London Book Fair

Archive for London Book Fair

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On last week’s IndieChat event, hosted every Tuesday night on Twitter by publishing solutions company BiblioCrunch, the guest speaker was from a new tool, InstaFreebie. This platform allows authors to easily create a free version of their books–with or without DRM and reader watermarking, as they choose–in order to share them with readers. I happened to mention that I used the platform in March and between InstaFreebie and KDP Select gave away over 200 copies of my books in March alone.

The response was immediate: “Aren’t you worried about those lost sales?”

At this year’s London Book Fair, taking place now, self-publishing success story Hugh Howey spoke on a panel with the UK head of Kobo Writing Life, one of the top three major self-publishing platforms. Howey, who has openly stated in the past that his story is not typical for indie authors, explained the purpose and the benefits to giving away free books as a reader engagement tool.

Many publishing industry professionals caution against giving away free content, as they feel it reduces the value in the eyes of the reader. Likewise, surveys have shown that low price points for books make readers respond negatively, as if thinking to themselves, “How good can it be? Even the author didn’t think it was worth a whole dollar.”

But Howey’s point is that only truly undervalued books are the ones that no one reads because they can’t find them. In this time of difficulty for book discovery, offering your content–especially backlist content–to readers is a way to entice them into getting to know the rest of your list.

Howey went on to expand on his fear that the current climate of self-publishing will continue to perpetuate the model that traditional publishing has always experienced, namely that there will be a limited number of bestselling and successful authors at the top, followed by the remaining “unknowns.” He explained that the self-publishing market should be a place where every author can find his audience, and enjoy some measure of success, regardless of how that success manifests itself.

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A number of companies will be piggybacking off the buzz and attention of this year’s London Book Fair to make important announcements of their own. One such company, Ganxy, will release information on how its unilateral sales platform can help authors and publishers not only with the streamlining that comes from compartmentalizing all of their potential sales channels into one place, but also in terms of providing instant promotional support.

Ganxy recently established itself as a simple format in which authors and publishers could easily bundle ebooks or video together for promotional sales purposes, but now the showcase platform will launch a push-button method of allowing rights holders to create single-use coupon codes for easy ebook distribution.

“Think about what’s going on in the world of content today. There’s an inability for those who create content to take advantage or extract value from that kind of content in the way that they’d like to,” explained Ganxy’s co-founder Joshua Cohen in an interview with GoodEReader. “It’s very difficult for authors and publishers to give away the content in the way that they’d like to.”

Short of creating coupon codes on other platforms that can be passed around without limitation, or requiring authors to email PDF files of their books to reviewers and other recipients, until now there hasn’t been a good streamlined method of releasing professional ebook content to limited users. Ganxy’s announcement today allows for content creators to produce limitless codes for recipients, codes that can be used in a wide variety of promotional ways.

Books that are showcased on the Ganxy platform can be given specific download codes, from one copy to an unlimited number of copies, and can also be arranged for user-friendly bulk sales of ebooks. Content holders can use these as promotional giveaways at speaking engagements, can bundle the ebook editions seamlessly with the print editions, can offer them as incentives for signing up on their websites, and much more. Moreover, the Ganxy platform is compatible with a wide variety of devices from different digital reading platforms, virtually eliminating concerns about the device specifics of the ebook recipients.

“It’s really hard to give copies of books to a specific number of people. We’ve created an ebook giveaway tool that works in a variety of ways,” continued Cohen.

An author can set up an open promotion, which allows the first set number of users to receive the book for free, which is especially useful in promotion of an upcoming book release. Additionally, an author who is appearing at a conference or speaking engagement can generate unlimited single-use codes to pass out that are unique to each single recipient; a book reviewer can be given a single-use code, or hundreds of book bloggers can each be provided with their own specific codes in a matter of minutes as all of these features are nearly instantaneous to generate on an established book account.

