Blogger: Mary Keeley
I try to keep up with publishing trends in order to advise clients knowledgeably and report new developments to all of you. For some time news updates have been sobering. But we won’t rehash. Today is a day for optimism. And I hope my optimism is contagious for you.
The week began with more of the same. One more small publishing house closed its doors and yet another imprint was sold, presumably in the publisher’s effort to use the profit to stay afloat. It looked like a continuation of the stream of discouraging reports—until I read two posts in the last two days. I have to admit I’m surprised at the level to which my spirits soared after pondering these encouraging news items. What propelled my optimism is that these items were from two different sources yet, side by side, they paint a hopeful picture. I was doing the happy dance in my office (which no one will ever observe, by the way).
The first piece was a quick report Maryann Yin wrote for Galleycat on Mediabistro.com about Amazon’s plans to open two pop-up stores in California. A pop-up store usually is a simple kiosk, which is open for a temporary period of time. Amazon’s San Francisco location in a high-end mall may open by the end of this month.
Maryann provided the link to an informative Geekwire column by Tricia Duryee, who referred to a Wall Street Journal report that Amazon intends to open a third pop-up in Manhattan as well. Tricia’s article quotes Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ spokeswoman explaining they’re opening these kiosks “in time for the holidays so that customers can try out our new devices,” and “While customers can already see our products online and at retailers like Best Buy and Staples, we wanted to provide another option to try out our full line-up leading into the holidays.” Read Tricia’s entire column here.
Very telling. Can you see the reason my optimism perked up? Tricia concluded, “While Amazon gets a lot of credit for dominating e-commerce sales, the store openings show that it can’t ignore that a vast majority of retail revenues today still occur in the offline world.” The fact that this publishing giant is testing physical locations means Amazon acknowledges that a major portion of book buyers continue to prefer browsing, touching, and selecting books and devices from brick and mortar stores.
The second piece I read was by Dennis Abrams in Publishing Perspectives in which he reported the latest Nielsen Books & Consumer statistics for unit sales during the first six months of 2014:
- Ebooks = 23%
- Hardcover books = 25%
- Paperback books = 42%
Sales of either one of the print versions outnumber the ebook share of sales. Combined, they account for almost three times the percentage of ebook sales. Ebook sales continue to rise but at a significantly slower rate. Read the complete column here.
These two articles side-by-side point in a promising direction. Don’t misunderstand; I’m a fan of ebooks. I read ebooks and ebook sales revenue has kept CBA publishers’ doors open following the economic downturn in 2007. We love ebooks, but their meteoric rise in popularity a few years ago has not dictated the demise of print books or brick & mortar bookstores, as many in the industry predicted. This is worth celebrating. It isn’t only good news for print books but for the industry as a whole. Let’s hope for a gradual increase in the number of brick & mortar stores again too.
I read somewhere (sorry, I can’t remember the source) that post-Millennial (“Posts,” “Homelanders,” “Gen-Z,” “Yawn”) generation readers prefer print books, and I’ve wondered how true that statement is. If you are, or have children who are, late teenage to mid-twenties, what is your observation?
I hope today’s optimism is contagious. How has this information encouraged you?
Be encouraged by these publishing indicators. Optimism is contagious. Click to Tweet.
Recent industry information is encouraging for book publishing, and optimism is contagious. Click to Tweet.