Round up #279: abandoned Goldfinch, Apple to win appeal?

Round up #279: abandoned Goldfinch, Apple to win appeal?

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

Mass market paperback sales down 30%…in one year

According to this

Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliot

e-book sales continued to gain on printed books.

I’ve written before about how e-books have largely taken over the market niche of mass market paperbacks, seen as the inexpensive way to get books.

The growth for e-book sales isn’t as meteoric as it was. For adult trade books (the ones you buy in bookstores…not textbooks…that’s also where the 30% drop happened in mass market paperbacks), they grew half a percent year over year. Still, that’s growth…where other formats saw losses.

Children’s books (including Young Adult) seem to be compensating, meaning growth for the year.

Worth noting: the market share for e-books for adult trade is about half what it is for children’s books. That’s something else I’ve observed before: I think adults currently like to give physical books to kids, but I think in ten to twenty years, that will have changed considerably.

Could Apple win its e-book case on appeal?

Well, well, well.

It looks like it is possible (some even think likely) that Apple will win its appeal of its conviction in the Department of Justice’s e-book case. There is a lot of buzz on this: here is one article

SF Gate article

Essentially, they argue that Judge Denise Cote blew it, and misinterpreted the law.

What happens if Apple does win?

It doesn’t invalidate anything else that’s already happened, as I understand it. The other publishers which have settled gave up the right to appeal (again, I’m not a lawyer, but that’s my lay understanding of them making the agreement). The states’ Attorneys General case is also separate.

An Apple attorney made an interesting argument that the prices went up after the Apple deal because Amazon had been using its monopolistic power to keep prices low.

For me, that’s why the appeal might fail. Typically, anti-trust law is used to protect consumers, not producers (like publishers). I’m not sure a court is going to find that a monopoly which is making things better for consumers is doing something wrong…not that I’m saying Amazon was a monopoly in e-books (just really, really big).

We’ll keep an eye on this.

“…the book is back”

The book never went away. 🙂

Oh, in some segments it shed its corporeal body and became a being of light (digital, at least), but the book has always been there…and I my strong guess is that more people are reading books now than they were five years ago.

The headline quote, though, is from this interesting

The Guardian article by Robert McCrum

and is attributed to James Daunt, Chief Executive of the Waterstones bookstore chain in the UK.

I supposed one could say the business leader is “undaunted”, but that could get me in trouble in China. 😉

I recommend the article. I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, so perhaps it’s a bit more in my wheelhouse, but I think anyone might find it intriguing.

Waterstones has stabilized, and may see growth.

We can’t say the same thing about Barnes & Noble at this point.

I wonder if chain bookstores are going to be more likely to thrive outside the USA?

Digital adoption in many countries is actually higher than in the US…but that doesn’t necessarily go for e-books. The last I heard, the Japanese were slow to adopt them, for example.

Bestselling doesn’t mean most completed

Kobo has released (although I’ve looked, and can’t seem to find the full report) data on which books are bestselling for them in 2014…and which ones are completed the most.

That might be creepy, but yes, an e-book platform can typically tell how far you’ve read into a book (at least up to your last sync).

After all, how else could Amazon let you sync to the “farthest page read”?

According to this

The Guardian article by Alison Flood

fewer than half of the people (44%) who start reading Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize winner

The Goldfinch (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

finish it.

The article suggests that might be because of the length, but they also note that only 28% of readers of Solomon Northrup’s

Twelve Years A Slave (at AmazonSmile*)

finish it, and that’s about a quarter the length of Goldfinch.

I suspect it has more to do with people who aren’t serious readers getting those bestselling books, and often as gifts.

A lot of books are given as gifts. You can see how someone might give Northrup’s book as a gift to someone who loved the movie. That recipient might intend to read all of it, but just might not have the habit (and skill) of reading a book to start to finish.

Does it take skill?

I think so. I think those of us who read a lot have a lot of skills in finding the time and opportunity to do it!

Like a lot of things, you need to practice to be a great reader…many people can read, but not many people can average several books a month.

I also think people buy some of those bestsellers aspirationally: they’d like to read the book, they think they would be a better person if they read the book…the reality just overwhelms the intent.

I guess I’m saying that bestselling books are more likely than micromarket books to be started by someone who just isn’t likely to finish any book.

As I’ve written before (I’m saying that a lot this time! I guess that happens after more than five years of writing the same blog), I always finish every book I read…eventually.

I know that’s not true for many of you…you feel like you are wasting your time if you keep reading a book you don’t like. There are other books to read.

I understand that attitude…it’s just sort of the principal of the thing for me.

For example, I just finished reading a book…and I gave it one star in my

Goodreads revies

something I’ve never done before. According to Goodreads, that means I “didn’t like it”. Well, that’s true…despite thinking that it was well-written in some ways, I was offended by it. That’s not easy to do: I’m not somebody who is easily offended.