“We’re essentially saying to authors, ‘We want you to sell your books, but we also want you to have the power to give away your book.’ If you’re an author or publisher who has commerce, you don’t want to be using other tools to give away your books. You want to have one central location where you can sell it from your site or from your Facebook page, but you also want to be able to give it away so you can control what’s going on with your content.”

Overdrive has finally released its eagerly anticipated “Big Data” report on digital library usage and metrics.  The company intends to regularly release statistics on over 19,000 libraries that reach 219 different countries.

In March 2012, five million visitors viewed 146 million pages in 12.6 million visits to the Overdrive website.  The average ebook catalogs hosted more than 408,000 visits each day. It also seems that when people browse the library system to find books, they are doing it randomly and not looking for anything specifically. Over 60% of all users browsed in this way and their most popular searches for a specific genre were  romance  fiction, mystery and suspense, historical fiction, and science fiction and fantasy.

The Digital Shift reports that “Visitors to OverDrive-hosted digital catalogs generated more than 630 million ebook cover impressions, of which the top 30 titles generated more than 21 million views. Ebooks topping one million views each include Explosive Eighteen, The Help, Litigators, and, not surprisingly, The Hunger Games. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Game of Thrones, and the Harry Potter series also appear among the top ebooks viewed and held. Top audiobook holds include The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay.”

One of the most interesting aspects of this report was the time of day that people decided they wanted to checkout a new book from their library. Visitors are most active from 8-9 p.m. in their respective regions, followed by the 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. windows. As to how they’re browsing, nearly half (49 percent) sign on from Windows computers. But iOS, the operating system for iPhones, iPads, and other Apple portable devices, came in second with an impressive 28%, and Android at a fairly woeful 5%.

What countries account for the most active users that patronize the Overdrive library system? The United States remains the most active and vibrant community for reading digital books with 86% of all borrowed stemming from that country. The top market areas include New York, Seattle, Philadelphia, Chicago, and LA. Only this year did major libraries in Canada start to implement the digital system and Canada only accounts for 10% of all checked out books.

Open Road Media has made its first foray into the world of international publishing today. It has established relations with Italian publisher Mondadori to digitize the company’s catalog and offer its selection in the ever popular ebook format.

Open Road intends on modest international expansion and this deal is the company’s first publisher outside of the USA. They intend on offering 50 ebooks from Mondadori’s portfolio that will be released in July. All of the books will be available on a multitude of platforms such as Google Books, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Overdrive, and Sony. This deal was announced today at the London Book Fair by co-founder Jane Friedman. “We are excited to build on the success we have enjoyed with our American partners and to start our international publishing program with Mondadori.”

Bluefire Productions today announced at the London Book Fair that their e-reader app for iOS is now ready to match up to the pixel density of the iPad 3 display. The company that prides itself as the “leading provider of licensed, cross-platform solutions in the mobile publishing arena” to offer the only “customizable, full-featured e-reading application on iOS and Android tablets” has also announced a number of other improvements for both iOS and Android platforms.

Among the improvements, it now has support for the latest Android 4.0 ICS version, support for external hyperlinks in ePUB and PDF titles, along with support for multiple Adobe IDs. The updates meant specifically for the iOS platform include new on-screen swipe for brightness control, enhanced side-loading, and improved support for editing metadata.

Catch up with the Press Release below for more on this:

CourseSmart is one of the leading etextbook companies that focuses on renting ebooks to students, with Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Macmillan as the owners. Today the company is launching its products and services in the United Kingdom.

CourseSmart’s UK division will be spearheaded by Former Random House digital director Fionnuala Duggan. She aims for the company to have over seven thousand textbooks available to students for the upcoming fall semester. In order to provide all of these books, they are seeking to establish relationships with close to 25 different publishers to provide the content. They are also making in-roads by establishing relations with some major universities to promote the digital services. Students will be able to save close to 40% by going with CourseSmart, rather then buying the tangible editions.

