Archive for Business News
There is some big news that just happened in the publishing industry today. Cary Goldstein has joined Simon & Schuster as the new Vice President, Executive Director of Publicity and Senior Editor. In his new role, Goldstein will supervise the Simon & Schuster publicity department and acquire a select number of fiction and nonfiction titles.
Goldstein was previously publisher of Twelve at the Hachette Book Group where he oversaw publicity campaigns for God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, War by Sebastian Junger, Columbine by Dave Cullen, The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner, Losing Mum and Pup by Christopher Buckley, and True Compass by Edward M. Kennedy.
Deb Futter will be taking Cary Goldsteins former position at Twelve, she arrived from Grand Central by way of Doubleday in 2007. “For the past 5 years, Deb Futter has done a brilliant job as Vice President, Editor in Chief of GCP, and now she will add to her responsibilities the role of Publisher of Twelve,” Jaime Raab, the president and publisher of Grand Central Publishing, wrote. “Now, I can’t wait to see what’s ahead for Twelve, and feel confident that Deb will take the imprint in bold and successful new directions.”
Proquest has officially acquired Ebook Library and this new acquisition greatly enhances the the ability for Proquest to expand its digital offerings in Academia. The acquisition supports ProQuest’s overall goal of enhancing the research experience through seamless discovery of content across multiple formats, including books, journals, dissertations, newspapers, and video.
Not that many people might be familiar with Proquest and what the company actually does. I spoke with Kevin Sayar, Senior Vice President of Workflow Solutions, and we discussed what the acquisition means and what Proquest is doing on the digital book front.
Kevin originally joined Proquest when his company, Ebrary, was acquired by Proquest in early 2011. At the time, Proquest did not really have any sort of stake in digital books and the deal with Ebrary solved that issue. With the new deal for EBL, it adds a copious amount of books into its digital portfolio. Right now, Proquest has over one million academic titles and deals with over 600 publishers.
Proquest currently does business with schools, government, libraries, and private academic businesses. Its entire business model is centered around textbooks and e-textbooks. 60% of its current business operations are focused on the US, but they do have a heavy presence in Canada too. The EBL deal opens up a number of territories and business dealings in Japan, Australia, and Europe. Going forward, Proquest is focusing hard on Germany.
What exactly is involved in opening up a new market for Proquest and e-textbooks in general? It often begins with talking to local publishers who are in the business of serving their own markets. Often, they do not have any sort of digital presence and Proquest helps to digitize their existing assets. Kevin cited Germany as a specific example of how his team leverages the large company and bundles a copious amount of English content alongside German content that traditionally is only available in the printed format. Proquest then markets its growing library to schools, libraries and other businesses within Germany.
Overdrive, 3M, and Baker and Taylor have become synonymous when we think of borrowing ebooks from the library. Often, these companies only deal with consumer trade for fiction and nonfiction titles. When it comes to academic books, we often don’t hear much about what companies libraries often deal with. Kevin mentioned that Proquest currently deals with over 4,000 libraries and provides them the type of electronic academic books needed to assist students and the public for research.
Normally, when we hear about companies getting bought out, they often get absorbed into the parent company. Proquest operates quite differently and allows its business units to have a large degree of autonomy. This is because the businesses purchased are very specialized and all of them bring something new to the table. Obviously milestones, goals, and other incentives make the subsidiaries try to maximize profits, but it’s good to know the key management and technologies are operated by the people who know them best. This also ensures that clients and businesses are still dealing with the same reps and the only thing that changes is the amount of money they have to invest in marketing, leveraging, and developing new products and services.
What is next for Proquest? Now that the acquisition is over, the company is working on a massive new portal solution for schools, libraries, and corporate clients to easily manage buying and monitoring existing content. It will allow people to track library loans, circulation figures, and essential metrics.
The USA Justice Department was looking into allegations that Apple colluded with major publishers to establish agency pricing. This created an environment where the publishers dictated the pricing for digital books and created an outcry in Europe and the USA against price fixing. All of the publishers have settled their cases by abandoning the agency model for two years and allocating funds for refunds and discounts. Court documents made available today have Apple firing back at the Justice Department.
