Monday, January 30, 2012

Optimism at Digital Book World 2012 - Borrowing, exposure, and subsequent purchasing

Findings on 'book-buying behavior' from the Digital Book World 2012 Conference

While this isn't about free e-books or the latest e-readers (or tablets), there are some interesting trends pointed out in Library Journal's report on the Digital Book World 2012 conference of publishers, authors, agents, librarians, editors, marketers, and bookstores.
  Library Journal's Heather McCormack sensed a "markedly different psychology among the Big Six suits" that hasn't otherwise been reported.

"The damaging fear-induced myopia that took over publishing with the rise of ebooks in 2009 seems to be waning," she writes.  More than one CEO used what used to be an uncool word, ecosystem :-)

  Verso Media presented the findings of its 2011 Survey of Book Buying Behavior, including that there are:
' 70 million “avid book-buyers” in America and that they patronize online retailers, chain bricks-and-mortars, and local independent bookstores... ”
Co-existence seems so natural if some would just relax their fear of what the interest in e-books will "do to" print-book sales and instead take advantage of the fact that both are available and both have an audience but that with changes in technology always come changes in methods and, historically, those who do well adjust to those changes and make the most of them.

  McCormack adds
"More public libraries (9,225 according to ALA) exist than do independents in this country, so Random has done a wise thing by stepping up its library marketing and going deeper into the trenches to interact with patrons, likely part of the demographic who made “personal recommendations” (at 49.2 percent) the top ranking way that respondents in the Verso study found out about new books.  Coming in at number two, not surprisingly, was bookstore staff recommendations (at 30.8 percent). '

  That's right - as ever, the value of word of mouth and what that does for book buying.

  Unfortunately, Random House was the only Big Six publisher "to make the connection publicly between indies and public libraries," according to McCormack.

  Some still think of library purchases as "lost sales" or, on the other side, think that library patronage will make a publisher millions overnight, but, more realistically, Library Journal's Patron Profiles "demonstrates a clear link between borrowing books and purchasing them, not to mention a discovery opportunity for publishers."  Some stats from the study:

  "Power Patrons" - those who visit the physical library at least once a week:
    On average, they borrow 42 books a year and buy 10.
    40% of them reported buying a title they'd previously borrowed
    2/3rds reported buying a book by an author discovered via the library.

  "Word of mouth is essential to marketing, and Power Patrons are also active users of social media.

  Amazon's Russ Grandinetti said that preliminary findings from the Amazon Prime Lending program were that sales for books available to Prime subscribers via the Lending Library have increased since the program started.
' As an example, Grandinetti cited people who read the first entry in “The Hunger Games” trilogy bought the second book 19 percent of the time rather than wait.

  The same scenario played out with the third entry in the series. (Note: Kindle owners can borrow only one book every month from the Lending Library.) '

  However, library patrons have always looked for books by the traditional publishers, of course, or Big 6 content -- currently, only Random House and HarperCollins loan ebooks to libraries though.

  That is such a sad situation.  Some libraries have increased budgets for ebooks but "can't find enough books to acquire."  Time then to add focus on independent publisher books with good word of mouth...

  McCormack comes to three more-positive conclusions.
  . "A 'lost loan,' so to speak, for a library could very well mean a sale for an indie, B&N, or Amazon and money in the pockets of publishers...
  . "A lost loan" may not even be that because..."indies are plentiful in OverDrive's catalog (and could perform so well that the Big Six holdouts cave)"
  . "...while data is still lacking on how libraries contribute to the publishing ecosystem, we’ve laid a firm foundation, thanks in part to Amazon, five words I never thought I’d type."

Note that the word indies is used in the Library Journal article to mean either independent bookstores or independent publishers/authors depending on context.

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1 comment:

  1. Related to this, I have a (true) story: I'm a fan of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, published by Tor, which is owned by Macmillan.

    The launch of the latest 2 books coincided with the ebook scandals. One of these books was programmed to be launched as an ebook 1 year after the hardcover, and only at the community's insistence the term was shortened to 6 months. The price, as we have come to expect it, was bigger than the hardcover.

    Well, what do you know? In today's newsletter from Tor, they announced that the first part of the first book is for sale at $0.99. The exact wording was "Right now, at your favorite ebook retailer, you can get From Two Rivers - book one of The Eye of the World - for only 99 cents!". You can guess that the "favorite ebook retailer" is supposed to be Macmillan, which only a year ago had their books banned from Amazon for a week.

    I'd say we've come a long way from there. There is still much to do, but there is still hope for the Big6 in the ebook industry.


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