So how does CourseSmart function? Duggan said: “It’s like a locker based system. You rent the book and can keep it in one of our online ‘lockers’ so students don’t have to have the responsibility of storing it themselves. When the company started in 2007, there wasn’t cloud or tablets but the business has grown as the technology has developed.”

Image courtesy of ehow.com

One of the initial panels at this year’s London Book Fair was the Penguin, Macmillen, Nosy Crow panel on children’s publishing, but the discussion seemed to raise more questions than it answered. While children’s books have been big business for publishers for a long time, figuring out where children’s ebooks fit into the confines of digital publishing isn’t as straightforward as ebook publishing for other types of books.

The panelists spoke at length about the key issue publishers face in creating digital content for young readers, which is price. Just as children’s print books are costly to produce and therefore come at a higher price than most adult books, children’s interactive app books require an entire team of programmers and designers, let alone the author who had to write the story in the first place. None of that talent comes cheap.

“Children’s books make money: a good amount of money,” stated Jeff Gomez, CEO of Starlight Runner. “And the expectation on the part of publishers is that they won’t make that much money on the digital format. That’s a big stepping on the brakes for a lot of publishers.”

One topic that was brought up, a concern close to many parents’ hearts, is how much does e-reading detract from the childhood experience when a parent simply hands a tablet to a young child and presses play? Tablets require very little skill on the part of the child to operate—not so, for example, with a desktop PC in which the user has to manipulate the mouse and keyboard—and most children’s app book content offers read-aloud narration that synchronizes with the highlighted text. Is e-reading for kids the robot nanny of science fiction stories? And how much does the technology support (or prevent) the child from developing an affinity and fondness for reading?

At the close of the presentation, the panel offered a stern warning for the publishers who are still not married to the idea of offering their children’s content in digital form, despite some other publishers who are actually launching the app book prior to the print edition. The message was clear: embrace digital or be left behind as your readership gets its fix elsewhere.

Dan Katz, the CEO of Audible, was one of the last speakers to take to the stage at the Digital Minds Conference today at the London Book Fair. “One of the biggest challenges facing the company is the is that there is simply not enough audio. Every book worth reading should be available as an audiobook – but 80-90% of frontlist books don’t go to audio. E.g. if a member of Audible runs out of Science Fiction audio, we lose a member. So we became producers, and we’re now one of the biggest producers of audiobooks, with recording studios running back to back.”

One of the elements facing audiobooks is who owns the rights. Many books and ebooks often become free after a certain number of years. Publishers often sell the rights to books to other companies once they have monetized it to the best of their abilities or if they face bankruptcy. “I thought this was a no-risk business: to use unused audio rights that were just sitting in filing cabinets. When you have content rights they should be used.”

Don mentioned that the success of Audible was fully reliant on piracy. He mentioned that “Piracy helped Audible take off because it taught everyone how to download!”

Currently, Audible rolled out new marketing tools and author services, allowing authors to embed samples of their works on their websites and blogs. They also added social media functionality to promote your works on Facebook. The company is giving $1 for every book sold, in addition to their normal service of helping to encourage indie authors to convert their books to an audio format.

The Digital Minds conference in London started today and is a precursor to the London Book Fair kicking off tomorrow. One of the best panel discussions of the conference was centered around the emerging digital book markets in Germany, Spain, and France, and the panel talked about some of the shortcomings and pitfalls of these emerging markets.

Panelists Fabrice Piault (Livres Hebdo), Siobhan O’Leary, and Antonio Fraguas Garrido (El Pais) talked mainly about the French market that falls behind most other major countries. Tablets are big in France right now, with over 1.4 million currently being used. e-Reader usage is fairly paltry with only 145,000 registered devices. Kindle and Kobo currently dominate the landscape and it is much easier to procure the Kobo Touch which is distributed by Fnac. In 2010 e-readers never really gained much traction due to an influx of substandard ones from Cool-ER, Bookeen, and Cybook.

