Tyson Adams

Putting the 'ill' back in thriller

Archive for the tag “Borders”

Sony exits ebook biz

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there are these things called electronic books now, e-books for short. Now these are brand new (invented 1971, possibly as early as 1949) and understandably the devices to read them are even newer (first e-reader released 1998). So it may come as a shock to many of you that quite a few people read e-books on e-readers now instead of paper books. It will come as even more of a shock to you that the Sony e-reader has become a thing of the past.

That’s right my fellow book lovers – lovers in the adoration sense, not in the brace yourself, oh yeah, uh-huh, uh-huh, chikka bow-wow, sense – it appears that Sony has decided it doesn’t want a dedicated e-reader, in fact it doesn’t even want an e-book store. They have announced that they are pulling out and customers are being transferred to the Kobo store.

Of course, I don’t think anyone is particularly surprised by this decision. Raise your hand if you’ve ever actually seen a Sony e-reader. Now keep it up if you’ve actually owned one. If you can see anyone with their hand still raised, I’d question how you manage to turn people’s web cams on. Sony has been playing at the bottom end of the market for e-readers and e-books for quite a while now. The chart below from Goodreads shows Sony were picking up Kobo’s scraps in the market.

So what does this mean for us readers? Well, it means the big dedicated e-readers remain, the Kindle and Nook. It also means Kobo could pick up a bit more of the e-reader and e-book market. But that isn’t particularly interesting to me, I’ll discuss why in a moment. What is interesting is the Sony e-reader is probably the victim of the modern device market.

I read an interesting tech article that was discussing mobile phones. They pointed out that the companies making money on phones weren’t actually making money on the phone sales, especially at the mid to lower price points, but instead cashing in on the app stores and downloads. The phone is a loss leader for the software business they run. Nokia and their deal with Microsoft is a classic example of this, with Nokia battling to compete for market share and profits.

Translate that to e-readers and the same thing applies. It was even worse for Sony, as the other competitors were/are selling their Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc, as a loss leader to get people using their store or affiliates. This meant that the big stores attract the users, who buy the associated tech, which locks them to the stores (to some extent at least), leading to e-book sales profits. Terrific! As long as you don’t think too hard about the slave labour making the devices.

The reason I don’t find the market positioning of the e-reader devices of much interest is down to a few things. The first is a little statistic that has been showing up in surveys from Goodreads and The Pew Institute; namely that 29-37% of people read books on their phone (23% on a tablet). A dedicated reading device is only really in the book space now because the e-reader screen has less eye fatigue. At the moment! Watch this bubble burst as phones and tablets eat away at the readability technology, such that e-reader screens become redundant. Mobile devices also don’t have to be linked to any one e-book store, so interesting times are on the horizon.

Another view on e-readers future: http://techland.time.com/2013/01/04/dont-call-the-e-reader-doomed/

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Bookstore profitability

With the recent changes in publishing everyone has been talking about who the losers from the rise of ebooks has/will be. I think it is safe to say that publishers are still doing okay, if not more profitable. Authors, well, they have more options than ever to publish and make money. Of course, the speculation around the industry has seen authors being nickel and dimed on advances and shelf stocking.

But the big losers have to have been the bookstores, right? We’ve seen plenty of the big chain stores cease to be, we’ve heard about how much bookstores are battling. I’m not really convinced, since I remember that before the Borders collapse in Australia, there was plenty of evidence of financial mismanagement and not paying for books.

Well, I found this American retail business data for bookstores over the last 5 years. Have a look for yourself and see how well you think bookstores are faring.

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NB: The source for this data covers a lot of the retail sector and makes me think that selling bakery goods is a great idea.

Books are dead. Just kidding.

The report of my death was an exaggeration – Mark Twain

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/aug/30/death-books-exaggerated
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/aug/22/are-books-dead-ewan-morrison

You know, there is nothing better than media speculators. Any possible change in an industry, government, or price of coffee and they suddenly start predicting the end of the world. Some changes, like any Apple product, are welcomed with open advertising arms, other changes, like e-books, are threatening jobs.

So how did the publishers fare this year? They lost major stores (Borders, REDGroup), had a decrease in stocking at big box stores, and had the market flooded with a slush pile. Turns out they did pretty well.

That’s right, e-books are more profitable and have generally replaced the paperback sales decline. Who’d have thought that people who enjoy reading wouldn’t suddenly stop reading? Did not see that one coming.

In financial trouble? Play dominoes!

Yes, bookstores may be generally declining, or doing their impersonation of climate change deniers, but apparently it can be solved by playing dominoes.

I reckon it is worth visiting this store for two reasons.
1) They made this pretty cool ad.
2) This looks like a store that would have just about any book you are looking for.
3) Someone needs to beat up the hippie playing guitar cross-legged.

Australian Bookstore Memorabilia Auction

Borders Book Mark for Sale

I am selling my limited edition Borders bookmark for charity. Any and all offers between $40 million and $50 million will be accepted.

As many book fans will have noticed, there are a number of book retailers circling the drain of bankruptcy. Borders in the USA may have found a last minute lifeline, but here in Australia the Redgroup stores (Borders and Angus & Robertson) have gone the way of the honest politician. The superbly managed Redgroup managed to amass $170 million in debts, $44 million of that being owed to publishers (and consequently authors).

The reason for me auctioning off my bookmark is that I hope to be able to not only share a piece of publishing industry history, but to also recoup the money that Redgroup stole from publishers and authors. Redgroup felt that selling millions of dollars worth of books that they didn’t own was really just a creative book-keeping issue. Nobody else did and now all we have to remember them by is this bookmark.

Bid Now!

The bookmark is not laminated, but I can have it laminated. I can also list the board of directors of Redgroup on the back if desired. Please, no time-wasters, this is an auction to save starving authors everywhere.

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