Round up #234: kids read e-books, “bigger than Kindle”

Round up #234: kids read e-books, “bigger than Kindle”

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Census Bureau: bookstore sales drop 1.7%

The Census Bureau regularly releases sales figures, and the numbers are out for the first 11 months of 2013 versus the first 11 months of 2012.

The bookstore figure went down from $11,913,000,000 to $11,707,000,000 (I think I’m doing those zeroes right)…down about 1.7%.

For retail stores, where the margin may not be that big to begin with, that’s a big drop.

It’s also important to note that Barnes & Noble, for example, cited considerable growth in some non-book items in its holiday report. It’s likely that traditionally published paperbooks (p-books) being sold in bookstores saw a considerably bigger drop in 2013. I think we’ll see that accelerate in 2014…especially if we can get unit numbers. I expect the price of paperbooks to generally climb in 2014.

General retail, by the way, was rising during the same period…

Two thirds of children now read e-books

Here is one likely contributor to a reduction in bookstore sales.

According to this

Digital Book World post by Jeremy Greenfield

2/3rds of children who are readers read e-books. Now, that doesn’t mean that they read them exclusively, but it is up from 54% last year.

Looking at the figures broken out by age group, the younger the child, the more likely they are to read e-books at least once a day, with the two to five year old group at 50%.

Now, a two- year old isn’t going to be actually reading the book…at that age, they’d be more likely to be using board books in the physical world, and perhaps importantly, interactive books on tablets.

Still, the trend that the younger the child, the more e-books, bodes ill for bookstores in the future.

Children’s books are a very important part of the revenue stream for most brick-and-mortar bookstores (I speak as a former manager). They are often given as gifts, and people will pay more for them (although they may also cost more to produce for the publisher).

Class action suit against Barnes & Noble

Are you a Barnes & Noble stockholder? You may want to get involved in a class action suit against the bookseller:

press release

Here is a short excerpt of the release:

“The complaint alleges that during the Class Period, Barnes & Noble issued materially false and misleading statements regarding the Company’s financial performance and future business prospects.  Specifically, the complaint alleges that defendants misrepresented or failed to disclose: (1) Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-book reader sales had dramatically declined; (2) the Company would shutter its Nook manufacturing operations altogether; (3) the carrying value of the Nook assets were impaired by millions of dollars; (4) the carrying value of the Nook inventory was overstated by $133 million; (5) the Company was expecting fiscal 2014 retail losses in the high single digits; (6) Barnes & Noble had over-accrued certain accounts receivables; (7) Barnes & Noble was unable to provide timely audited financial results for fiscal 2013; and (8) the Company might be forced to restate its previously reported financial results.”

As I’ve mentioned before, the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) has been looking into Barnes & Noble.

None of that is good for them…

In related news, I keep seeing people asking when they’ll get the money from the successfully settled class action suit against the publishers. I also hear people complaining that it’s been repeatedly been pushed back.

Here is Amazon’s

Judge Denise Cote approved the settlement on December 6th. There was a thirty-day period after that, and then there is some essentially administrative time for companies to get the payments together:

My guess? Early February, from Amazon…

Amazon working on something “bigger than Kindle”?

Well, here is an intriguing

Engadget post by Jon Fingas

It has what appears to be a fascinating invitation from Amazon’s “Kindle New Initiative” team to an event which was scheduled for December 30th.

In it, they say they are working on a new product that will be “…bigger than Kindle”.

Obviously, there isn’t a lot of information in the invitation, but it does say it is a product, not a service…and the host does have “Kindle” in the title.

What could it be?

It might not be that hard to have something that has bigger sales than the Kindle, but it would be harder to have something that was more disruptive to an industry or more noted by the media.

Sure, it could be a phone…but would that be bigger news? Maybe if it was 3-D (which has been rumored).

Could it be a TV gadget? Yes, that could fit the bill. The Google Chromecast has already outsold the Kindles…at Amazon. If they could do something that disrupted network TV delivery, that would be big enough to be considered bigger than the Kindle. A lot more people watch TV than read books.

