Friday, May 27, 2011

New Ereaders and "Power Buyers"

Tiss the season for everyone *but* Amazon to launch new hardware:
Kobo Touch
Nook Simple
Large form factor Android Phones

While the "Special Offers" kindles will sell well, they are *nothing* to encourage a K2 owner to upgrade.

But we'll also see a tremendous amount of ereading on upcoming devices:
Amazon ereader tablets and phones (By Xmas?)
Other Android tablets (Sony, Asus, Acer, Dell, Motorola, Toshiba, Samsung, LG, HTC, Lenovo, etc.)
More large form factor smartphones
Heck, Microsoft might actually get in the game too (snicker)

Let’s not forget Sony is big in international ebooks. So while I haven’t heard of a new ereader from them, I expect them to update their product.

Devices equal ebook sales. :)
Link on ebook buying

““Power buyers,” who buy at least one e-book a week, represent about 18 percent of the total people buying e-books today, but they buy 61 percent of all e-books purchased.” As ebooks mature, more and more readers will not be ‘power buyers.’ Look at those numbers. In print, power buyers buy 70% of the books. It is less for ebooks; that strongly implies that ebooks are bringing in casual/convenience reader sales.

I know, by name, just over a dozen parents who ‘convenience read’ on their phones or tablets who otherwise would have dropped out of the book market. That is great! That is a few individuals who otherwise would have forgotten the ‘reading habit.’ Now they are instead utilizing tech to stay 'connected' with books. Once their kids grow up, they’ll probably drift back to being ‘power buyers’ of books instead of just being TV junkies.

If it seems like I'm being hard on Amazon, I am. Where is the new reader? Once a year product updates do not work in a fast growing market such as ebooks unless one expects to forfeit market share; as Amazon has certainly done. Certain customers have a strong preference for touchscreens; while I would want to see the K3 continue, Amazon must invest in new hardware.

My group of friends is defecting to the Nook Color or IPad for the kiddie ebooks. That means touchscreen, color, and sound. But here is the market opportunity for Amazon: these kiddie ebooks are locked onto one device and *no one* likes that. The Nook app does not play Nook color kiddie ebooks. (We tried.) Apple apps are locked onto iOS devices... If Amazon is clever and upgrades the Kindle app (when they release touchscreen) to be far more flexible, they'll take that market in under six months. For parents want mom and dad's cellphones, tablets, and computers to all play the book (as kids have zero understanding why the book isn't available).

The point of this article is to show that ebook growth is about to take off due to the excitement generated by new devices for ereading. In many ways, I'm most excited about large smartphones as those toys seem to be 'pulling back' readers into the habit thanks to 'convenience reading.' Tablets will help that trend too.

Got Popcorn?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

March 2011 Ebook Sales

After an amazing February (which blew away my expectations), March sales of ebooks were just very strong. Print book (pbook) sales also recovered nicely. But don't start talking about a renaissance in pbooks, the sales were on the weak end of a normal year overall.

Notice how even a 'breather month' put march ahead of the 2010 ebook growth trendline? This shows that even a month of slacking that 2011 has fast accelerating ebook market. I won't be surprised if we see some seasonality in ebooks. The market isn't small anymore. ;)

Ebooks gave back a bit of their market share.

If I add in my assumed indie/small publisher market share growth (10% December 2009, 20% December 2010 and assume linear growth to 30% in December 2011) than we see that ebooks are still beyond the tipping point. Note: If you disagree with my assumptions that is fine, but it is too obvious a *large* fraction of ebooks are sold by indie/small pub. Probably far more than I'm assuming:

Now let us compare ebook sales versus trade. Well... 21.62% (with indie/small pub) is a small fraction. But a growing fraction. ;)

I'm glad to see mass market paperbacks (MMPB) made quite a sales recovery! I can take what was my favorite print format off near term death watch. But notice how MMPB is below band? That isn't healthy. I have a feeling this recovery is Borders restocking related. :( (I'd like it to be a more substantial recovery...)

Hardcover also recovered and is 'in the band' of prior year sales. This to me is amazing! Borders? Seasonal? New bestseller books? I'll be watching in future months.

Where is the spin that adult paperbacks are once again outselling ebooks? Nice recovery and 'in band' for prior years. Another interesting trend to watch

To get at children's sales I had to take the sales for 1st quarter 2010, multiply them by one minus the percentage change in sales and then subtract out January and February sales (why didn't they publish a straight number?). So my numbers could be off by $2 million due to how the AAP 'corrects' prior data quietly. But either way, children's book sales were weak. I suspect touchscreens have eaten into the market:

Seasonal Graphs:

Ebooks show nice growth

I like to use bar charts as an alternate way to show how ebooks are growing fast every month:

Harcovers are at a normal seasonal pace:

MMPB recovered from 'death watch' to the weak end of normal:

Adult paperbacks recovered well enough to have a 'normal March' sales level. I consider this pretty amazing:

I hope these graphs give you a better insight into book sales versus the numbers out of context. Ebook growth is still strong. Somehow, thankfully, pbook sales had a recovery month (the shrinkage was far faster than I wanted to see).

As always, we anticipate next month's sales. I find it interesting Amazon bragged about April ebook sales outdoing their print sales by 105 to 100. Since I haven't seen that before, it implies next month we'll see ebooks recover some market share. The question though is 'how strong were pbook sales?'

For March, it was a good month for book sales (pbook+ebook). But not good enough to make up for January and February.

Got Popcorn?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I love spin (Poking fun at anti-ebook titles and posts)

Sometimes one finds articles that are nothing but spin and thus just fun. It is like their method is hope that ebook adoption slows down...

