Round up #137: Brick and mortar bookstore sales up, chance to win a $50 Amazon gift certificate

Round up #137: Brick and mortar bookstore sales up, chance to win a $50 Amazon gift certificate

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

Netpop is doing an Echo survey and giving away 10 $50 Amazon Gift Certificates

I moved most of my coverage of the

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

to another blog of mine, The Measure Circle

It seems more appropriate there, but when I did, I told readers of this blog that I would link them to interesting posts I make about it there. The Echo does, after all, read books with text-to-speech and play audiobooks, and quite a few of my readers of this blog have them.

This is also a chance that you could win one of ten $50 Amazon gift certificates…and we could all use that. 🙂

Here’s the information:

Netpop is conducting a survey about the Echo with a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift certificate

You can see the details there, but I also want to thank Netpop for how responsive they were to a concern of mine. That is customer service!

If you win one of the gift certificates, I’d appreciate hearing about it. 🙂

For the first time since the Kindle was released, brick-and-mortar bookstore sales rise

The Kindle was released in 2007.

According to this Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliot

the U.S Census Bureau has reported a drop in brick-and-mortar bookstore sales (I’m a former manager of one) every year since…until 2015.

Last year, bookstore sales rose.

While the post suggests that may be due to rising p-book (paperbook) sales and declining e-book sales, that doesn’t prove that people are abandoning e-books for print.

First, brick-and-mortar bookstore sales and p-book sales are decreasingly a one-to-one correlation. Barnes & Noble regularly touts how well their non-book sales are doing (games, toys, shirts, that kind of thing…I assume coffee counts). My guess is that’s contributing to their rise.

Second, I’ve mentioned before that e-book sales may be increasingly a shadow event…they may not be tracked by organizations that are reporting a slowing or decline in e-book sales. Yes, the Big Five (top US trade publishers) have reported declining e-book sales…but if people are buying more e-books from indies (independent publishers), there may not have been a decline overall.

I’m happy to see the increase…but I just caution about building a narrative that e-books are failing and people are returning to paper in mass numbers.

I expect some bookstores to thrive in the next ten years…but I also expect the percentage of books read as e-books versus p-books to also increase during that time.

Books I got for my birthday

It was fun to give away my books in my annual birthday promotion!

Happy my birthday, 2016!

I love giving things away!

However, yes, it’s nice to get things as well. 😉

My adult kid gave me eight (!) books in the

The Science Fiction MEGAPACK® (at AmazonSmile*)

series from Wildside.

Each book is an anthology of stories by a variety of authors, some well-known, some not as much. Many of the stories are, I believe, public domain, and some are not.

Authors in the first volume include Poul Anderson, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Philip K. Dick, just to name a few.

I’m really looking forward to reading these! I’ve already started, partially with text-to-speech in the car. My family knows that’s a habit of mine from when I was a kid…I at least briefly “use” every gift I get within a day or so. When we were kids, we were encouraged to do that so we could write honest thank you notes to everyone. 🙂 I don’t write paper thank you notes any more, but I still try to thank people.

My Significant Other got me a p-book, but as a collector’s item. 🙂 As regular readers know, I’m a big Oz fan, and have 100+ year old versions of the original L. Frank Baum books.

This is an autographed copy of

Dorothy of Oz (at AmazonSmile*)

by Roger S. Baum, a great-grandson of the original author, L. Frank Baum.

I’m going to get the Kindle version I just linked, so I can read it while keeping the other one in great shape. 🙂

Here’s one place Amazon’s X-ray for Books would come in handy!

I though the infographic in this

post by Ola Kowalczyk in EBOOK Friendly

was great fun for me!

It’s fifteen books with lots of named characters.

The Stand (at AmazonSmile*) by Stephen King

for example, has 463 named characters, according to this, and 1,344 pages…that’s almost one named character every three pages!

“18 Reasons Why Reading Is Just Like Exercising” at Book Bub

I know Book Bub as a place to get free e-books..I hadn’t realized it had become such a pop culture website full of listicles!

