Sunday, November 20, 2011

First Week with Kindle Fire

My first impressions of the Kindle Fire are quite positive. In most ways, I cannot believe the thing only cost $199. I haven't tried everything, but so far I recommend the Kindle fire.

What I like:
1. Portability: It is easier to carry around than my K2 (even w/Marware case). For my young children, it is a perfect size.
2. Readability: The screen is easier to read than my laptop or the iPad1 for book text.
3. Speed: It is snappy. It makes our iPad1 feel slow
4. Browser: It just works. I need to learn a few more of the 'tricks' though. So expect a later review.
5. Second way to view books. This moved 3 books, already read, to the top of the TBR pile. I rather like searching by covers.
6. Value. The iPad in a child's hands is something one must watch (to keep it safe)
7. Setup. Just remember it will need wifi and a while on the charger for initial patch download.

What I am 50/50 on:
1. Battery life. It is trending towards 7 hours of battery life on mixed use (games and reading). Compare this versus 9+ hours on the iPad1. My family has used up the battery before the day was done. But it was needing a charge after we arrived back home.
2. The onscreen keyboard. Perhaps it is the 7" screen crimping the layout and my man fingers?
3. Eye strain. Its less than a laptop or iPad, but far more than e-ink. I've read three books on the Kindle fire with far less stain than other (non-Nook) LCDs. I intend to keep the K2 for most book reading.
4. Screen size. I love the portability, but the screen in landscape mode is only as wide as the iPad's in portrait. It is perfect for books. Ok, for simple games (angry birds, etc.), ok for browsing (in landscape only), and... Its ok.

What I do not like:
1. Highlighting text in the browser is done how? This crimps participating in blogs. In fact, I spend too much time on blogs to ever have a tablet be more than a second computer. This is true of our iPad and certainly true of the Kindle Fire.
2. No SD card slot. This would make life much easier.
3. Some of the commands have too small a difference between one command and the other and thus it is almost random
4. How do you turn off ordering without a password? Seriously, my three year old has figured out the store. How do I loan her the Fire without finding a hundred new apps, books, and videos loaded? I worry about the Amazon store integration too when loaning to a young child...

What I haven't tried:
1. Sideloading. So much of my Amazon content was available I haven't needed to yet. I will be moving over my mp3 collection soon as well has home videos.
2. Organizing my books. I'm just not seeing an easy way, so I'll have to Google how to do it. I wish my K2's collections had moved over... :( Why repeat that work...
3. Videos. We already, through other means, have free shipping from Amazon. I haven't been able to justify paying for Prime for the videos... I might in the future.

I've read some negative reviews on the Fire I just do not get. Ok, the navigation isn't iPad navigation; it took me a day to find all the tricks. If you've never used an iPad/iPhone, the controls will be just as easy to learn as Apple's. There are some quirks with the control interface, but only that notable if you come over from the iPad. The Fire isn't an iPad replacement; it is so cheap and portable it creates a new category that I believe will sell far more units.

In price, it competes with the 8GB iPod touch. But doing "screen area is proportional to diagonal squared," I couldn't imagine doing more than a 'snap read' on a 3.5" screen. Most of those I know who read on smartphones become annoyed at the page turns after ten to fifteen minutes of reading (the format doesn't 'fade away' as with a Kindle e-ink). With the Kindle Fire, it is suitable for an hour or two of reading. That said, for long reads I will turn it off and return to the K2.

For kids books, it is excellent! However, my three year old isn't able to navigate as easy as the iPad1. For books with graphs, the Kindle Fire works well too.

I've found is that due to its portability it is far more useful. It fits in my coat pockets or cargo pant pockets (again, it is smaller than a K2) so it is far more likely to travel than our iPad. My one regret? It doesn't have a cell phone interface! If it did (and a camera w/more flash storage), it would be an ideal convergence device.

I expect the Kindle Fire to sell out. For the price, it is that good.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

31.4% growth Ereaders in 2012? No... Faster!

Digitimes is predicting ereader sales slow their growth in 2012 (globally) vs. 2011 to only 31.4% YOY growth. That link is also predicting that Amazon's share:

2008: 65.7%
2009: 63.4%
2010: 62.8%
2011: 73.7% of 22M ereaders.

My comments: For there only to be 31.4% growth after 100% growth year after year doesn't make sense. Market penetration tends to be symmetrical until a new technology displaces the old. Considering how many new buyers of the lower cost Kindles are coming out of the woodwork, I expect far faster growth in 2012. But... I also expect 2012 to be the last year of fast ereader growth.

It takes 2 to 3 years of ereader sales in a region to stimulate the growth. Book readers want to see their friends try out an ereader before they 'give up the smell' of books. The K1 was launched in 2007; we've yet to see more than about a quarter of books selling via ebook (in dollars).

I'm also very bullish on Amazon doing well in India (due to the quantity of people there who have the ability to read in English). With the new Kobo buyout, I'm also more bullish on ereaders in Asia (Japan in 2012, but all of Asia in the next 5 years).

