Facebook: The World’s Largest Bookstore?

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

facebook, amazon, bookstores, ebooks, e-readingA month or so ago, Facebook reported its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2015, and let’s just say they crushed the ball. Knocked the cover off. Pointed to the bleachers and then hit it out of the park.

The big moneymaker was its burgeoning video ad business. Facebook states that people are watching 100 million hours of video per day on its social platform. More than 500 million people watch Facebook video every day. Just let that sink in. Facebook isn’t simply a video discovery platform; it’s becoming the video discovery platform. And it’s still growing.

(Worth noting, YouTube is still the market leader and gets roughly 4 billion views per day, but much of the discovery of the new videos is happening on Facebook).

While people in the publishing industry may find this interesting, most won’t find it particularly relevant. To ignore this news, however, would be a monumental mistake. Don’t underestimate what Facebook is and what it is becoming. Facebook is the world’s best discovery platform, and it makes money by going after digital content that keeps people spending more time on Facebook. And after video, there is a clear line to ebooks.

As dominant as Amazon currently is in ebooks, the retailer’s major weakness is discovery. More often than not, users have to find a book somewhere else and then go to Amazon and purchase it. There are additional, unnecessary steps in their process, and the company has no easy way to remedy it.

Facebook, on the other hand, could solve these issues almost overnight. No one has a crystal ball to see what Facebook will do or when it will do it, but there are a number of signs that point to a future in which books are found, purchased and shared on Facebook.

Consider the following:

• Facebook has more than a billion users on its site every day. Friends and family are sharing everything they are watching and reading, and Facebook is getting better and better at finding ways to keep people on the site. Articles are short reads and people can leave quickly. But if Facebook had a reader for ebooks, the amount of time people would stay on the site would climb exponentially.
• Facebook makes money primarily on ad dollars. If video usage increases, video ad dollars increase. If ebooks and e-reading became another arrow in the platform’s discovery quiver, ad dollars would increase from companies targeting these users and from content creators who would spend more to promote their content.
• The bookstore of the future is not centralized. It is decentralized, and it will give readers the ability to buy their books wherever they are, whenever they want. Readers will get their ebooks over wifi at Starbucks as a reward for buying their Under Armour running gear from the local community college, in the Target check-out line, in their McDonalds Happy Meal, or on Facebook—and it will all be readable on one e-reader. Perhaps the Facebook e-reader. And it will give users the ability to read and share in one location.
• While Facebook getting into ebooks would not decimate Amazon’s bottom line—as most of the retailer’s revenue comes from various others sources—it would be an emotional kick in the groin. Bezos built his business on the foundation of books. And Zuck could usher in a changing of the guard.
• Zuck just became a billionaire and a dad. And he cares deeply about making the world a better, more connected place. He has even started his own book club so that others can have access to the same education he is getting through books. Don’t underestimate his desire to do something good with all he has been given.

Last time I checked, I wasn’t invited to the Facebook Board of Directors meetings, so I don’t have any direct knowledge of how the company wants to expand. But I know it does want to expand. And when it is finished conquering the land of digital video, it’s just a small step to arrive in the land of digital books.


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6 thoughts on “Facebook: The World’s Largest Bookstore?

  1. Yoav Lorch

    Jason –
    I heartily agree with you. The FB opportunity for publishers and readers is brimming with potential.
    I’d be happy to chat with you over this and some other opportunities we are cooking at Total Boox.

    Reply
  2. Palessa

    I am not surprised by this and would welcome this as an additoonal bookstore. I already do a lot of advertising on FB through events, giveaways and ads and despite what people may think, FB is THE place to be more visible. It is a smart company and with the power of Instagram, that I believe is JUST getting warmed up, this could be exciting. I like this idea.

    Reply
  3. Mark Williams - The International Indie Author

    There’s a big difference between selling direct on Facebook as a third part seller, and an actual Facebook ebook store. You’re not comparing like with like. In the Kindle store we do not sell our books as third-party sellers. We load them to the Kindle store and they are sold as Kindle content. At best we get our

    Over the past six years indie authors have sent countless millions of sales to Amazon through Facebook. Facebook knows what links are posted on Facebook and it knows which links are clicked through. It must realise it is one of Amazon’s biggest traffic drivers, and a massive free advert for the Amazon store.

    A good reason why people might want to buy ebook is on Facebook would be that they actually could. Not from some third-party seller with a handful of titles and a store they don’t know exists, but from a fully-fledged ebook store carrying millions of titles.

    An ebook store would no more clutter up Facebook than the Kindle store clutters up Amazon. It would be a one-click portal to the Facebook ebook store, just like on Amazon.

    You say there isn’t much money in ebooks and therefore Facebook won’t be interested. Exactly how much money is there is most things Facebook has been doing over the past decade? How much money is there in Free Basics, for example?

    Facebook already has the traffic of ebook buyers looking for ebooks. It’s not like setting up a massive ebook store from scratch and then trying to find a customer base while competing with Amazon. Rather, Facebook is busily sending that same customer base to Amazon and getting nothing back for its troubles. It’s not like a massive investment in infrastructure is needed. It’s not like Facebook is going to struggle to find content. The big publishers will be fighting one another jump aboard a serious rival to Amazon, and indie authors are already obsessively sticking their titles on Facebook. It’s not like authors and publishers will need educating.

    A dedicated Facebook ebook store is a great idea and, as Facebook moves to its next level.

    Reply
    1. Sam

      Since you are a indie author, so I totally understand why you said this. But as a reader, I think is good enough of current situation. Facebook has no reason to operate their own bookstore. it’s a media, not a store to sell something.

      I will follow my favourite authors on facebook, maybe buy their books on facebooks sometimes, but I will definitely buy most of my books on Amazon or other bookstore.

      Reply
  4. zaki

    well even tough FB video discovery now in its remarkable. Buat it get complained by the video maker, who are usually a channel owner of youtube. So we dont know actually problem will swon in the future. But remebering some of the old problem, I think fb will not grow the way we think it will

    Reply

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