Ebook & Publishing 10 Feb 2011 04:24 pm by David !

MOD on iPad! PLUS: Ebook roundup

MoD on iPad

Machine of Death is now available in Apple’s iBooks! You can search for it in the iBooks app on your iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch, or here’s a browser link (caution: the link will ask you to launch iTunes).

When everything exploded for us back in October, we were approached by not only print publishers, but also audio- and ebook publishers. We’ve explained already how we turned down inquiries from larger publishers for reprint rights to the book, and since we had planned all along to create a free podcast of our book, as well as give away the free PDF, that torpedoed any chances to partner with any professional audio- or ebook publisher as well. They would have insisted on exclusivity, which we weren’t willing to provide.

So, after hearing loud and clear from you that you’d like a Kindle version of MOD, we started looking into publishing ebooks ourselves. This was before we’d even released the free PDF, so the genie was still technically in the bottle — and we heard from ebook publishers and distributors warning us what we’d be missing out on by turning down their terms.

“We reach thousands of ebook sales partners,” they said. “Even if you do a Kindle version yourself, that’s only one of thousands of sales channels.”

“Are there really thousands of ebook sales channels?” we responded. “Why have we never heard of any but about five?”

Ultimately, we decided that while there might be thousands of ebook sales channels, we only cared about a couple of them, and we could manage a couple of them on our own. We ended negotiations with ebook companies, released our PDF, and looked into selling ebooks of our own in the few sales channels that make up the majority of the market.

Which ebook marketplace is doing the best?

Kindle versions have been our biggest sellers by far. I tried to find some survey data on the Kindle’s market share: last August an Amazon spokesman claimed they had 70 to 80 percent of the ebook market; those numbers were then challenged by publishing industry professionals who assigned Amazon 61%, followed by 20% for B&N’s Nook, and single-digits for everyone else.

The study reported results from very early in the iPad’s existence, so the landscape has surely shifted by now — in fact, Apple claimed 22% of the ebook market share as long ago as June 2010. The numbers get another crunch here with this startling opinion:

Several Publishers confirmed earlier this year and at the end of last year that Amazon had around 90% market share… The likeliest possibility is that not only did Amazon manage to sell Kindles it also managed to get a large chunk of iPad owners’ ebook purchases via Kindle for iPad.

Let’s see if our (limited, so far) experiences agree.

A breakdown by ebook platform

These are numbers from January 2011 — so the October blitz and the subsequent holiday season aren’t included. It’s still not a huge sample size, but it’s the closest to “typical” we’ve probably got so far.

Although Amazon announced last month that it’s now selling 115 ebooks for every 100 print books, we’ve still mainly sold print books — in January, at least 74% of all copies of Machine of Death sold were print books, and we know that number is low because it doesn’t include Canadian or all retail-store sales. We do, however, have accurate numbers on ebook sales:

• Kindle sales accounted for 84.5% of all ebook sales in January
• Nook sales accounted for 10.4% of all ebook sales in January
• The remaining 5% were mainly ePub sales through our site, although a few iBooks sales are recorded there too (the iBooks version only went live at the very end of January).

We abandoned our Kobo application after hearing of Borders’ financial troubles. We also have submitted our file to Google’s new ebooks program, but thanks to a hilarious comedy of errors that could only be resolved by us mailing them a CD-ROM (what year is this?) we are currently still “processing.”

This is only one data point, but the breakdown seems to be roughly shared among at least one other author who’s been kind enough to share his own experience:

Now, I’m not James Patterson, but I have sold several thousand copies of my e-books this year, and they are available at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and Apple (also Sony, but too recently for me to have reliable sales data). And my figures back up Amazon’s; in fact, I sell more than 75% of my e-books through Amazon. Source: David Derrico

Advantages of a broad approach

We’re happy we took the reins into our own hands and didn’t bother paying an ebook distributor a commission to get us into 997 other ebook portals — I doubt any few increased sales would have covered what we’d lose to the commission. As long as there are a few market leaders, it’s easy for us to make most everybody happy: most of you who read ebooks have Kindles, but if you have a Nook or iPad, we’ve got you covered too. The Stranger’s Paul Constant also points out some advantages to the ePub format on the Sony Reader, and we’re happy to sell you a DRM-free ePub if you want one.

It’ll be interesting to watch over time if our ebook sales climb (or print sales decline) to move more toward parity with Amazon’s overall ebooks-vs-print-books ratio. Of course, that ratio is aggregate; it doesn’t address individual books. Maybe they’re selling 115 copies of every hardcore-erotica ebook for one each of every 100 detective novels.

Maybe —

maybe what we need to publish next is a hardcore detective erotic e-novel

14 Responses to “MOD on iPad! PLUS: Ebook roundup”

  1. on 10 Feb 2011 at 5:52 pm 1.J. T. said …

    Should the word “hardcore” be applied to “detective” or “erotic”? OH MY GOD OR IS IT BOTH?

