Apr 182012

Kindle 4, just $49 at Wal-Mart

Pretty amazing deal … the Kindle 4, which retails for $79, comes with a $30 Wal-Mart gift card at Wal-Mart the week starting April 29. That makes the final price just $49 for the latest-generation e-Ink Kindle.

It’s a pretty phenomenal deal, even though this is the non-touchscreen Kindle version (some of us don’t want fingerprints on our screen anyway and prefer page turn buttons), and it comes with “special offers.” More info on Amazon’s website here, or my blog posts here.

If you’ve been looking to jump into e-reading, but don’t want to spend much money, this is the deal for you. $79 is already a pretty attractive price for a Kindle, which gets you a 6″ Pearl e-Ink screen, Wi-Fi connectivity to download books wirelessly, adjustable text sizes, dictionary look-up, and access to Amazon’s world-leading e-book store, plus thousands of free public domain e-books. Add in the $30 gift card, and it’s like spending less than $50 for the Kindle — which is the cost of a couple of hardcover books.

If you want to grab this deal (perhaps as a Mother’s Day gift?), it will probably only be available at Wal-Mart for a week, from April 29 to May 5.

Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight

B&N today unveiled a new version of their Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight — an e-Ink based e-reader with a built-in reading light. Designed to appeal to readers who read in bed at night (without wanting to disturb a sleeping spouse), the new Nook uses an LED lighting system hidden around the bezel of the screen. As it’s built into the device and runs off the Nook’s internal rechargeable battery, it’s a superior solution to clip-on nightlights and reading lights.

Impressively, the new Nook manages to actually weigh a hair less than the previous Nook Simple Touch, and is still under 7 ounces, which is plenty light enough for easy 1-handed reading. It retains the touchscreen, e-Ink Pearl display, Wi-Fi, and other features of the regular (unlit) Nook Simple Touch, and the light can be turned on or off, for equally easy reading at night or outdoors in bright sunlight. It retails for $139, compared to $99 for the unlit version. It will be available on May 1.

While there have been rumors of Amazon coming out with a similar lighted Kindle version (and Sony had an e-reader with a similar, but not as advanced, built-in lighting system several years ago), kudos to Barnes & Noble for beating them to the punch. This seems to be a superior alternative to Amazon’s case with a built-in reading light (which also charges directly from the Kindle’s internal battery). Of note, the reading light will of course reduce the long battery life for which e-Ink e-readers are famous, but B&N says you can still read for a month for half an hour a day with the light on (compared to two months with the light off).

I haven’t seen one in person yet, but it seems like a great solution for people who like to read in bed while their spouses sleep. Now, if only B&N would cut back on the overblown hyperbole in their press releases and product descriptions. First of all, you don’t have the “World’s #1 Reader,” sorry, guys. And how they manage to pack “first & only,” “perfect,” “breakthrough,” “optimized,” “revolutionary,” “great,” “exclusive,” “Best-Text,” “fastest,” “most advanced,” “lightest,” “unbeatable,” “best of e-Ink,” and “amazing” all into a few lines of marketing copy is impressive. It’s like playing Superlative Bingo. And their press release is even more over the top. Really, B&N, you make a good product, but when you have to tell me 50x per press release how “most advanced” and “industry-leading” and “most stupendously amazing” and “world’s best in the whole world” your own device is, it just sounds like you’re trying too hard.

Mar 272012

Book 7 of the Harry Potter Series

Pretty big news in the e-book world today, as J.K. Rowling’s hit (super-mega-hit is more like it) series Harry Potter is finally available as e-books. Grab them on Amazon here:

Harry Potter Kindle E-Books

The good news is that the prices are fairly reasonable, ranging from $7.99 (for each of the first three books) to $9.99 (for each of the remaining four).

This fills an important gap in the e-book world, and was probably the reason that a sizable chunk of people was holding off on buying Kindles or other e-readers. I have no doubt that this announcement alone will result in a noticeable bump in Kindle device sales. I would expect it to especially impact younger readers, who are now more likely than ever to start reading e-books.

