to be gaining traction. Why? What technology slows adoption at such a low number when it just grew to almost 35%? Technology diffusion theory tells us the peak growth is at the midpoint of the adoption cycle. We're certainly at or near ebook peak growth. We have to be. If in another year ebooks triple again, they'll be past 100% book market share!

So I'm predicting ebook growth will slow in 2011 (despite what I've blogged about ebooks growing the book market). I do not think ebooks will hit 100% market share, too many people truly love print books. But judging from last year's growth, 70% is the minimum ebook market share by 2015. Minimum, by definition, means the market could be larger.

Ebook trend is shifting toward indie/small pub.
"Amazon says its studies have shown that digital titles sold by publishers using agency pricing aren't showing the same rate of unit growth as books that Amazon can discount. "The publishers showing the fastest growth are the ones where we set the prices," says Russell Grandinetti, Amazon's vice president for Kindle content.

Heavy book buyers avoiding bookstores. "He said some e-books had a 50% share of total sales during the first few months, a “watershed” for the trade." One doesn't have to read JA Konrath's blog to understand the implications... e-books have an infinite life and if titles are selling 50% e-books initially, that means the market will go majority ebooks.

But here is where the 50% maximum really comes from (same link):"Godfray said the challenge for publishers was to work out how they support the high street, given the need for shop window visibility for books to sell." Ummm... Just because publishers *need* bookstores to hold onto gatekeeping doesn't mean the market needs them. Ebooks are a disruptive technology.

WSJ noted the disruption of $0.99 ebooks notes: “In March he sold 369,000 downloads on Amazon, up from about 75,000 in January and just 1,300 in November. His titles are also for sale at digital bookstores operated by Kobo Inc., Barnes & Noble Inc., and Apple Inc.” Can we expect that type of growth from the AAP's March numbers? I'm not saying March will have 5X the sales of January, but rather another unseasonal month of ebook growth could have happened...

My old prediction of 50% ebook market share in January 2013 is looking quaint. I'm upping the ante to ebooks having 70%+ market share in 2015. The final market share? I'm not sure. I want print to survive. But not enough to pay retail for pbooks. ;)

Got Popcorn?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

February 2011 Ebook Sales

Ebook sales did *far* better in February than what I thought was going to be a good month. It was a horrid month to sell print books. The collapse in print sales dwarfs the market share of Borders; since this is two months running either:
1. Borders was more important to the business than their market share implied or...
2. We're past the tipping point for e-books

I believe the charts show the later. I had to redo the y-axis on the ebook graphs due to the large jump in sales! Judging by the comments by indie authors and the success of backlists that 'work around' the AAP... I suspect I a severely under-reporting the non-AAP portion of ebook sales:

Take a look at the above chart again. The January to February spike in ebook sales is not seasonal. Ebook sales are skyrocketing! In fact, since 2005, ebook sales have dipped from January to Febuary, except for 2011:

So this leads to the natural question, how did ebooks do versus all trade sales? The other press has made a big deal that ebooks outsold one form factor or another of print books. What they should note is that ebooks were HALF of print sales in February! Note that the latest total trade sales is only a little below the scatter of the last 5 years... But then again, February is a very weak print sales month:

Or more precisely, when one does a conservative estimate of indie/small publisher sales I find ebooks were 34.87% of the February market. Note: February should be a weak print sales month, just not this weak.

Where are ebooks getting the customers? Unfortunately, my favorite pbook format, mass market paperbacks (mmpb) is taking a huge hit. Notice that as ebooks climb mmpb sales are plummeting? At this point I consider the form factor of mmpb to be uneconomical. The form factor's sales are too low to support the production of 'cheap paper' in my opinion. Perhaps print on demand kiosks can save the form factor? I suspect the selection of mmpb available in the second half of 2011 will be poor compared to prior to 2008.

Adult Hardcover was at about half the sales of a good year. I do not understand why this form factor was so hard hit. Borders was supposed to be dominant in paperback. So why is Hardcover so weak? Is it a lack of available hits? (Focusing on too few best sellers that were gifted already at Christmas?)

