Round up #290: bargain bestsellers, e-book marketshare

Round up #290: bargain bestsellers, e-book marketshare

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

E-book marketshare of spending rises 25% in 2014

According to this

Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliott

reporting on a Nielsen Books & Consumers survey, new book spending on e-books in the USA rose to 15% of the total in 2014, as opposed to 12% in 2013…a 25% gain.

That’s right…only fifteen percent.

A bit of a shock, perhaps…and remember, they are zero percent of used book sales, although Amazon has looked into that possibility, as I’ve reported before

Judge rules against ReDigi, making Amazon used e-books more likely

While that 15% is based on spending, not surprising, the number of units is higher. The units are how many books are sold/licensed, versus how much is paid for them. Since, on balance, p-books (paperbooks) cost more than e-books, we would expect their unit share to be higher than their spending share.

Interestingly, though, that share is still only 21%.

Let’s see…21 is forty percent higher than 15, so that could be about right.

There are a lot of very important trends (well, data points…we don’t know if they are really trends yet)…I don’t want to take too much away from the article, so I’m going to recommend you read it.

I’ll just point out a couple of things, and then let you read the details:

  • Online bookselling may be losing marketshare
  • Bookstore chain marketshare is way down
  • EBR (E-Book Readership) was down…both for the NOOK and the Kindle

 Amazon’s change in Cloud Drive plans…how it helps you

I have to say, Amazon does not do a great job of explaining things to people when they introduce a new feature, service, or device.

Part of it is most people’s natural skepticism (I have a genetic abnormality…I’m an optimist). 😉 They naturally expect that any change is going to be for the bad.

I’ve taught change management before, and this is the biggest tip I can give you there.

Whenever you announce a change, always tell them what is not changing first.

For example, if you restructure your company, your employees will be so concerned that their jobs are going to be eliminated that they won’t hear anything else you say until you address that.

So, you start out with something like, “First, let me assure you: no one here is having their job eliminated, and no one is getting a pay cut. You will continue to do the same work you’ve been doing, which we really value. What’s happening is that management is changing, and some of you may have a different boss…”

In this case, Amazon could have led (on the page, not necessarily in the press release…maybe in an e-mail) with “We have some exciting new plans available for the Amazon Cloud Drive. This will not affect the free storage customers already get for their Amazon purchases, and will actually increase the storage they get when using Amazon’s Personal Documents service…at no additional cost.  New options include…”

That’s right. I’ve seen many threads in the

Amazon Kindle Forum (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

where people were concerned that either Amazon was going to start charging them for storing their Kindle store purchases, or charge them for any amount of personal documents they are storing using the Personal Documents service.

I have confirmed with Amazon: neither of those are true.

This is what I asked Amazon about, which was confirmed:

Under the new system:

Non-Prime member/non-Fire owner without a plan:

Unlimited Kindle Personal Docs. They do not count towards a storage limit, because they count for zero.

No other free non-Kindle Personal Doc storage (they used to have some).

Prime member/Fire owner without upgrading:

Unlimited photo storage
Unlimited Kindle Personal Docs storage
5GB of storage for other things, like spreadsheets and presentations

Note that there is a group that has a loss from this change. If someone is not a Prime member and does not have a Fire, they no longer have free storage for things like spreadsheets.

However, the plus that everybody got is no limit on storage of personal documents.

Meanwhile, in the UK

In the first article, I was talking about the USA.

Well, we also have statistics for the UK…and e-books are doing much better there!

According to this

The Bookseller article by Joshua Farrington

e-book sales are 30% of units in the UK, more than a third higher than in the USA.

Not only that, more money was spent online on books (not just e-books) than in stores…for the first time.

The thrust of the article was concern expressed about Amazon’s dominance (particularly by Tim Walker, President of the Booksellers Association.

According to Walker, Amazon has 95% of e-book sales in the UK…and that is “damaging”.

I didn’t see particular evidence that it was…what was cited were problems that other people were having with e-book sales, but that doesn’t mean cause and effect.

Still, I leave it to you to read the article and decide…

Amazon’s Editors’ Picks…find bargains, but not indies

One of the “aisles” Amazon has is called

Amazon’s Editors’ Picks (at AmazonSmile*)

I haven’t looked at it much.

The first thing that struck me was that every book I saw on the front page was from a traditional publisher.

When I’m looking for discovery for books, I’m not looking for the ones which are featured in People Magazine…I want an editor to tell me about something that’s new to me.

That was a bit of a negative.

Then, I was going to do a price analysis to compare them to the overall Kindle store bestsellers…and noticed that some of them are on really good sales!

