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Old 10-14-2007, 02:17 PM   #1
Bob Russell
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Best seller lists punish e-books

The lack of e-book publishing enthusiasm is a constant frustration to e-book readers. Everyone says that e-books are big in the future of publishing, yet it seems as if some publishers would rather drink castor oil.

Jane at Dear Author has shared information over the years about the situation, and has just recently brought additional focus to the issue of best seller lists. She points out that e-books are not counted in most major best seller lists. And, of course, it is essential to make a book a best-seller if you want to get people interested in buying it. "The major lists such as New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and even Bookscan, do not take into account ebook sales. This provides a huge deterrent to authors and publishers to provide readers with a same release day, reasonably priced ebook." If e-book sales are going to cannibalize the paper sales that get you on the best seller list, it's a significant disincentive.

This is one more example of the chicken and egg problem that e-books struggle from. What will break the barrier? Will it be the arrival of inexpensive and easy to use book reading devices, will it be a push by publishers, or will it be customer outcry for more e-books?
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Old 10-14-2007, 03:46 PM   #2
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I'm sure it'll change eventually, just as it took years for music downloads to be counted in the music charts. They now are, however.
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Old 10-14-2007, 04:14 PM   #3
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The lack of e-book publishing enthusiasm is a constant frustration to e-book readers.
I agree, but for me, living in europe, it works both ways.
Why buy ebooks if it is almost impossible to get a good affordable reader?
I never ever saw one in any store here, the irex is very expensive, the Sony is plainly unavailable and other devices keep on being 'just around the corner'.
I know, if I do my best and use backdoors, I'll probably be able get one, but I hopE you see my point:
the hardware is far from mainstream, so why sell the software?

Reading books on other devices like laptops, organisers and mobile phones is possible but less comfortable then using paper so this won't be a major market either.

Last edited by dura; 10-14-2007 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 10-14-2007, 04:19 PM   #4
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Why don't you use a PDA? Reading on a Palm or Pocket PC is a perfect acceptable experience - I did it myself for well over 10 years before buying my Sony Reader. Both Palm and Pocket PCs allow you to read MobiPocket books, which gives you access to a huge range of current fiction, as well as all the free stuff.
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Old 10-14-2007, 05:09 PM   #5
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I used a Handera 330 for reading ebooks for a good two years before I accidently damaged the screen from a fall(left it in my bookbag and the weight of the books crushed it). The new Palm TX and pocket pcs are available that have a similar sized screen to the handera, but with the added bonus of color. So the complaints about no portable ebook reading device is kind of silly considering that the alternative of reading on a palm pilot is not that terrible.

But back to the subject, I do think they should include ebook sales only if some reasonable criteria could be met. Of course even if they refuse to do this, Amazon will eventually start it by a consequence of their marketing tools.
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Old 10-14-2007, 05:12 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Why don't you use a PDA? Reading on a Palm or Pocket PC is a perfect acceptable experience - I did it myself for well over 10 years before buying my Sony Reader. Both Palm and Pocket PCs allow you to read MobiPocket books, which gives you access to a huge range of current fiction, as well as all the free stuff.
Reread his post: He mentioned "organizers" which is another term for PDA, and he didn't like using them to read eBooks.

I personally think Mobipocket Reader sucks. Everytime they upgrade it they break something. The last upgrade destroyed all my bookmarks in over a dozen books.

What is needed is a true eBook markup language that can be displayed in multiple readers and yet still be secure enough to compel the publishers to publish in it. Until that happens you guys are wasting your time here. No publishing house is going to publish in dozens of different eBook formats and consumers are not going to buy eBooks en masse until any eBook can be viewed using nearly any eBook reader. If each publisher designs their own markup language, then that will fail too unless one of them eventually becomes the standard. I'm afraid we are in for a multi-year wait until eBooks are a true alternative. I for one have read just about all the titles of interest to me that are available in eBook format. Most Of what I read is NOT available as eBooks. Just try finding books on the best sellers list in eBook format. Even the hugely popular Harry Potter series are not available in eBooks. I predict that the consumers will soon turn away from eBooks out of pure frustration, and then even fewer titles will be available.