A court document filed April 26th and was made public today. It gives us an indication on Apple’s intentions. At the time, Apple said that the major publishers were locked in a battle with online retailer Amazon over selling books for too cheap. Apple has claimed that the publishers developed the agency model independently and were partly influenced by the 30% royalty that Apple demands from all digital content sales.
The essence of the 81 page document Apple submitted to the courts had the company exchanging proposals and counter-proposals with each other to get ebooks in the iBooks store with the launch of the original iPad. The trick was to offer ebooks where Amazon did not, and severely undercut them in price. Convincing publishers to offer ebooks with Apple for the same price as Amazon was not a very popular idea. In order for the publishers to not lose money selling through Apple, they had to establish unified pricing to even the playing field.
Who colluded with who? Did Apple parlay the deal directly with publishers? Did the publishers act in concert with each other to form a cartel? Did Apple mandate the price fixing measures? These are the main questions that Apple has to answer for the Justice Department, and it is likely this case will drag on for another year or two.
Hachette Book Group has publicized its Q1 financial results and digital is on the rise within the company. eBook sales from Hachette now account for over 34% of the company’s entire revenue stream, and tangible books increased by over 14.9%. These increases were partly attributed to a number of their titles hitting the bestseller list, including James Patterson, David Baldacci, and Brad Meltzer.
Not only is Hachette making strong gains in the digital sector in the US, but its international efforts are also paying dividends. In the United Kingdom, ebook sales now account for over 12.4% of sales, up from 9.5% a year ago.
In France, net sales were up significantly (General Literature up 40%) mainly due to the release of the last two installments of EL James’ Fifty Shades trilogy. In the UK and Commonwealth, sales were down slightly (-0.2%), with strong literature sales in the UK offsetting a challenging bookseller retail environment in Australia and New Zealand.
Hachette is seeing strong growth due to the number of bestselling titles in their portfolio. The company actually leads all major USA publishers in having over 80 titles on various bestseller lists for the year so far. Obviously the company has a sound digital strategy, but one of their architects Maja Thomas, senior vice president of Hachette Digital, announced she was leaving the company.
The Vancouver Public Library is the largest library in British Columbia and it is poised to do something very innovative. In 2015, the library will gain control over the top two floors and convert them into a huge urban green space. There will be food vendors and people will able to quietly read 9 stories above the city in a tranquil environment. No library has done this before and it will set a great precedent in urban planning.
The Urban Green Space is going to be built in 2015, when the current BC Provincial Government lease expires on the top two floors. This will give the library the entire building and will allow for two floors to be devoted towards gardens and boutique bistros. The intention is to give people a quiet place to relax and enjoy reading an e-reader or book in the sun. There will be almost 40,000 square feet of room, all designed by Cornelia Oberlander. It will be open to the public, giving anyone who’s interested a chance to see a spectacular city view, and Vancouver sure is pretty in the summer.
We sat down with the Sandra Singh, Chief Librarian and Christina Castell, Director of Technology today. We bantered about the new green space and the rise of digital ebooks and how a large Canadian library copes with lending to a large population.
The Vancouver Public Library has a yearly budget of around $200,000 for ebooks to be loaned out. Most of the content comes from Overdrive, which handles the distribution and most titles. TAdditional funds are used for ejournals and other digital music/videos. Overall, digital accounts for 20% of the entire annual budget and should be growing in the next five years. One of the more interesting aspects of the library is how it deals with buying new ebooks. Christina said “With titles from Hachette and other publishers, we look at the digital hold list and see how many people are wanting to get a hold of the ebook. For every six holds, we generally buy another version of the title, its most cost effective and we are able to meet the demand.”
With the rise of digital, in a major library, you would figure that there would be a decrease in the number of people visiting. This is not the case, the library is actually seeing a fairly stable population of kids, students, and older folk. One of the most popular programs is geared towards digital literacy. Sandra said “We make big decisions everyday when we read newspapers, blogs, and television. Most of the content is geared towards corporate interests or has obvious bias. It is critically important that people learn how to dissect media and understand what to share online and what not to share.” I think it’s excellent that the library does its best to help people understand online digital media and teach people how to look critically at the media they consume. It also runs a ton of young student and early childhood educational sessions, to give them a chance to discover real books.
