The past week has been an interesting one, with Apple losing a court battle in America over ebook price fixing, Barnes & Noble letting go its chief executive, and Barnes & Noble announcing (negative) changes to its ereader lineup. My take on all this follows.
I was asked last week, why we do not publish books as “apps” — software applications which are targeted at particular reading device operating systems, like Apple’s IOS, or the Android operating system.
Our marketing whiz, Tyler, developed this map to show the countries in which ebooks published by Self-Counsel Press have sold (this map is updated as we reach more countries):
View Global eBook Sales in a larger map
Notes: You can click and drag the map to see more countries. You can also click on a blue pin to see the country name.
One of the more interesting challenges in producing ebooks is the file format question. On the surface, it looks pretty simple: two formats, EPUB and Amazon’s Mobi dominate. Both (loosely speaking) use HTML tags and CSS stylesheets to determine how text and graphics are displayed. So an ebook is a collection of webpage-like pages in a container. Or is it?
As 2012 draws to a close, a trend we are watching is the changing universe of devices used to read ebooks. A year ago, monochrome “e-ink” reading devices (such as the original Kindle) dominated the market. That dominance has eroded through 2012, and by the time Christmas sales are tallied I expect we will see a new leader.
Back in August I said how pleased I was to report that we were starting to see sales of ebooks in countries outside Norrth America. The cost of shipping printed books has always been a major obstacle to sales outside North America, but ebooks change that.
Looking at sales activity over the past half-year has reinforced my feeling that traditional book retailers are headed in a bad direction as they try to respond to the emergence of ebooks as a significant part of the business. Bad for them, and bad for us.
We are very pleased to announce that all ebooks which are available on our website are now also available on Amazon.com as Kindle books. We expect them to appear on other, country specific Amazon sites very soon.
Digital Rights Management, better known by its abbreviation, DRM, is the collective name for tools designed to prevent unauthorized copying of digital items. It has existed almost as long as consumer software: I recall that some software for my Apple ][ in 1980 had “copy protection” on the floppy disk.
The reference everyone uses to answer questions like, “How many books are in print?” is Books in Print, a (subscription) database managed by Bowker. A look at the recent growth in the number of books available to be read is staggering.