Dymocks exits ebook publishing after 15 months

Dymocks New Zealand

Dymocks New Zealand closed in 2012, now the company is retreating from ebooks

Australia’s BRW magazine reports Dymocks exits ebook publishing after 15 months. The company told BRW the program was a ‘innovative experiment’ but the challenges were too great.

Dymocks managing director Steve Cox told BRW:

“We learned a lot about that market and those customers but unfortunately the constraints of the platform and business model meant we couldn’t fulfil the vision”.

This story doesn’t make it clear if there’s something systematically wrong with ebook publishing or if the closure is part of Dymock’s winding-down. The company closed its New Zealand business in late 2012 and appears to be in retreat.

I’m interested to know if there’s a viable space in the ebook business for a quality operation sitting between the giant, global powerhouses and the niche publishers. What do you think?

Leanpub – a wonderful eBook publishing model

Leanpub ebook publishing

Leanpub send me a mail saying an updated version of Paul Bradshaw’s book Scraping for Journalists is available. The mail includes links to download the book in PDF, EPUB or Mobi formats – or perhaps all three if I want, there’s no digital rights management to worry about.

Because I already purchased the book, the updates are free.

Leanpub is a great way of selling ebooks: buy one, all future updates are free.

Royalties are generous for writers, around 90% less a 50 cents per book fee. If I ever get around to writing another book, this is where I’ll go first.

Another great thing about Leanpub, is the books are reasonably priced. Scraping for Journalists doesn’t include as much information as you might get from an everyday paperback, but the price is about half what you’d pay for a printed book. There’s also a money-back guarantee.

Oh, and it case you’re wondering the Scraping for Journalists book is good too.

Kindle Paperwhite pushes ads, still best e-ink Kindle to own

Bill Bennett:

Amazon’s “Ad-supported” approach would quickly wear thin with me. Mind you paying US$20 to remove advertising seems reasonable – a 15% premium over the free version.

It brings up an interesting point. If the lifetime value of ads on a reading device is worth just US$20 to Amazon, which is in the business of flogging stuff online, it says a lot about the what’s going on in the world of advertising supported online newspapers and magazines.

Originally posted on Martinborough Musings:

When I got my new Kindle Paperwhite a couple of days ago, I couldn’t understand why Amazon had made it so that every time, after I switched the unit on, I had to ‘activate’ it by swiping up the screen with my fingertip. Why not have it start up immediately I pressed the on/off switch like other Kindles, and appliances generally?

I saw the point (at least Amazon’s point) last night when I went online to look for a protective case. At eBay, most cases had automatic magnetic start/stop switches that operated when you opened/closed the case. This system has been around for a year or two in Apple and Google tablets, and now Amazon has added it to its new top of the line Paperwhite e-ink reader.

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Why printed books will never die

bookshelf

The undead

Josh Catone is largely right when he writes Why Printed Books Will Never Die. Although the pedant in me has an issue with the word “never” given that one day the universe will degrade into a particle stew. For now I’ll give Catone poetic license.

He writes:

Ebooks are not simply a better format replacing an inferior one; they offer a wholly different experience.

A good point. I’d read an ebook on a plane. I read work documents on a tablet or ebook. When reading for pleasure I still want to see print and feel paper.

Whenever I hear people predicting the death of printed books I think back to the Roman, Greek and even earlier texts which can still be read today, then remember early electronic texts stored on 8-inch floppies or using now dead digital formats. Some of these are already lost forever.

The great ebook price swindle only scratches the surface

A year ago Dan Gilmor complained about greedy US publishers forcing ebook prices to climb by between 30 and 50%.

In the US electronic books are now priced at the same, sometimes higher, than the hardback version of the same book. As Gilmore points out, this is a terrible deal because unlike physical books, you can’t resell, trade or give away your finished ebook.

The same dumb thinking is at work in the music and movie industries where digital media costs as much as physical media.

I’ve made this argument before, I’ll make it again. Printers use raw materials and machines to make physical books, CDs or DVDs. They package and ship them to warehouses before shipping again to stores.

Factories, packaging companies, shipping firms, wholesalers and retailers all clip the ticket. These are input costs and they’re not cheap, they can account for over half the retail cost.

While we can understand publishers wanting to recoup some of the cost-cutting benefit from digital media, they can’t expect to have it all. Doing so has three direct consequences:

  • Consumers see high prices as a rip-off. This has the knock-on effect of undermining otherwise valid moral arguments against copyright piracy.
  • It slows migration from the old low margin physical model to the new higher margin model. Why would consumers choose what is still an inferior experience when the cost of hardware plus higher cost of media makes it more expensive?
  • Reduced sales mean set-up costs of a book, CD or DVD are spread over fewer purchases. Surely this is a time when publishers need to seed the market.

At the start of 2013 we’re at a point where the decline in printed book sales has stabilized while the hitherto triple-digit growth in ebook sales has fallen to a still impressive 34%. And sales of ebook readers plunged 36% in 2012.

So where do we go from here? Will publishers cut ebook prices sharing some of the extra margin with their customers or will they paint themselves into a corner?