Amazon again wowed the business world with huge gains in earnings in 2013, booking nearly $75 billion in revenue, an increase of 22%. At the same time, the company continued to run on razor-thin profit margins, its calling card and the bane of its investors: $274 million in profits yielded the biggest bookseller in the world only a 0.37% profit margin.
Nearly a quarter of that revenue is “media” sales – books, music, movies, both digital and physical; and half of all of Amazon’s media sales occurred in North America, some $10.8 billion.
These are big numbers that are being thrown around, but to give a basis for comparison, the entire U.S. trade publishing industry is about $14 billion annually.
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The rest of the day’s top news:
Amazon a Charity for Consumers? (Forbes)
One analyst famously called Amazon a “charity” for consumers run by investors after the company’s earnings report last year. It’s unclear why investors like the company so much, what Amazon’s long-term plans are and if it really benefits consumers all that much. One thing that is clear: In its fiscal 2013, Barnes & Noble retail and college bookstores had nearly $500 million in profit at a 7.7% margin on $6.3 billion in revenue – all numbers Amazon investors could be jealous of, save the last one.
Amazon Could Run Bookstore Checkouts by Summer (WSJ)
The e-tailer may soon offer payment processing and other services to bookstores and other small businesses on its Kindle Fire platform. Whether that’s actually in the works or just a wish-list item, it’s too soon to tell.
Not All E-Content Is Created Equal (DBW)
You could say publishers had it easier when books were just books. Here’s a breakdown of capabilities, price points, distribution and other matters when deciding what kinds of digital products to produce.
Tips for Expanding Sales With Direct-to-Consumer Platforms (DBW)
Experts in the direct-to-consumer sales and marketing game from Publishing Technology and HarperCollins weighed in on strategies for publishers to maximize consumer choice and their own retail opportunities without sabotaging existing sales channels.
BISG Turns Its Scrutiny to Ebook Subscription Services (PW)
The Book Industry Study Group has secured partners and funding to study the business models of the controversial ebook subscription providers that entered the market last year. A report is expected in summer 2014.
Follett Appoints New Chairman (DBW)
Todd Litzsinger, the former head of content solutions and services for Follett School Solutions, brings his 22 years with the company to the position vacated by interim chairman Steve Waichler.
Blackboard Developing Online Bookstore (PW)
In a foray into e-commerce, the educational platform for colleges and universities will soon feature an online store selling ebooks and course content directly to students.
Flat World Raises $9.5 Million for Business Degree Program (Pub Lunch)
The Web start-up abandoned its free open source textbook program in 2012 but now plans to offer a business administration degree in partnership with Brandam University in California.
IPR License Strikes Strategic Alliance with Copyright Clearance Center (DBW)
The two companies will pool their resources to offer an expanded menu of global licensing services to authors and publishers, the latest in a string of new partnerships IPR License has planned for 2014.
Ebook Conversion and Creation Is Booming (DBW)
Data Conversion Laboratory, a production vendor for digital content, reported revenues up 18% in 2013, rounding out a three-year period of 60% growth – this despite an industry-wide ebook growth slowdown.
Wattpad Takes Off in the Philippines (Philstar.com)
Filipinos are the biggest worldwide users of the social storytelling platform after Americans, contributing content at a rate that’s currently growing by 10% a month.
Self-Publishing Platform Gets Funded (DBW)
Screwpulp, a Memphis-based self-publishing platform, has secured $330,000 in seed funding.
Did You Know Ebooks Turned 40 This Year? (Ebook Friendly, infographic)
Ebooks might not be showing their age, but they’re older than you think. Here’s a look back.