My prediction is 45 to 55 million ereaders in 2012 (global prediction). I also predict, in 2012, that about 25% of the growth in ebooks will be via tablets (Kindle Fire, iPad 2/3, Nook Tablet, other tablets). In my opinion the rapid growth of ereading on cell phones is coming to an end. Oh, I predict new readers will still try out the Kindle app on cell phones and existing ereaders will take 'convenience reads' on their cell phones. My opinion is based on how many people are switching from reading on their cell phones to ereaders or tablets. 7" tablets are small enough to tote around (10" tablets are not... trust me. I made the mistake of lugging our iPad around today).

I wonder how the overall ebook market share will go. I'm waiting to see how the Kobo buyout works. IMHO, that could be the #1 global threat to the Kindle.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

August 2011 Ebook Sales

As David noted, time to dust off the charts, we have AAP numbers.

Note: Its late, kids didn't want to sleep and I have an early meeting. So I'm just going to note that ebook sales were good, trade sales show a downward trend that is in line with prior months. I'm also skipping some graphs (Mea Culpa). But the main data is here for your enjoyment:

The only seasonal is ebooks in bar format:

Monday, October 31, 2011

AAP Sales too obscured to chart

Do I chart August sales that were YTD sales are far less than the sum of prior YTD reports?

YTD hardcover sums to $930.4M (January through July) while the AAP reports YTD sales through August of $641.7M. Ummm....

YTD paperback sums to $772.5M (January through July) while the AAP reports YTD of 772.5M.

YTD MMP $380.4M (through July) vs. $310.4 through August.

YTD Childrends $734.23 through July vs. a reported $638.4M through August.

Ebooks: $638.4M through July vs. reported $649.2M through August.

In other words, the downward revisions in sales mean August had massive negative sales for every category except ebooks. Ebooks would have puny sales... I suspect fewer vendors reported.

I hope monthly book sales come out later. August sales would normally have come out now, but the AAP is delaying, hiding, and obscuring the data as much as possible. I suspect we'll see numbers later worth graphing.

But when the sum of 8 months of sales is that much less than the sum of the previously reported 7 months of sales...


Saturday, October 15, 2011

July 2011 E-book Sales

July ebook figures are finally out. We can now see that the K3/Nook Color launch put a stake in the heart of Adult paperbacks. The K2 started that job with MMPB. What will the new Kindles do? We've been waiting for sub-$100 ereaders from a big name to accelerate ebook sales...

Everyone has already told you ebooks continue to show good growth. Paper trade sales were weak, but not as weak as they were earlier in 2011. If I estimate children's sales, which weren't disclosed, trade sales were 84% of 2010. Much noise has been made of the Hardcover sales. They weren't bad. But if just some of August's hardcover sales were moved to July by 'stuffing the channel,' we could be seeing noise.

YTD sales
July Sales

David has already posted, but I do the graphs. ;)

Or could it be due to the big6 favoring Hardcover sales at the expense of everything else, including overall profit. I can only speculate on this. But look at it this way, two of my favorite sci-fi authors just released new books. Eric Flint's is only in Hardcover and David Weber is charging $12.99 for the ebook. Oh well, I'll wait and buy other books that interest me.

To the graphs!

Ebook sales remain at a pace faster than an extrapolation of the 2010 sales. I keep noting that that means we have not yet hit the point where ebooks are at half the market penetration they will achieve. Hold that thought for the next graph:

Since e-books are less than half the market, approaching 29% with my estimate of Indie sales, we should expect ebooks sales to one day be over double today's market share. When we pass the mid-point, we'll see sales below the prior year's trend line (see the first chart). We are not there yet!

Print Trade is not doing well. It is below trend for July. Now, with my estimate of Children't books, it is at 84% of 2010. I suspect my estimate of Children's book sales will prove to be too optimistic.

Am I the only one who sees a downward trend for MMPB? If one eyeballs a trendline since the K3/Nook Color launch, it looks like the end of MMPB will be in 2013. :( If one does the trendline from the K2 launch, the end of MMPB would be in 2014. MMPB was my prior favorite book form factor. The form factor has plummeted below viable economics. I suspect the espresso machines will fill the market for what MMPB customers who insist on paper.

Hardcover books had a good month. Better than prior years trends. My question, is the channel getting stuffed? I hope I'm being a nay-sayer... So we'll have to wait and see.

Paperback is weak too. Again, I see a trendline. From the K3's/Nook Color's launch, Paperback's have been on a declining trend. Again, a trend that shows an end to the form factor in 2013.

There is no data on Children's books for this month. Since Childrens books have been trending at 77% of 2010 sales, I took that number. My rational is that if the numbers were any better, we would have heard them. I suspect the Sales of children's books could have been worse. :(

I assume you've seen the Youtube of the 1 year old who doesn't get magazines. My two very young daughters love touchscreen. Their Grandma is now buying them electronic book gift cards instead of print books. Good, bad, or indifferent, that is where the market will go. I've seen it with Mom's with the Nook and the iPad and the Kindle Fire will kick that trend into high gear.

Seasonal Graphs

I do different graphs to show the trends in different ways. The bar chart shows ebook growth was spectacular in July, just not as spectacular as prior months in 2011. I read discussions of a 'lull' this summer in ebook blog comment sections. I suspect August numbers will reflect the same trend.

The seasonal graph for Hardcovers in July helps show that July was a great July for Hardcovers, but it is September through December where the money is made. Let's see how hardcovers do during the ramp up to holiday shopping:

The seasonal graph on paperbacks shows more of what I was discussing earlier: The K3 stared this form factor's slow death.

