Tag Archives: ebooks

Readers adopted fiction ebooks quicker than non-fiction: Non-fiction ebook market has room to grow


Book market statistics provided by publishing organizations are often quoted as the only authoritative numbers that reflect what is going on in the book trade. Many industry analysts have disagreed with these “official” numbers for years saying that they only represent a portion of the market: sales of big publishers. Especially, the emergence of digital books has brought a huge number of small publishers and self-publishers whose book sales is not tallied up in the statistics published by, for instance, AAP, Nielsen, or publishers’ associations in Europe.

An analyst who calls himself Data Guy (at Author Earnings) has discovered a way to collect data from ebook sales independent of which organization (or person) has published the title. He has created a system for extracting data from Amazon Kindle Store web pages. Therefore, all the statistics he can provide is from the US. Nonetheless, it is useful reference for ebook authors and publishers across the world because the US is the pioneer and the leading country in ebook business.

In July 2016, Data Guy gave a speech where he presented statistics specifically concerning romance literature ebook market in the US. The included data, however, has many valuable lessons for all authors and ebook publishers. Here are a few highlights from his speech.

author earnings: Slide07 july 2016

Source: Author Earnings.

In the US, non-fiction books has slightly over 50% of the print book market, and fiction slightly under 50%. In many European and Asian countries, non-fiction books have way larger market share from the print market. For instance, in Finland non-fiction print books had 35%, text books 35%, fiction 26%, and ebooks less than 4% market share in 2015.

Now, Author Earnings reports that non-fiction ebooks have only 12% market share in the US ebook market. Fiction dominates the ebook market with 88% share, and roughly half of purchased fiction is romance. Although we haven’t seen the ebook market in Europe segmented by genre, we believe the overall situation is roughly the same: non-fiction ebooks haven’t been adopted as quickly as fiction.

Yet, the potential to introduce something new to new generations of readers is in non-fiction and text books: digital media lets authors and publishers embed more attractive images, animation, photo galleries, interactivity and even moving pictures in books. You can view samples of this in Klaava Travel Guide titles.

author earnings, Slide12, july 2016

Source: Author Earnings

In the US, Amazon really dominates the ebook retail sales with 75% of title purchases going through the Kindle Store. Amazon UK has similar, some claim even stronger position, of the national ebook market, but elsewehere in Europe, other stores compete successfully with Amazon. For instance, in Germany Tolino is a major player in the ebook market. In Scandinavia, Adlibris and Storytel are big digital retailers (there is no Amazon store in Scandinavia yet, but Nordic citizens buy from Amazon.com if they want Kindle products).

It is still early days for digital books. The market developed quickly in English-speaking countries, primarily because of romance and crime titles. Fiction ebooks are replicas of print books. The big technical development is still to happen, and non-fiction and text books will drive the development. For instance, Amazon Page Flip is one of the early signs of things to come. It is a marvellous new feature for browsing non-fiction books.

Ebooks are slowly gaining market share in Europe as print books decline


Ebooks made a quick breakthrough in countries where English is the dominant language after Amazon introduced the Kindle ereading system. From the beginning, Amazon’s ebook selection was huge, and prices were reasonable. In Europe (apart from the UK), the situation is different: ebooks haven’t gained the same status as printed books. Slowly, but surely the situation is changing in Europe as well, because ebook sales is continuously growing and print books are declining.

EU organization European Parliamentary Research Service has drafted a report that looks at the book market in Europe and possible reasons, such as country-specific taxation policies, for the slow development of ebook markets.

eu: ebooks vs print, 2008-2014
Data source: European Commission, Analysis of the media and content industries: The publishing industry. EPRS report “E-Books: Evolving markets and new challenges”.

The statistic sums up only five EU book markets, but (again, apart from the Great Britain) the trend is clear: ebooks are slowly finding readers, whereas printed books are losing readers. In 2014, the market share of ebooks was about 10%.

What is missing in Europe is the quick quantum leap that took ebooks to a new level in the US around 2010 and 2012. Then, ebooks gained 20-30% share of the book market. Recently, ebooks have taken a step back when the big publishers started controlling ebook pricing.