I enjoyed this:

18 Reasons Why Reading Is Just Like Exercising

I actually do exercise quite a bit (my baseline is ninety minutes a day), but I really appreciated these! Some are available as shirts or e-cards…

Lee Child on Amazon brick-and-mortar bookstores

I recently wrote

Rumor: is Amazon planning to open hundreds of brick-and-mortars?

I talked about what I thought it might really mean, and some possibilities for what I called “Amazon showrooms” might contain.

I thought this

The Guardian article by Lee Child

was…interesting. Child, a bestselling author, has voiced an opposition opinion to some of Amazon’s decisions in the past.

Honestly, this is an opinion piece…and I don’t want to say too much about it. It’s worth reading…I’ll just say we don’t see things the same way. 🙂

I did want to point out one thing…it’s a technique I’ve taught people myself.

I have trained trainers (and I’m a trainer myself).

One thing that comes up for trainers is credibility.

You can’t really get someone to adopt the behaviors you want if they don’t believe you know your subject.

There are a lot of little things you can do, but one is to use precise numbers.

When I taught Excel years ago, I would sometimes use this: “Does anybody know how many rows there are in Excel? 65,556.”

That’s not true any more, by the way, but just by doing that, I convinced people I knew Excel well.

Child says, “So now, rumour has it, Amazon plans to open another 299 physical bookstores (it already has one, in Seattle).”

299…a precise number, therefore increasing credibility.

I think the what set off the original broad coverage was this quotation

“You’ve got Amazon opening brick-and-mortar bookstores and their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400…”

reported in a

Wall Street Journal article by Greg Bensinger

I did a quick search, and I’m not seeing another source for a precise number of 299.

I know that is, perhaps, nitpicky. 🙂 I’m not trying to argue the number…I’m pointing out that using any specific number when one isn’t known can be an intentional rhetorical technique.

I’m sure many of you will find the article worth reading.

What do you think? Do you find it confusing when books have lots of named characters? What do you think of Lee Child’s article? Why are bookstore sales reversing the downward trend? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

*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.



7 Responses to “Round up #137: Brick and mortar bookstore sales up, chance to win a $50 Amazon gift certificate”

  1. Deanna Says:

    I think there is a large rise in indie ebook sales which is not being tracked or reported. I say this because I’m seeing a rise in indie publishing, more trad authors quietly getting rights back from the backlist and self pubbing, then putting out need books as indies. I read mostly in the romance genre so that’s where I’m seeing the movement but romance is a large part of the market. As to tracking and reporting it is still skewed and questionable. I read a blog post recently of an author who is an indie. She made the USA Today bestseller list for over 20K sales in the month but got culled out of the NYT list even though her numbers said she would have made the list. She even queried them on it and got a stock response. She concluded they had seen her numbers and left her off the list intentionally. Personally I only buy ebook said and my buying shows my buying numbers on the increase. I pick up a lot of books I may someday read while they are on special.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Deanna!

      My thoughts on the rise of indies are similar to yours.

      I find it unlikely (and too dangerous for them) that the NYT would choose a specific book and omit it from the bestseller list. The list is too important for their prestige: I would bet that many people know the term “New York Times bestseller” who never read the NYT. 🙂 That doesn’t mean that they don’t have byzantine algorithms designed to prevent certain classes of books from making the list. Indies, e-books, and children’s books have likely all been impacted in the past. Their explanation at the bottom says in part:

      “Among the categories not actively tracked at this time are: perennial sellers, required classroom reading, textbooks, reference and test preparation guides, journals, workbooks, calorie counters, shopping guides, comics, crossword puzzles and self-published books.”

  2. Phink Says:

    Thank you for sharing what you got for your 29th birthday. You are 29, right? My wife loves the Oz books and I betcha she has no idea that one exist. I’m getting it for her for Valentine’s Day tomorrow just as an extra gift. Thanx.

