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Posts Tagged ‘ebooks

Bowker: Gen Y Zooms to the Lead in Book Buying

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According to Bowker, Generation Y, those born between 1979 and 1989, spent the most money on books in 2011, taking over long-held book-buying leadership from Baby Boomers.  That’s according to its 2012 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Review, a publishing industry’s consumer-based report integrating channel, motivation, and category analysis of U.S. book buyers.

The Review, prepared by Bowker Market Research and industry trade magazine Publishers Weekly, notes that Gen Y’s 2011 book expenditures rose to 30%—up from 24% in 2010—passing Boomers, with a 25% share.  And with 43% of Gen Y’s purchases going to online channels, they are adding momentum to the industry shift to digital.

“The book industry is operating in a new and dynamic landscape that puts much more power in the hands of consumers,” said Kelly Gallagher, vice-president of Bowker Market Research.  “Consumers can now very easily purchase virtually any book they want, whenever they want it, and get it at a competitive price.  It’s more essential than ever before to understand who is buying and what their expectations and habits are.”

The Review explores demographic changes in the context of overall market trends culled from the Bowker Market Research consumer panel of almost 70,000 Americans who bought books of any format and from any source in 2011.  It reveals another pivotal year in the evolution of the book industry, marked by such significant events as:

  • The collapse of Borders Group, Inc., which accelerated movement of book sales to online retailers and away from bookstore chains.  By the fourth quarter of 2011, online retailers’ share of unit purchases had risen to 39%, up from 31% at the close of 2010.  Conversely, chains’ share fell to 30% in the fourth quarter of 2011 from 36% in the last period of 2010.
  • Continued growth of e-book consumption, which rose from 4% of unit sales in 2010 to 14% in 2011.  Among major sub-genres, e-books had the most impact in the mystery/detective category, accounting for 17% of spending, followed by romance and science fiction, where the format accounted for 15% of dollars spent.
  • The slow economic recovery continued to nudge more book spending into affluent households in 2011, where 57% of book spending came from households earning more than $50,000 annually, up from 54% in 2010.
  • Though still a more powerful spending group than men, women’s lead in book buying slipped a bit as purchases declined to 62% from 65% in 2010 and their share of spending dropped to 55% from 58% in 2010.

“There has never been a more dynamic time in the publishing industry than the one we are in now,” said Jim Milliot, Publishers Weekly co-editorial director and editor of the annual Review.  “The information in the annual review is just what is needed to help all industry members adjust to the new publishing reality.”

Bowker Market Research is a service of Bowker, an affiliate of global information company ProQuest.


It’s That Time of Year: Read an eBook Week, 4-10 March

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March is here and that means it’s time for Read an eBook Week. This is the event’s ninth year.

Read an eBook Week 2012 Ad

From the web site: “Read an eBook Week was first registered with Chase’s Calendar of Events in 2004. Chase’s is a day by day directory of special days, weeks and months used by event planners or anyone looking for a reason to celebrate. By having the week officially recognized, eBook authors and publishers acquired a certain extra ‘legitimacy’ during that week to promote the new technology of eBooks. The public and media were initially wary of eBooks and many doors were closed to promotion. With the week officially recognized by Chase’s, authors reported they now had access to television morning chat shows and were allowed to set up library displays during the week-long event.”

Read an eBook Week educates and informs the public about the pleasures and advantages of reading electronically. Authors, publishers, vendors, the media and readers world-wide are welcome to join in the effort. “We encourage you to promote electronic reading with any event,” according to the web site. These could include: public readings, library displays, reading challenges, school visits, newspaper and blog articles, chat show appearances, internet radio interviews, e-book give-ways, and banners on your website.

Written by Larry S. Bonura

29 February 2012 at 03:07

Posted in Uncategorized

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6th Annual World eBook Fair starts today with 6.5 million free ebooks

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The brief history of the World eBook Fair shows a tremendous growth in the number of eBooks offered: the First World eBook Fair had 300,000 books available; in 2008, the Fair doubled to 600,000 books; and in 2009, it offered 1,250,000 books. This year’s World eBook Fair will offer 6,500,000 free eBooks!

You can download your free eBooks from today, 4 July, for one month, ending 4 Aug.