The full series list:

  1. Book 1: Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone ($7.99)
  2. Book 2: Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets ($7.99)
  3. Book 3: Harry Potter & the Prizoner of Azkaban ($7.99)
  4. Book 4: Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire ($9.99)
  5. Book 5: Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix ($9.99)
  6. Book 6: Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince ($9.99)
  7. Book 7: Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows ($9.99)

The reason these books have taken so long to finally become available on the Kindle (and other e-readers) was a simple one: the author didn’t want her works read as e-books; she preferred everyone to have the “paper & ink” experience. With all due respect to how Ms. Rowling prefers to read for herself, many millions of readers have already decided that we prefer the convenience, portability, and other features of e-books. (As an author, I’m always grateful for anyone to want to buy and enjoy my work, whether it’s on paper, on a Kindle, iPad, or inscribed on parchment scrolls. But she’s sold a few more books than I have, so I guess she wasn’t concerned about missing out on a few million sales here and there.)

In any event, I’m sure these e-books will do quite well (better late than never), and this announcement will make many of her fans quite happy. Welcome to 2012, J.K. Rowling!

E-Book Sales in 2011 Total $969.9M

Posted by Always Write at 1:31 AM Tagged with: ,
Mar 122012

December 2011 e-book sales were $85M

December 2011 book sales figures are in, and e-book sales clocked in at $85.0M, up 72% from last December. That figure shows some rebound from the lower-than-expected October and November sales, although it lags behind the months of February, May, and August. In fact, the monthly sales for 2011 are remarkably flat overall, with ups and downs but no clear upward trend for the first time in recent memory. In fact, sales for each of the last 3 months failed to double from the same months in 2010 for the first time all year (in other words, sales in each of the first 9 months were more than double their year-ago figures). The recap:

  • Dec 2010: $49.5M
  • Jan 2011: $69.9M
  • Feb 2011: $90.3M
  • Mar 2011: $69.0M
  • Apr 2011: $72.8M
  • May 2011: $87.7M
  • June 2011: $80.2M
  • July 2011: $82.6M
  • Aug 2011: $88.8M
  • Sep 2011: $80.3M
  • Oct 2011: $72.8M
  • Nov 2011: $77.3M
  • Dec 2011: $85.0M

Total 2011 e-book sales came in just under $1 billion

With December’s figures, the total sales for 2011 are in the books, and e-book sales increased 117% (more than double) from 2010, totaling $969.9M for the year. (As usual, note that the total figure is slightly higher than adding up the previous 12 months above, as the numbers usually are adjusted slightly upward for late-reporting sales.) This came in pretty close to, but just under, my prediction of $1 billion in e-book sales for the year (I was off by 3%). As you can see from the chart above, Q4 2011 took a surprising dip from the previous two quarters for the first time in several years.

2011 was not a great year for print book sales, with all 5 categories of print book sales down from the year before, with mass-market paperbacks predictably getting hammered the hardest, as they are the most likely to be replaced by e-book sales.

  • Adult hardcover: $1,293.2M (down 17.5%)
  • Adult trade paperback: $1,165.6M (down 15.6%)
  • Adult mass-market paper: $431.5M (down 35.9%)
  • Young adult hardcover: $661.9M (down 4.7%)
  • Young adult paperback: $477.9M (down 12.7%)

E-book sales as a percentage of total book sales

Of course, overall print book sales ($4,030.1M) were still more than 4 times the dollar value of e-book sales. And the increase in e-book sales was not enough to offset the overall decline, with combined book (print + e-book) sales for 2011 ($4,986.9M) falling slightly from 2010 ($5,293.3M). E-book sales as a percentage of total book sales more than doubled (up almost 135%) from the previous year, from 8.17% in 2010 to 19.18% of all sales in 2011. (Also keep in mind that print books are tracked more thoroughly by the AAP; e-book sales are reported only by the larger publishers, and there are millions of dollars of e-book sales that go uncounted in these figures.)