How exactly are libraries changing with the growth of digital? Sandra mentioned that we are seeing some profound movements in the last few years. “Libraries in the past had people doing research for their homework or hold lectures. Today, we are noticing an increase in people working in groups and collaborate in a tech rich environment. We also are seeing lots of bedroom businesses get more social by working in the library.”
We have all heard about how American Libraries work, from attending events like ALA, but Canadian libraries work in a very different way. In British Columbia, there is a program called “Shared Collections.” It allowed all of the libraries to buy titles from a shared list and those ebooks are available to be delivered to ANY library in BC. This method used to be the preferred way libraries could buy digital content, until Overdrive changed their terms. Overdrive licensing and terms mandate for large libraries, that books can only be loaned out in the libraries specific district, so the shared version is now limited to BC’s smaller libraries.
Christina provided some insight on her library and most others in Canada are handling big six content. We all hear about Simon & Schuster and Penguin running pilot programs in the US, but we rarely see those titles actually come to Canada. A task force was established in 2011 that talks to publishers and the government about getting more content into Canada. They are hoping to attain more front-list titles becoming available and abide by a new checkout limit of 40 loans, before they need to buy the book again. They seem to have all of this sorted out and the library system is taking bids to augment an existing ILS system, so publishers will have an easier time offering titles for sale. This eventually will provide libraries all over Canada with the ability to tap into the same online bookstore to buy titles for their locations. Publishers are setting the terms of the sale, so its a win/win for almost everybody involved. The system is set to launch within the next twelve months, but likely will take longer for the logistics to be all planned out. Still, not having to forge an alliance with Overdrive, 3M, or other companies is a pleasant alternative.
In the end, Canadian libraries play an important role in the future, despite the growth of digital. Sandra sagely said, “Things will really change in the next decade, some of what we’ll do is still buy books on behalf of the community. Libraries will move towards information facilitation faster and give people a place of understanding. We want to build on establishing a reader culture, allow people to be more tolerant, understanding, and empathetic. Reading instills these sorts of values in people, we’re not a school, or a University, but here is where learning happens.”
The Good e-Reader Magazine was a pet project of ours when we started the website, many years ago. After a long hiatus, we have decided to bring it back in a new modern look! We have partnered with online magazine creator Glossi to make the Good e-Reader Magazine available on any PC, MAC, or tablet!
The intention behind the the new Good e-Reader Magazine is to provide expanded coverage on all of the events we attend. Obviously, when we visit major publishing shows like Book Expo America, Digital Book, American Library Association, Frankfurt Book Fair, London Book Fair, and others, we cannot report on every single thing on our website. Our magazine will basically cover the entire event, from beginning to end, to allow people who couldn’t make it a chance to live vicariously through us.
The next issue is poised to launch in the first week of June with Book Expo America and SID Display Week coverage! The June issue will feature tons of exclusive video, interviews, pictures, and articles that won’t be found anywhere else! Below is a taste of what to expect in future issues. Let us know your thoughts!
Bexar County in San Antonio will be launching the first pure digital library in the United States in August. The publicly funded library has raised over $200,000 to finance its new digital library and will feature 48 computers, 300 e-readers, and three Discovery Terminals via 3M.
We talked to Laura Cole, Special Projects Coordinator of BiblioTech about the origins of the upcoming digital library and the mentality of the staff going into it. “Buxer County has never run a library before and all of the surrounding county’s are limited to being established within city limits. We have been looking at ways to enhance the library services for people that normally don’t have access. How could we address this in a cost effective manor? In the past five years the expansion of digital books and their availability to libraries is significant.”
She went on to say “We first started discussing the feasibility of an all digital library in August 2012 and did our major research in September 2012. In December we the plan basically all ironed out, factoring in the pros and cons. We had appointments with various judges and the commissar’s court in January. This is when we publicly announced the new project and its tentative launch date. We have a county owned facility that featured 4800 sq.ft that wasn’t even being used! This particular location is ideal, it’s a under-served area of San Antonio. It features many schools nearby and a seniors center across the street.”
