It’s been a crazy year in publishing – with one of the top stories being the meteoric rise of ebooks and digital reading devices. iPad, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders … now joined by Google with its eBookstore, which will allow independent bookstores to sell ebooks and give them a place in the digital book world. See http://mashable.com/2010/12/06/google-ebooks/.
By the first quarter of 2010, ebooks accounted for 5 percent total book sales in the U.S., according to the Book Industry Study Group. By summer, Amazon.com reported that ebook sales outpaced hardcover book sales: for every 100 hardcover books sold, Amazon sold 143 Kindle books. By late fall, the Association of American Publishers was reporting that ebook sales made up 9 percent of total consumer book sales. See http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/ebooks_ereaders_top_trends_2010.php.
We also saw a year in which the tried and true didn’t always work for traditional publishers, who have depended on big-name authors and celebrity books for stellar sales. Bestselling author John Grisham’s fall release The Confession experienced a decrease in first week print sales from his previous book. Ebook sales, however, saved the day and constituted one-third of the book’s sales. As a result, overall week one sales of The Confession surpassed that of his last thriller, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703957804575602792076468702.html.
Sales of Sarah Palin’s second book America By Heart has not taken off like her first book did, and the publisher has not gone back to print. Her book was expected to be one of the fall’s big hits. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/09/AR2010120906067.html. Jersey Shore reality show star Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino has a hotly hyped book The Situation that is not selling well (two of his co-stars also have book deals).
Some forecasts held out. Jonathan Franzen’s hotly anticipated novel Freedom hit the bestseller list, and he got to make up with Oprah for his earlier snub of her show. George W. Bush’s memoir Decision Points made the former president a member of the bestselling ex-president’s club (hot on the heels of Bill Clinton). The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series produced another bestseller. And books published prior to 2010, such as the Stieg Larsson thrillers and Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, continued their reign on bestseller lists.
Still, what’s clear is the publishing world has changed drastically. The digital world means traditional publishing needs to move faster and offer a variety of formats for books. The explosion of ereading devices has broken down barriers for a number of indie authors, who can publish and market their books, at a low cost, directly to a reading audience hungry for material.
The Year Ahead
So what does 2011 hold for publishing? The Publishing Insiders – host Penny Sansevieri, CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.; Search Engine Marketing Expert Susan Gilbert and AME COO Paula Krapf – took a look into their crystal ball to predict the following:
* iPad will get competition as other tablets enter the market. Microsoft is working on one, and Amazon is hotly rumored to be developing a tablet, too. Others are sure to join.
* Interactive ebooks are going to take off, thanks to the success of iPad (and possibly its competitors).
* A number of books will go straight to ebook and bypass print.
* There will be bestselling indie ebook authors who will find success via Kindle, Nook, Google eBookstore, Smashwords, Scribd and the myriad other ways to sell ebooks. See http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2010/12/bestseller-shift.html.
* The issues associated with print publishing, including the cost and time of producing the print product, will lead to ebook-only publishers.
* Indie bookstores will become a one-stop source for everything book related, since they can now sell ebooks via Google eBookstore.
* Oprah will become a publisher? She’s heavily promoted reading and books on her show, which will end in May 2011. Marketing guru Seth Godin is leading the way for heavily branded names launching their own publishing companies, so why not Oprah?
We didn’t have a chance to cover this on the show, so news junkies, this is for you:
* Borders reports a loss of $74.4 million in the fourth quarter yet has announced it’s interested in bidding for Barnes & Noble (which is looking for a buyer): http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/financial-reporting/article/45465-borders-sales-disappoint-loss-soars-liquidity-issues-arise.html
* Amazon strikes a deal with Nielsen, and now authors have access to their sales data – here’s a great blog post and observations from author Dave Cullen (his book Columbine is a must-read): http://www.davecullenblog.com/2010/12/amazon-torpedoes-publishers-insanity-of.html
* The Year in Disturbing Celebrity Book Deals (makes us want to poke our eyes out):
– Jersey Shore’s The Situation by Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino – sales are doing poorly
– Jersey Shore’s Snooki has A Shore Thing coming out in January 2011
– Jersey Shore’s JWOWW also has a book, The Rules According to JWOWW (no pub date listed)
– The Salahis – the White House Crashers, whose book Cirque du Salahi is averaging 1.5 stars out of 5 on Amazon.com
– Paul the Octopus – who predicted every single German World Cup game outcome. He picked the winning World Cup team by choosing between two mussels in separate containers marked with the relevant flag. He became a multi-million dollar brand … but died in October (so is the book deal dead too?)
– Christine O’Donnell is writing a book, hopefully titled I Am Not A Witch; I’m You – scheduled for Aug. 2011
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. We’ll see you with more publishing news in 2011!
Upcoming Episode – Please join us Jan. 11, 2011 for Branding: The Secret to Selling More Books
If you’ve ever wondered what motivates people to buy a book, consider this: consumers don’t buy a book, they buy a brand. This is true now more than ever. Why? Because people want consistency (think McDonald’s), they want value, and they want to be entertained, enlightened, or educated. A brand, when done properly, can really pull in readers to your site, your message, and your book. Learn how to do it. For background, see http://amarketingexpert.com/branding-the-secret-to-selling-more-books/.