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Monday Midday Links: Mass market sales continue to plummet

Diana Gabaldon disclosed to a reading group in Charleston that her eighth novel in the Jamie/Claire saga won’t be released for a couple of years. It sounds like the book is yet unwritten. Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner should be released in 2011.

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Heather Osborn, formerly an editor with Tor, has been announced as the new Editorial Director for Samhain.   Heather will begin at Samhain on November 1, 2010.   Congratulations Heather!   and Samhain!

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Sarah Wendell is the romance columnist for the newly launched Kirkus reviews. What a great gig for Sarah and what a great boon for romance readers. Both Publishers’ Weekly (Rose Fox, if you are wondering) and now Kirkus have two readers and lovers of the genre writing about the genre for the benefit of industry and library folks.

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August Book Sales according to the American Association of Publishers. Book sales are up 6.9% year to date.

  • Hardcover Children's/YA: down 8.0 percent, $77.8 million sales. YTD sales down 14.6 percent.
  • Children's/YA Paperback: down 15.1 percent, $58.9 million sales. YTD sales dow 7.6 percent.
  • Adult Hardcover: down 24.4 percent, $83.8 million. YTD sales up 5.2 percent.
  • Adult Paperback: down 18.3 percent, $124.9 million sales. YTD up 4.1 percent.
  • Adult Mass Market: down 21.9 percent, $54.9 million sales. YTD down 14.3.
  • Downloaded Audio Books: Up 4.6 percent, $6.3 million sales. YTD up 28.8 percent.
  • Physical Audio Book: Down 23.4 percent, $9.9 million sales. YTD down 6.0 percent.
  • Year To Date E-Book Sales Comprise 9.0% of Trade Book Sales

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Craig Morgan Teicher blogs about the poor state of ebooks, particularly those that are outside the norm of narrative fiction. He pointed out that Allen Ginsberg’s Collected Poems looks especially bad. JOshua Tallent, ebook coding expert, replied that hand coding is going to be the only way that ebooks will look as good as their paper counterparts. Teicher concludes that perhaps Blio will solve these problems. Unfortunately unless Blio will just show a graphical representation of the physical copy (thus no reflow, search, bookmarking, etc) the books on Blio must be coded similarly.

Ebooks priced as high as paper books but without the same quality? Yes, that is a problem.

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Apparently an unnamed publisher is paying bloggers and others $20 per blog post according to RRR Jessica. Jessica is one of those bloggers who will be writing for the publisher site that is going live in November. In the comments at Jessica’s site, there is some discussion about the ethical nature of bloggers/readers becoming paid to promote a publisher website. Jessica is an ethicist and it is interesting to read her point of view, particularly as Jessica has, in the past, been uncomfortable with some aspects of the ARC to blogger transaction.

Given that it is at the publisher’s own site I don’t think this is a problem (although under the FTC rules, there probably needs to be some disclosure). And just in case you were wondering, I am not writing blog posts for pay for any publisher.

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Harlequin/Mills & Boon is looking for new young writers and is promoting its efforts with a weeklong “So You Think You Can Write” event. Mills & Boon is still giving away 11 free digital books which you can download at http://www.everyonesreading.com/.   Silhouette is being axed or, at least, folded into the Harlequin brand.

In an effort to strengthen the Harlequin brand, all Silhouette lines will remain intact but will now be known by the new names of Harlequin Desire, Harlequin Romantic Suspense and Harlequin Special Edition.

And in other Harlequin related news, Carina Press will be offering some of its romantic suspense and mystery titles in print through the Harlequin Direct to Customer (DTC) program. According to the Carina Press blog:

Reader Service, as it known to customers, sends a monthly shipment of 3-4 books to readers who have signed up for the service. As a result certain Carina Press titles will be printed by the DTC team and included in a monthly 2011 shipment. Those titles are:

February 2011: In Plain View by J. Wachowski (edited by Melissa Johnson)
April 2011: Presumed Dead by Shirley Wells (edited by Deborah Nemeth)
July 2011: Fatal Affair by Marie Force (edited by Jessica Schulte)

This will begin in February 2011.

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All About Romance is hosting its top 100 romance poll. You can enter your list here. Thanks to Cindy at Nocturnal Wonderings as I noticed this at her blog.

