Books biz talks up Kindle effect
Paper down slightly, but digital is still tiny
Digital book sales in the UK rose 38 per cent last year, but they still represent a drop in the ocean. The year saw £120m in reported digital sales out of total sales of £3.1bn reported to the Publishers Association: accounting for just under 4 per cent.
The book market here is actually a larger than that – the Association notes that sales figures it receives are probably around 70 per cent of digital book sales. Extrapolating from this and other surveys, the Association reckons the true size of the digital slice of the market is nearer to £180m, out of a cake worth £3.8bn. Physical book sales fell 3 per cent, although the average retail price rose to £4.56 from £3.93, a trend that has moved up in recent years. The £3.8bn figure doesn't capture UK spending; around 40 per cent of UK book sales are exports, reflecting the demand for English language material globally.
Of the digital books business, academic and professional titles take the lion's share: £84m, of which £58m were social sciences and humanities books, and £19m scientific/technical/medical. Consumer ebook sales rose year-on-year from £4m to £16m in 2010. £6m of these sales were fiction, £1m non-fiction. Schools represent the biggest area for growth, worth just £7m in 2010.
The term "digital books" is understood to include include CD-ROMs, subscriptions to digital services, audiobooks, and whole or part downloads of electronic books.
The figures are representative but not the complete picture, hence the emphasis on the sales as being "reported". But they do give a snapshot of a market worth just under £4bn. By comparison, recorded music sales in the UK have fallen below £1bn, despite digital growth, and Google's income from the UK advertising market will be around £2.4bn this year. Tax-free, naturally...
And despite some lurid tabloid headlines highlighting electronic book piracy, many people are prepared to pay for legitimate content, particularly if retail prices fall as a result of the ongoing Office of Fair trading enquiry into pricing.
Popular titles with ebook freetards include How to Get Anyone to Say YES – The Science of Influence, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Amazing Sex and Fix It – How To Do All Those Little Repair Jobs Around The House. ®
For goodness sake
Please get some facts through your anomised head before posting.
I have a Kindle. Have read dozens of books. Haven't paid for any. All legal.
It's quite happy reading un-drm'ed files (I use Calibre to convert and send automatically to the device via free Wifi - EPUB no problem). It also displays PDF fairly well, and has a 'free' 3G browser (which is a bit clunky but works)
Where is the swindle? Please PLEASE explain.
It would be better...
The major publishing houses are to blame for these slaes not being better.
I have a Kindle. It was bought for me by my girlfriend, even though I told her I prefered real books. Her reasoning was she didn't want all my book cluttering up the house (along with all the computer bits, bike & car parts, tools and assorted junk).
It has changed my mind. It is convenient, easy to use and easy to read. There are only 2 small problems.
The first is that I already own a lot of books. There is no way I am going to buy these books again on the Kindle. Unlike CDs (and tapes, videos, DVDs etc) there is no easy way to format shift. I feel I would be morally justified in trying to locate and download these books from the "less legitimate" sources, although others would probably disagree (including lawyers).
The other problem is price. For new releases, the eBook on Amazon is normally priced higher than the Hardback (with a note saying the price was set by the publisher). Even older realeases are often more expensive as eBooks than paperbacks. Once again, I feel I would be morally justified buying the "real" book and downloading the eBook.
The problem with that is it becomes very tempting to skip the "buying" part. They are effectively encouraging piracy with the current model. As the music industry knows all too well, once this has started, it is very difficult to stop. Basically, they are not learning from previous mistakes, and I will have no sympathy when book sales plummet and they start loosing money. I foresee it happenning rather soon if they don't get their arses in gear.
Its not just the price
The pricing situation is annoying, but I could actually live with it as I'm a firm believer in authors getting paid, and in the UK a big part of the problem is VAT anyway. But that's not my main gripe; its the ridiculous rights and availablity situation that really winds me up. I can order a physical book from Amazon.com and have it delivered to my home outside the US, but I can't order a US Kindle book (or a nook book or a Kobo epub book etc. etc.) without a US credit card (I know there are ways around this, but that's not the point), and half the time UK publishers haven't made an ebook version available in the UK even though they HAVE released the physical book. Have these people learned nothing from the example of music and TV? Ebook buyers are early adopters, by definition their inclination is not to wait, so don't piss them off so much they decide the only alternative is to go the "free" route.
The annoying part..
Is that quite a few books that I want to read are more that twice the price on the Kindle, compared to the *delivered* paper price, also from Amazon. That's not VAT, that's greed.
..and they wonder why people are pirating them...
Publishers are doomed to repeat history (it seems)
After a few people raved about the Kindle, I decided to get one. Absolutely brilliant - completely changed my view of eBooks. For me, the #1 feature is being able to hold it while reading in bed.
Anyway, now I look at Amazon for Kindle editions, and was horrified to see some books were MORE EXPENSIVE in Kindle format, than if you cut down a tree, pulped it, prepared the paper, typeset it, printed it, bound it, and shipped it to a bookshop. Quick email complaint to Amazon elicited the information that under the retail price agreement, it's the PUBLISHER that sets the price, not Amazon. Greedy ****tards.
Also the surprising lack of some popular titles in Kindle format is annoying - but again a publisher led thing.
I wonder if these facts will encourage eBook piracy ?