Contributions from 100+ eLibraries and thousands of volunteers from around the world made possible this World eBook Fair’s monstrous number of eBooks. The collections include light and heavy reading materials, more reference books, scientific items, and more. There are about 50,000 music entries in addition to the 12,000 that debuted last year.  The Internet Archive and Project Gutenberg are also presenting a number of items in other media, including music, movies, artwork, and even dance choreography.

Here’s an estimate of the numbers of titles available from different sources:

  • 2,800,000 from The Internet Archive
  • 2,100,000 from World Public Library
  • 1,510,000 from Wattpad
  • 115,000 from Project Gutenberg
  • 100,000 from International Music Score Library Project
  • 10,000 from various other eBook sites

In addition to presenting twice as many eBooks, the Fair’s organizers are trying to reach ten times as much of the population by including a number of programs a person can use to read these eBooks on phones, MP3 players, PDAs, iPods, and other mobile devices. Think about it this way: There aren’t even a million Kindles or Sonys, but there are now about 4.5 billion cell phones—which means the potential of readers reading via cell phones is larger than any other media.

As the organizer’s believe that the cell phone is the wave of the future (not, they claim, the Kindle or Sony approach), the World eBook Fair is looking to reach billions in this year’s month-long giveaway. And, obviously, to reach billions of worldwide readers, the Fair is offering more eBooks in more languages, including in English, Chinese, German, French, Spanish, and Urdu.

Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg and co-founder of the World eBook Fair says “We hope you and yours will find lifetimes of reading materials to expand your horizons over the years.” He also suggests that you “Start with the Browse Collections page.”

I’m curious: How many of you took part in the World eBook Fair last year and how many of you are planning on taking part this year?  Please complete the following poll:

Some recent information culled from various sites

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Some interesting stories culled from recent headlines:

  • A Canadian couple saved 360,000 books from being burned. Sad side effect: the sheer weight of the books is destroying their house. See full story at
  • Reuters reports that spam has hit the Kindle, “clogging the online bookstore of the top-selling eReader with material that is far from being book worthy and threatening to undermine Inc.’s publishing foray.”
  • According to a press release, in a recent survey of users, when asked where they will get their books from in the future, more than 50% cited free eBook sites as their main source, but only 2% admitted to pirate eBook sites. About 25% of respondents said online book retailers, while bricks-and-mortar book stores and libraries both scored under 10%.
  • In “Pressing Beyond E-Books,” Inside Higher Ed author Steve Kolowich notes that university presses are not shrinking from new modes of communication, but rather are looking to harness them to reach new audiences and preserve regionally oriented publishing.
  • Gov. Rick Scott is opening the door for E-Readers in all public school classrooms in Florida, writes Mercy Pilkington in Good E-Reader Blog. While most consumers see e-readers in terms convenience, such as massive storage capacity, instantly downloadable e-books, and go-anywhere portable libraries, Gov. Scott sees the devices as potentially revolutionizing public education.
  • In TeleRead, Robin Birtle writes a first-hand report from Tokyo on  the Japanese eBook market in 2011. His summary: “The Japanese eBook industry is crowded and awash with activity but is making no progress.”
  • Denis Papathanasiou writes in his blog about using the SVG image element in illustrated eBooks with EPUB. He shows how he marks up EPUB’s XHTML files at
  •, a design weblog dedicated to designers and bloggers, presents 20 of the best websites to download free eBooks. Worth checking out.

Enhanced eBooks are as complex as printed books

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Enhanced eBooks and apps aren’t simple, natural extensions of their printed counterparts. They require a great deal of careful planning, due to differences in eReader capabilities and implementations, as well as complexities of the original publication. In today’s “eBook 102: From Print to Enhanced eBooks and Apps” webinar, Digital Book World gave an excellent look at the development and production process from print to enhanced eBooks and apps.

Here’s a summary of what primary speaker Eric Freese, Solutions Architect at Aptara, said:

  •  Myths
    • eBooks are simple extension of books
    • eBooks do not require planning
    • Make it look like a book is sufficient conversion instruction
  • Selecting the material
    • Source material
      • Is it appropriate for eBook?
      • Who is audience?
        • What devices do they use?
        • What are their expectations?
        • Limited by functions of the devices?
      • eBook vs. app?
      • Is there additional content or material or media at your disposal?
      • Longevity? How often it will be updated?
      • Language? What does device handle if in multinational environment?
    • Evaluating enhancement options: how do you handle these?
      • Finding: TOC, index (could be color coded [if device supports in] and should link to content)
      • Navigation: TOC, index, footnotes (inline vs back of book) (enhance index entry to give more information to help decide if they want to go there), using graphics for text (that don’t readjust size) vs. text that readjusts to reader size
      • Appearance: color, flow, layout, fonts (love of the look of the page needs to be relinquished)
      • Additional content: illustrations, audio, visual, external links
      • Interactivity: testing ability within book, hooking to social media, geospatial enhancement
      • Standards: they support items but devices don’t implement the standards
  • Devising eBook/app strategy
    • Ask same design and layout questions as a printed book (reflow and rotate add a whole new dimension)
    • Determine enhancements based on target audiences/devices
    • Establish test plans and parameters: test against targeted devices; consider degradation impact
    • Always plan for accessibility: while eReaders are a boon to sight-impaired, accessibility impacts everyone
    • Can only use one CSS in current ePub standard (future spec to allow more than one?)
    • Ensure workflow includes all departments involved in book process, which should include eBook ideas at same time as print book is being designed
  • Conversions
    • Easiest to convert is XML
    • Application files are next easiest
    • PDF is not as easy depending upon how built
    • Going from paper is hardest
  • Tools that will do “same as ePub”
    • Apple Pages
    • InDesign (CS5)
    • Word (coming?)
    • Google Docs (coming?)
  • Enhancements
    • What will grayscale do to color?
    • Placement of graphics
    • Ability to zoom
    • SVG (resizes along with text)
    • Use ALT attributes on images with meaningful descriptions for accessibility
    • Audio, using MP3
    • Video, using MP4
    • Large TOCS, but can be problematic
    • Always make sure reader can get back to they started on links
    • Indexes need most information possible to help reader decide if they really want to go there, since back button is only way back
    • Some eReaders won’t start MP3
    • Audio and video dramatically increase eBook file size
    • Linked (vs. embedded) audio or visual files are iffy, since they requires internet connection
  • Taking different eReader capabilities into account
    • Graceful degradation:
      • Pros
        • Single file with all info works across multiple devices
        • Reduced configuration management demands
      • Cons
        • Large files
        • Additional complexity
        • Reduced nimbleness
    • Device-specific version
      • Single file works on single device
      • Nimble
      • Reduces file bloat
      • But needs separate ISBNs for all of those versions
      • More complex configuration management
  • Case study: World English Bible
    • Can download variations of full Bible & sample set at:
    • See README for more details about what’s in the directory
    • Files named based on what is enabled, for example:
    • Files on ftp for about 60 days
  • HTML5
    • Not officially part of current ePub spec
    • ePub Check will flag as error
    • Next version (3) will include?
  • Good practices
    • No hidden text
    • Bidirectional footnotes
    • TOC
    • Some external links
    • Images

You can find the on-demand webinar on the Digital Book World archives.

Written by Larry S. Bonura

3 November 2010 at 08:34

eBooks vs. Apps: The Pros, Cons and Possibilities–Webinar Notes

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More than 600 people attended Digital Book World’s webinar on Tuesday, 27 July, “eBooks vs. Apps: The Pros, Cons and Possibilities,” that explored the production and budgetary benefits and pitfalls of developing applications versus enhancing eBooks. The presenters were:

  • Peter Costanzo, Director of Online Marketing, The Perseus Books Group
  • Pablo Defendini, Interactive Producer, Open Road Integrated Media
  • Eric Freese, Solutions Architect, Aptara

My notes from the webinar:

Enhanced eBooks University identified a catalog of 27 types of enhancements for ebooks (from “Enhanced eBooks Today and Tomorrow: A Survey for Authors and Publishers”), some of which include:

  • Media: audio, video, screencasts, animations
  • Enhanced content: covers, annotations, accessible, supplemental
  • Social: sharing, social reading, social networks
  • Device-based: geolocation, accelerometer
  • Interactivity: games, analytics, transmedia

Apps are considered a form of enhanced ebook.