MMPB has been on a downward trend since the K2 launch. The K3/Nook Color launch accelerated that trend. Anyone want to bet against the K4/Kindle Fire/Nook Color 2/iPad2/Android tablet assault?

I had to estimate Children's sales for July. The trend for 2011 is 77% of 2010. If that was the July sales, we could have our next category breaking down. If Children's sales are going down, I wouldn't look at the prior B&W Kindles. As I noted, kids today expect touchscreen. Between the Kindle Fire/Nook Color (2?)/Android tablets and a horde of smartphones, I'm betting on touchscreen for 2012.

I save the ebook seasonal graph for last as... ebook sales are only seasonal in two ways. First, the 2nd half sales see a jump. Usually that jump is in July, but could the excellent weather have delayed the spike up? The other 'seasonality' is that there is also a beginning of the year spike as those Christmas ereaders are loaded up. :) Otherwise, note the nice year on year growth the last few years?

Predictions and comparison vs. Prior years

I introduced the last chart just over a month ago. I show:
1. Nominal sales from prior years (pre-2010)
2. 2010 sales for that category
3. How the sales should be following the 2011 YTD trend tweaked to be a prediction (oops, I shouldn't have tweaked children's expected sales).
4. Actual sales.

Overall trade was weak, but not as bad as it was. The big boost was Hardcover, which is doing better than pre-Kindle trends! MMPB and adult paperback are in an rapid decline with paperback's decline possibly accelerating.

Each succeeding generation of ereaders is taking down one more category of books. The K2/Nook/Sony ereaders/Kobo started the MMPB decline. The K3/Nook Color initiated the drop in adult paperbacks. I suspect we're about to see touchscreens hitting children's sales. That leaves the question, will hardcover somehow survive the onslaught of the K4/Nook color 2/iPad2? I suspect that in 7 or 8 months, we'll have the data to say hardcover sales went digital with the emerging generation of ereaders and tablets.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

K4 Cost less than $113 to make

Kindle Blog has done an estimate of the parts in the new K4. I'll let you read the link for details.

But the blog is conservative. I see, of the $113 cost:
Amazon should be getting a 40% to 60% discount on the screens. Let's round that to a savings of $18 less than estimated.

$13 for a CPU is a *much* higher end CPU in volume than an ARM A8. For $13, Amazon should be getting a 1.0 to 1.2 Ghz A9. A further $5 in savings (or so) in high volume.

Many of the other chips are overpriced by a bit here and there. Recall, Amazon is buying in multi-million unit quantities. They do not pay list nor fleet price. The vendors negotiate far lower pricing. I estimate another $8 in savings.

Or $113 - $18 - $5 -$8 = $82

For something that sells for $109 (sans special offers), I suspect Amazon is making a small profit out the door.

Oh, e-ink pricing will drop. Now that there is the 'Kindle Fire,' e-ink knows they must be competitive or Amazon will make the tablet cheap enough to start displacing e-ink sales.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Bad Kindle Fire Cost Estimates

I have a small number of friends who are executives who negotiate for big contracts. They've always been able to beat analyst expectations when negotiating in high volumes.

I'e seen some ridiculous cost estimates of the Kindle fire that use the cost when buying chips and other parts in thousand unit quantities. At those quantities, one calls a clerk and has a fixed price. For the Kindle fire, it is an estimated 4 million units in 2011. I'm sure for large minimum order quantities and a six+ month production run, Amazon is paying less. Far less.

The trick is:
1. Buy vendors (e.g., Amazon bought their touchscreen chip vendor, Apple with their CPUs)
2. Bid three or more vendors against each other (Amazon did this with LCDs and CPUs bidding Qualcomm, Nvidia, and the winner TI against each other for a huge order).
3. Do not rush the bidding (no evidence of this on Amazon's part). The vendors need to go to their sub-vendors to find unit price reductions for volume guarantees. For example, in chip testing.
4. Listen to vendor suggestions for alternate design ideas. I'm certain Quandra removed cost from the blackberry playbook and was willing to 'give' the design to Amazon in return for volume guarantees. I doubt this was Amazon's going in position.

Analysis where the Kindle fire costs a little more that $199 to build.

More believable $150 BOM for Kindle fire.
The above analysis breaks down the costs . My only real complaint is Amazon wouldn't pay $19 per processor (CPU). Rumors are Amazon is paying TI far closer to $10. That alone would make the Kindle Fire a profit maker. I've also heard Amazon negotiated at just the right time for the screens and is paying less for them. True or not, Amazon is the first Apple competitor to be able to jump in and guarantee multi-million unit volumes. Amazon probably paid upfront the setup costs, so the more they sell, the more profit. :)

The above doesn't include all the costs of building/selling a Kindle fire. It is probably $30 to $40 short of the full cost. So do not think Amazon is making $49 profit per Kindle Fire. It is probably in the $1 to $10 range in 2011 (better in 2012 as post holidays chip and other costs drop).

