Publishing Trendsetter is a production of Market Partners International and Publishing Trends.

Our Ebooks, Ourselves: What’s Happening with Our Ereader Data?

This article was originally published on our parent site for the book publishing industry, Publishing Trends

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In October of last year, news broke on The Digital Reader that Adobe Digital Editions was taking a significant amount of user data and sending it back to their servers. Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) is a program that allows readers to put ebooks onto their reading devices from retailers and libraries alike. The program’s terms and conditions don’t mention anything about the extra data logging, and there was some outrage. Users were concerned that Adobe was getting data from every single page they read.

It’s understandable that ADE users were upset that their data was being taken in a way that they hadn’t agreed to. However, tracking how a reader engages – or doesn’t engage – with an ebook is only going to increase. Retailers like Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and others all track usage data from the ebooks they sell. It’s not just retailers that do this either, Oyster and Scribd also track actions of their subscribers.

So what’s being tracked when we read a book on a Kindle or open up the Oyster app? Retailers and subscription services track how far you’ve read in a book, where in the book you stopped reading it, how quickly you read it, and how you came across that book, among other data.

Say the data for This Book shows that most people who stop reading the book before completion quit in chapter 7. The fear is that the editor of This Book will ask the author to make some changes to chapter 7 to hopefully increase the number of readers who read all of the way to the end. Buzzfeed Reporter Joseph Bernstein mused on this idea: “Excuse me, Mr. Joyce, you’re losing a lot of Kindle Fire readers here in this third section. Maybe tighten it up a smidge?” All jokes aside, there are some who aren’t concerned at all. Bernstein interviewed Claudia Ballard, an agent at WME who said “…people have been picking up books and not finishing them for a long time. At the end of the day a unit sold is a unit sold.” Of course, that’s not strictly true with ebook subscriptions.

Since users of a subscription service pay one monthly fee for unlimited books, royalties to authors are calculated differently. Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords, has openly told the press how each payout schedule is structured for both Oyster and Scribd. It’s no surprise that both payout systems are tied to engagement. Coker spoke to GoodEreader about Oyster’s payment structure for Smashwords authors saying, “As a Smashwords author or publisher, you’ll earn 60% of your book’s retail list price whenever an Oyster subscriber reads more than 10% of your book, starting from the beginning of the book forward.” Coker also spoke to Fast Company about Scribd’s payout system, “The first 10% of every book from page one forward is available as a free sample. If readers read an additional 20% more, the author and publisher get credit for a full sale of the book, 60% of the list price. Scribd will also pay in cases where the reader reads more than the first 15% of the book, but less than 30%. In that situation, the author gets a ‘browse credit.’ For every 10 browses, they get credit for a full sale.” It should be noted that these payment structures are for Smashwords only. Oyster and Scribd are both fairly quiet about how their payments work, but it’s clear that it’s based, at least in part, on engagement data per book. Read More »

Event Recap: Books are Sacred, Lawn Mowers Aren’t

Last night, the NYU Center for Publishing gathered some publishing heavyweights to discuss how their books became bestsellers in today’s publishing industry during their NYU Media Talk event.  Authors R.L. Stine, Elin Hilderbrand, and Malcolm Gladwell talked about book success in a digital age with TIME Book Critic Lev Grossman as moderator.

In today’s world of big business and the ongoing ebook pricing battle after the famous Amazon-Hachette disagreement, Gladwell feels that books and other cultural products need to be treated as sacred.  “Should books be carved out from other kinds of economic behavior as special? I would say yes.” He continued, “I think cultural products ought to be considered separately from lawn mowers.”

This is important to consider since ebooks have become a significant part of sales for most authors.  Children’s authors like Stine have seen little change (since most kids don’t own ereaders), but Hilderbrand, who writes what she categorizes as a “beach read,” has seen a major shift of sales.  In 2010, about 1/3 of her sales were in the ebook format.  In 2014, her book Matchmaker sold about 75% in ebooks, presumably because it’s easier to buy your next beach read from your ereader.  “I prefer that people read a paper book but it’s the same content” so it’s not that big of a deal to her.

Read More »

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 2/2-2/6

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

HarperCollins will be publishing a recently discovered manuscript of Harper Lee’s, but this news is not without controversy.

Commercial printing company R.R. Donnelley acquired Courier Corporation for $261 million.

Founders of Black Balloon Publishing and Electric Literature created a new publishing startup, Catapult.

The Canadian Governor’s General Literary Award winner 2014 faces backlash due to gender and sexuality conflicts.

Investment firm Centre Lane Partners now has control of Perseus Books Group’s investment funds in hopes of helping Perseus to grow.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 1/26-1/30

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Oyster added all 10 Harry Potter universe books to its subscription service.

Author David Lagercrantz will write a sequel to Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy.

Simon & Schuster launched its new nonfiction imprint North Star Way, which will offer additional audience-building services to its authors.

UK grocery retailer Tesco ended its ebook initiative Blinkbox Books and transferred its customers to Kobo.

Wiley has teamed up with BitLit for ebook bundling.

Internview: “Before” with Moè Nakayama

We’re thrilled to welcome Moè Nakayama as this season’s Publishing Trendsetter and Market Partners International intern. In continuing our tradition of interviewing our intern in the first couple of weeks of the internship, we hope to provide some insight from an upcoming book professional on what they would like to learn to aid their future success in the publishing industry. Read more about Moè on the About page, and keep an eye out for her contributions over the next few months.

Trendsetter: What aspects of Publishing Trends and MPI interest you most as you enter the internship?