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In another example of the need for intellectual property reform, HyperMac will cease making external batteries for Apple products due to legal threats from Apple over the use of the cord attachment. Yes, the cord attachment. Stock up now, if you like the HyperMac external battery sources. Via Engadget.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

26 Comments

  1. Mireya
    Oct 18, 2010 @ 13:05:20

    Um, well, I don’t necessarily have a problem with bloggers getting paid for a post about the publisher, however, as a reader, I’d want to know that what I am reading at the blogger’s site is the equivalent of paid advertising, know what I mean? If it’s in the publisher’s own site, like you, I don’t see a problem with it. I do have to say, however, that if I see a blogger that I am assuming is being paid by the publisher to post in their blog, and then saw reviews of the said publisher’s books in the blogger’s site, I’d see that as paid advertising as well, even if there was no exchange of money and the reviewer reviewed the book(s) of his/her own volition. At least, that’s how I’d perceive it.

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  3. Author On Vacation
    Oct 18, 2010 @ 13:34:22

    I don’t consider publisher compensating bloggers to promote publisher’s interest much different than reviewers providing reviews (a type of promotion) for books they receive free of charge. This is only my opinion and no offense is intended toward anyone or anything. Either transaction involves some form of compensation (money, free book/s.)

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  4. Stephanie
    Oct 18, 2010 @ 14:03:25

    ok this is a dumb question but how is mass market different from paperback?

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  5. Robin
    Oct 18, 2010 @ 14:03:39

    @Author On Vacation: I think there’s actually a substantive difference between these two things.

    Publishers give away many books for review on an unsolicited basis. They give them away at conferences, conventions, to promote buzz, for review, to booksellers, etc. There is no contract between the reviewer and the publisher guaranteeing a review, and in fact, many books are given away to reviewers who would not likely ever review the book (I know of lit fic reviewers who regularly got unsolicited cookbook ARCs, for example). And with a service like NetGalley, the book is only available for a certain time (60 days IIRC) to the reviewer.

    But more importantly, I think it’s problematic and inaccurate to view books as compensation for reviews, both for the author and the reviewer. I mean, does that mean that if you don’t write a review you’re not supposed to have the book? Does that mean I shouldn’t feel comfortable writing a negative review? Does the reviewer who reviews book a and not book b give a message that she supports publisher or author a but not publisher or author b?

    For me, at least, the publisher is definitely not paying me for reviews with an ARC; the publisher is trying to publicize the book — as they should — and if I choose, I can review the book. Or not. No guarantee, no contract, no quid pro quo. I retain my independence in that choice and in my sense of intellectual freedom to say what I want about a book — or not to review it at all.

    But if a publisher pays me *for blogging at their site* I think that’s work for hire, and IMO it’s in a very different category. I even distinguish it from authors who review, people who freelance edit reviewing and blogging, bloggers who write or edit books or beta read for authors. Not that all of those situations are indistinguishable from each other, but I don’t find them to be the same as blogging on a publisher website, where you are selling your blogging persona, per se, to the publisher. That just seems like more direct advertising for the publisher, to me.

    Not that it’s wrong or that bloggers shouldn’t pursue it. It’s not something I would feel comfortable with at this point, and quite honestly, I was stunned that it was Jessica who jumped on board, but I do think it’s really a personal decision for each blogger to make. IMO it just has its own set of implications and consequences that are different from reviewing, authoring, editing, etc.

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  6. S. W. Vaughn
    Oct 18, 2010 @ 14:05:16

    Woo! Congrats to Sarah! And Heather! And Samhain!

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  7. Heather
    Oct 18, 2010 @ 14:13:40

    The news about mass markets makes me sad, especially since I do my fair share of supporting that market. :) (Man, is November 2nd going to be an expensive day.)

    If publishers look at these numbers and decide to cut mass markets, I’m not sure what will happen to my reading habit. I rarely buy trades or hardbacks and won’t go e until I don’t feel like I’m wasting my money on a file that I won’t re-read and can’t sell or give away. (No offense meant to e-authors…I just give away almost every book I buy and I can’t do that with e’s.)

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  8. Jane
    Oct 18, 2010 @ 14:17:28

    @Stephanie Paperback refers to trade paperback.

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  9. WhoMe
    Oct 18, 2010 @ 14:44:33

    When discussing JessicaRRR are we talking about a publisher who is publishing books and having them for sale on a website or a publisher who publishes something like an online e-zine?

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  10. LVLMLeah
    Oct 18, 2010 @ 14:50:44

    I just don’t get the whole MM sales are way down. I mean, $7.99 for a MM as opposed to over $10 for trade and ebook version? Why would someone chose to pay more for books?

    I know the quality of trade is better. And that trade often are larger, making them easier to read, but still, selling far better than MM?