The main selling point behind this library is that its the first tangible location that will feature intangible content. There has been no precedent or case studies that have ever been done for this type of location and it has been a challenging task to plan out all aspects. Laura cited a number of organizations that have helped along the way “We spoke with many academic libraries, including the UTSA library on logistics. The Texas State Library Commission has also been very helpful.”
There are many digital library content distributors out there, that help libraries formulate an ebook system. The 3M Cloud Library managed to win the contract and has been very influential about helping guide Bibliotech. When it opens in August, the library will have 3 Discovery Terminals that will allow patrons to browse the wide selection of ebooks and load them onto the 3M Android/iOS apps, or one of the 300 e-readers. Recently, Hachette and Penguin have joined the library bandwagon, so there will be plenty of books to borrow.
When a library goes digital, there is often the question of data. How exactly do you go about reporting book purchases, loans, statistics, and other metrics? Laura said, “3M provides lots of data with their online reporting tools and how the content is being used. All of our information is public and has to be reported and how funds are being spent and our annual reports.” One of the big difficulties surrounding the digital library is the tangible and intangible. It might be easy to report on digital usage, but what about the metrics of e-readers being loaned out, people coming into the library and the average duration of a computer session? These are challenges facing the library that there is no current solution for.
It is safe to say that this library is getting a massive amount of media attention. Major news outlets and online websites have been reporting on the first pure digital library in the USA. Needless to say, this is very moving for everyone involved. Laura finalized “all of the press in print and digital are a driving factor for us, all the positive press helped us validate that the world is ready for us. People really want this, want to know how it works, what it can do for them, it’s so edgy.”
Over the course of the last few decades, Baker and Taylor has developed many longstanding relationships with publishers and content providers for the physical distribution of books. These relationships helped B&T to get its Axis 360 program off the ground and start facilitating the content digital content delivery for libraries all over the world.
Last fall, Baker and Taylor introduced a major addition to its digital platform, which saw the inclusion of EPUB and PDF support. Recently, the company expanded on this new platform and debuted its new AxisReader app for Android and iOS. I spoke with Michael Bills, Director for Sales, Digital Products, and he commented, “We wanted to create that seamless experience you couldn’t accomplish with the browser. It was important to easily find your library, check out ebooks and read within the app.”
Baker and Taylor has massive penetration in facilitating digital and traditional books to libraries in the USA. Currently, over 65% of all libraries currently deal with Axis 360, and this has allowed them to gain the attention of many larger publishers for a series of ebook pilot projects. Michael said ” We approached all the big six publishers several years ago when we first started the axis 360 service. We had to educate the publishers and libraries how the entire process works.”
Hatchet and Penguin were the first major publishers to initiate an ebook lending pilot project with major libraries in New York. Queens, Brooklyn, and the New York Public Library were selected as the testbed to gauge interest. The libraries participating in the test each agreed to provide digital circulation and metrics to the publisher to show them a myriad of factors. Libraries, for the most part, have a ton of big data that is often hard to sift through. To make it easier on the publishers, Queens is providing Baker and Taylor with the raw data. B&T then makes it a bit easier to digest and sends it away to Simon and Schuster. Michael said, “There are some big challenges within the current ILS systems to compile data within specific time periods to get the information we need. ”
Many of the major ILS systems were initially developed to handle the loaning and purchasing of physical books. Digital has been a huge burden for the existing systems and most distribution companies don’t play nice with each other. Most libraries in the USA now deal with more than one digital platform and harmonizing the entire pipeline can be difficult. One of the big barriers to overcome involves providing comprehensive analytics, discovery, and metrics, without having to rely on third party programs, such as Collections HQ.
Axis 360 and the Queens Public Library have just struck an agreement to incorporate ebooks into Queens’ system. This was a massive contract for Baker and Taylor and one of the major proponents that helped make the deal happen was the recent announcement of the availability of Simon and Schuster titles. Queens is one of three major libraries in the New York area to take part in this new pilot project. It will showcase a copious amount titles from many bestselling authors. The pilot went live on April 30th and seems to be doing well so far.
