eBooks Sales Comprise 9% of Trade Books in the U.S.

18 October 2010

eBooks Sales Comprise 9% of Trade Books in the U.S. cover image

The latest sales figures continue to show huge improvement for eBook and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) is saying that for the year-to-date, eBooks are taking 9% of total trade book sales (publishers.org: AAP August Book Sales Report); this is up from 3.3% for the whole of 2009.

At $263 USD, that’s pretty impressive, but it should get better. Gina Centrello (Random House) is predicting (mediabistro.com: Gina’s eBook Prediction) that eBook sales may reach as high as 50% by 2015.

Of course, these number are very much U.S. based and unfortunately it’s not so easy to come by any numbers for the UK. My guess is that it is much, much lower.

WHSmith is the UK’s first eReader iPad App

17 October 2010

WHSmith is the UK’s first eReader iPad App cover image

A few days back WHSmith released their own Apple iPad app, beating Waterstones (Waterstones App is not an eReader) as the UK’s first integrated eReader/Store app on the iOS platform.

The overall look and feel of the app is very nice, reflecting the same dark blue colour scheme from their website, and with other aspects of their user interface looking very nice. Navigation and book finding is not too bad, with several sections (bestselling, recommend, categories, etc.) to help you find what you’re looking for. However, once you view the books from a particular sections, you only get to see 5 titles at a time.

I’ve only purchased a couple of free titles but this process is pretty straight forward and if you don’t have an account already, they have implemented a quick registration feature to get you started.

One disappointment is that my current whsmith.co.uk account details don’t work in the app, you have to create a separate account. This means that whatever books you buy from the website are not available in the app, and vice-versa.

Bugs - Another Rushed Release iPad App

There are some bugs in this initial release, which are severe enough that they make me think WHSmith have rushed this app out the door without proper testing.

  • When starting the app there has been several times when the book store would just not load (also preventing general access to the app), and only a restart has resolved this.
  • Font resizing is slow and can crash the app. It’s so slow in fact that I didn’t think it had worked at first, so I pressed the increase and decrease buttons several times–perhaps the reason the app crashed on me.

eBook Reading

There’s not much you can say about the eReader in this app, mostly because there are few actual features! Here’s a list of the features you do get;

  • Brightness
  • Font Size (which is buggy)
  • Font Type (Baskerville, Georgia, Palatino, Times New Roman, Verdana)
  • Sepia Mode
  • Table of Contents

That’s not a lot and what’s especially suprising is that there is no way to skip forward, not even a goto page feature.

It’s great that UK book stores are moving to eBooks but they’re not giving themselves a good rep by releasing what is a pretty average app. Hopefully Waterstones’ delay in releasing their app is so that they can do a good job of it.

The Waterstones Apple App is not an eReader

18 September 2010

The Waterstones Apple App is not an eReader cover image

A little while ago I’d heard on the grapevine (I forget where now) that Waterstones, the UK’s biggest bookseller, was going to release their own Apple App.

This wouldn’t be the first time Waterstones would be breaking new ground as they were also the first UK store to start selling the Sony Reader and eBooks in the EPUB format. Pretty cool, even if at the time the selection consisted of just a few thousand titles—this has now grown to more than 30,000 eBooks.

A recent stroll through the app store and I was pleasantly surprised to find it now available (UK only), even if there wasn’t an iPad version available yet (iPhone/Touch only).

The opening screen is pleasant enough, which consist of an image ribbon of Waterstones’ own picks along with some links for Bestsellers, Top 50 pre-orders, New Releases and Genres. I only had a very quick look around before logging in to My Account so I could download one of my book purchases and check out the eReader.

This is when I started to get a little puzzled; I couldn’t see my previous eBook purchases.

After a little look around it dawned on me that this new app was not actually an eReader; it’s only useful for purchasing paper titles and locating stores around the UK. I found this very puzzling indeed.

I wanted to find out why they would release a non-eReading Apple App, so I went back to their site and found this small print at the bottom of the webpage.

“We will also be rolling out separate Apps for eBook downloads and tailored to other mobile devices in the near future, so watch this space for further updates.”

If they were planning to release an eReader app, would it not have made sense to combine book purchasing and the eReader in to just one app release?

I feel Waterstones have missed a trick here as the extra publicity they could have created from the release an Apple App will have been lost once everyone sees that they can’t buy and read eBooks.

On a positive note, it seems Waterstones are going to release an eReader, which would also make them the first UK seller to do so and that is certainly a positive move for the UK.

EPUB: an industry standard ebook format

24 November 2009

For many years the ebook world has been fighting within itself due to the huge variety of different formats; from Mobipocket to eReader and from PDF to Amazon Kindle. But now there is a new format that’s set to dominate them all.

Over the last 12 months there has been a huge shift in digital publishing with the introduction of a brand new ebook format called EPUB. It’s based on the open standards, XHTML, XML, CSS and the ZIP archive container. As a result almost every publisher has adopted this format, which means that when you buy an ebook, you’ll be able to read it on many different devices and for sure this means many new ones in the future - good news for everyone.

