Don’t Expect Better Sales Data Soon

agency ebook pricing sales data retailSome have questioned whether recent figures showing trade ebook sales hitting a serious slump in January 2015 is the product of agency ebook pricing’s return.

Those questions are valid, and they’re likely to remain unanswered.

Even though Amazon has restored versions of agency pricing in its agreements with four of the Big Five publishers, its motivation to share ebook sales data with the industry remains pretty miniscule. And the same goes for other major retailers, too.

As long as distributors have more to lose than they have to gain by disclosing that information—relative to their competitors as well as their suppliers—publishers’ and industry watchers’ present thirst for better data is likely to go unquenched.


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Trade Ebook Sales Slump (Pub Lunch)
The latest monthly data from the Association of American Publishers, for January 2015, shows ebooks comprising just 20% of trade sales for a total of $100.3 million, down more than 10% to what Publishers Lunch notes is the lowest monthly sales figure since April 2012, when the AAP reported digital sales at $99.5 million. Some suspect the progressive restoration of agency ebook pricing that began late last year is a likely culprit for the decline.

Tolino Expands into Self-Publishing in Germany (Pub Perspectives)
The German ebook consortium rolls out a self-publishing platform to compete with Amazon’s KDP service. Called Tolino Media, the program offers authors 70% of the retail prices of their titles.

Trying Its Hand as Publisher, Kobo Seeks Progress (The Bookseller)
After announcing a partnership with the Canadian indie publisher ECW Press to publish an original title, Kobo says it has no plans to compete with its publisher partners or, for that matter, to become a traditional publisher itself. Rather, according to Kobo’s VP of Publisher Relations Pieter Swinkels, the company is “looking to evolve the model” for the digital market.

Audiobooks Doubled in Past Five Years in UK (Telegraph)
Audiobooks are growing fast in the UK, too. According to new figures from the Publishers Association, a British trade organization, sales hit £10 million last year. The organization’s head points out that the “consumer book market is worth about £1 billion, so it’s a very small bit of the pie, but it’s increasing.”

Android Apps Coming to Windows (Engadget)
Microsoft adds support for developers to bring Android apps for its Windows 10 operating system. As a bid to increase the attractiveness the Windows Phone for consumers, one observer wagers that “Microsoft may have just changed its mobile trajectory completely.” Time will tell, anyway.
Related: The Android-Apple Footrace and What It Means for Publishers

Three Use Cases for Ebook Data (Book Business)
Leaders at HarperCollins, Scribd and Cengage explain how each of their businesses are using reader data to rethink user experience, discovery and more. It’s still early days, and many players candidly say they’re still learning how to put data analytics to good use.
Related: Dispelling Misconceptions about Data in Publishing

Befuddled by Fair Use? Fear Not (Infodocket)
Or at least, fear less. “Although not a substitute for legal advice,” a new searchable index from the U.S. Copyright Office aims to offer publishers and other content creators a reference for how fair use provisions have been applied by courts in a wide range of cases.

Fast, Cheap Audience Research Tools (DBW)
In case you missed the inaugural post in marketing expert Peter McCarthy’s “Marketing Myths” column, here’s an intensive guide to gathering insights about readers quickly and inexpensively.


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