One of the most interesting aspects about the Simon and Schuster trial was the ability for libraries to offer the chance for patrons to buy titles. In order to accommodate this, Baker and Taylor will be making adjustments to its “My Library Bookstore” system. If you are not familiar with this platform, it is an online e-commerce website that allows patrons to buy physical books from libraries doing business with Baker and Taylor, and have them delivered to their homes. By the end of May, Axis 360 will be including ebooks and audiobooks to be sold via their online bookstore. This will allow Queens to offer the ability to purchase titles, which will result in a split revenue share between the publisher, library, and Baker and Taylor.
Overdrive and is currently the market leader in ebook distribution for libraries and has paved the way for Axis 360 and 3M to get into the game. The main factor that distinguishes Baker and Taylor from the competition is that the company sells both the physical and digital editions of the same book. Michael told me, “We are reaching an inflection point, ebooks were a novelty and now they are just another format that libraries adopt into their routine structures. Offering both, takes us to the next step and looking at a title, and giving libraries the costs of both.”
Many small to mid-level libraries often wrestle with the decision of what eBooks to purchase. When you look at a catalog of fifty thousand titles, it can often be quite daunting to decide on what is best. Collection developers at Baker and Taylor are working on series of standard digital packages to make the decision making process easier for smaller and mid level libraries. Michael elaborated, “We have ongoing plans to deliver new title notifications, directly to new users of our system. Libraries can opt into our First Look Notification plans, so they can evaluate new tiles from various genres, such as adult, children’s, YA, and Non-fiction.” All of this will give the libraries a head-up on what new titles are coming out, on any given month and allocate the funds to make the purchases.
Baker and Taylor is a company that is never idle for long. They are constantly developing new technologies and getting major publishers on-board with their content delivery systems. Being busy, does not disrupt the core business of getting more libraries involved and educating them on the virtues of digital. Currently, they are expanding outside of the USA into Australia, New Zealand, Canada and have plans for Singapore and other Pan-Pacific regions.
E Ink Holdings, best known for the screens found on the Kobo Aura, Kindle Paperwhite, and Nook Simple Touch, is raising some money. The company is selling 60 million new shares in a bid to get enough working capital to sustain its business.
The e-paper company has seen some dramatic loses in 2012 of around $25.4 million. The company axed its former CEO Scott Liu, who had been with the company since 2009. E Ink is in a state of flux, as the current climate of the e-reader market is not enough to remain profitable.
In order to sell more shares of the company, E Ink was showing off Seiko electronic watches, credit cards, and electronic shelf labels at an event in Taiwan. The company is hoping to diversify the number of products in its portfolio and reassure investors.
We have talked to a number of key people in the e-paper industry and they are drawing parallels between e-Ink and Neonode. Neonode once had 80% of the e-reader industry using its IR display screens. The first generation Kindle, Kobo, and Nook e-Readers all used this technology to power their screens. The biggest customer Neonode had was Amazon, which accounted for 40% of their business in 2011. Barnes and Noble was the second largest customer with 26%, followed by Sony at 21%, and Kobo with 11%. This amounted to a grand total of $5.8 million dollars earned in 2011. In early, 2012, the CEO of Neonode announced that it lost Amazon as a customer and then lost everyone else. Most of these companies switched to the capacitive touch screen technology and higher resolution that E Ink was offering.
The industry is worried right now that E Ink might meet the exact same fate as Neonode, and both companies have failed to remain relevant outside of the e-paper segment. Still, E Ink does have contracts with a number of large e-reader companies, and its business should be sustainable for the next twelve months. There will be a new Kindle, Nook, and Sony e-reader released within the next five months using the new HD displays.
Hotels are starting to adopt tablets more and more into the business and guests are starting to benefit. In our last article we talked about a recent survey of 53 hotels across the USA found that 82% of guests who had access to the in-suite tablets used them an average of 11 times per stay. Of the guests who used the hotel in-room tablets, 41% ordered in-room food, 21% requested a wake-up call, and 7% called for a housekeeper, according to the study by Intelity. Many guests who were surveyed said they would visit the same hotel again during their travels, because hardly any hotels actually make them available to their guests.