  3. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Well, I took the survey — it took me a lot longer than the 15 minutes they estimated. I generally don’t like surveys where they want your thoughts in a box, but when I started in on the things I wished Alexa could do, it just kept coming and coming.

    And then when I focused on problems with the current implementation, that led to a lot of comments as well.

    I had mentioned Alexa/Cortana (Siri) integration, and then there were a lot of questions about Alexa vs Cortana, don’t know whether that was because I mentioned Cortana, or they were asking everyone about Cortana? I also mentioned Siri, but there were no questions about Siri.

    There were some questions about Alexa in a smartphone — I gave some reasons why I thought it might not be as convenient, but I did mention an Alexa in a smartphone always listening, but thought battery life would be terrible.

    My sense is that if Amazon opens B&M stores, it’s going to be about a lot more than just books — in fact it wouldn’t surprise me if books were a minor feature of an Amazon B&M store.

    Lots of characters can be a problem in pBooks — much less so in eBooks. With X-ray it’s really no problem at all — sadly the last 3 or 4 books I read did not have X-ray enabled. Nevertheless on a kindle you can long press a character name, and then do a search on that name throughout the current book — you can’t do that with pBooks. Some pBooks do have elaborate Dramatis Personae pages, however.

    The whole question of p vs e; B&M vs online; reading is up vs reading is down will become a lot clearer when the post millennial generation (what do we call them anyway :grin?) grows up in an age of never being without the internet, ebooks, smartphones, Amazon, cord cutting, gaming, etc,etc. And that’s before we throw in virtual reality, augmented reality (HoloLens), driverless cars, and drones, drones everywhere.

    I take everything said by successful big name, big five published authors with a grain of salt. They are looking out for the world they know; they have had no experience of the indie way, and I suspect they feel privileged, entitled even to have been chosen and published by the big five. To me they’re like taxi drivers complaining about Uber, or hotels distraught with AirBnB (:grin)

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      I did think there was a cascading effect in the survey…that I saw different questions based on answers I’d given. Your comment helps confirm that: I didn’t get a lot of questions about Cortana. Although I did say I had used it (and Google Now and Siri), my deeper questions were about Google Now.

      I agree that a large Amazon B&M presence wouldn’t overwhelmingly be about selling p-books…that’s why I’m referring to them as Amazon showrooms.

      There have been quite a few suggestions for the generation younger than the Millenials, but I don’t think anything has really become consensus.

      Here’s an article on a few:

      I kind of like Gen Z. It makes sense sequentially (Generation X, The Millenials ((Gen Y)), then Gen Z), and hey, they are really into zombies. 😉

      On the other hand, I think one of the hallmarks of this generation is that they are decentralized. They don’t need centralized political parties, or religions, or apps…so I propose the “Decent Generation”. 😉

      More seriously, I’m not clear yet on how that generation will culturally differentiate from my adult kid’s generation…I think we need at least five more years to see that.

      Oh, one little thing: when the news media say, “driverless cars”, I sometimes e-mail them to explain that they are more appropriately “self-driving cars”. I think it scares people to tell them there won’t be something driving the car! There is a driver…it’s just not carbon-based. 🙂

  4. Wendy Frazier Says:

    The best part of the Lee Child article were the comments. (Including the part on The Martian being introduced through Amazon publishing in the first place).

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Wendy!

      Yes, I thought that was an odd choice as an exemplar of the benefits of brick-and-mortars…when it started out being given away a chapter at a time on Weir’s website, then became a Kindle bestseller before it even saw the inside of a brick-and-mortar. Being in a brick-and-mortar undoubtedly allowed it to sell many, many more copies, and likely influenced the movie being made.

      I think another reasonable hypothesis would be that the Kindle version came out a couple of years before the traditional published p-book. That’s not a typical flow, and I don’t know it to be the case…but it’s possible that The Martian’s peak year of sales as a Kindle title preceded its peak year of sales as a p-book.

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