Why the quantum leap hasn’t happened in Europe? There are many small countries and a variety of languages. Many regional publishers have not made their back catalogue available as ebooks at all. It means that the ebook selection in a small language area may only be a couple of thousand titles. Ebook prices can be almost at the same level with print book prices. Poor selection, poor pricing strategy, and little marketing for ebooks.

The attitudes are changing in Europe. EU is examining ways to tax ebook and print books according to the same principles. Ebook selection is growing and big European publishers are reporting big growth numbers for digital products. One of the largest publishers, Bonnier, recently told that its ebook sales increased 69% in 2015 compared to the year before. The total share of ebooks from the sales in 2015 was 10%.

Just a reminder that books are a huge global business compared to other media businesses. With an estimated value of US$151 billion, books have outdistanced music (US$50 billion), video games (US$63 billion), magazines (US$107 billion) and even film and entertainment (US$133 billion).

Online media subscription service Playster bundles ebooks, music, movies and games


After Netflix hit the big time with online movie subscriptions and Spotify made online music available at low or no cost to listeners, the book industry has been looking for a similar solution. Is it possible to create a low-cost service that lets readers consume as many books as they want? Many have tried, but it still remains to be seen if it works for books. Now, Playster has a new value proposition: a bundle with books, movies, music and games in one subscription package.
playster ebooks, subscription
Playster media package of ebooks, movies, music and games costs 29.50 a month. You can read as much as you want, watch movies, listen to music and play games.

Playster sells individual media subscriptions as well. Unlimited books is 11.95 a month. The first month is free, but you have to give your credit card details.

We haven’t tried out the service yet, so we haven’t seen the book selection or how smoothly the Playster service works.

Nonetheless, the bundle package has potential. Perhaps it is too much for an individual person, but for a couple or for a small family it could be a good choice.

Other ebook subscription services are, for instance:
24 Symbols
Safari Books Online
Mofibo (in Danish, Dutch and Swedish)
Skoobe (German)
Nubico (Spanish)
Amazon Kindle Unlimited (available in U.S., UK, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Mexico and India)
playster ebooks

Ebooks Are Top 5 Digital Content Type for All Age Groups


Young generations didn’t grow with printed newspapers, magazines or books, but a mobile phone firmly attached to their hands. It is not a big surprise that the Millennial generation consumes media content on their smartphones whereas Baby Boomers rely on desktops, laptops and even traditional media. Somewhat surprising is, however, that the types of digital content that different age groups like to consume on their computers and mobile devices are almost the same with ebooks at 4th.

The top 4 most consumed content type on a PC and on a mobile device is exactly the same for all generations:
1. Blogs
2. Images
4. Ebooks
The fifth most consumed content type for Millennials is audiobooks, case studies for Generation X, and reviews for Baby Boomers.

digital content types by age group, buzzstream

The survey was conducted by BuzzStream and Fractl who surveyed over 1200 individuals, and classified them into three age groups: Millennials (born between 1977 and 1995), Generation Xers (born between 1965 and 1976), and Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964).

Another, even larger media study was recently conducted by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. The Digital News Report 2015 – Tracking the Future News surveyed over 20 000 people in 12 countries, focusing on differences in news access between digital and traditional media and between age groups.

The research by Reuters indicates that 45 years is the dividing age in media culture. People who are younger than 45 rely on online news sources, whereas people older than 45 primarily get their news from television.

news sources by age, Reuters
Reuters also discovered that in many countries the Internet already is the primary source for news for all age groups on average. People in Finland, Australia, Denmark, Ireland, USA and Brasil specified the Internet as their number one news media source.

main news sources for media users, Reuters

Read Ebooks for Free in Exchange for Sharing the Titles with Your Followers


Who wouldn’t want to get ebooks for free (and legally)? Sure, Gutenberg.org and other services have books that have entered public domain because the authors’ copyright periods have run out, but what about current fiction and non-fiction books? This is what Bookgrabbr is trying to achieve: get a free book, but share your good fortune with your social media followers.

bookgrabbr free books

First, you sign up for Bookgrabbr with your Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin credentials. Then, you can read a book from Bookgrabbr’s selection on your computer, tablet or smartphone. On a PC, you access the book in your browser, but if you like to read on a mobile device, you can download the Bookgrabbr app (or read in a browser as well).