My best estimate is the Kindle Fire goes out the door at a tiny profit. I just cannot believe the high component costs quoted for Amazon when they are bidding on multi-million unit quantities. It isn't that Amazon isn't spending and losing money somewhere (e.g., India fullfilment centers). I just do not see the huge 'loss leaders' for the new Kindles some articles are claiming. Not in the volumes Amazon in buying in.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

2.7 Kindles 2Q2011, Estimated over 25 million in 2011

Amazon sold about 2.7m of its Kindle e-readers in the second quarter as it took 51.7% of the e-reader market, IDC says. The second-larger share was taken by Barnes & Noble's reader, with 21.2%, in a market totalling 5.4m units in total for the quarter.

Source Gaurdian

Now let's talk other ereader numbers:

Digitimes has more information

6.9 million Kindles in 2010

Total 6.0 million Kindles in the 1st half of 2011 (not surprising, ereaders sell better in the 1st quarter than the 2nd quarter).

Expecting sales of 15 million 'new Kindles' and 'Kindle touch' (in 2011)
Plus some undisclosed number of K3s/'Kindle Keyboard' in the 2nd half of 2011.
And 4 million 'Kindle Fire'

Or: 25+ million Kindles in 2011 versus 6.9 million in 2010.

Look at that seasonality... 19 million in the 4th quarter versus 6 million in the first half of the year. Plus a few million more K3s sold in the 3rd quarter. :)

Amazon has laid down their cards. The competition must react.

Late edit:
IDC raised the ereader estimate from a mere 16.2 million units to 27 million. They're also going to count the 'Kindle Fire' as ereaders and not tablets. If they're doing that, I expect ereader sales to easily beat their expectations. Then again, they only expected ereaders under $100, not all the way down at $79. (I still am amazed how aggressive Amazon is being.)

If my previous post's prediction of new Kindles selling half as many books per Kindle as older Kindles holds true, we'll still see an explosion in ebook sales. I'm very much looking forward to seeing what indie author sales do after November 16th (new Kindle shipping date).

Got Popcorn,

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Prediction: Fewer ebooks per Kindle for lower cost Kindles

$99 ereaders are here and they will push ereaders into new markets. Unfortunately, many of those new Kindles sold will not sell as many books per Kindle.

Why? Many of the early adopters of the Kindle read over a hundred books per year.

I know of one individual who is buying 'extra Kindles' to avoid the inconvenience of forgetting to pack a Kindle for travel or even walk across the house! That will increase the reading a little (in particular not forgetting the Kindle on a six-week trip...), but only incrementally.

I know of several families who either made their kids share a Kindle or wouldn't risk giving a $139 device to that young of a child who will be buying a new lower cost Kindle. This will increase reading, but not as many books per year as when the family shared a Kindle.

Multiple coworkers 'jumped off the fence' and have already ordered a Kindle. Something about the 'below $100 price point.' None of these coworkers read more than thirty books per year.

I know of a few grandmothers who will buy grandkids Kindles. Some of those grandkids are voracious readers (that is good...). Some of the grandkids will say a polite 'thank you' and never buy more than one or two books for the Kindle. :(

I also know of a few parents (mostly the moms) who still eread on smartphones or a laptop. In general, those that didn't buy a Kindle or Nook in the past were those that read less than twenty books per year. More than a few will buy a Kindle (or Nook, if the price drops enough) this holiday season for themselves (or buy it for the hubby to put under the tree). ;)

Most of the potential Kindle customers seem undecided between the $79 Kindle, $99 touch Kindle, and $99 Keyboard Kindle. Or even splurging on the $199 Fire... Amazon gave customers too much choice! Perhaps the mid-November ship date is having customers wait to decide? However, birthdays and the holidays put a forcing function on the buying decision. I would be surprised if some of the Kindles didn't sell out and force the selection decision.

I estimate that these lower cost Kindles might sell as few as half the ebooks per Kindle as the earlier Kindle sales. The lower price points are reaching out to less intense readers. However, that is a good thing; it still expands the customer base. I hope low cost ereader sales will turn some 'moderate readers' back into 'intense ereaders.' e-readership is known for 'convenience reading' which increases the quantity of books sold. :)


Why the talk of Vinyl and Paper books?

Vinyl made a comeback with 2.8 million albums in 2010

Music's lost decade has been brutal. $14.6 billion a year in sales down to $6.3 Billion in 2009 and the above link says sales declined 2.4% or to about %6.1 Billion in 2010.

Why is this held up as a model for print? I fully expect print to survive. However, the librarians I know are being inundated with books handed over from the Boarders bankruptcy.

Now ebooks are different than music. Napster dominated music as there was no usable and legitimate way to load mp3s until 2003 and the iTunes store opened. Read the link, music is still dominated by piracy. eBooks are being led by legitimate outlets.

I expect print to remain a good fraction of the book market. Perhaps 20% of the revenue. How much is Vinyl? Assuming $25 per record, I calculate Vinyl is 1.15% of the music market. I probably overestimate the price per album... So let's be generous to Vinyl and call it one percent.

Why so much noise over about one percent of the market! I'd be happy if print were to survive at 20% to 30% of the market. I fervently hope print does better than a lonely one percent.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

$99 Ereaders

Amazon just dropped the knife on ereader prices via the 'with offers' (add supported Kindles).

Thre Kindles $99 and under.