I'm actually pleasantly surprised that adult paperback was at the 'lower end of normal sales.' Why is this though? Borders is supposed to dominate this form factor! Did Borders restock COD big in February? Or... do the numbers suggest the whole print industry is undermined and Borders is just a scapegoat everyone is hiding behind?

Children's sales were on the weak end of normal. It wouldn't be worth noting except we're seeing a steady weakening in sales of Children's books. In my opinion, after a stellar year of tablet sales that we should expect in 2011, we'll see Children's books hit the tipping point in 2012.

Note: This won't be due to the Kindle. It is touchscreen driven. We're not buying nearly the 'teaching books' to instruct our daughters as IPad apps are far better for teaching letters, spelling, basic reading, counting, and early math. It will take a hundred million more tablets out there to really shift the market; that market shift is coming fast.

I like bar charts as they show growth better than other forms. Notice how much the y-axis had to change to support the sales growth of ebooks in 2011:

For completeness, I like to show seasonal graphs for all the form factors. This is a weak time of year to sell print books. Please compare to the 2nd graph. I'm not commenting further other than to say print sales are really weak:

There is no longer any doubt; we are well past the tipping point on ebooks! Who expected better than a third market share in February 2011? Not I, my main prediction has been 50% market share in January 2013. I didn't realize I was an ebook pessimist... ;)

Got Popcorn?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

When will we see the AAP book sales numbers?

I've noticed something.

When print books sell well, the AAP sales numbers hit the web as early as the 8th of the month. The worse the print book sales, the later the numbers are released. Bad pbook sales are released the 14th through the 17th.

Just an idle observation...

Got Popcorn?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Ereader 1st 2011 update

Hardware sales precede software (ebook) sales. I only have one 'number,' but a little discussion is in order:

Nook Color sales approach 3 million. It seems like yesterday the nook color was launched. I suspect the Nook Color is now the most popular ereader among my various extended social groups with the Kindle a close 2nd.

The IPad2 is doing well, but I know fewer 'readers' buying IPads and more Video junkies. Any have any good links on stats? The IPad1 seems to have sold to 40% readers... I'm estimating the IPad2 is 25% to 30% readers buying the device (the rest are for video or other apps).

I'm amazed at the number of coworkers (I'm in a large traveling group) who read on large screen smartphones (mostly Android) or IPod touches. Individuals who probably had taken a 5 to 10 year 'sabatical on reading.' This area is expanding the ebook market compared to the pbook market. I used to consider this as only a 'gateway market.' I now realize that smartphones will permanently be a large chunk of the ebook market. Considering how quickly the various companies sell 100 million smartphones (in less than 90 days now), this part of the market will expand dramatically.

I wonder if the Kindle tablet rumors are real? I'm waiting for a 7" e-ink tablet/phone combo to replace my IPod, cell phone, and personal laptop on trips. :) (Hint Amazon!)

I'm not hearing much about Kindle sales... IMHO Amazon needs to drop the price *and* come out with the tablet before back to school. Until then, we're in the slow electronics selling season, so I expect the acceleration of ebook sales to be driven mostly by smartphones and tablets until back to school.

While quite a few people read on laptops and other computers... I'm not excited about the growth potential of that market. Computer based ebooks have been around for a long time and never took off. So while some individuals will continue to read on their computers, I doubt that section of the market will be a 'primary growth market.' Oh, the market will grow, but new (in 2011) computer based ereaders will be a tiny fraction of the ebook market growth. In fact, I expect most will use their computers as a secondary or tertiary reading device.

I'm predicting over $1.25 Billion in ebook sales in the US, including indie authors, in 2011. To reach that goal, about an additional 100 million reading devices need to reach consumers. Between Smartphones, Tablets, IPods, and ereaders, that is an easy target.

Got Popcorn?

Indie author market share.
1. 'Boutique' ebooks were 10% of the ebook market in December 2009. I take this to be Indie/small publisher ebook market share.
2. My browsing of the best seller lists on Amazon came up with a 20% Indie/small publisher market share of ebooks in December 2010.
3. I'm doing a linear extrapolation to 30% Indie/small publisher market share for December 2011 until I see better information. Judging by how many indie ebook authors can now make a living selling ebooks, we could be at 30% today! But I prefer to keep my estimates on the low side.

Got Popcorn?