Well, the service worked as advertised. I could read a book for free in exchange for sharing the happy news to my followers on Twitter. The book selection on Bookgrabbr, however, is very limited. Apart from a few public domain books, there is not much to read. Obviously, people behind the service intend to grow the selection in the future.

bookgrabbr tweet
What’s the catch? For a reader, who wants to get free ebooks, the catch is marketing. Bookgrabbr gets readers’ social media contact information and can later send them messages concerning the author’s other books or similar books that are on sale on the store. For publishers, Bookgrabbr could be a channel to market backlist titles.

Driven by Disruptive Innovation, Book Publishing Is in Slow Transformation


The disruptive innovation of ebooks and readers has become so self-evident that even industry experts tend to forget that digital book business is still taking its first baby steps. It is a long way to go (years, tens of years) for ebooks before the dust settles. That’s why I was glad to read an excellent article by Gareth Cuddy (the founder and CEO of Vearsa) where he analyzes the state of the ebook industry and where it is heading.

Professor Clayton Christensen coined the term disruptive innovation in his book The Innovator’s Dilemma . The key concept is the way new technologies disrupt established markets by introducing simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moving up market, eventually displacing established competitors. Examples are personals computers that displaced mini computers with terminals, and mobile phones that displaced traditional telephones.

Ebooks and digital media in general (music, movies, tv, newspapers, magazines) are not only technically capable of displacing their analogue counterparts, but also the time is ripe for radical renewal of the book industry as well as other media industries.

Gareth Cuddy uses Steven Sinofsky’s application of Christensen’s disruptive innovation as a framework for analyzing the development of digital publishing. Sinofsky’s four stages of disruption are:

  • Phase 1: Introduce product with new point of view. “A limited, but different, replacement for some existing, widely used and satisfactory solution.”
  • Phase 2: Rapid Linear Evolution. “The traction in the disruptor camp becomes undeniable. The incumbent continues as normal but tolerates and begins to incorporate changes into its own business.”
  • Phase 3: Convergence: complete value proposition relation to legacy. “Even when technologies are disrupted, the older technologies evolved for a reason, and those reasons are often still valid.”
  • Phase 4: Re-think the entire product category. “The last stage of technology disruption…when a category or technology is re-imagined from the ground up.”
    Gareth Cuddy determines that digital publishing is in convergence phase (phase 3). He argues that the plateauing of ebook sales, the resurgence of print titles in 2014, and the talk of ebooks going “out of fashion” prove that convergence of the old industry and new technology has started. He also points out that print vs. digital is also not a battle to the death.

    innovation in publishing, gareth cuddy

    Here is where I disagree. I see digital books still firmly in evolution phase ( phase 2).

    Ever since the Kindle and EPUB formats were introduced and the first ereaders became available, nothing has changed in digital technology. We still don’t have interactive, multimedia EPUB3 or KF8 books, we still don’t have color screens in our ereaders. We have, however, some development: book lovers and young generations who have adopted tablets and smartphones as their reading devices.

    Sure, ebook sales has developed favorably in the U.S. and UK, but elsewhere ebook sales are still minimal. Ebook evolution is only taking its very first baby steps. In most markets outside English markets, books are being converted to ebooks, digital sales channels are being set up, and because the traditional book business isn’t used to moving fast, all this takes time. Even tax laws in the EU have to be changed so that ebooks and paper books are treated equally.

    I expect the evolution phase of ebooks to continue until 2020. A massive development and massive business opportunity for the book business is the school and academic market, as well as non-fiction market. These markets will need more advanced technical solutions and licensing models than the industry can offer today.

    Phase 3 (convergence) will be about digital publishing and self-publishing that will find new ways to work with established businesses. New business models will emerge. Convergence will be about new retail models, like subscription services that already have begun to develop. Convergence will also mean that multimedia and interactivity will be introduced to books in a meaningful way.