The new $79 Kindle
The new $99 Kindle touch
The renamed $99 Kindle Keyboard (ex-K3 with Special offers)

Figure 11 shows how many people would, by an older survey, buy ereaders at each price point. I'm going to sum the numbers:

Above $400 1% of the market
Above $300 4% of the market (3% of $300 plus the sum of the higher price points)
Above $200 15% of the market (again, summing the price points)
Above $100 46% of the market will consider an ereader.

Now that we're $79 to $99, 79% of the buying base of ereaders will consider an ereaer. Just by lowering the price of the ereader, the ebook market should grow 71%!

But wait... we still had 'resistance' to ereaders who are 'giving in' and buying an ereader. This is readers 'pulled' to ereaders.

The Boarders BK will 'push' further readers to ereaders.

2012 will have tremendous growth in ebook sales. The last price point of resistance is to get below $50. Amazon has a goal for next Christmas. ;)


Ps (Late edit)
I noticed the new 'Kindle' and 'Kindle Touch' are lighter than the 'Kindle Keyboard' (renamed-K3 w/special offers). I'm still using my K2 and found the lighter weight of the 'Kindle Keyboard' one of its best features.

Monday, September 26, 2011

25 to 30 million e-ink ereaders in 2011

E-ink is reporting that they'll meet projections for ereaders in 2011.

I found this bit interesting:
But global shipments of e-book readers experienced a seasonal dip in the second-quarter, according to IDC. Shipments reached nearly six million units in first-quarter 2011, but shipments in the second quarter totaled 5.4 million units, up 167% on-year but down 9.2% on-quarter.

Amazon Kindle's market share slid to 51.7% in the second-quarter from about 53% in the first, while Barnes & Noble's Nook dropped to 21.2% from about 23%, according to IDC.

Amazon is barely holding onto half the market. Since they are the most 'indie-friendly' ebookstore, that is bad on one hand... on the other, it is good not to have a market dominance.

I blogged before don't count on keeping the market lead. For example, For the last 3 months in the US Android cell phones have outsold iPhones two to one. I'm surprised to see B&N and Kindle both lost market share. I'm wondering who gained? (Google? Apple? With Boarders going kaput, I doubt it was Kobo and Microsoft dropped their initiative.)

Got Popcorn?

This doesn't include tablets.

The above sales figures show that ereaders sell ok in the 1st and 2nd quarters but are really a back to school and holiday phenomenon. 1H2011 11.4Million out of 25 to 30 million (e-ink). I suspect we'll see another 5 million LCD ereaders in 2011. So the 2nd half of the year is about 2/3rds of the sales. Hence why Amazon is waiting on their new ereaders, tablet, and B&N the rumored new Nook tablet right before the holidays.

I'm big into cell phones as 'convenience readers.' We recently returned from a cruise and for every reader on a Kindle, I saw one on a smartphone, one on a tablet (almost all iPads, a few Samsungs, but not many), and three to five playing games on their cellphones or tablets. :( And for each Kindle reader two reading pbooks. :) Mind you, it was a Disney cruise, so lots of waiting in line. ;)

So only somewhat related, Microsoft's phone strategy baffles me. February is too late for Nokia. B&N showed how it should be done. The nook color October 2010, Nook simple-touch in

updated 12:40pm

Friday, September 9, 2011

June 2011 Ebook sales

June was not a pretty month for print sales. I've read before that Borders represented close to half of paperback sales and judging from the cliff-fall in Adult paperback, that was indeed the case. Total print trade sales are down $120 million per month from the prior year trend. With AAP ebook sales only at $80 million, we're talking about an 11% drop in gross revenues for June.

Now, I expect this is hit of the Borders failure and shutdown. The question is, will there be a rebound after the Borders inventory has been liquidated?

I did expect Ebook sales to be slightly better in June. If Ebook sales had truly followed the 2011 growth curve, they would have been $83 million versus $80 million. Is that significant? Since more than a few indie authors report a drought and blamed the 'Sunshine Deals,' which favored AAP publishers, I suspect the real reason was we finally broke the crappy winter weather and people went out and played. Then again, growth has been so tremendous in 2011, we can take a breather.

But you come here for the charts, so here they are.

Overall, ebook growth is still faster than the 2010 growth trend by quite the margin!

I'm resurrecting an old chart format. This is by year ebook sales with 'events' that I believe helped shape AAP ebook sales. I'm rather surprised that the 'Sunshine Deals' didn't spike up sales further.

I've noted before that ebooks jump in market share at the start of the year. We seem to be holding to the pattern but a different month to month variation over prior years:

Edit: I had bad links in the excel sheet on this chart. Mea culpa and corrected 2:30pm 9/11/2011
I've started a new chart: A comparison of how that month's sales did versus the nominal for the last few years, 2010, and a trend. Print books are slowing quickly. 80% of the prior year's sales except for kids books which are doing much better. Ebooks have fast growth and while I commented about June, graphically it looks like it is just maintaining 2011 growth with a little noise. Edit: Don't get excited about MMPB doing a little better than prediction; my once favorite format is in decline. June is MMPB's 'month to shine.' So it did better than falling off a cliff, but not by much. :(

Trade print was very weak. Adult paperback and MMPB and thrashing print sales. More on that later.

Adult hardcover was OK. The weak side of OK, but ok.