The German market is facing a lot of the same issues as the French market. e-Reader and publishing companies are finding it hard to get one of the largest markets in Europe to adopt digital reading on e-readers and tablets. eBook readers first hit the German market at the end of 2009, but most Germans read on tablets rather than e-readers. The biggest challenge is that 78% of Germans claim not to want to read from a screen, while 85% say they love printed books too much.

Germany has a very established publishing industry, and the second largest book market in the world estimated at over 9.73bn Euros. The largest digital publishers in Germany currently are Verlagsgruppe Random House, Hotzbrinck, the German arm of Sweden’s Bonnier Group, and Weltbild.

Spain is seeing a wider adoption of digital publishing and over 75% of all publishers are employing an ebook strategy. There is an estimated one million tablets and e-readers currently being used in Spain, with over 285k eReaders sold in 2011. Libranda is one of the largest ebook distribution platforms that was founded by the big three publishers in Spain: Grupo Planeta, Random House Mondadori, Santillana. One of the largest concerns in Spain right now is price of ebooks in general. If you look at the VAT prices on printed books it currently sits at 4% while ebooks are much more expensive at 17%.

The ebook market was worth about 18m Euro in 2010 (0.6% of the industry), with no more than 90,000 ebooks in various formats – many PDFs included. Max 8% of printed books are available as ebooks, though many of the main European publishers have built ebook distribution platforms like Numilog (Hachette), ePlatforme (Editis), and Eden (Gallimard/Flammarion/La Martiniere). Digital comics are also on the rise due to Kobo offering a wide array of new graphic novels in its digital bookstore.

Pottermore has been in private beta for the last six months while the website sets up their servers to accommodate millions of visitors.  Not only can you buy the entire series of ebooks there but it also is an interactive game world where you can play a role at Hogwarts. Today at the London Book Fair Charlie Redmayne announced that the site was going live today and anyone can register for the website.

When you register for Pottermore during the next few days, you will not get instant access to it as accounts will be staggered. Obviously millions of people will be signing up and you will receive an email when your account is ready. After you’ve signed up, you’ll get sorted into one of the four Hogwarts houses, have a wand choose you, and discover exclusive new writing from J.K. Rowling.

The London Book Fair starts really soon and digital publishing is quickly taking the forefront. Barnes and Noble is officially sponsoring the App Zone that will put an emphasis on ebooks and apps for the Android Platform.

On April 16th, members of the Nook Development team will be at a meet and greet session at the Digital Zone. Publishers from all around the world, content providers, and all the developers from the App Zone can relax together and have a chat after a busy day at the exhibition. Nook Developer will be the guest of the evening.

Last month, Barnes and Noble held a Developers Conference in London where it introduced Android developers to the Nook platform. It was a resounding success and the company will be entering the UK space fairly shortly. The UK is often a jumping off point for Western European expansion. We saw it with Kobo and Amazon before they started to hit Germany and most other major markets. Barnes and Noble recently started a European entity in the Netherlands where it will base its operations for tax reasons.

It has been hinted that the company will showcase a new version of the Nook e-Reader that will be compatible with its upcoming bookstore. There is no official word yet from Barnes and Noble, but the company tends to play its cards close to the chest.

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Three executives from Kobo will be attending the London Book Fair happening next week. They will be showing off the company’s two flagship devices in the form of the Kobo Vox and Kobo Touch. They will also meet with established partners that carry their products in the UK and give them information on their international expansion endeavors.

“London Book Fair provides a great opportunity for Kobo to connect with our partners and offer our unique insights into how the digital reading landscape is evolving,” said Michael Tamblyn, Kobo’s Executive Vice President, Content, Sales & Merchandising. “We’ve made it our business to bring eReading to an ever-growing list of countries – including Canada, United States, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, The Netherlands and more. We have done all of this while balancing our deep commitment to the reading experience with a desire to push the possibilities of what it means to be a reader, writer or publisher. At LBF 2012, we will be telling stories and sharing data that illuminate both ends of that spectrum.”