Publishers Fail To Protect Print Sales

It has been apparent for quite some time that large publishers had been desperately trying to slow the (inevitable) transition to e-books – much as they might deny it. Despite all the breathless talk of “transmedia” and “metadata” and the furious rate of backlist digitization, the overarching strategy was clear: protect print sales at all costs, and pray that e-books will plateau soon (and that international markets won’t take to them with quite the same relish). This is the only logical conclusion from tactics that include pricing e-books artificially high (even, allegedly, going as far as price-fixing, for which they are being investigated by the EU, the (US) Justice Department, and are the subject of a number of class action Read More…

The Relentless March of E-books

The AAP released their monthly figures (for May) on Thursday, and the same trends that we have seen all year have continued. Print is in freefall. Adult hardback dropped 38.2% year-on-year, adult trade paperback fell 14.3%, and adult mass-market paperback plunged 39.4%. By contrast, e-books grew 146.9% year-on-year. Children’s YA paperback bucked the trend by growing in May 2011 by 4.7% year-on-year. However, when we look at how all categories are performing in the first five months of 2011, these kind of spikes tend to flatten out. Print is being hammered. Adult hardback is down 23.4% from the same period in 2010. Adult trade paperback is down 17.9%. Adult mass-market paperback is down 30.1%. Children’s/YA hardback is down 6.3%. Children’s YA/Paperback Read More…

Borders Inches Closer to Liquidation

The deadline to save Borders passed yesterday, meaning that they will now proceed to a bankruptcy-court auction tomorrow. It’s not quite over for America’s second-largest bookstore chain, and a bidder could still emerge in the next day-and-a-half to save the company – which employs nearly 11,000 people – from being liquidated. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported today that Books-A-Million were in talks late last night about a deal. However, it seems clear that even if this move comes off, which is doubtful, it will only rescue part of the company, and a large amount of (further) store closures and layoffs is unavoidable. It seems likely now that the bones of Borders will be picked apart, and the remaining Read More…