Adult paperback fell off a cliff. Nothing seasonal about this drop. It is the changes in the industry that are happening. The question is, will any other bookstore step into Borders space of selling high volumes of paperbacks?

My pre-ebook favorite form factor was MMPB. MMPB is on life support. It cannot survive at these low sales.

It makes me happy to see how well kids books are doing. :)

Seasonal Charts:

I like the bar chart to emphasize how strong, versus prior years, ebooks are doing. :)

I'll go out of order in the seasonal charts and show just how nicely childrens books are selling. :)

Again, hardcover is OK, but weak:

One didn't have to plot a seasonal chart to see that paperback books fell off a cliff.

I usually comment on how poorly MMPB is doing, but adult paperback made this category look 'better than usual.' But MMPB is weak and is pulling down trade print sales.

Overall, June was a weak month for books sales. While ebooks did well, the wholesale side of the business took a hit due to the Boarders bankruptcy to the tune of about an 11% cut in revenue. I wonder if there will be a snap back after the liquidation (which is still going on in September)? Or is this just a setup to selling ereaders and tablets?

Got Popcorn?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Where are the AAP sales numbers?

Where are the AAP numbers? I see the Bookstats. David has already shown how out of date those numbers are. But Robin shows were in a seasonal lull in ebook adoption.

So I ask, where are the numbers? They should be releasing the nice 'Sunshine' deal from Amazon (June) numbers right now. I speculate that between the Borders debacle and Amazon's sale, the numbers make print look worse than the long term trend.

If you look at Robin's article, we should expect another holiday shift. The interesting bit is that since this is now international (US, UK, Germany for Amazon and soon India), this will provide many opportunities for sales in the future.

But where are the AAP numbers? Hope is not a strategy...


Anyone else think the numbers will be even more convoluted than last month's release (see last link).

8/31/2011 update:
Random House doing well in digital.

"Digital sales across all RH companies for the first half of 2011 have already exceeded their total for all of 2010, Dohle noted. In the U.S., digital sales accounted for over 20% of revenue, and RH has more than 27,000 titles available in e-book formats worldwide. "

There is more worth reading in the above link. I think Random House has been wise in its aggressive move to digital. But they are only doing average for the AAP publishers in ebook market share (See last month's sales numbers and market share

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Can ebook growth keep Accelerating?

E-ink expects to ship 27 million screens in 2011. This has helped 2011 ebook sales be about 280% of 2010. On triple the ereader sales plus 'other reading devices.' Think about that ratio a minute.


On average in 2011 ereader owners are buying 70% of the books per ereader as 2010 ereader owners. This is better than I expected! It means 2010 ereader buyers are still buying despite a 'too be read pile.' It also means that while, on average, new 2010 ereader buyers are not spending as much (at least on AAP books), they are not slackers in ebook buying either. So can we see further ebook buying acceleration in 2012?

Let me define acceleration. I do not mean that sales just increase, but that the *rate* of sales increase is greater than the prior year. Please look at this chart I put on on May ebook sales:

Let's estimate ebook sales in 2012 off prior years. (Use the red lines as a guide.)

If we estimate off AAP ebook sales in 2010: $100 million per month in 2012.
Off AAP sales in 2011: $150 million per month in 2012
Off my estimate of total ebook sales in 2011: $200 million per month in 2012!

So acceleration of sales means ebook sales faster than $200 million per month in 2012. :) Can that happen?

First criteria is devices to read on. E-ink has two factories now. One of the two factories is new, so it isn't up to speed. I can only do a 'thumb in the wind estimate,' but I would guess e-ink could slightly more than double e-ink screens in 2012. Perhaps 2.5X the screens of 2011. So e-ink alone could accelerate sales!

But there is also Mirasol from Qualcomm.

A new factory with new screen capabilities. So we could see 3X the ereaders in 2012 that we see in 2011.

The next need is the ratio of ebook sales to ereader sales. I expected that to drop far more than it has in 2010. 70% as many dollars of ebooks per ereader is great. I would have guessed 50% to 75% is a really optimistic turn out. A tripling of ereader sales plus the prior year sales to generate 200% to 300% of the ebook sales. I'm happy with 280%, but at some point 'less intense readers' will be the normal ereader buyer.

Low end is in 2012 double the ereader sales with a ratio of 50% is (2X+1X)*50%=150%. Or about $150million/month a year from now. So the low end is no acceleration in ebook sales, but no decline. If this happens, expect peak ebook sales to be 60% to 65% of the market (noted by the lack of ebook sales acceleration). I do not expect this scenario.

High end is a tripling of ereader sales again with a ratio of about 65%. (The ratio will always go down.) or (3x+1x)*65%=260% or ~$250million/month (realize we're working with approximate numbers here). Under this scenario ebooks will break 90% of the book market quickly. A little too ambitious in my opinion.

So either ereader sales will drop from the tripling of sales per year or the ratio will drop. We can bracket 2012 ereader sales at 2X to 3X 2011 ereader sales. We can bracket the ratio of ebook dollars per ereader (ignoring ereaders from prior years, assuming they get replaced) at 50% to 65%.

We can also know that both will not be at either their high or low extremes. What will they be? It is anyone's guess.

What I do know is that about a year from now I can tell you the approximate ebook market share in 2017. (Technical diffusion follows a pattern.)