If you’re interested in trying out some of these ebooks then you should head over to a new site that’s launched that deals only in EPUB ebooks; epubBooks.com, and they have lots of books to download for free. The site also has technical resources on how understand and create your own EPUB books along with lots of information on where you can buy EPUB books from. There are also a number of eReader reviews, including Sony Reader, Apple iPhone and the Bookeen Cybook Opus.

If you’ve been putting off trying ebooks then there’s never been a better time than now.

So you want eBooks…bestsellers or free?

31 August 2008

In my last article I talked about the current eBook market from a U.S. perspective and now that the UK is getting it’s own dedicated E-Ink reader, we should see an increase in interest here also.

Although the Sony Reader is the perfect digital eBook reader, you don’t need a dedicated reader to enjoy eBooks. They can be viewed on your desktop/laptop computer, PDA, mobile phone, Blackberry - well, the list could go on.

Perhaps you are considering purchasing a Sony Reader (Visit the Sony Reader website) when they are released next month but are wondering where you will be able to get eBooks from…not just the commercial, but also the free ones.

Well, let’s jump in and get started with the commercial eBook shops.

Commercial eBooks

From September 2008 there will be a couple of new UK stores opening; Waterstones.com and Penguin.co.uk. These are being launched in conjunction with the Sony Reader. Also in the UK we have the W.H.Smith eBook store. Moving beyond dedicated UK stores, you can also buy eBooks from eBooks.com, Fictionwise.com, BooksOnBoard.com, Mobipocket.com, eReader.com (good if you have an Apple iPhone). These are all international websites so you will have no problem buying books from them.

Please note, not all of these online shops sell books that the Sony Reader can use. For instance, Mobipocket is the biggest eBook provider around, yet all their books are in the mobi format, meaning you need a device that can read .PRC files (PDA, Blackberry, etc.) - the Sony Reader does not.

If all this seems a little complicated don’t worry, I’ll be witting articles to explain all this jargon in the coming weeks.

FREE eBooks

We all want something for free don’t we. Luckily for you there are plenty of legally free eBooks around the internet for download. The Classics is the biggest genre available for free as these have been out of copyright for many years now. If your passion is authors like Jane Austin, Jules Verne or Dumas then you’re in luck. Along with the classics you can also find some modern titles, however don’t expect to find any bestsellers.

For the Classics you should take a look at Project Gutenberg, Feedbooks.com and manybooks.net. The website Baen.com provides a good number of modern SF books. There are many more places you can try but most are just providing the classics, which the first three I have listed here do anyway.

I hope I’ve shown that eBooks are not new and that there are plenty of places where you should find what you’re looking for. Good hunting!

U.S. eBook Sales 2002 to Q1 2008 Overview

24 August 2008

For my first post I thought I’d take a look at the current eBook sales. eBooks have been around for quite sometime but since seeing the introduction of the E-Ink Readers in the U.S. the sales of eBooks have risen quite considerably.

Below is a chart released by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) which shows the U.S. eBook Sales since Q1 2002.

US 2008 eBook Sales Chart

Note: The data above represent only trade eBook sales via wholesale channels. Retail numbers may be as much as double the above figures due to industry wholesale discounts.

For the full IDPF info on this chart please visit the IDPF website; (International Digital Publishing Forum).

You can clearly see an increase starting at the end of 2006. For the first time in Q1 of 2008 eBook sales broke $10,000,000 - small change compared to the Billion dollar paper book sales, but we are moving in the right direction.

The boost in Q4 2006 is believed to be a direct affect of Sony releasing their Reader PRS-500, the next boost in Q1 2008 was likely due to Amazon (regularly) shipping their Kindle Reader.

I’ve yet to find any data for the UK but with the recent release of the iPhone and the upcoming Sony Reader, we are likely to see a similar increases here over the next couple of years.

There are not many eBook stores in the UK at the moment, the most notable being W.H.Smith, but the upside of this should be that in the future, we will see more UK stores selling eBooks.

Welcome to eBook News

22 August 2008

Over the last few years eBooks have been gaining great traction over in the U.S., now finally in the UK, eBooks are also starting to enter the mainstream market - mainly due to one particular milestone…

From September 2008 the UK will have their very own eBook Reader, the Sony PRS-505 Digital Book Reader. Sony have partnered with the Waterstones book store, who will sell the eBook Reader in-store while also providing a catalogue of over 25,000 eBooks for download. There will also be tens of thousands of eBooks available from the Sony book store along with a number of other commercial and free eBook sites to be found around the internet.

2008 also saw the introduction of the Apple iPhone, which has several eBook applications for reading both free and commercial eBooks.

Although there are many U.S. eBook centric websites, there really isn’t anything for the British eBook lover. So welcome to eBookNews.co.uk, a new blog to help all of us keep up with eBook related news.

I will be reporting on all the most recent eBook news and any of its related technologies. From hearing about the latest eBook gadget to learning more about the technologies behind eBooks to finding out where you can download all those free titles.

I hope you will find the information I present here useful and enjoyable. Please stop by regularly and feel free to comment at any time on the topics I will be posting about.