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  11. Jane
    Oct 18, 2010 @ 15:01:06

    @WhoMe It’s a publisher who is publishing books, I believe.

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  12. Jane
    Oct 18, 2010 @ 15:05:20

    @LVLMLeah I’m not really sure as to the reason for the mass market decline but mmpb have been in decline since 2006. I went back and looked at the AAP numbers a couple of months ago. This year, however, it seems like mmpb is in a free fall. Someone on twitter said it might be due to reduced stock on the shelves. I don’t know if it is ebooks. Another suggestion by the ladies at bookbinge was the increase in genre publishing of the trade paperback. Higher revenue (2 sales of a mmpb = 1 sale of a trade and there is no stripping and pulping of the trade books).

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  13. library addict
    Oct 18, 2010 @ 15:36:32

    Congrats to Sarah and Heather & Samhain.

    I will miss the Silhouette logo/name. Harlequin Romantic Suspense just doesn't sound the same :P But I figured this was coming when they changed the Silhouette Nocturne line to Harlequin Nocturne. I suppose it will all work out in the end, but I do miss wider variety of settings/plots they seemed to have in the late 80s/90s when we had the various Harlequin and Silhouette lines as well as Loveswept and Jove to chose from. Mostly I miss the longer Silhouette Intimate Moments line.

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  14. cead
    Oct 18, 2010 @ 15:43:01

    Feh, this post is a double-dose of bad news for me…

    @Heather: Same here. I read far too quickly to be able to afford many trade paperbacks, and I don’t want to go e until e-readers can match the quality of print books and more of their less-than-ideal features are ironed out. And even then, I like the smell and the texture of the paper too much to switch happily. If the market goes to trade and e, and nothing else, I’ll have to switch to buying everything used, which is probably not what the publishers are aiming for.

    @Jane:

    Another suggestion by the ladies at bookbinge was the increase in genre publishing of the trade paperback.

    Are they controlling for this (and other potential factors) at all when they release these figures? This hypothesis is certainly consistent with what seems to have happened in fantasy. Five or six years ago, you could buy pretty much any fantasy novel you wanted in mmp no later than a year after it was first published in hardback; and now less and less of the fantasy published seems to make it into mmp at all.

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  15. SAO
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 00:58:26

    Those statistics were missing the numbers on e-books. E-books must have a huge role in the decrease in physical book numbers.

    Year to date sales in the book market as a whole are up 6.9%, while year to date sales are down everywhere except Adult HC and PB and audiobooks. Adult HC and PB are up less than 6% each and audiobook represent less than 2% of the overall market.

    From this you can infer the substantial drop in mass market paperbacks is caused by e-books. This makes some sense, since e-books and mass market both have poorer formating.

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  16. Maili
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 08:41:38

    I received an invitation to write for the mysterious publisher’s new blog a while ago. They explain that they are looking for people to write about books, films, TV, and blah blah, that would interest one of five different genre communities. If interested, send in a writing sample. They also make it clear that it’s an experimental idea, e.g. it might not take place at all (contributors will still be paid for their actual contributions) or it’ll be taken offline after a short period.

    What interests me the most is that they make a specific note that they’re not interested in posters’ self-promotion within their posts, those who use own books as examples when discussing an editorial issue in their posts, and those who recycle posts already published elsewhere.

    I never saw this specific request in any invitations I had from other romance community sites (paid or not) in the past. It also suggests that the publisher is genuinely interested in setting up an editorial blog by bloggers/readers for readers (probably along with a couple of promotion-oriented posts from the publisher’s staff once in a while).

    Anyroad, I didn’t – and still don’t – think there’s anything wrong with it because they are asking for editorial input from bloggers, which is no different from bloggers contributing to romance community blogs.

    Except, of course, bloggers get to paid to write editorial articles this time, which is IMO a very good thing because too often I feel publishers and similar sites often take advantage of bloggers’ good will.

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  17. Chicklet
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 09:47:54

    Over the weekend, I was at a bookstore and saw a mystery that sounded intriguing, but it was in that horrid mmpb “venti” trim size, so I put it back on the shelf. (I do a lot of my reading while standing on the train during my commute; if I can’t comfortably hold the book open with one hand, I don’t buy it. There are trade paperbacks that qualify, but the venti-size mmpb does not.)

    I see more and more mmpb titles being released only in the venti trim size — I wonder if other readers are bypassing them, too. That wouldn’t explain the huge drop in mmpb sales, but it might be part of it.