One of the best examples of a hotel adopting tablets is a high-tech boutique hotel called CitizenM, in London. The hotel forgoes the traditional concierge. Instead, guests check themselves in and out on touch computer screens. In each room, a personalized Samsung Galaxy tablet greets guests and lets them control everything from the blinds to the lights on the tablet. Internet access is free and there’s no password. Netflix movies can be watched on the TV from the tablet for no charge. CitizenM says it wants to make guests feel like they’re at home.
Today, we are going to look into each aspect of tablet integration in the traditional hotel and make suggestions on how they can easily be implemented into the existing structure without a ton of investment.
Tablets at the Concierges
Often the concierges need to know the lay of the land and point out local attractions and must see events. Tablets can benefit this sector because they don’t need to carry around bulky maps or outdated pamphlets. Digital tablets can give guests the ability to utilize Google Maps on how to get to a particular destination. Often digital is the best way to go because maps and guidebooks often get outdated very quickly, new restaurants pop up all the time and digital is the way to go.
InterContinental Hotels was the first hotel network to supply their concierges with tablets in April, 2010 in order to provide rapid response to their clients’ requests.
I would recommend not only to outfit your front-end staff with with tablets but to make them available in the hotel lobbies. There is plenty of out of the box Guide software that would inform the guests of local area activities and businesses, including restaurants, bars, nightclubs, spas, and retail stores. Each station would contain a tablet with touch screen technology that allows hotel guests to navigate through activity categories, find where they want to go, and make the most of their time in the city. This is perfect for high-traffic hotels and give guests a chance to interact with a person for advice if they want, or figure things out on their own.
Tablets at the Bar or Hotel Restaurant
More hotels are starting to employ digital menus instead of the more tangible editions. The digital edition allows the hotel to update their menus more often, and cuts down on printing and design. The big buzzword in the hospitality industry is being Eco-friendly. There is nothing more most cost effective and good for the environment then going digital. Hotels can simply make a web version of their menu and have it pop up by default, the tablet locks the customer into only the web-browser and prevents them from accessing any other part of the tablet.
Hotels can update their menus on-demand by making simple front-end web-adjustments, without the need to rely on complicated programing. Drink specials, seasonal specialties, and chefs recommendations often change often, having outdated menus limits a hotel in appealing to their guests. This is also perfect for boutique hotels that have wine tasting sessions and the bottles often change.
I would recommend that hotels invest in a good pedestal and tethering system. This would allow guests to easily interact with the tablets and would prevent theft, but also make them look stylish.
Tablets in the Hotel Rooms
Many hotels are starting to adopt tablets in their boutique hotels, because fewer rooms have a lower overhead than a larger hotel with hundreds of suites. I would recommend if an established hotel is looking to get into offering tablets in the rooms that they be made available in select rooms that are geared towards VIP guests. Guests can gain access to the same data the main concierge offers.
If a hotel is more connected or wired, the tablet would allow customers to adjust the room temperature, air conditioning, order room service, or automatically checkout. They could let the maid know their room is available to be cleaned and even access Netflix and other streaming services on their television to cut down on cable costs. Obviously, most hotels are not really wired too well and it would warrant an investment in a solid wireless solution.
I would recommend that if a hotel wanted to make tablets available in the rooms that you adjust the wording in the check-in document, so that it is clear that if they abscond with it, the cost of the device and software is billed directly to their credit card. Hotels can also charge extra fees to have them in their rooms. Normally $9.99 per day is the industry standard and free for VIP clients.
“For a lot of hotels, it’s an extension of the kiosk mentality,” says Michael Planey, a travel technology analyst. “The app economy is about giving people control of their own environment.”
Tim O’Reilly announced today that the annual conference will be suspended and the company will no longer run its digital publishing conference in New York.
