Five years ago, the book world was seized by collective panic over the uncertain future of print.
As readers migrated to new digital devices, ebook sales soared, up 1,260 percent between 2008 and 2010, alarming booksellers that watched consumers use their stores to find titles they would later buy online.
But the digital apocalypse never arrived, or at least not on schedule. While analysts once predicted that ebooks would overtake print by 2015, digital sales have instead slowed sharply.
Now, there are signs that some ebook adopters are returning to print, or becoming hybrid readers, who juggle devices and paper. Ebook sales fell by 10 percent in the first five months of this year, and digital books accounted last year for around 20 percent of the market, roughly the same as they did a few years ago.
Ebooks’ declining popularity may signal that publishing, while not immune to technological upheaval, will weather the tidal wave of digital technology better than other forms of media, like music and television.
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Why Amazon Will Continue to Gain Market Share (Forbes)
Amazon‘s stock has surged by more than 70 percent this year, as its results over the last few quarters have surpassed market expectations. Specifically, its results in the North American geography and in cloud services business have surprised on both top-line as well as bottom-line. Research firm Trefis believes Amazon will continue to outperform the broader U.S. e-commerce market in the coming years, given its various competitive advantages.
Amazon’s Next Big Business: ‘The Instant Gratification Market’ (Business Insider)
Amazon’s already one of the world’s largest online retailers, but it may be about to crack another entirely new market segment: the “instant gratification market.” In a note on Tuesday, Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster noted how Amazon has been expanding its quick delivery offerings recently, and that it could have huge implications on the online retailer’s future outlook.
Oyster and the Viability of Ebook Subscription Services (Mike Shatzkin)
Mike Shatzkin discusses Oyster’s end and the state of ebook subscription services: “It would be a mistake to interpret Oyster’s demise as clear evidence that ‘subscriptions for ebooks don’t work’. Obviously, they can… What seemed obvious to many of us from the beginning, though, was that a stand-alone subscription offer for general trade books could not possibly work in the current commercial environment.”
Ebook Subscription Services Going Forward (Mashable)
Oyster’s fate highlights the difficulty of building a standalone business focused on digital book subscriptions (and ebooks more generally) against much larger technology and publishing businesses. The three leading startups—Oyster, Scribd and Entitle—initially touted the potential for businesses in the ebook subscription market to one day rival the likes of billion-dollar companies like Netflix and Spotify. Now two of those three businesses are dead.
Smashwords Founder on Oyster and Amazon Unlimited (Smashwords)
Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, discusses Oyster’s closing: “My take is that despite building a beautiful and elegantly designed app that pleased readers, Oyster was unable to make their business model work. The cost of their subscriber’s consumption exceeded Oyster’s revenue from subscriptions. Oyster faced the same headwinds Scribd is facing—namely that romance and possibly other genres were too popular with their subscribers and therefore too expensive to make profitable under the current model. The solution is you either need to pay authors less, charge readers more (or limit their reading), or something in between.”
A Graveyard of Publishing Tech Startups (Jellybooks)
In the wake of the news that ebook subscription service Oyster is closing its doors, Jellybooks put together a list of publishing tech startups that have similarly shut down operations.
A Manifesto to Reinvent the Book Marketplace (Futurebook)
If you haven’t yet thought of “the power of mobile devices in billions of pockets,” now might be a good moment. Ron Martinez, founder and chief of San Francisco-based Aerbook, suggests fighting democratization with democratization, when it comes to “an accidental monolith, say, in the U.S. Northwest.” In his manifesto for the future of the book industry, he sees going beyond digital publishing for indies to “the power of the distributed marketplace…for the benefit of everyone in our community, not just the lucky few.”
How to Market Your Book to a Niche Audience (BookBub)
Running book marketing campaigns with a specific target audience in mind will help ensure you spend your money and time on channels that reach the readers most likely to purchase your books. To do this, you need to know enough about your audience to know what kinds of books they’re searching for, and to cater your marketing copy—retailer descriptions, synopsis on your website, blog posts and interviews, tweets, etc.—to these search queries. This information will allow you to be found by your target audience and ensure that they choose your book as their next read.
Instagram Has 400 Million Users (Social Times)
Instagram is growing at quite the pace and now is roughly 1/3 as big as Facebook. The photo-sharing network announced that it has more than 400 million monthly active users.
The platform has gained 100 million users in less than a year, as the company announced in December that they were at the 300-million mark.