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  18. Ros
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 09:57:41

    Year to date ebook sales comprise 9% of all trade book sales. That’s huge. Surely publishers must start to realise soon that they can’t keep ignoring the potential for ebooks? I’d love to see them not only investing more in producing good quality ebooks, but also working harder to overcome the consumer problems with ebooks such as DRM and geographical restrictions. People clearly want to buy their books this way and publishers need to start taking advantage of that markets.

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  19. Estara
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 13:26:28

    I think more publishers should include who made the transfer to ebooks and maybe even mention it as a sales detail. Or it should be collected somewhere.

    People who do excellent transfer to ebooks: Moriah Jovan’s e-formatting business (at least judging by her own two novels) and Jouve, France which seems to transfer all books that are released by one of the imprints of Hachette. Their epubs have beautiful formatting and include the little graphics that some genre books get (at least fantasy wise).

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  20. LVLMLeah
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 13:48:27

    I see more and more mmpb titles being released only in the venti trim size -’ I wonder if other readers are bypassing them, too

    I hate those and avoid them like the plague. They’re hard to hold open, awkward and I just hate them. I will forego reading a book in that format, no matter how much I want to read it.

    I don’t mind the trade ones that are loose and stay open if let go. I can leave it on my lap and read like that.

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  21. Linda
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 14:55:34

    I purchase mass market paperbacks for my library and our circulation numbers are skyrocketing. Their percent increase is double digits above other forms of books. I don’t understand why the sales numbers are plummeting. The quality of original stories is outstanding and there is such a wide range of genres to chose from. The size is right, the price is right – so what’s wrong? I hope publishers know that there is a strong readership out there and stick out this slump. Hopefully things will turn around!

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  22. Chicklet
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 21:11:49

    The quality of original stories is outstanding and there is such a wide range of genres to choose from.

    This is true at a bookstore, but not necessarily at the places where a lot of mmpb’s are sold: grocery stores, convenience stores, big retailers like Target or WalMart, etc. In those settings, the range of titles available can be quite limited, and not representative of the variety (or quality) shoppers would see at a bookstore.

    There’s also the used bookstore factor, where mmpb’s are much cheaper, and usually available pretty quickly after their original publication date. It wouldn’t surprise me if more consumers are buying used mmpb’s, since they can get more books for their money, and mmpb’s are built to be (largely) disposable. Trade paperbacks and hardcovers tend to last longer, so people may be willing to invest more money in them.

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  23. Jennifer U
    Oct 20, 2010 @ 11:09:14

    Quality of ebooks is an issue. However, I also agree that pricing of them is as well. I continue to be irritated having to pay more for ebooks on BN.com than if I purchased the paperback. I currently have 20 books in my ebook wish list that I am watching to see go on sale. I love my NOOK, but I think it is unfortunate that ebook prices can’t be slightly less than, or offered on sale with, paperbacks at the lower price.

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  24. Suze
    Oct 21, 2010 @ 00:25:08

    There must be some kind of financial benefit to publishers to create those stupid venti books, because more and more of them are out there. In most stores I visit, all the bestsellers are now venti. Who buys them? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of ANYONE who doesn’t dislike them.

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  26. Evangeline
    Oct 24, 2010 @ 00:22:05

    I think there will be a decline in the number of books published each year. The first thing that popped in my mind was the Mercy Thompson series: it began in mmpb, but when it exploded in popularity, the series switched to hardcover and fans didn’t think twice about purchasing the books in a new, more expensive format. Plus, isn’t most YA published in tpb or hc? That genre isn’t hurting for sales and critical acclaim–and it’s supposedly geared towards income-less teens!

    I also think the ready adoption of e-books by romance readers play a part in this. Not simply digital versions of print books, but e-published books. I have heard that the grower in e-publishing is contemporary romance–a genre publishers have pronounced as DOA. Not to mention stalwarts such as paranormal, m/m, and erotic romance. If romance readers are turnng to e-published books to find what NY neglects, I can see why that mmpb market is taking a nose dive (and I think erotic romaances being published in tpb has made romance readers more open to spending $11-16 on tpb).

    What does mean as a whole? Like I said before–possibly less books published in mmpb each year, less time for mid-list authors to gain an audience, and a smaller number of imprints (like Harlequin) controlling the market. And let’s not begin to discuss the role to be played by the shrinking venues in which to buy books. If Borders and/or B&N go under, it will become more difficult to find books not published by major players or written by best-sellers. We are living in interesting times…

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