So, overall, another year of e-book sales more than doubling. However, the slowdown in the last quarter and overall leveling off of sales in 2011 might hint that we’re heading for a plateau, or at least a tapering of e-book sales growth. Of course, nothing can double forever, and my early prediction is that 2012 e-book sales will fail to double from this year’s numbers — maybe up 50% or so to about $1,500M (one and a half billion). I think we’ll see a continued decline in print books, leading to e-books garnering roughly one-third of the overall book market this year. But I think we might be a couple years away from breaching 50% — which might require a technological advance like color e-Ink or foldable screens, or a game-changing event in the publishing world, such as superstar authors going independent and straight to e-books, big publishers embracing e-books, or lowering of e-book pricing (perhaps as a result of the agency model going away). In any case, I’m sure 2012 will be another interesting year for the publishing industry in general, and for e-books in particular.

Mar 062012

You may notice that, when I discuss the e-book publishing landscape on this blog, I’ll often talk about Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and to a lesser extent Kobo, Apple, Smashwords, and even Sony. I’ve sold multiple e-books through all of those channels (in decreasing amounts in the order listed) — in quintuple digits (Amazon), quadruple digits (B&N), triple digits (Kobo), or double digits (the rest).

But, even though I’ve listed my books with Google (confusingly named Google Books, the Google Partner Program, Google Editions, and Google E-Books at various times) since they began back in 2010, I had yet to see one single, solitary e-book sale from them. As I predicted back then, it didn’t seem like Google had its act together in the e-book selling game (step one: pick a name) and they were pretty late out of the gate, compared to Amazon (which launched the Kindle Store in 2007) or Sony before that.

Well, I can admit when I’m wrong, and I’m pleased to announce that I just learned that I sold my first-ever e-book on Google. While it has a long way to go to catch some of the other sales channels, maybe it’s the start of something big.

So I’d like to offer a hearty thank-you to my first Google E-Book reader — if you’re from Australia, and bought Declination through Google on February 9, step forward and claim your prize! Of course, I had stopped checking sales through Google (fellow authors will understand the urge to check book sales on an hourly or even by-the-minute basis and understand what it means to not check for months), and only learned of last month’s sale by seeing the payment when I checked my bank statement.

Anyway, there you have it, Google is officially selling e-books (or should I say “e-book”?) and even paying royalties. My questions to my readers are: Have any of you bought any e-books from Google? Have any authors reading this sold any e-books through Google? And a final question: How can Google be so good at search and maps and VOIP phone service, and so terrible at other things?

The revamped Nook lineup

Today B&N announced a lower-cost version of its Nook Tablet, the “reader’s tablet” with a 7″ color LCD screen, which I’ve discussed before here. This new version matches Amazon’s Kindle Fire pretty much spec-for-spec and dollar-for-dollar by reducing the price to just $199. It also reduced the memory to match the Kindle Fire, now with 8 GB of internal storage (instead of 16 GB for the $249 Nook Tablet version) and 512 MB of RAM (instead of 1 GB for the $249 version).

A quick re-cap of the specs of both Nook Tablet versions (different specs in italics):

Nook Tablet:

  • $249
  • 7″ VividView IPS LCD touchscreen display with 1024 x 600 resolution
  • 1 GHz dual-core processor
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • 16 GB of internal storage (plus SD card slot)
  • 14.1 oz
  • battery life: 11.5 hours reading / 9 hours video

Nook Tablet “Lite”:

  • $199
  • 7″ VividView IPS LCD touchscreen display with 1024 x 600 resolution
  • 1 GHz dual-core processor
  • 512 MB of RAM
  • 8 GB of internal storage (plus SD card slot)
  • 14.1 oz
  • battery life: 11.5 hours reading / 9 hours video

Probably a good move on B&N’s part to match the sub-$200 price of the Kindle Fire competition — I think many people would rather save $50 as a trade-off for the slightly reduced specs.

B&N also still offers the older-generation Nook Color (lowering the price by $30, to $169) and the e-Ink-based Nook Simple Touch (for $99).