With Amazon discounting the K3 to $114, I expect a K4 soon and in either September or October the 'Kindle tablet.' B&N just received a lifeline that I expect to be invested in further Nook devices. Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Google will all remain active in the market too.

2012 Will be an exciting year for ebooks.

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First color e-ink go on sale in September. Note: WSJ might be subscription.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ode to the IBM 5150

My parents had a TRS-80
Then mom needed an IBM 5150
Then in college, I borrowed Mac (friends or the universities)
In grad school I bought a 'clone PC' or utilized Sun workstations.
That clone PC went through two hard drives, three motherboards, two monitors, and three video cards. But like an axe where you replace the handle or the head, it was the same. :) Then I went through a pair of laptops. Both of which have helped me buy ebooks.

The 5150 was huge. Without 'the PC,' I doubt computers would be where they are today. It took someone to jump start the industry. It wasn't the first computer nor the last; but it launched an industry. Much like the Amazon Kindle. ;)

My point? Lead, follow, or get out of the way. IBM didn't control any of the software and that pushed them out of the business. Amazon, Apple, Nook (B&N), and Kobo all control the keys to their media. So I wonder if this generation of technology wouldn't be a bit more resistant?

I give the advantage to Amazon. As with the 5150, those were bought because they were a safe bet. With Amazon, their software (ebooks) will run on any platform/OS that will let them. I know of more than a few people who have bought Kindles as it was:
1. Cheap (like the 5150 vs. other business computers)
2. Portable software (5150 to Compaq, Kindle to an app)
3. Market leader (there is a group that feels safe in the pack)

You might be going, why advantage to Amazon? I know of a few who didn't buy Ipads due to 'being locked into the ecosystem.' Amazon isn't doing a 'hard lock.' More of a 'convenience lock' which customers are happy with. For example, there is a reason Netflix is so popular; you don't have to buy their device.

We owe much to the 5150. Without it, there wouldn't be e-readers (in my opinion). 30 years of PCs. It seems like more.


Monday, August 8, 2011

How ereaders will become cheaper

We discuss the sub $100 ereader in the comment section of various blogs, but the question should be "how can anyone sell a cheap ereader?"

1. Economy of scale. E-ink inc. is increasing shipments

25million to 30million ereaders plus the Nook color and other device reading! Plus a new factory coming online...

2. Touch screens are the most costly component for many of the devices. Two finger and other low cost touchscreen solutions will be popular with ereaders.

3. Frame costs among other components A $5 savings might not sound like much, but it adds up.

4. Weak chip sales estimates for 3q2011 should reduce the build costs. Next year it will be the new 28nm chip manufacturing process.

5. Software profits (e.g., for Amazon, B&N, and Apple) Do I really need a link for my typical audience? In the long run the profit will be in the media, not the device. Thus vendors will cut profits.

6. Size. I wonder why no vendor has come out with a fractionally smaller e-reader? There is nothing magical about 6" or 7" screens. Oh, 3.5" is too small (too many page turns), but some middle ground would sell.

7. Cell Phones. Sales of these are exploding. Why isn't there an ereader cellphone subsidized by the carriers? Seriously, we've already had the 3G e-readers for $189. Increase the battery size a little and the ereader could be a free cellphone with data plan on any US cellphone network.

In conclusion:
I keep reusing this link. One item to note again and again is the 'elastic market' of ereaders. Look at the bottom of page 22. Currently over 53% of the potential ereader buyers are 'priced out' of the market. Note: That isn't the only growth; there is a huge market considering ereaders who remain on the fence. Ideas like Amazon's offers will further cut the price.

Ereaders are an elastic market. While some of us want higher end devices, there needs to be a gateway drug.

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

What fraction of the successful authors is Amazon Signing?

Huffington post notes how indie authors are using their success to go to publishing.

"It is for this group especially that e-books are so important, as they have essentially become a "gateway drug," enabling successful indie authors to stroll down the path into the welcoming arms of traditional publishers."

But thankfully I had just read David Gaughran's latest post. So I was thinking Amazon's latest imprint. When I recognize the cover it struck me to look who the listed authors had signed with:

Of the five examples, #1, #3, and #5 were 'was sold to Amazon's Thomas & Mercer'

Read the article on David's blog. Here is what struck me. Indie authors seem to respect "Joe Konrath has explained the power of an Amazon marketing push, something they don’t restrict to new titles, unlike most publishers." Yes, pbooks are marketing. Authors want simple contracts without 'non-compete clauses.' If they're going to risk pbooks, they want marketing.

My concern with Thomas & Mercer was their ability to put books into stores. With the quantity of best selling authors signed, the concern is 'can bookstores afford to not stock their titles?'

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Don't count on keeping the lead

Companies like to tout past or current market share as if it could never drop.

GM peaked at 51% of the US auto market

Nokia once held 35% of the US cell phone market (and I found poor links that claimed the 35% peak for global cell phones too) and once was a force to be dealt with.

The cell phone market is a great example. Once dominant companies are fading fast. Google 'Amazon tablet' in the news section and one hears plenty of rumors. Here is what matters:

1. Google missed the touchscreen market and gave that to B&N and perhaps others.
2. Google missed the demand for a multi function tablet

But here is a key, we already know more ereaders have been bought than tablets. Why? Price, weight, ease of reading, battery life, and simplicity of use (in order of why I believe they were bought).

