Dec 1 — Print books outsold ebooks, Blloom tests a new model for eBooks, the danger of LinkedIn groups to your brand, and what is a digital magazine?

How print refuses to die

Print Books Outsold Ebooks In First Half Of 2014

According to Nielsen’s survey, ebooks constituted only 23 percent of unit sales for the first six months of the year, while hardcovers made up 25 percent and paperback 42 percent of sales. In other words, not only did overall print book sales, at 67 percent of the market, outpace ebook sales, both hardcovers and paperbacks individually outsold ebooks.

After the launch of the kindle, ebook sales took off, with double digit growth year after year. Some people thought that meant the end of print, as if you could take the growth of ebooks in their infancy and project that same rate for the following years. Of course nothing works that way, and you get silly conclusions when you try. For example, if you charted temperature on a summer’s day from 5:00 in the morning to 2:00 in the afternoon, and then projected that trend out for another 20 hours, you’d think we were all going to bake to death.

eBooks have taken over a niche, for sure, and many people love them. Many others don’t, and it seems that ebooks and printed books will exist side by side for quite some time.

A membership model for eBooks?

Blloon Re-Invents Subscription Model for eBooks

Under this new service you can sign up for free and get 1,000 pages, then earn access to more pages as you review books or invite others to join the service. If you don’t like all that gamify stuff you can skip it and just pay a subscription fee.

As an aside, I think it’s a good idea to offer alternatives to gaming models. Some people love to play games and collect points and such. Others hate it.

I’ve been waiting to see models like this for a long time. When cable TV first came out there were proposals for innovative revenue models for watching movies. One person might watch a show for free, with commercials. Another might watch a show without commercials if he agreed to take a survey about a product, or watch one extended commercial. Another might simply pay.

There are any number of ways to monetize content and it’s usually pretty easy to come up with them. Making them work is another matter entirely. They need to fit in with your fulfillment service and your web store, your accounting department needs to understand what’s going on and your company culture needs to adopt it. You might also have issues with your credit card processor. Coming up with a new idea is child’s play. Making all the pieces hum is the hard part.

Start-ups have an advantage when it comes to new revenue models because they don’t have to reconfigure legacy systems. This often gets interpreted as “new blood” v. “old thinking,” but that’s a naive way to look at the issue. Old businessmen have ideas too!

Is your LinkedIn group damaging your brand?

Or, to put it another way, do you want the members of your LinkedIn Group sending messages “from” you?

I recently got an email “from” a company. The email had a subject line I don’t think that company would have liked. How did this happen?

The company has a LinkedIn page that I follow … or joined, or … whatever the lingo is for LinkedIn.

Some other member of the group — not an employee of the company — posted a discussion on that group with the offending headline. LinkedIn sent an email “from” that company to everyone in the group.

I’m a fairly savvy guy and it took me by surprise for a minute until I figured out what was going on. Imagine what this company’s less savvy followers were thinking!

Social media can give people an opportunity to hijack your brand and make it seem as if you’re saying things you wouldn’t want to say. Monitor this carefully!

I hope LinkedIn has a way to manage this sort of thing in their group settings. If they want to be “Facebook for business” then they’d better.

What, exactly, is a “web magazine”?

My friend and SIPA colleague Ed Coburn has a very interesting and helpful article on web magazines here — More Clarification: What is a Web Magazine? Ed is trying to help publishers think past the idea of simply replicating a magazine on an electronic device.

I posted the following reply in a thread he started on the SIPA LinkedIn page.

***

Interesting thoughts, Ed, but I wonder if the question itself is part of the problem. We have expectations about a “magazine” that go beyond how the articles are formatted or where or how people read it.

For example — this may sound trivial, but it’s really not if you think about it — most people think that a “magazine” is something you can display on your coffee table, or put in a rack. They think it’s something you can browse in the check-out line at the grocery store, or pick up before you get on an airplane. They think a magazine is something you can easily skim, or look at “just for the pictures.”

All those things are deeply ingrained in what we think of when we think of a “magazine.” The very word has associations and implications that simply don’t transfer to an electronic format — no matter how well you do it.

So I wonder if the right way to proceed is to forget about creating a “digital magazine” altogether and look at the question from a few different angles.

  1. If someone has the print magazine, how would they want to view the same material in other settings?
  2. Forgetting all about the print magazine, what’s the right way to present this material in other settings (and on other devices)?
  3. Why is this particular collection of articles (which we included between two covers) sacred? Is there a different way of dividing / organizing / presenting it that makes more sense to a different audience?

***

Another thought occurred to me later. The concept of an “edition” is key to a print magazine, but it doesn’t seem necessary in an electronic presentation.

4 Comments

  1. Thanks for the mention Greg. As I noted on my post, I think you’re right on the money with this (although I still think the defining characteristics of a magazine or newsletter experience are curated, linear, and finite which can happen equally well in print as digitally).

  2. Pingback: Dec. 15 — Should magazines bother with a digital edition, is a magazine an inherently printed product, and crowdsourcing your story list | The Krehbiel Report on Publishing

  3. Pingback: Feb. 2, publishing in the digital age, and what is a magazine (reprise)? | The Krehbiel Report on Publishing

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