Moè: MPI combines the expertise of seasoned veterans with the dynamism of young professionals in the industry. As someone who’s just getting started in publishing, I’d love to learn from both and from the conversation happening between them.

So much of the material on Publishing Trends and Publishing Trendsetter are new and helpful to me. In particular, I really appreciate the weekly Top 5 News Articles feature— it’s given me some new vocab already, as well as a few bookmarks!

T: What “skill-sets” or areas of your knowledge would you most like to broaden with this internship?

M: This internship promises to provide a “macro” view of the business, and that’s exactly what I’d like to gain in my time here. My experience in publishing so far has been limited to editorial, so I feel like I need a better understanding of how publishing as a whole operates— as a process, as a business, as an industry… One example of something I’d like to learn more about is digital publishing. I think knowing about— if not the answers to, then the vocabulary for discussing— these issues will be important as I go on to (hopefully) contribute to the world of publishing.

I also want to expand on my writing skills. Since graduating college, I’ve become increasingly aware of how different non-academic writing is from academic writing. I’d like to train in writing concisely for a general audience— writing that informs as well as intrigues.

T: What kind of value do you think might be unique to a non-traditional book-business internship?

M: Breadth of insight. That’s not to say an internship at a publisher or an agency can’t provide a broad experience— not at all! But if you’re in editorial, for example, any insight you get into sales or production will most likely be indirect. A non-traditional book-business internship like this one allows you to open up your focus to the “bigger picture” and to get to know a variety of players and practices in the industry from a neutral standpoint. It’ll give me an awareness of the whole landscape— and that could help me figure out where my niche could be in publishing.

T: What makes you so drawn to publishing as a field?

M: Well, like most people interested in publishing, I’ve always loved reading, writing, books, and words. So that’s the obvious answer… But I guess the more interesting and honest answer is that, to me, publishing feels like a very inclusive industry. You’re not tied to one topic of expertise; you can keep learning about new ideas. I find that “roominess” comforting and exciting.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 1/19-1/23

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

With no buyer lined up, Egmont USA is closing at the end of this month.

Retail CEO of Barnes & Noble, Mitchell Klipper, will retire at the beginning of May of this year.

This week, Amazon announced their plans for textbook writers to be able to self-publish on the Kindle platform.

Kobo received a court order from the Canadian Competition Bureau to turn over their ebook pricing practices.

James Patterson is releasing a self-destructing ebook, as well as one physical book that will explode after reading, which will sell for close to $300,000.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 1/12-1/16

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Macmillan reached an agreement with Scribd and Oyster, becoming the third of the Big 5 to do so.

Simon & Schuster is now selling online courses by popular self-help, health, and finance authors.

Macmillan Science and Education will merge with Springer Science + Business Media with Macmillan owning the majority.

The Man Book Prize revised its longlist eligibility rules for 2015 submissions.

HarperCollins ebooks will now be available in the EPUB3 file format, but files will still be compatible with the EPUB2 format.

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 1/5-1/9

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Scribd announced this week that they’ve raised $22 million toward their ebook subscription service.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg started a book club, causing sales to skyrocket for his first selection.

Recorded Books has officially acquired Tantor Media.

Google’s ebook program continues to grow steadily as it begins its fifth year.

The Author’s Guild’s case against HathiTrust was officially dismissed this week.

Listen Up! The Audiobook Revolution

Editor’s note: This was originally posted on our parent site, Publishing Trends.

With audiobook sales numbers on the rise over the past two years, retailers have been searching for new ways to appeal to wider audiences. So far, the most common trends have been straight-to-audio publications, library digital downloads, abridged audiobooks, and an increase in subscription services.  However, speculation has begun to spread as to whether publishers should repackage audiobooks to be more similar to podcasts, given the format’s latest successes.

At the end of November, Audible published The Starling Project by thriller writer Jeffery Deaver.  This publication differs from other audiobooks in one major way: it has never appeared in print.  In The New York Times, Alexandra Alter wrote that the book will “test the appetite for an emerging art form that blends the immersive charm of old-time radio drama with digital technology” and points out that this initiative shows that audiobooks are “coming into their own as a creative medium” in the publishing industry.

Deaver, who has no plans to authorize publication in print or digitally, is the most recognizable name in Audible’s content creating program, which has produced 30 other audio-exclusive original works.

Audible is not alone.  According to the same New York Times article, audiobook producer GraphicAudio is planning on releasing two of its own original series in 2015.

These new audio-first programs aren’t surprising given the surge of popularity for audiobooks in the last two years.  According to The Digital Reader, the American Association of Publishers (AAP) released a new report in October that stated downloadable audiobooks are the fastest growing format with a +26.2% growth in 2013.  In 2014, the AAP reported that sales were up 28%.  Meanwhile, ebooks are the second fastest growing with +7.5% growth in 2013 and 6% in 2014.

Read More »

Top 5 Publishing News Stories 12/29-1/2

number_5_orangeEvery week we recommend 5 publishing news stories that young book professionals should read to feel more connected to what’s going on in the industry. There are only 5, so even if you weren’t able to read a thing all week, these should help keep you in the know.

Kindle Unlimited authors are upset with Amazon for selling their books at low prices, affecting royalties.

The Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture sold out in stores after Melville House’s  quick transformation of the report into a book.

Wattpad users can now design their own book covers in its new Covers app.

Amazon ended the year with an increase in Kindle sales and Prime subscriptions.

HarperCollins had to remove Collins Middle East Atlas from stores because it didn’t include Israel.