If you were looking for a gift for somebody who maybe didn’t read 100 books a year, this might be a good place to find a deal.

Some examples:

  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: $4.20 (less than half the paperback price)
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand: $4.99 ($9.60 in paperback)
  • The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown: $2.99 ($10.20 in paperback)
  • Station Eleven: A novel by Emily St. John Mandel: $2.99 ($12.33 in paperback)

I’m going to keep that in mind when gift giving occasions arise!

What do you think? Is the e-book marketshare growth slowing down? If so, why? Is it temporary? Will we ever get to more than 50% unit sales being e-books in the USA? Why are e-books a bigger force in the UK? 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.

6 Responses to “Round up #290: bargain bestsellers, e-book marketshare”

  1. Edward Boyhan Says:

    As to the e-book stats, I think book reading in the US is probably on a long term decline, which was possibly masked in recent years due to the novelty effect of the whole ebook thing. As to the UK — well they’re more high brow than us low class “common” Americans (:grin) so they read more nicht wahr? Or perhaps the ebook phenomenon is on a later schedule there, and they’re still in the “novelty” phase.

    Your comments about personal document storage confused me — so I went back to the PR — nowhere do they talk about “Personal Documents”. Then I went to my own Cloud Drive management page. There it showed me as having unlimited photo storage (I’m a prime member), and 5GB under Prime for all other file types. Then because I’m also a Fire tablet owner, I get another 5GB for all non-photo file types. So I have unlimited photo storage, and 10 GB for everything else. I only use ACD to store personal docs that I send to my Kindle Fires (I mostly store everything else on MS Onedrive where I have unlimited all file type storage because I have an Office 365 subscription which I get as part of being an MS alumni :grin) — I have no photos, music or what not out on ACD. It shows that I have about 7.5 GB free on my ACD.

    What has apparently changed is that they are no longer partitioning ACD storage between Personal docs, and everything else. It used to be that there was a 2 GB limit on personal document storage which came out of your 5GB or 10 GB “free” ACD allocation. They’ve removed that partition so now you can have as many personal docs on ACD that will fit within your ACD allocation. Unless you buy their unlimited everything plan, personal doc storage is limited by your ACD allocation. I also checked the help files for the personal document service — there is nothing mentioned there about “unlimited” personal doc storage. The 50 MB limit on individual documents is still in place (you can around this by hooking your fire up to a USB port and sideloading large items onto your fire, but it will not then be stored on ACD.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Sorry if that was confusing.

      What Amazon has confirmed for me is that personal documents (those are book type files) are not counted against your total storage at all…so it doesn’t really have to do with partitioning. It’s possible that they are wrong, but I got the information from a pretty reliable source at Amazon.

      They may be shown to you within the partition, but I don’t think you’d really know if they count or not until you fill it up…

      As to your observations about the UK…you might be right about it be a younger market (at least as far as the Kindle is concerned), but I don’t think that explains the higher marketshare. The US market didn’t hit a 30% unit share and then backtrack, after all. 🙂

      I do think e-books have increased reading in the USA…but I don’t have stats enough to comment about what the difference might be in the UK.

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        When I go to my ACD management page, the old 2GB personal document partition is gone, but my photos are shown as unlimited, and my personal documents (about 2.7 GB) are shown as residing in my 10 GB of free space.

        They are showing the usage as pie charts and the strong implication is that my personal documents are consuming 2.7 GB of my 10 GB, and it further states that I have only 7.3 GB of space remaining — perhaps there’s a definitional issue as to what constitutes a personal doc, but if I go to the manage my content page it shows the stuff I have on ACD are noted on the MMC page as personal documents — they are mostly PDFs, and text files sent from my Windows Explorer application using the Send to Kindle app (which stores everything the app sends to my Kindle Fire on ACD as part of the transfer operation).

        Stuff like ebooks that you buy from Amazon, however, are stored on their cloud, and that stuff is NOT counted against ACD allocations — that stuff doesn’t appear on ACD at all.

        Perhaps it’s a product release timing issue?

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        Clearly, the two of us are being given different indications from Amazon. 🙂

        We’ll have to wait and see. My intuition is that what you are seeing just hasn’t been updated properly yet (although you do indicate a change).

  2. rogerknights Says:

    Paper books in the UK are at least 1/3 higher-priced than in the US, I’ve heard. That’s likely because of 1) their smaller population (buying pool) and the higher cost of paper there (no native forests to tap). So e-books would be more attractive bargains there, one would think.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Roger!

      That’s a good point. I think there is also an issue of market size affecting the price, and there may be a number of imports there as well…not sure.

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