Wednesday Midday Links: Book Sales Plummet, eBook Sales Flat
There is a new Amazon controversy arising out of a self published book by an author (not linking to it because I don’t want to give needless publicity to the book itself) about how to become a better pedophile. A number of people want Amazon to remove the book. The content is certainly disgusting but it is probably not illegal. [It could be illegal in some regions and territories outside of the US] Writing about illegal acts isn’t illegal. Child pornography laws cover images (usually of real people, although recently there has been convictions of people buying graphic illustrations of children in sexual poses and acts). It does not cover the written word. A classic called Lolita is about a middle aged man’s sexual obsession with a twelve year, an obsession that he acts upon.
My first reaction was that I am adverse to content based restrictions. Meaning, I don’t like it when a purveyor of information like Amazon unilaterally decides what we should have access to. I have to make the public disclaimer that I am not condoning this book or the act of pedophilia but questioning the issue of content based bans by booksellers and other similarly situated businesses and institutions. However, I also think it is the right of consumers to say that they don’t want to shop at a place where this type of book is sold.
September sales are gloomy:
- Hardcover Children's/YA: down 17.4 percent for the month ($76.6 million). Down 15.1 percent YTD
- Children's/YA Paperback: down 1.6 percent ($53.3 million). Down 6.8 percent YTD
- Adult Hardcover: down 40.4 percent ($180.3 million). Down 8.1 percent YTD
- Adult Paperback: down 15.8 percent for the month ($111.5 million). Up 1.5 percent YTD
- Adult Mass Market: down 23.6 percent ($67.8 million). Down 15.7 percent YTD
- E-book: Up 158.1 percent ($39.9 million). Up 188.4 percent YTD
- Downloaded Audio Books: Up 73.7 percent ($7.7 million). Up 34.1 percent YTD
- Physical Audio Book: down 42.6 percent ($11.6 million). Down 12.6 percent YTD
Nate over at The Digital Reader explains why ebook growth is flat despite the positive numbers.
Charlaine Harris’ series will be a Hidden Object Game with a release date set for early 2011. The game will be called Dying for Daylight. Thanks, Lada, for the tip.
Charlaine Harris is the latest literary powerhouse to partner with I-play. The casual games publisher has generated more than 50 million downloads across its four book-based franchises. These games include four James Patterson Women’s Murder Club titles, several Agatha Christie adaptations, a title based on a Nora Roberts novel and most recently the transformation of The Great Gatsby into an interactive game experience.
Ironically or not so ironically, these hidden object games sometimes cost less than the books themselves.
Speaking of pricing and books, Agent Annette Green (agent of Meg Cabot, among others) laments the actions that publishers have taken toward ebooks, finding that print publishers have learned little from the lessons learned by the recording industry. She specifically targets agency pricing pointing out that applying agency pricing only to digital books creates absurd results such as the paper book being cheaper than the digital book:
In what seems to me a stupendously ill-judged attempt to revive the ghost of the Net Book Agreement, several major publishers have announced their adoption of the agency model of selling e-books. Online retailers will no longer participate as wholesalers, buying at discount and selling at whatever price suits their margins. Now the price will be set by the publishers and the retailers will simply take an agreed percentage commission for generating the sale.
A statement from Amazon UK discussing its US experience says "when prices went up on agency-priced books, sales immediately shifted away from agency publishers and towards the rest of our store". If there's any truth in this it can't be good for publishing
Given that many of the digital bestsellers are books that are Agency priced, the authors affected most adversely are new and midlist authors whose books’ price can be a deterrent for new readers.
A new study by Attributor suggests that online infringers will take down the infringing material 75% of the time when approached nicely and sometimes offering a different model of revenue:
Attributor's approach engages unlicensed content users in dialogue before resorting to formal takedown notices and even more draconian ways of making them remove illegally obtained content. By educating infringers and reasoning with them instead of bombarding them with legal threats, Attributor was able to persuade 75 percent of the offending websites to alter their behavior.
I’m uncertain from the blog post at ereads.com whether the takedown is only in response to alternative model of revenue or simply through the dialogue and education.