Since 2007, the O’Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference has been the seminal event for professionals and companies engaged with the challenges and opportunities of new publishing technologies and business models. The company had engaging speakers and was often one of the best breeding grounds for new ideas and for industry professionals to meet up and chat about the current state of affairs. Tim mentioned in a statement today, “The decision to discontinue a popular conference was not one we made lightly. But after TOC 2013, we realized that a conference was no longer the best vehicle for us to contribute to publishing’s forward movement.”
O’Reilly seems to be doing away with conferences and focusing more on its tools group. It seems as though the company has all of the intelligence it needs and a better understanding of the industry to push out a series of digital publishing tools that it will market online and offline. The new project is called ‘Atlas’ and is a work in progress.
Tim wrapped up a digital publishing legacy by saying, “TOC was a great ride, and we’ll miss many things about that annual gathering of the future-positive publishing community. Ideas and connections from TOC will continue to inform our work and, we hope, yours. I especially want to thank TOC program chairs Kat Meyer and Joe Wikert for the passion, creativity, and commitment they brought to their work. I wish them well, and am confident that they’ll continue to help shape the publishing industry’s future.”
2012 saw the rise of the digital book and the entire book industry in the United Kingdom is growing. Total digital sales increased by over 66% to £411 million, meanwhile total fiction digital sales up 149% to over £172 million.
Richard Mollet, chief executive at the Publishers’ Association mentioned that schools and education are seeing the largest growth, but still don’t account for very much. “It’s still early days with schools, but their digital sales were up 50%, although only 4% of the total market,” he said. “In academic, digital sales were up 23% to 16% of the total market, and the overall market was just over £1bn, up 0.5% on the previous year. Because we’re such a diverse sector, there are a lot of areas where things can go right to give us the same performance next year. The underlying trend with digital innovation shows we are set fair to perform well, and if the wider economic performance improves in the coming year, that will help.”
One of the big reasons why digital soared to such great heights was the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Many people ended up buying e-readers with promotions that gave them the entire series loaded on their device and carried an anonymity factor. Publishers will have to innovate in new technologies in order to facilitate further growth.
Another big reasons digital caught on in a big way was because both Barnes and Noble and Amazon entered the market and offered their entire line of hardware and ebook distribution systems. This gave the devices more retail visibility, and as the companies battled each other for market share, it lowered the entry level prices.
Over 2,115 book publishers registered for VAT in 2012, which shows that the UK digital scene is vibrant with new players displacing the ones that go out of business. The entire UK book industry saw a modest 4% growth in both digital and tangible.
FastPencil is a multilevel ebook distribution platform for both indie and established authors alike. The company provides cloud software that allows authors to upload their ebooks and then sell them via Apple, Barnes & Noble, Ingram, and Kindle. Last July the company ironed out an agreement that will allow its authors the opportunity to have print editions of their books placed in select B&N physical locations. This will potentially put their titles in front of browsing consumers, as well as provide Barnes and Noble with carefully screened content for its stores. FastPencil has announced it has sold its business to the Courier Corporation.
Courier Corporation is one of America’s leading innovators in book manufacturing and content management. The company is heavily invested in the arduous process of manufacturing books with numerous locations spread across the US. Courier has over 1500 employees and was founded in 1824. It first spread its wings in the digital development field, but was doing everything in-house. The FastPencil acquisition gives Courier a solid infrastructure for a continued digital focus and its established relationships with Ingram and Barnes and Noble.
“FastPencil is both a great fit for our existing customer base and a superb means of entry into one of the fastest-growing segments of our industry,” said Courier Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James F. Conway III. “Our current publishing customers will appreciate the extra options presented by FastPencil’s cloud-based collaborative platform, intuitive design and development tools for both print and ebooks, and integrated use of social media at every stage from concept to distribution. And self-publishers, who are already taking advantage of FastPencil’s easy-to-use technology and licensing expertise, will gain tremendous added value on the print side through Courier’s ability to deliver top-quality books at attractive prices, on short order and in virtually any run length.”
“We are thrilled to be joining forces with Courier,” said FastPencil co-founder and CEO Steve Wilson. “In doing so, we are not only gaining a world-class print partner, but also enabling our authors to reach out to a far wider audience and increase their potential sales by an order of magnitude.