33% reading ebooks was spun as "Despite the jump in both the number of digital readers and book buyers with devices, the percentage of book readers who said they only read digital books remained below 1% in February, while the percentage of readers who said they will only read print books stayed at 40%."

Oh, and 26% of readers are looking into trying e-reading or increasing the market by 75%... Why didn't the article highlight that?

eBooks lead to print sales sounds pretty pro big6 right? It then goes to say "Ebooks are not killing print." But then the small publishers come out ahead with “Especially on the non-traditional side, we’re seeing the reprint business’ internet-driven business model expand dramatically. It will be interesting to see in the coming years how well it succeeds in the long-term.”

Oh... Small publishers are using ebooks to help sell print! A totally different conclusion than the 1st paragraph leads one to believe...

A no-spin article worth reading.

I have to agree with the last article. Small business can now sell books directly to customers. It is a different world.

What if the Amazon rumors are true about Amazon launching ereading friendly tablets and possibly an ereading phone (which I've been waiting for). Or... what if the 7" tablet is also a phone, that would work for me...

Publishers are not ready for a Christmas where Amazon is a big tablet player... Not to mention a new Nook is expected later this month...

No wonder the AAP is hiding the print sales numbers. The floor is shifting.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Are the publishers waiting for the holiday?

The end of the month is a holiday weekend. Who would pay attention to book sales if the numbers were released around the long Memorial day weekend? What better way to hide poor sales?

I'm suspecting the AAP numbers are really bad. Normally the pattern is:

1. Good print book sales numbers are released early.
2. Even if the print (not-ebook) numbers are good, no earlier than the 8th.
3. If print sales are bad, it has been the 14th to the 17th of the month.

Note: Ebook sales do not influence when the numbers are released (as best I can tell).

Is this due to rumors that Borders might close significantly more stores? I'm not posting links to the company spamming the Yahoo boards with poor stories.

I'm just not seeing anything to push pbook sales. Sigh, I hope my favorite formate (MMPB) does better than I believe it will...

Got Popcorn?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Backlists are coming! June edition

In my continuing 'series' to debunk the meme that there is some natural upper bound to ebook market share, A bit on a company that mass formats ebooks.

“Accurance has had orders/agreements for e-book conversion of 2,000 titles, representing just initial backfile orders, from more than 50 publishers in just two months. “

My comment: One company is processing 1,000 backlist titles per month! We've seen numerous authors blog about finally dusting off their old text and putting it on Kindle.

Now for my favorite pulp fiction to make it to ebooks, please! (Hey, we all have something we want to re-read.)

Side comment on the AAP numbers, from a post a month ago:

"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."

I'm not expecting March pbook sales to be any good. If the news was an improvement, the AAP would have announced early. With ebooks, we could see the seasonal dip... or they could continue their rise. I'll graph the numbers once we have data.

Conclusion on backlist:
20% is a tipping point for multiple reasons; with backlists it motivates all to re-enter the market. As those backlists enter the market, it will motivate more to try ebooks and that, long term, is a great thing for indie/small pub authors. Its a good thing for established authors and customers too. What it isn't a great thing for is those whose business model is based on limited shelf space.

At this point, follow JA Konrath's advice, every minute your book isn't available for sale is a minute of lost income. Don't put out crap, but go and build that audience.

Got Popcorn?

I anticipate indie author releases far more than big6 releases at this point. That is probably an artifact of allowing good authors to publish more than one book a year!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ereaders in Europe

Ereader adoption has been US focused to date. But growth in Europe is now on a healthy uptick. 1.9 million Ereaders in 2010. I take the prediction for 9.6 million in 2015 with a grain of salt. Why? Ereadering has consistently outgrown any published prediction that I've seen!

I love how 'journalists' who do not read are always predicting a cap on ebooks and ereader demand. Why? Here I have one link that shows how HUGE the untapped market is.

Oh, 9.6 million by 2015 is very conservative (for Europe). I'd bet we will cross that line in 2012! :) Note: That isn't a quadrupling of ebook sales. The first buyers will be the most 'intense readers.' In 2012, ereaders will be picked up by those who 'only read' 12 to 20 a year.

Of course, if *someone* would please come out with an Android e-ink phone with a 5" or 6" screen, we could rewrite our expectations of ereader sales towards the upside. Even further if someone finally launches e-ink that can do 720 video. :)

Got Popcorn?

Kindle at Walmart

Walmart to sell Kindle. This puts the Kindle in front of a new market segment. How large? I’m not sure. I’ll call it 10% of the potential e-reader market and 5% of the potential ebook sales. While that is a trivial number that could be lost in the ‘noise’ of the limited information available, it will increase Kindle ‘mind share.’ I believe that letting customers try before buying is huge in reducing resistance to purchase.

Certain buyers will see the Kindle before going into a bookstore… this should boost the sales of *all* ereaders. One reason Starbucks has so many coffee shops is that they realized a large customer base needs to see two or three coffee shops before deciding to buying that coffee; with Kindle at Walmart ‘mindshare pull’ will now be a little stronger for e-readers.

Now to get the Kindle into Costco… ;) (Unlikely). I’m sure having Android tablets at Costco is helping their sales. My wife noted a whole bunch of customers checking them out during a mid-week run. Why won’t Apple sell the IPad in Costco?

Were at the point that it doesn’t matter what device *new* readers buy, but rather to introduce them to ebooks and pull them over to the dark side. ;) With tablets at Costco and Kindles at Walmart, the number of devices people will want to read ebooks on will continue to increase in 2011. Fast.


ps (written at the time of the article)
With more and more devices at more and more locations, will will still hear about ebooks maxing out at 50% market share? That quote has me chuckle.