November 2011 E-Book Sales at $77.3M

Posted by Always Write at 4:36 PM Tagged with: ,
Feb 082012

November e-book sales increased slightly from October, to $77.3M, but continued the meandering range that may signal a plateau, or at least a noticeable slowing, of the heretofore-explosive growth of e-book sales. While sales were still up 65.9% from November 2010, that rate marks the slowest increase of the year (and last month’s 81.2% growth rate clocks in as the second-slowest of 2011).

November 2011 e-book sales at $77.3M

Various observers have attributed the slowdown in e-book sales growth to customers waiting until the holiday season to buy new e-readers (note that the Kindle 4 and Kindle Fire were announced September 28, 2011 but didn’t ship until November 21), or to Amazon’s inclusion of Kindle e-books in library lending programs, which began in late September.

At an 11-month total of $871.7M (or $885M or so with the more recent, slightly upwardly revised numbers), it would take a great December to hit the $1 billion mark for e-books that I predicted at the start of the year — but they will probably get pretty darn close.

The recap of the past 13 months of e-book sales:

  • Nov 2010: $46.6 M
  • Dec 2010: $49.5 M
  • Jan 2011: $69.9 M
  • Feb 2011: $90.3 M
  • Mar 2011: $69.0 M
  • Apr 2011: $72.8 M
  • May 2011: $87.7 M
  • June 2011: $80.2 M
  • July 2011: $82.6M
  • Aug 2011: $88.8M
  • Sep 2011: $80.3M
  • Oct 2011: $72.8M
  • Nov 2011: $77.3M
  • One other interesting note: the Publisher’s Weekly press release noted that sales of adult mass-market paperbacks “all but died,” coming in at only $20.8M, less than half the figure from the previous year. This is not too surprising, since the growth of e-books is most likely to impact sales of mass-market paperbacks, as MMPs are the least expensive print offering, their release is delayed after hardcovers (as some publishers do with e-books), and most closely filled the role that e-books are starting to fill for people: day-to-day fiction reading, as opposed to hardcover cookbooks, graphic books, or bookshelf display items.

    Feb 082012

    While up 81.2% over October 2010, e-book sales came in at a slightly disappointing $72.8M in October 2011. Publisher’s Weekly reports the total for the first 10 months of 2011 at $807.7M, up 131.1% from the same months in 2010. However, they do point out that October is the first month in 2011 that e-book sales (up only 81.2%) did not double from the previous year.

    October 2011 E-Book Sales are $72.8M

    This is the second month in a row that e-books have slowed their pace. In fact, the entire year of 2011 has been fairly steady (compare January 2011’s $69.9M with October’s $72.8M). In fact, the average monthly sales so far in 2010 were $79.4M ($80.8M if you use PW’s updated totals), so October is a below-average month for the year. We’ll see if the holiday shopping season (which has traditionally caused a nice surge as people get e-readers for Xmas) bumps those figures up in December 2011 and January 2012.

    The last 13 months of sales figures:

  • Oct 2010: $40.7 M
  • Nov 2010: $46.6 M
  • Dec 2010: $49.5 M
  • Jan 2011: $69.9 M
  • Feb 2011: $90.3 M
  • Mar 2011: $69.0 M
  • Apr 2011: $72.8 M
  • May 2011: $87.7 M
  • June 2011: $80.2 M
  • July 2011: $82.6M
  • Aug 2011: $88.8M
  • Sep 2011: $80.3M
  • Oct 2011: $72.8M
  • On a personal note, I apologize for the lack of regular posts — my job has been taking up all of my time, and I just haven’t had the time I’d like to devote to blogging (let alone novel-writing!).


    The Twiller, just $2.99 at the Amazon Kindle Store

    I am pleased to announce that my third novel, The Twiller, won the 2011 Red Adept Reviews Award in the science fiction category! As one of only three sci-fi novels to earn the honor, I am especially grateful.

    Check out the post and the other winners here.

    Astute readers may remember when I received a 4.75-star review of The Twiller from Red Adept Reviews back in May.