    So, I expect phase 4 (re-imagination) to start in 2025 at earliest. After a fast start, ebook publishing will take its time before it finds the future of books. New business models, new book concepts will be created, but before majority of customers – people who read books – are convinced that new is better than old, the industry has to keep innovating.

    Digital Book Revenues Accounted for 35% of the UK Publishing Market in 2014


    The UK Publishers Association has tallied up the numbers for the book market in the United Kingdom in 2014, and the results are pleasant reading for ebook publishers, but not so for print book publishers. Revenues from digital products accounted for 35% of the total market in the UK in 2014. The total market was GBP 4.3 billion, down 2% from previous year. The rapid growth in sales of ebooks couldn’t compensate the decline of printed books in the UK.

    Highlights from the Publishers Association report:

    – Fiction is still the hottest ebook category with sales increasing to 37% of total ebook market value.
    – Children’s books (up 36%) – with the sector up 11% overall.
    – Academic textbooks (up 17%) now at 24% of sector sales.
    – Audiobook downloads up 24% from previous year.
    – Educational materials for schools up 20%.

    Apple iPad, ebook, eyeglasses, books,

    We have been closely following the ebook market for five years (Klaava Media is a non-fiction ebook publisher), and it still hasn’t stopped surprising us. A year ago, growth in the U.S., the ebook market leader showed first signs of slowing down. Early 2015 proved it to be worse than that, because ebook revenues decreased for the first time since 2007.

    In other parts of the world, however, it is completely different situation. In many countries, annual ebook growth numbers are huge, because digital market share from total book market can be anywhere from 1 to 10%. Countries, such as Germany, Netherlands and France are now experiencing high growth rates because large product selection in digital format is available for readers and competing retail systems, like Amazon, Apple iBooks, Google Play and Tolino fight for digital customers.

    Why is the US ebook market so different to the rest of the world?

    Some analysts have already voted for the return of agency pricing in the US that has caused somewhat higher prices, slowing down sales of ebooks. We don’t believe it is the reason for the US market setback. The real reason is a natural cycle of the new, strongly developing tech/media market.

    First wave:
    Amazon Kindle ereader started this wave in 2007. It was a new device designed solely for reading ebooks. The Kindle and low-cost Kindle ebooks were the reason why the first wave was successful in the English-language markets. Since then, many other E ink ereader brands have been introduced, but the sales of pure ereader devices have been declining for some time already.

    Second wave:
    Tablets and phablets. More and more people are enjoying digital books because they are able to read books on a tablet or on a large-screen smartphone they already have. Outside English-language markets, the growth of ebooks really took off with tablets and it continues with the success of phablets.

    Third wave:
    Ebooks will develop further. Currently, ebooks are more or less just like their print book cousins, only the layout may slightly differ. Especially, non-fiction books, textbooks, academic books, and online publications will benefit from the new possibilities digital technology allows for books, such as video, audio, and interactivity.

    EPUB3, Apple iBooks and to some extent Kindle book formats already allow creating such books, but compatibility with reader devices and apps is poor at the moment. This is where we will see all kinds of successful and less successful trials in the next few years. Some of them will stick and show the way to the future of book.

    The U.S., UK or any other market hasn’t yet moved to the third wave (or beyond). When it happens, expect strong growth for media we used to call books.

    Chinese Have Quickly Adopted Ebooks on Mobile Devices


    Those were the days when people in China had to go out on the streets to read the news that were posted on walls. Today, more Chinese connect to Internet services than in any other country. Chinese have also widely adopted large screen smartphones. Perhaps one thing leads to another, but in any case, reading ebooks is now more popular than reading paper books in China.

    chenzen, china boookstore by robert scoble
    A bookstore in Chenzen, China by Robert Scoble on Flickr.

    The Chinese government news site reported on a study that was conducted by the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication in September 2014. The organization surveyed 35 000 adults across China about their reading habits. The highlights of the survey results are:

    – 58.1% of Chinese adults read digital books in 2014, and 58% read print books.
    – Ebooks were up 8%, but reading paper books grew only 0.2%.
    – 51.8% read on mobile phones, while 49.4% used a computer for reading.
    – Only 5.3% used an e-reader, and 9.9% a tablet.
    – Reading online took about 55 minutes each day on average, whereas printed books got citizens’ attention for 19 minutes and newspapers for 19 minutes as well.
    – 67.6% of Chinese between 18 and 39 years had adopted digital reading habits.

