Barnes & Noble, the largest bookseller in the US, has recently announced that it has suffered losses in the arm of its business that includes sales of its e-readers and e-books. The company has significantly invested in this part of its business in recent years and so the figures are sure to be disappointing – especially as they include sales from over the holiday period.
There is even suggestion that the company might start to withdraw from certain aspects of this side of its business, and focus more on building deals with other tablet produces over content they control rather than focusing on their own Nook tablet.
One of the reasons given for the losses suffered is that while tablet sales grew over the holiday period, people chose to go with other providers – Barnes & Noble have found it difficult to extend their market outside of their existing customers. With this in mind, a renewed focus on content rather than physical devices seems to make sense, although what action the company is planning to take is not yet clear.
In the meantime, you can read more about this story here and here.
Here’s a bit of news that will be of interest to anyone who’s keen on their e-readers: the e-reader marketplace is about to get a new addition with the upcoming launch of a new device from German book retailers.
The new e-reader is called the Tolino and it’s set to go on sale from 7 March. It’s seen as something of a rival to the Kindle from Amazon as well as Apple’s tablet. E-book sales currently account for just over 3 % of the German market (compared with around 10% in the US), but it is a market that is growing fast.
Last year, Amazon had sales of around $8.7billion in Germany, which works out at around 20% of the book market. This increasing dominance seems to have rattled other German book retailers, and is one of the reasons they have joined together to create the new Tolino e-reader.
The Tolino is set to have around 300,000 books available for download, and should be able to store around 2000 books. It’s set to be sold for €99.
You can read more about this new e-reader here.
It’s a question that all independent publishers have to think about at some point in the process of writing a novel: when it comes to time to publish, who should you be targeting with your book?
There are a few different issues to think about here, and they can all affect who you eventually decide to aim your book at. For example, the type of story you’ve written will undoubtedly have an impact on the age range you target, as well as the genre. How you publish your book might also have an impact. Something else to think about that’s linked to this is how people read – does your target audience tend to go for print books, or are they more likely to read e-books?
An interesting finding to come out recently is that if you’re looking to self-publish an e-book, you might want to seriously think about targeting older readers. It can be tempting to think that it’s more likely to be the younger readers out there who have e-readers, but in fact, people over the age of 55 are currently more likely to have them than younger people.
Mintel, a research group, found that 22% of people under 55 have an e-reader, while 29% of people over 55 have one. This might not seem like that much of a gap, but it’s still significant and definitely worth taking notice of when you’re planning things such as how to market your book. And, when you think about it, it sort of makes sense that older people would be more likely to have an e-book, if only for reasons such as the fact they can enlarge the text and they’re easier to hold than many print books.
So it’s important to do our research when we’re independently publishing an e-book; they’re read by a wide range of people, and we need to make sure we cater to all of them.
You can read more about the findings of Mintel’s research here.
If you have been thinking about buying an e-reader but have been put off the options that are currently on the market because of their price, you might be interested in this story. The German company Txtr has announced that they are planning to sell their own e-reader for under €10.
It stands to reason that as this e-reader is set to be so cheap, it isn’t laden with as many capabilities as the likes of the Kindle and the Nook. It can only store around 5 e-books at a time, for instance, and you can only get e-books onto it by using a smartphone and Bluetooth. There is less choice available on the Txtr store than on Amazon, and the battery life allows you to read between 12 and 15 books.
So the device is clearly not without its limitations. However, if you’re paying less than €10 for an e-reader (or whatever its equivalent price in the UK turns out to be), those are limitations that are probably worth overlooking. The device is smaller than the Kindle and the Nook, and it’s also lighter, making it portable.
Also, if you like the idea of an e-reader but only really want to use one occasionally, preferring to stick mainly to print books, a slightly more cumbersome download process is a small price to pay for an e-reader option that’s affordable and convenient.
The device hasn’t been released yet, but it will be interesting to see the reviews of the Txtr e-reader once it’s released. Assuming it comes with a good quality screen, it could prove to be a very exciting device.
In the meantime, you can read more about the upcoming e-reader here and here.
As anyone who has ever been to Hay-on-Wye will tell you, an entire town based around books is a pretty good thing. And, while Hay might be the most famous of the book towns, it isn’t alone. This is an interesting BBC article on book towns and the challenges that are facing them as a result of the rise of the e-reader.
One of the best things about the article is the list of book towns from around the world (imagine a round-the-world book trip – amazing), but it also offers an interesting take on how book towns are having to adapt to the changing literary environment. For example, Adrian Turpin – who directs the Wigtown Book Festival in Scotland – suggests that rather than focusing on selling books first and the browsing experience second, the changes taking place in the industry mean that those two factors are almost the other way around.
When times change, businesses have to change with them, and it seems that while there is definitely still a place for book towns, if they want to survive, they need to adapt and diversify so that they stay interesting and relevant.
What do you think? Do you think book towns could be helped by developments in the book industry, or does the e-reader threaten their survival?