We don't need new eBook readers. We need more eBooks and we need them in a standardized and highly versatile format or this industry will soon die!
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Old 10-14-2007, 05:31 PM   #7
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Reread his post: He mentioned "organizers" which is another term for PDA, and he didn't like using them to read eBooks.
Look at the timings of the posts. I wrote my reply at 20:19 (UK time); the original poster edited his post and added the "I don't like reading on organizers" bit at 20:21. It wasn't there when I wrote my reply .

Quote:
What is needed is a true eBook markup language that can be displayed in multiple readers and yet still be secure enough to compel the publishers to publish in it. Until that happens you guys are wasting your time here. No publishing house is going to publish in dozens of different eBook formats and consumers are not going to buy eBooks en masse until any eBook can be viewed using nearly any eBook reader.
Mobipocket is pretty much a de facto standard. Available on many different platforms and sold by many different retailers. Sure, it would be nice to have more eBooks, but there what there is already is enough to keep me going for several lifetimes. Most of what's on the "best sellers" lists is, IMHO, crap - celebrity diets and fictitious autobiographies of "stars" I've never heard of are of zero interest to me. Classics remain classics because they are great literature.
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Old 10-14-2007, 08:07 PM   #8
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This is one more example of the chicken and egg problem that e-books struggle from. What will break the barrier? Will it be the arrival of inexpensive and easy to use book reading devices, will it be a push by publishers, or will it be customer outcry for more e-books?
I'm betting the barrier will be broken by one book. Mind you, it'll have to be a damned popular book... but it'll be one that will only be released as an e-book, and it will turn out to be so frikkin' popular that people will be downloading it into anything they have, and recommending it to everyone they know, and even their pets. Someone in the e-book field will alert the news media, someone will note the sales numbers as being as high as best seller list numbes, they'll say so, and the publishers will say: "C**p."

(Note: I started to call this the frikkin' "good" book, but halfway through my dialog, I changed it to be "popular." Because we all know, the popular books aren't always the good ones... )

At that point, best-seller lists will include any e-books that match the sales of the first, or at least match the sales figures of any print book. The publishers won't do it... the media will force it on them.
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Old 10-15-2007, 06:24 AM   #9
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Not to be flip, but who cares about Bestseller List anymore (except the companies with dinosaur business models)?

The Top 40/Top 10 Song List still exists, but who cares (except maybe to corporate DJ's)?

I would argue that lists like the NYT are merely a barometer of what books have received the biggest marketing budget. And that is not interesting except to booksellers trying to pick what books to stock. That's not really an issue with ebook sales.
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Old 10-15-2007, 06:26 AM   #10
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More. It's akin to using alexa ratings or technorati ratings to describe the importance of various websites. Mildly interesting (to advertisers for example), but easy to game.

Look at myspace, etc.
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Old 10-15-2007, 06:33 AM   #11
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Some ebook publishers are willing to publish in multiple formats. We have Adobe (PDF), BBeB (LRX), eReader (PDB), and Mobipocket (PRC) with books in all of the mentioned formats. So yes, some publisher will do this to get their product out toe the masses.

As for best seller lists, do we want an ebook only list or a combined list? Me, I'd favor having three lists. One for ebooks, pbooks, and combined. I'd love to see what sort of difference ebooks make to the pbook best seller lists.
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Old 10-15-2007, 07:47 AM   #12
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Not to be flip, but who cares about Bestseller List anymore (except the companies with dinosaur business models)?
Unfortunately, the public still does. People check the bestseller lists when they don't know what's out there to read. Many of those tend to search out books on those lists, which in turn spurs more sales. And if the lists weren't so popular, they wouldn't be printing them.

So the bestseller lists continue to drive the general public, especially the casual reader, into the bookstores, and away from e-books.
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Old 10-15-2007, 07:48 AM   #13
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Another place people seem to be looking for what to read is the stars. They see photos of Hollywood stars carrying/reading some book and that book then sells.
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Old 10-15-2007, 02:02 PM   #14
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Sure... anytime a celeb recommends a book (or anything else, for that matter), sales go up. Now, if I can just get J-Lo to recommend one of mine...
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Old 10-15-2007, 02:04 PM   #15
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How do you show what ebook a celeb is reading without a direct shot of the device's front?
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