The big money in an industry to change would be videogames, but I would guess that is less likely.

Connected home?

Kindle car?

I’ve joked about some of those.

I just tried to look a little bit more into “Kindle New Initiatives”. One thing: apparently, December 30th was a mistake…they meant January 30th. That, or they are working on time travel. 😉

I will tell you this: I didn’t get an invitation…yet. 🙂 My adult kid does live in the Boston area, Amazon, if that makes it any easier. 😉

What do you think? What, if anything, could reverse the slide in bookstore revenue? Are interactive e-books the new board books? What could Amazon be working on? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

6 Responses to “Round up #234: kids read e-books, “bigger than Kindle””

  1. Edward Boyhan Says:

    The statistic about children’s ereading habits is interesting to me. I often hear/read paeans/odes to joy for pbooks (the smell, the smell), public libraries, and small independent bookstores. I myself have warm feelings for all three of these (I still have fond memories of my mother taking me to the local public library for my first library card when I was five years old).

    Everyone 10 or older has been mostly steeped in the Pbook, library, bookstore universe — after all there wasn’t anything else. But as we age and move on, the newer generations (as your post highlights) are growing up in a different world. Pbook unit sales vs eBooks are declining; more and more libraries are becoming more and more “bookless” (public spaces with quiet places to read or talk, lots of computer terminals offering free internet access — all attempts to “save” an institution that I fear will fail over time as municipal budget constraints drive these spaces to be repurposed); and as the census numbers suggest: bookstores may be becoming less relevant (or selling lots of “non-book” stuff).

    This reminds me that I used to live not too far from Concord, NH, which today would be (if it were not the state capital) a pretty much nothing town (even with all the politicians Concord is a pretty grungy place). But starting almost 200 years ago Concord was the headquarters for a world-spanning business: the Concord stagecoach sold all over America, Europe, and Australia — the Concord stage opened the West before the advent of the railroads. Today it’s all gone — there’s nothing remaining of any of that in Concord today.

    Future generations won’t have the emotional overlays that we all have — so I expect over the long term that Pbooks will increasingly become a niche product; most small local public libraries will disappear — as will many bookstores. Even though some of us may still have warm feelings for the stagecoach: outside of museums, and a few amusement parks, they are nowhere to be found.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Good observations!

      The one thing I would say is that it is much easier to replicate and have widely distributed a digital format than it is to have something physical, like building stagecoaches. That makes me think that digital experiences are less likely to disappear, even if the delivery system does. I can play Atari 2600 games right now, if I want, as an example. I have a joystick that has a number of them installed: you plug it into a TV and are ready to go. 🙂

  2. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Oh, and on bigger than the kindle: I haven’t a clue. I will point out (as you probably noticed) that Dec 30, 2013 was not a Thursday, but January 30, 2014 is 😀 .

    Amazon did buy Liquavista from Samsung not too long ago — I’m still wondering why…

    None of the usual suspects: phone, TV appliance, watch, etc. appear likely “to disrupt the current marketplace”.

    I’ll also point out that the original invite was to an “employee hiring” event, and not a product announcement. These kinds of affairs are often filled with hyperbole, and certainly don’t involve anything we’re likely to see soon (they’re talking about hiring for a V1 product)

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Yes, you are correct.

      I think we’ll get some idea of the direction after the meeting…even when you are just hiring, you have to be looking for some sorts of expertise. You don’t have to hire marketing people right away, but if we knew they were looking for people with networking experience, or people with visual media experience, those would each tell us something.

  3. rogerknights Says:

    Re Amazon’s new product:

    “We are working on a revolutionary V1 product that will allow us to deliver digital content to customers in new ways and disrupt the current marketplace.”

    I suspect this has to do with its rumored deal with Globalstar (GSAT) for access to new bands of the spectrum to obtain innovative WiFi capabilities.

    I don’t think “product” has to mean a gadget. That word is sometimes used in a more general sense than it used to be, as a near-synonym for “deliverable” or “offering.”

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