Enhanced ebooks are:

  • Ebooks that go beyond a digital snapshot of a printed books
  • Data files (based on a standard) that can be viewed and processed by a variety of platforms and devices
  • Based data files (non-DRM) are interoperable between devices that support the same standard
  • Dependent on access being provided by target platform

Apps are:

  • Programs written to run on a specific platform, such as, the Kindle for iPad and Kindle for Android are different programs
  • May be based on published materials
  • Interoperability cannot be guaranteed: app written for iPhone will run on iPad, but there are iPad apps that won’t run on iPhone
  • Generally easier access to functionality provided by target platform

Enhanced ebooks vs. apps: side-by-side comparison matrix:

Matrix showing various eBook device enhancement options

Matrix showing various eBook device enhancement options

Enhanced ebooks are:

  • Easier to develop
  • Generally less expensive
  • Endowed with some degree of interoperability
  • Functionally dependent on platform and standards


  • Require custom development expertise
  • Must have access to full functionality of platform
  • Are perceived to be more feature-rich

Enhanced eBook concepts

  • Based on ebook functionality, maintain all the good things about ebooks (reflow, portability, etc.)
  • The EPUB standards supports enhanced ebooks now (many perceived limitations come from eReader implementations, not the standard)
  • Graceful degradation (support new capabilities without abandoning the installed base; give info to reader that they are not able to do something, like not fun Flash or video or whatever; can offer several ways to show and if not)

Sample ebook enhancements (based on use of World English Bible)

  • Collapsible table of contents
    • Allows easier navigation of large content
    • Can be set up in ePub file
    • Displayed controlled by device/software
  • Hidden searchable text: Allows users to search terms that might not occur in the content
  • Internal linking (footnotes/annotations/cross-references/indexes)
    • Bidirectional linking: when you click to go to a link, you can go back to where you were originally linked; stay away from either one character or subscripts or superscripts, which may be hard to actually touch or click
    • Inline footnotes/annotations
      • Allows extra data to be shown inline (formatting can be an issue)
      • Reduces back page confusion
      • Can results in cluttered display
    • Pop-up footnotes
      • Reduces clutter and confusion
      • Uses JavaScript in background
      • Works on eReaders built on browser interface
    • Cross-references (not discussed)
    • Indexes (not discussed)
  • External linking (geolocation/directions/associated websites): Make link to map, for example, which opens a browser in separate window; iBooks prompts user before leaving, which can be annoying
  • Audio
    • HREF method opens new app window
    • HTML5 Audio tag works within reader app (will play clip within reader)
  • Video
    • HREF method opens new app window
    • HTML5 Video tag works within reader app (will play clip within reader)
  • Interactivity
    • Ability to play Flash, for example. Like playing Tic-Tac-Toe vs. the book
    • Slide show of pictures

Enhancement considerations

  • Should be dictated by the content, not vice versa
  • Ebooks, enhanced ebooks and apps should receive the same level of planning as print materials
  • Design for graceful degradation: allows files to work on widest range of devices possible by building in fall-back options
  • Keep finished file sizes in mind
  • Test on all target devices

App development considerations:

  • No “apps for the sake of apps”
  • Separate content from programming as much as possible to capitalize on portability
  • Use open standards whenever possible

Major formats for ebooks (what will deliver best experience for user should be considered; no sweeping strategy at Perseus on a format)

  • ePub
  • Mobi
  • PDF

Major apps for ebooks:

  • Windows
  • Android

ROI: these are still the early days for trying out these pubs and just seeing what can be done; just keep learning and keep progressing.

3 most important things to keep in mind for publishing projects:

  • Know customers & what do they expect
  • What devices, platforms they are using
  • Know content and what’s available and how to enhance for the user

eBooks…by the numbers…from Book Business magazine

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Some stats from the Jan/Feb 2010 Book Business magazine:

  • The average prices of the top 100 ebooks on the Amazon Kindle best-seller list and the Sony best-seller list for the first half of 2009 were $8.26 and $10.38, respectively. For the second half of 2009, up to mid-December, the average price for the top 100 Amazon Kindle titles dropped to $6.76, while Sony’s average price dipped to $9.25.
  • About 90% of the U.S. adult population has never purchased an ebook.  About 20% of adults has read, but not necessarily purchased, at least one ebook in the past 12 months.
  • The largest group of ebook readers are 18– to 25-year-olds, making up 25% of e-book readers. The percentage/group size drops as one moves into the older age ranges.
  • About 80% of ebook users read their ebooks on PCs or Macs (mostly PC). About 25% read ebooks on a device other than a PC or Mac, including dedicated reading devices or smartphones.
  • Among ebook users, 63% have read between one and five ebooks in the past year.
  • The ebook format is the only reading format statistically known to draw more men than women: About 12% of men bought an ebook in the past 12 months compared to almost 9% of women.

Written by Larry S. Bonura

17 February 2010 at 05:09