Sunday, July 29, 2012

Publishing Trends

People are still reading books but are they buying them?

According to a recent USA Today poll, when book readers were asked how they obtained their most recent book, only 48% said they had purchased it. 24% borrowed it from a family member or friend. Another 14% borrowed it from the library. 13% replied “other,” which might mean they got it as a gift, stole it, found it, got it from a communal resource provider such as a condominium clubhouse, etc. I would also think in that miscellaneous section would be books acquired for at no charge on the Web. There are so many books available for free online, via digital download.  In any case, slightly less than half the people said they bought the book that they are reading, which means a lot of people are not buying the books that they read.

Mini e-Books segregate digital and paper readers

USA Today reported some well-known authors are issuing small e-books in advance of their main release. For instance, Tess Gerritsen issued a mini e-book for a buck ninety-nine in advance of her novel’s release that is due out August 28th.  The idea sounds good: give something to fans who can’t wait for the big book to come out. Or allow it to serve as an introduction to your writing for people not yet hooked into your work. But the problem is it creates a digital divide. Fans of the author who don’t have an e-reader or don’t like to read e-books, lose out. The mini books are not available in print. If this keeps up, more readers may be inclined to accelerate their transition from print to digital ink, which means book publishers make less money on book sales and bookstores are cut out, which takes away from creating a physical book community. Could the mini-ebook trend also signal that authors will serial publish their books, setting the way for readers to buy a subscription to an author’s works?

Vogue still youthful at 120

Vogue, a leader in women’s fashion, celebrates its 120th anniversary with a fat September issue—its annual fashion issue – that will feature 658 ad pages (a 14% increase from a year ago).

Amazon takes in billions, but makes only a few million

Amazon, the world’s largest e-tailer and the biggest online bookstore, is barely making any money – and Wall Street still thinks Amazon is great. Despite a jump in sales it is making a new margin of peanuts. And even with the news that Amazon’s profit decreased by 96% in the second quarter from a year ago, Wall Street bought more of Amazon, as shares rose to $223. Gross revenue is up 29% -- to 12.8 billion dollars this past quarter – but Amazon only made a profit of $7 million. If they had to collect and pay sales tax like everyone else, they likely would be losing money. Think about that.  Amazon is trading at 190 times its earnings – vs Apple, which trades only at 10 times its earnings. One bad gamble and Amazon could lose a ton of money. One reason for the poor profits: Kindle Fire sales are slipping and below expectations.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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