Are Readers Finishing Books?

Are Readers Finishing Books?In a blog post for Digital Book World, Jellybooks Founder Andrew Rhomberg discusses book completion rates amongst digital readers, and how that information might affect publishing.

Data revealed earlier this year shows that only 60 percent of books purchased are ever opened. “And that says nothing about whether they are even finished,” Rhomberg writes.

“Interestingly, the more expensive the book was, the more likely it was the reader would at least start it,” Rhomberg continues, “though data wasn’t shared on whether the likelihood of the book being finished went up. It most likely didn’t, though, as completion is probably entirely dependent on the quality of the book, not the price of it.”

“Now some might ask, what does it matter if people don’t read the book as long as they buy it?” Rhomberg writes. “It may sound like a shallow statement, but publishing is a business after all. Well, it does matter if buyers read the book, if word of mouth is the driving force of sales.”

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Barnes & Noble Going Forward (Mike Shatzkin)
The most recent Barnes & Noble financial results aren’t good news for the book business. “They show that the sale of books through their stores is flat at best, as is the shelf space assigned to books,” Mike Shatzkin writes. “And it would take a particularly optimistic view of their NOOK results to see anything but an accelerating slide to oblivion for what was, for a time a few years ago, the surging challenger to Kindle.” Shatzkin continues: “The real failure we see at B&N, which almost certainly affected the NOOK business as well as the stores, was that the customer knowledge within the dot com and NOOK operations apparently has never been used on behalf of the store business.”

EU to Propose VAT Exemption for Small Businesses (Guardian)
Complex VAT regulations which came into force at the start of the year may be amended following a recent EU summit in Dublin. The EU legislation changes the way sellers of digital services, such as ebooks, apps and online courses, deal with VAT when selling to other European countries. It means that VAT is now charged in the country where the products are bought, rather than the country where the seller is located. Last week, however, the European commission said it will propose a threshold to exempt smaller businesses from the VAT Mini One Stop Shop (VAT MOSS) rules.

Author Solutions Case Closes with Indiana Settlement (Pub Lunch)
Three weeks after settling a long-running lawsuit in the state of New York over fraud, violation of consumer protection acts, and unjust enrichment, Author Solutions has now settled similar outstanding legal actions in Indiana, effectively bringing the entire case to a close. Judge Denise Cote had denied class certification to the plaintiffs in the New York case, but the plaintiffs were still hoping to obtain class certification in Indiana (where ASI is based).

Popularity of Reading Declines in Teen Years (Bookseller)
Teenagers are less fond of reading than younger children, with only 17 percent of 15-17 year-olds saying they often read for fun, according to a new report into young people’s reading habits from Scholastic. For “The Kids & Family Reading Report,” Scholastic conducted a YouGov survey with 1,755 parents and children about their reading habits. The results showed that children’s fondness for reading lessens as they get older: while 17 percent of the older age group read for fun, that figure is much higher amongst 6-8 year-olds (54 percent), dropping to 43 percent for 9-11 year-olds and 24 percent for 12-14 year-olds.

How Big Data Helps Us Deal with More and More Books (Publishing Perspectives)
An astonishing number of books are published today—more than one million new releases every year, in all languages spoken across the world. Art transcends life by one or two generations, and at the pace of publication, the number of books is growing out of control, which begs the question: what do we do with all these books? According to Franco Moretti, a former Italian Marxist literary critic and key proponent of Digital Humanities, the solution is simple: stop reading books and let robots read them for us.

How Kindle Created a Parallel Universe (Publishing Technology)
Both Amazon and Wattpad have outmaneuvered trade publishers by taking what publishers do (find stories, connect stories with readers, publish books) and then creating a whole new set of products and services that allow them to do all of these things without having to ask a publisher’s permission first. Kindle Direct Publishing offered millions of authors the chance to publish their own books and access a global market of readers. Wattpad enabled teens to take the stories they’ve written about Harry Styles’ love life and put them in a place where millions of other fans can read them. They also offered a route to market that an individual content creator could control, unmediated by the publishing industry.

Librarians in the Digital Era (Library Journal)
The librarians who are thriving most consistently in the digital era are those who have found a way to operate as a node in a network of libraries and librarians. They are agents of change, actively creating the future instead of constantly reacting to it—or worse, resisting it.

How Amazon’s Alexa Is Making a Play For Your Living Room (Fast Company)
“How do we get an intelligent personal assistant into the home of every Amazon customer?” That simple query, according to sources involved, set the mission for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the team he tasked with creating the ecommerce giant’s latest entry into the hardware market: the Amazon Echo, a $179 cylindrical speaker roughly as tall and sturdy as a bottle of Merlot cut off at the neck. Sure, the Echo, which officially launched this past June, is good at playing music, delivering excellent bass and clear treble. But the key is what’s inside: Alexa, an always-listening Siri for your living room. It’s Amazon’s vision of the platform of the future, one that gives you the ability to control your home by voice.

Amazon’s Bezos Plans to Build, Launch Rockets from Florida (NPR)
In a new expansion of commercial efforts to launch earthlings into space, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos plans to build rockets on Florida’s Space Coast, in an area he calls “a gateway to humankind’s greatest adventures.” Speaking at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Bezos outlined a new chapter for Blue Origin, the private aerospace company he founded more than a decade ago. He also described how he caught “the space bug” by watching Saturn V rockets launch from the cape’s famed launch site.

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