Amazon needs to slow the growth of opposing ereaders. This means launching new devices at low price points. Amazon also needs to tap into a *large* app market. Hence the Android rumors...

Apple needs to launch new devices at lower price points. For readers this means a smaller and lighter device than the IPad2 with a more readable screen than the 3.5" IPhone. Rumors are Amazon will counter with a 6" touchscreen... Cheap and readable... I'm curious to see Job's new products this Christmas.

Both should either launch new subsidiaries (e.g., Amazon India) or form partnerships (Google with Android with Samsung, HTC, MMI, ZTC, Sony, your uncle Joe, and probably Amazon.) All it takes is one partner to pull the others into a larger market...

The next few years will be huge for ereaders. For now, it seems to be the English reader market; I suspect due to book supply. The winner will be the one who can supply the most books in a way that is easy to connect the reader (buyer) with the book being sold.

My main point is *all* of the ereader competitors have become complacent. B&N seems to be the most nimble on devices, but where is their entry into more foreign markets? Kobo seems to be the most nimble internationally; they just need to get the name out. Amazon's Kindle and Apple's products have 'mindshare,' now offer more devices to 'grow from strength.'

I'm curious to see what hits the market this back to school season and Christmas.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

May 2011 ebook sales

AAP May 2011 sales numbers are out in the most convoluted manner possible. So time for some graphs to elucidate. Note: This is 5 month data that I conveniently subtracted out the prior 4 months.

The quick summary:
Ebook sales are at 292% of a year ago
Children's books are selling at about 130% of normal
Adult paperback is selling about the historical normal.
Adult Hardcover is selling at 2/3rds of normal
MMPB is, at best, at 40% of normal sales.

We're approaching the mid-year spike of ebook sales. Ok, we're in it... July! Sigh... I'll have to wait 2 months for those numbers.

To the charts! Now my third and last chart will be variations of the same chart. Basically, we're seeing continued strong growth in ebook sales.

On the first chart, it shows the growth in ebook sales, by the AAP publishers, is far above an extrapolation of prior sales; that tells us the ebook market is still in a fast adoption timeframe.

Market share is something obsessed about and a bit difficult to understand with ebooks. What matters is that as long as sales (1st chart) exceed extrapolations of prior years, we know the ebook market will better than double its market share of the total book market:

Could you have imagined plotting total trade print sales versus ebook sales a few years ago? Now that ebooks are 26% of 'trade' (by my calculation), it is exciting seeing them on the same graph. I will repeat this graph at the end for an interesting conclusion...

Mass market paperback (MMPB) is getting creamed by ebooks. It was my favorite form factor as is the case with many (most?) 'serial fiction' readers. These are the readers that demand variety. Thus the best customers for indie authors. Thus the book form factor most reduced by ebooks to 40% of what it used to be (down from 50% last month)!

Hardcover is now being hit hard too. I wonder how much is do to "I want it now" which digital will always win and how much due to the excellent variety of fiction. Do recall these are AAP numbers... so part of the drop could be the new competition:

Adult paperback is doing ok. Not great after inflation, but not bad. Is this because so many paperback books are non-fiction?

Children's books are up! I suspect this is a snap back from a poor start of the year. Why doesn't matter. I'm happy to see this one category doing well. I do think it will be bowled over by touchscreen apps... But there is something nostalgic about kids reading. Alas, due to touchscreen apps, it isn't my family helping this category (we must have 600+ hand me down children's books):

Seasonal Charts
I'm a big fan of looking at data graphed different ways to truly understand the data. In a seasonal industry, such as books, that means plotting each year's data as one line.

First is ebook market share. There is a definitive July and end/start of year peak with a two troughs in between. I'd like to know more about the July peak. For now I'll just report the data:

A bar chart lets us see the trends for each month. This chart screams 'fast ebook growth' with no breaks applied:

The seasonal chart on Adult hardcovers shows they have lost their mojo. I suspect with the Borders bookstore closing this trend will be downward. :( I don't want an end to paper, I'm just much more for ebook growth!

Paperback is plodding along. It is neither doing great nor poorly. As noted before, I suspect this is due to non-fiction sales holding out in pbook form better than novels.

The seasonal chart shows the accelerating decline of MMPB. :( I do not wish to go into more detail of my favorite print form factor than to note sales should be two and a half times higher than they were in May just to be OK.

The seasonal Children's chart raises a question: Did May sales just steal from the mid-year? Or was their a 'hot book' I missed a la Harry Potter? (Or did the PR on the movie sell a bunch more Harry Potter books?)

While there are starting to be seasonal patterns in ebook sales, the trend is clear, fast year over year growth!

I promised a return to this chart. I've noticed that a line drawn through December and the following May sales is the yearly trend. So what if I extrapolate ebook sales on a multi-year basis? We see the trend in trade drop below ebooks in 2013. I think the crossing will be earlier (due to continued ebook sales acceleration).

I'm excited for the growth in ebooks. I'm also very happy to see print holding up better than I expected. Nothing would be better than a straight growth of the book market. :) I'm very curious to see the data on July (mid-year ebook peak). I also think my prediction of 50% ebooks by end of January 2013 is quite safe.

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