  2. on 10 Feb 2011 at 7:27 pm 2.glockblob said …

    Regardless of the placement of “hardcore” I think the word “maybe” should be replaced with “certainly.”

  3. on 11 Feb 2011 at 12:17 am 3.Jason said …

    The Google employee takes the CD-ROM out of the mail and inserts it into the computer’s DVD drive. The computer recognises what it is that is on the disc and realises what it must do. The monitor display lights up with a short message: ‘compiling’.

  4. on 11 Feb 2011 at 3:08 am 4.Udge said …

    I’d buy that.

  5. on 11 Feb 2011 at 4:36 am 5.Fides said …

    I dunno – there is quite a lot of competition in the “hardcore detective erotic e-novel” market. Although I’d definitely recommend the Psycops series (and that manages to add a supernatural element to the genre mix) 😉

  6. on 11 Feb 2011 at 6:34 am 6.Rich said …

    Not available in the Japanese or Emirati stores.
    Random I know but they’re the only two countries that let me have a credit card.

  7. on 11 Feb 2011 at 2:20 pm 7.baldassbat said …

    I’d certainly read a hardcore detective erotic novel. Especially if it has an extra bizarre Machine of Death slip that acts as a clue in solving the case. Something like finding naked body in the desert but a post mortem Machine test says DROWNING.

  8. on 11 Feb 2011 at 7:59 pm 8.Bob Mayer said …

    We’ve found PubIt sales pretty close to Kindle sales. About 7-11 ratio. iBookstore sales kind of suck. I think most ipad users have the Kindle app and use that. Of course if Apple closes that, things might change.

  9. on 12 Feb 2011 at 12:36 pm 9.Pam Stucky said …

    Thanks for this, the insight is much appreciated. I totally agree that it’s better to focus on a few key markets than worrying about the long tail at this point.

    Question: I’m looking at Amazon’s various options. From what I can tell, if I want to go with the option of having them distribute my book to other bookstores and libraries, then I can’t have my book distributed by any other means. However, I was looking at bookbaby.com to help distribute through Apple, and the other various platforms.

    ?? It’s all very confusing (to me). If you have any thoughts or wisdom or insight on that, I would love to hear it!

    Again, thanks, I appreciate the post!

    admin: My only experience has been with Amazon’s “Expanded Distribution” network which, if I understand correctly, partners with the book distributor Ingram to make your books available to the trade. Pretty sure that’s only for print books, though, and ebooks wouldn’t fall under the purview of that agreement — you can do what you want with those. I know that AmazonEncore is a different program whereby Amazon becomes the publisher for most or all media, but I don’t have any experience with that except that I think you’d have to be previously self- or small-published to qualify for the Encore program.

  10. on 12 Feb 2011 at 12:55 pm 10.Ivan Kowalenko said …

    I wonder how the numbers would change if the Kindle had native ePub support, or if there was greater promotion of the DRM free ePub version (since iBooks, Sony Readers, Nooks, and every other eReader supports it). I have to wonder, how many people who bought the Nook version had it recommended to them (either by a friend, or a recommendation engine), and how many knew about the book through the website (or from the authors via some other communications channel) and may have known about the DRM free version (but not that the Nook supported it).

    The problem is until the eBook market place gets out enough awareness that DRM-free ePubs are (mostly) the MP3 of the book world, and the Kindle is the Zune 1 of the world (The original Zune and firmware only supported encrypted WMAs, and converted all MP3s and AACs before syncing them to the device), there will always be this strange fractionalization of the eBook market where people believe their device locks them into one, and only one, source of books (to the exclusion of DRM-free sources like Gutenberg and directly from some authors).

  11. on 12 Feb 2011 at 5:09 pm 11.Pam Stucky said …

    Thanks for the reply and follow-up info!! That is promising. I’ll look into it further!

  12. on 13 Feb 2011 at 3:44 pm 12.Stephen said …

    Just fyi – the Sony reader and some others can read Adobe DRM’d digital books. The reader has a built in Adobe ID which you use when you buy the book, then it can only be read on a device with that ID. This is also how you can borrow ebooks from a library.

  13. on 17 Feb 2011 at 8:54 am 13.Thorbjørn Kühl said …

    Please to remømber to make Møchine of Death available in cøuntries like Denmark and other iBøøk Støres øutside the US

    admin: Right now iBooks only allows us options for a handful of countries — we’ve selected all we can and will add more territories as they allow us to!

  14. on 17 Feb 2011 at 5:23 pm 14.mcc said …

    “The likeliest possibility is that not only did Amazon manage to sell Kindles it also managed to get a large chunk of iPad owners’ ebook purchases via Kindle for iPad.”

    Single data point, since getting my iPad the only books I’ve purchased have been via the Kindle app. iPad Kindle is nice! And it means that I can move my books to all kinds of different devices later if the iPad is destroyed by the cats.