I have to say, though, that I was sorry when a commenter said they had deleted it unread based on my review.

I don’t want to hurt the author with the review…but I did want to give my honest opinion of it.

I read the whole book. Others might like it (it has an average of over three stars out of five at Goodreads, and 3.5 stars at Amazon).

I know, I know: I haven’t named the book here. When I polled my readers, book reviews by me weren’t one of their favorite parts of this blog, so I started doing them at Goodreads. I think naming the book here might have a bigger impact on it…if you are curious, you can read the review at the link above.

At any rate, I’m not surprised that the bestselling books are not the most finished. 🙂

What do you think? Are mass market books doomed? Are bookstores saved? Are you more likely to finish a book you bought for yourself than a book someone else gave you? Will Apple win on appeal? Should they? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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* 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.


5 Responses to “Round up #279: abandoned Goldfinch, Apple to win appeal?”

  1. Zebras Says:

    I have always been a book finisher, and it can be quite a chore sometimes! However, it has been easier to set aside an e-book, thinking I’ll get back to it. But then sometimes I don’t get back to it from the sheer volume of books floating around the cloud. However, the Goldfinch was written so well I couldn’t put it down, the ending was disappointing compared to the rest of the book, but anyone who got that far into the book wouldn’t have stopped because of that.

    Now the book you reviewed above, I also picked as my monthly Kindle First, it really had an intriguing description and concept. However, I started the beginning on text to speech when I needed a hands free activity the other day, and the beginning was a terrible dissapointment. I don’t consider this kind of text-to-speech sampling my official start of reading a book, so if I never go back to reading it, I will consider it a book I didn’t really start reading, rather than one abandoned.

    I do think prolonged focused reading is definitely a skill most people have to work on, especially in our modern distracted world. The e-readers actually make it easier for me, because even when I only have a two-minute window, I’m not spending most of it fumbling aroudnd finding my place, I just hit the switch and start reading!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Zebras!

      I’m guessing that we “book finishers” are in the minority, but there are some of us around. My Significant Other will threaten to throw a book across the room sometimes, but wouldn’t really do it. Oh, and the Kindle is safe! 😉

      I agree! The e-book removes a lot of friction. On our Paperwhite 2, I’m only reading one book right now. So, I just open the autosleep cover, and it’s right on the page where I left it. That would be harder with a p-book (paperbook).

  2. Edward Boyhan Says:

    As a kid I never had any trouble eating all that was put in front of me, and my reading experience has been the same — I finish what I start. I’m a serial reader — so it’s extremely rare for me to be reading more than one book at a time,

    Recently, however, when plodding through some titles that were frankly not enjoyable at all, I came to the realization that I read these things for enjoyment, and if they’re not doing that, then why should I be wasting the valuable time of my life finishing them.

    So I’ve created a cloud collection called “couldn’t finish” which currently contains 3 titles (as compared with 76 items in the “already read” collection, and 11 in the “to be read” collection — these counts are “on device” on my PW2 — globally my counts would be much higher).

    Two of the three were just tedious in the extreme to read — uninteresting characters; uninspired plotting. But one raised an issue that I’ve never encountered before. It’s a thriller that involves hacking into NY Stock Exchange computers to cause a global financial meltdown. I worked at the NYSE for 10 years and had a lot to do with the design of several of those computers, and was the guy tasked with explaining how all the computers at all exchanges in the US worked and interacted when visitors from international exchanges came to call. The explanations of the computers in the thriller were so wildly at variance with the reality that i couldn’t suspend my disbelief — I just had to stop and relegate it to the “couldn’t finish” category.

    By relegating them to a collection, I suppose, leaves open the possibility that some day I might finish them, but then someday pigs might fly as well 😀 .

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      As I’m guessing you know, I’m much more of a parallel reader. I tend to have several books going at a time. I suspect part of that might come from a desire to not have a book end…so I might postpone reading the very last bit by reading something else. 🙂

      It’s interesting how someone who is an expert on a subject can be less interested in a pop treatment of it than a layperson. I think we can see the flaws in a different way. Some people expected me to love the X-Files, and I didn’t. For one thing, I had a problem with them putting Scully in underwear in the first episode I saw…seemed exploitative in what was supposed to be a more intellectual approach, but that was just part of it. I said to someone that it would be a bit like watching a World War I movie and seeing jets in it…there were things that were just jarring. Now, a ten-year old watching a WWI movie might not have that impact, not being sure when jets were first utilized in warfare…

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        Jets were first used at the end of WW2 — most popularly by the Germans with their ME 262 jet fighter, but the Brits had also fielded the Gloster Meteor.

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