    The numbers are impressive for ebooks. China may be the first market where reading ebooks became more popular than reading paper books. Sales of ebooks in China compared with the sales of printed books is another matter. The sales of digital goods, such as music and movies lags behind the sales of respective physical goods, and books are no exception during the next few years.

    New Purchase Options for Scandinavian Ebook Readers


    Amazon dominates many ebook markets across the globe, but there are some corners of the world where local ebook stores thrive. Scandinavia (in this case, only Sweden, Norway and Finland) is not an easy market for a large international company like Amazon to enter because every country has its own language and currency, and above all, the markets are fairly small. Adlibris is the largest Scandinavian online bookstore that also offers a large selection of ebooks.
    adlibris ebooks, norge screen shot
    At the moment, Swedish customers may choose from 25 000 ebooks, Norwegians have a selection of 23 000 ebooks and Finns don’t yet know how many ebooks there are, because Adlibris’ Finnish ebookstore is waiting for its official launch (ebooks are already available, though). Vast majority of available ebooks at Adlibris are published in Swedish or in Norwegian.

    Here are the Adlibris bookstores where Scandinavian customers can shop in their local language and currency.

    Montreal Airport Promotes Local Authors by Providing Ebooks to Travelers


    For many travelers, spending hours on an airplane is valuable time because it means a long uninterrupted period for reading books. Earlier, travelers used to buy pocketbooks from airport bookshops but nowadays ereaders or tablets carry our books. Montreal Trudeau airport in Canada has made it easy for travelers to discover ebooks before flight.

    montreal airport ebooks, Lire vous transport

    Ebooks for travelers at Montreal airport are available on Lire vous transporte web site. The service was launched in early April 201. In the beginning, the selection is only 35 French-language books. It is possible to read a sample of each book for free online or download a PDF file for offline reading. If the book is a good read, local people can borrow it as an ebook from Montreal or Quebec public library. Others can buy the book.

    There is not much in the Lire vous transporte program that a savvy ebook reader couldn’t achieve without the service, but the fact that a large airport promotes local authors and reminds travelers to read ebooks is always nice

    Book Subscription Service Oyster Opens a Bookstore for Ebook Downloads


    Oyster, an online service that lets you read as many books as you have time for a monthly fee of $10, has opened a bookstore where ebooks can be downloaded for offline reading. Oyster doesn’t tell how many books it has for sale, but proudly states that the big five publishers in the US (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster) among many others are on board.
    oyster bookstore ebook downloads, offline reading
    Oyster’s bookstore is a convenient place to shop for existing subscription customers who occasionally want to purchase a book in order to make sure it is always accessible. For example, travel guidebooks fall into this category because you can’t assume you are connected to the Internet when on the road. Another thing is if Oyster can (or wants to) compete against Amazon, Apple iBooks, Google Play Books or Kobo purely as an ebook store.

    Other ebook subscription services that let you read books for a low monthly fee are, for instance, 24 Symbols and Scribd.

    French book lovers are adopting ebooks


    France has a long and wifely appreciated literary tradition, but some observers have asked will it survive if the nation doesn’t adopt new technologies and business models. In fact, one of the pioneers of e-reading comes from France: Bookeen. The Paris-based company has manufactured popular Cybook ereaders for many years. Adoption of ebooks is actually pretty high in France as a recent infographics put together by Salon Du Livre shows.

    salon du livre infographic

    Here are some highlights from the Salon du Livre infographic (Salon du Livre is a large book event in Paris that was held in 2015 at the end of March).
    – 18% of French read ebooks.
    – 90% of ebook readers use an ereader device, 71% a tablet, 45% a computer and 32% a smartphone.
    – 80% of 15-24 year old French are readers.
    – 70% of French read at least one a year.
    – Those who read books, are active: they read 15 books per year on average
    – 80 000 people are directly employed by book business (the population of France was 66 million in 2014)

    If you are planning to visit France, download this guide to Southern France.