Amazon Booms in Q1, Revenues up 22%

Amazon-logoThe same headline could have been written for Amazon’s fourth quarter earnings as its first quarter earnings.

Revenues were up 22% in both cases. In both cases, the company held on to razor-thin margins. In both quarters, growth in worldwide media sales (including ebooks) seemed to slow. And in both conference calls, Amazon indicated that it would continue to invest heavily, including into the Kindle ecosystem.

“We’re very pleased with our Kindle and digital business,” said chief financial officer Tom Szkutak on the call. “We certainly are investing — and you’re seeing that reflected.”

One difference between this quarter and quarters past was that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos didn’t lead the earnings announcement with a statement on ebooks. One of the analysts on the call noticed this as did many in the publishing industry, we would wager. What does it mean for the world’s largest bookseller? Our guess: Probably not much will change.

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The rest of the day’s top news:

Will Amazon be Compelled to Pay UK Corporation Tax? (Guardian)
Frances and Keith Smith hope so. The proprietors of the Kenilworth and Warwick bookshops delivered a petition with over 155,000 signatures to David Cameron’s office earlier this week imploring the government to force Amazon to pay more UK taxes. Amazon doesn’t currently pay UK Corporation tax since it reports European sales through its Luxemburg division.

High School E-Textbooks for $1 Per Year, Per Student (DBW)
Teacher’s Discovery, an education resources company, is test marketing an online first-year Spanish curriculum that costs $99 a year, per class. (See the promotional video.) Is this the beginning of a rush to the bottom for pricing of K-12 digital educational content?

Bookshout! Gets $6 Million in Funding (DBW)
The social and retail ebook start-up secured its Series B round of funding, led by Ambassador Enterprises. “The firm sees significant opportunity for innovation where new tools for social sharing and engagement give authors and publishers better data,” according to the press release.

Draft2Digital Launches as Direct Competition for Smashwords (Good E Reader)
Branded as “the long-awaited alternative to Smashwords,” Draft2Digital is a new free, ebook uploading service. The company’s focus on ease and speed of digital conversion has at least one industry commentator leery of the resulting ebook quality.

For more insight on the industry standard of ebook Quality Excellence and Design, check out Digital Book World’s QED seal of approval.

No Jury for Penguin (PW)
Judge Denise Cote has ruled that Penguin is not entitled to a jury trial in the matter of alleged ebook price-fixing and collusion. The June 3rd trial could go ahead with both Apple and Penguin as defendants. Unless, of course, Penguin settles with the consumer class and states in the meantime.

Kobo Launches Transmedia Experience to Promote Dan Brown’s Inferno Ebook (DBW)
This endeavor from Kobo, a contest to solve puzzles and gather clues in books, online, and via social media, culminates with a single $5,000 cash prize and Kobo Glo eReader – complete with Dan Brown’s autograph. Related: Innovative Publishing – Shuffle from Tonto Books.

South Korea’s Ebook Market Projected to Grow 80% This Year (Korea Herald)
Analysts forecast that the Korean Ebook market will reach $519.8 million in 2013, due largely to the proliferation of tablet devices and smartphones. Also bolstering the market, nearly 40% of local publishers issue over 50% of their titles as ebooks.

Distribuidora de Livros Digitais Accounts for 30% of Brazil Ebook Market (Pub Perspectives)
DLD, the recently formed digital book distribution consortium of seven of the Brazil’s largest publishers sold 44,490 ebooks last month, a reported 30% of the market there. Apple leads international retailers in sales of DLD titles with 28.5% of the March sales. Amazon ranks second with 22%, then Google (17.5%,), Saraiva (15%), and Kobo/Cultura (11.8%). This is a good proxy for ebook retail market share in Brazil.

IDPF Announces Speakers For BEA Conference (DBW)
This year’s event includes successful hybrid authors like Jennifer Armentrout; industry players, like Kobo; and presentations on hybrid authors and enhanced illustrated digital books.

Note From BISG on Departure of Deputy Executive Director Angela Bole (DBW)
Angela Bole, current deputy executive director of BISG, is moving on to become the Independent Book Publishers Association’s next executive director, effective July 17. In his note congratulating and thanking Bole, BISG CEO Len Vlahos suggested that a staff reorganization may be in the works.

collectionHQ Adds Suite of Ebook Tools for Librarians (DBW)
New tools give librarians access to data that compare ebook and print holdings and reveal the e-reading activities of patrons. This means that librarians can make more fully informed spending decisions. The new tools won’t cost collectionHQ subscribers any additional fee.

Adult Entertainment Blog Fleshbot Launches Ebook Imprint (Galley Cat)
A proliferation of media companies have started publishing ebooks. And more and more blog sites are joining this “atomization of publishing” trend. One thing to note: Fleshbot is pricing all titles between $0.99 and $2.99. Successful titles in this price range have caused a sharp drop in the average price of an ebook best-seller in recent weeks. One surprising thing about this story: Considering the stupendous success of Fifty Shades of Grey and “e-rotica” in general, why didn’t this happen sooner?

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