    The Twiller is a departure from my Edge of Apocalypse Series (Right Ascension and Declination), as it is a quirky, funny, sometimes silly satire of some of the things I find particularly humorous in our daily lives. The blurb:

    Ian Harebungler, our hapless hero, just can’t catch a break. First, the deli ran out of his favorite cucumber sandwiches. Then he left the gas on at home. But the lowlight was being abducted from his front yard by a particularly ill-mannered alien, one who apparently doesn’t believe in anesthetic, no less. Fortunately, Ian is saved by an unlikely ally: the Twiller, whose bravery is somewhat overshadowed by its uncanny resemblance to a floating yellow marshmallow with big eyes.

    The Twiller follows the adventures of Ian and his newfound companion as they are whisked around the Universe, and Ian learns how difficult it can be to find his way home to a backwater planet called “Earth.” Along the way, Ian must survive the traffic of El Leigh, the enthusiastic protestors of Bez Erkeley, and rampaging politicians in the city of WMD. Even worse, he must contend with exorbitant prices in the city of York, endure the heat and crazy drivers in Fleur Ida, and struggle to escape the small planet of “Huh? Why E?” before he contracts island fever. Astute readers might pick up on subtle correlations to real places here on Earth, but my lawyers have reminded me to state that such resemblances are purely coincidental.

    As it starts to dawn on Ian that the bizarre planets he visits suffer from many of the same problems, comical situations, and inane rules all too familiar to him, he stumbles upon an important secret that gives his quest to return home added urgency. Can Ian make it home? Will he arrive in time to prevent a terrible catastrophe? And can he find a flight without a Saturday night stopover? The answer lies with the Twiller…

    You can find more info about The Twiller, including reviews and excerpts, on my website here. You can also purchase it from Amazon or directly from me through PayPal (in e-book or paperback format). At just $2.99 for the e-book, that’s less than your favorite blended coffee drink, and way better for you to boot!

    Dec 012011

    September 2011 e-book sales: $80.3M

    E-Book sales dipped a bit in September 2011, to $80.3M, but were more than double last year’s results, and were strong enough to carry e-books to a new record quarter of $251.7M in Q3, 2011. For the past 13 months:

    • Sep 2010: $39.9 M
    • Oct 2010: $40.7 M
    • Nov 2010: $46.6 M
    • Dec 2010: $49.5 M
    • Jan 2011: $69.9 M
    • Feb 2011: $90.3 M
    • Mar 2011: $69.0 M
    • Apr 2011: $72.8 M
    • May 2011: $87.7 M
    • June 2011: $80.2 M
    • July 2011: $82.6M
    • Aug 2011: $88.8M
    • Sep 2011: $80.3M

    Q3 2011 e-book sales: $251.7M

    The quarterly sales of just over a quarter of a billion dollars help push e-books to $727.7M for the first 9 months of the year, an increase of 137.9% over last year, and close enough that a strong holiday push could put e-book sales at a billion dollars for the year, as I predicted after February’s sales.

    While the AAP frustratingly has become more stingy with its print book sales figures, they did provide percentages that I used to estimate print book sales for the month (fortunately, I keep a spreadsheet with each month’s figures going back to last year). The percentage changes for print books, and my estimates for Sep 2011 sales:

    • Adult hardcover: down 18.1%, est. $147.7M
    • Adult trade paperback: flat, est. $111.5M
    • Adult mass-market paper: down 54.3%, est. $31.0M
    • Young adult hardcover: up 2.1%, est. $78.2M
    • Young adult paperback: down 14.6%, est. $41.5M

    Fairly brutal numbers across the board, with only a slight (2.1%) increase in young adult hardcover, flat adult trade paper sales, and decreases in the other categories, including a dramatic 54.3% decrease in mass-market paperback sales. People have said that mass-market paperback sales are the most susceptible to being replaced by e-book sales, since they are generally fiction novels that people read once and then discard or donate — as opposed to hardcovers that people like to display on their bookshelves. The numbers are bearing that out, as e-book sales, which just last year were below mass-market paperback, are now nearly triple. The AAP also pointed out that sales in all print trade segments were down for the 9-month period so far this year.

    Based on those estimations, e-book sales accounted for 16.25% of combined print/e-book sales for the month, roughly double the 8.17% overall figure from 2010.

    © 2010 David Derrico