Friday Midday Links: Borders Q3 Profits Dismal
Author emotions may be at an all time high with the release of 4 weeks of limited Bookscan data from Amazon. Yesterday, Amazon rolled out a feature that gives authors who have an account at Amazon the ability to look at 4 weeks of sales data from Bookscan. No Amazon Kindle data, no Amazon direct sales data. The data picture gives about 75% of total Bookscan sales numbers for four weeks. Bookscan is pretty useful for trade paperbacks and mass market romances with limited distribution. But if the author’s books are sold in Wal-mart or drugstores and the like, those sales don’t show up. But the numbers, graphs, geographical data, is a seductive drug for authors who usually get no data, let alone four weeks. A couple of links of interest: BNET and LA Times Blog and Sarah Weinman.
Sarah Weinman writes for Daily Finance and has the latest analysis of the incredibly dismal Borders’ news. Borders Q3 financial news was that it suffered a $74.4 Million loss and a 17.6% sales decrease.
The primary culprit was the gross margin from the stores that remained open: It plunged from 18.5% to 15.4%. Borders blamed “the de-leveraging of fixed occupancy costs caused by negative comparable store sales.” In other words, stores’ sales shrunk, while their fixed costs — things like rent, insurance and electricity — remained the same.See full article from DailyFinance: http://srph.it/fYboBQ
Not every social media platform launched by publishers is going to work. HarperCollins is closing BookArmy which was a site designed to engage readers in the UK. The site was launched in 2008 and was to compete with Goodreads, LibraryThing and Shelfari.
Speaking of social media sites for readers, Goodreads has its 2010 reader poll out. For romances, there are some interesting choices including a m/m title: Promises by Marie Sexton. Strawberries for Dessert by Sexton was reviewed during the Gay Writes week here at Dear Author and was one of Sarah F’s books of 2010. I voted for Meljean Brook’s The Iron Duke but I loved seeing the broad range of choices including another small press book from author Lorelei James.
An interesting data point from Goodreads was shared a couple of days ago. Apparently goodread users read more books published in 2009 than 2010 during the year 2010. This could be that more readers are signing on to Goodreads and adding books to their libraries that they read in the past and just haven’t correctly categorized those books (guilty) but I read a lot of backlist titles and with publishers and authors digitizing their backlists, these titles are a lot more accessible.
I loved this blog post by author Michelle Styles about markets outside the US. While the US remains the largest market for romance authors, according to Styles, there are other growing markets out there and they have different tastes:
As an overseas editor explained to me several years ago, they find the books through Harlequin's internal database as well as publications like the RT Book Reviews but always it is based what their specialised knowledge of what their readership wants. And the readership desires do differ. For example, Germany has never been a Regency driven historical market.
Harlequin’s push internationally is something to watch. According to this blog post at iLook China, “Harlequin received official, red star-stamped permission to place half a million copies of twenty titles in Mandarin and a quarter-million copies of ten English versions on the shelves of Xinhua.” The blog post linked to another article published in 2007 about the increasing demand of romance books and the corresponding worry about the message of these books.
Some Chinese experts are worried about the new reading trend. They feel anxious due to the submissive psychology in these romances and they wonder how such plots will affect young girls with no exposure to any feminist principals. These experts feel that the stories might addict readers to scenarios urging them to act obsequiously, thus mirroring the yielding concubine heroine who eagerly seeks the protection and favor of a powerful man. Psychologists wonder if reading these books could create dependent personalities and negatively impact on contemporary Chinese female characters.
The entire article is worth a read. The societal culture in China is much different than in the US and it is more patriarchal. Good thing that Jeannie Lin’s book is about a warrior princess!
David Pogue at the NYTimes reviews the color Nook. (sign in required) Pogue likes the bright and beautiful LCD screen, the touch screen interface, and quickness of the device. He thinks, however, the interface is too confusing:
The price you pay is complexity. The Color Nook offers far too many pop-up control racks. There's the Quick Nav bar, the Status Bar, the Media Bar, the Library, the Daily Shelf and the Recent Items menu. It will take you quite awhile to master what's where.
Romance readers tend to be women ages 31 to 49 who are -‘ contrary to the popular image of Miss Lonelyhearts living vicariously through fictional tales of seduction -‘ in a romantic relationship, according to the writers group. They frequently fly through a book or more a week, and from the beginning they have jumped at the chance to store hundreds of titles on a single device -‘ where the next happy ending is a download away.
Romance ebooks is the fastest growing segment of sales for digital books. This makes sense as romance readers are voracious, buying on average three books a month according to BN chief William Lynch. One of the benefits to reading digitally is that romance readers don’t have to face the scorn and disdain from others like clerks or fellow subway passengers. That benefit was made all the more obvious by the commenters who wasted little time in trashing romance readers as well as the books in the genre. Apparently there was some disdain for the article by romance readers on twitter and other places, but I was happy with the article and thought it portrayed romance readers as dedicated readers who are just as ready and willing to spend their disposable income on a tech gadget and books as the boys are which is also contrary to the popular image of Miss Lonelyhearts. The truth is that most of the covers are embarrassing. We aren’t embarrassed of reading romances- the content-but the covers are mockable and who can blame people for associating romance readers with the covers.
Aldiko, one of the more popular Android reading apps, will be adding ePub DRM support in its next upgrade. I’ve recruited commenter Brian to write up an Android eBook Reading 101 Guide. Thanks Brian!