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Old 04-23-2010, 06:39 AM   #1
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Fascinating Statistics from Kobo

If you have a spare forty minutes, I highly recommend this video talk by a Kobo exec whose unusual research and statistics seem to reinforce many of the guesses made at MR by members. Very best. Neil

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-..._b_547984.html
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Old 04-23-2010, 12:40 PM   #2
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Thanks for posting that link, neilmarr. The video was well worth the forty minutes.

Perhaps it's for the best that it's so long that few will watch it. Some of the perpetually recurring debates on this forum would disappear if faced with Kobo's compelling experience, facts, and research. Argument based on speculation, opinion, and anecdote is way more fun!
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Old 04-23-2010, 06:52 PM   #3
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I found it very interesting and not very surprising to me. Is it all that surprising that many publishers treat ebooks as almost an afterthought? Poor formatting, poor metadata, and little to no information on upcoming releases. How the heck do they expect the retailers to market the ebooks if the retailers don't know what's being released? All the retailers have their work cut out for them with that and agency pricing.

I'd be very interested to see what Kobo has to say in a year with regard to agency pricing. How successful were they at selling above $9.99? $9.99 is a psychological price barrier that will be difficult for many to pass for a product that most consider inferior to the physical product.

Thanks for the link!
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Old 04-24-2010, 06:29 AM   #4
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Hi Dellaster and Tellmomof: What intrigued me was the speedy return of result on research and the generous sharing. My own wee house is in the final stages of offering our own catalogue through Kobo and I admire their underlying principle ... readers and not book shops should be considered the publisher's customer. Readers should choose what and how they read, not some anonymous buyer for a purely profit-driven chain store. Thanks for taking the time to watch the video. I'm glad it provided some food for thought. Cheers. Neil
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Old 04-24-2010, 07:45 AM   #5
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I agree Neil. Readers should decide.
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Old 04-24-2010, 01:04 PM   #6
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For anyone "just looking" I would say watch the presentation (I don't want to us scary terms like speach).

It is good.
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Old 04-24-2010, 06:29 PM   #7
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Yes, a nice presentation. I think there are a few things he didn't really address, though.

Clearly, since they came to market in the middle of 2009, they were entering a market that had been distorted for several years by Amazon's huge presence, which is where 9.99 comes from. I notice he didn't mention Amazon once in the entire talk, but they were obviously the elephant in the room. Still, interesting to see that they sold as many books that cost above 9.99 as they did at the 9.99 point. Price came in at No. 5 out of 7, with convenience factors topping the list.

It's dangerous to take current data and use it to extrapolate future trends. The ebook market is still very immature and mostly driven by those who seek out new technology. As devices capable of ebook reading become more generally accepted and penetrate further into the market the demographic will change, and so will buying patterns. Right now, the bulk of their sales go to people who are reading on a smartphone, which suggests they're basically serving commuters looking for something to read on the train. It would have been interesting to see a breakdown of reading habits by device-type, since those willing to fork out a couple of hundred dollars for a dedicated ereader probably have a different relationship with books than those who are content with reading something on the tiny screen of their Blackberry.

It was very interesting to see how many times he went back to the need for more sophisticated back-end metadata management systems (ONIX etc). This is something that consumers will never see, in that such metadata isn't going to be present in the files they actually purchase, but it's clearly a major problem in the supply chain. I think he's absolutely right, and the lack of a standard and easily-manageable communication interface between all the players in the market has been the root cause of many of the snafus that have happened with pricing and availability.

The 'powered with Kobo' initiative is very interesting. What dedicated ereading devices desperately need a model which makes it easier for software writers to roll out new and improved functionality swiftly without having to rely on the hardware manufacturers approving a new firmware.

He's absolutely right about the quality of epubs. All of them could do better, but some (cough, Penguin, cough) really stink.

Oh, one last thing regarding the slide about changing revenue returned to publishers - a business model that relied on retail partners making a loss was never going to work long-term and I suspect there was more going on behind the scenes that we will ever know until people start publishing their memoires. The one thing that's surprised me about the agency system is the ban on loyalty schemes (probably at Jobs's request since Apple gets a rash even thinking about cutting their own margins).

Last edited by charleski; 04-24-2010 at 06:43 PM.
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Old 04-24-2010, 11:09 PM   #8
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He lost credibility with me because he acted as if everyone was reading ebooks on their smartphone, and didn't mention eBook readers till the end when he said that they would sell one.
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Old 04-25-2010, 08:52 PM   #9
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Remember that most people read on their PCs. I wouldn't be surprised if smartphones were the second most popular reading device. The most popular ebook format is still PDF because most people read on PCs. Dedicated readers as a popular device is a relatively new event.

Also, the audience he was addressing wasn't interested in the hardware but simply selling ebooks.
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Old 04-25-2010, 10:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TallMomof2 View Post
Remember that most people read on their PCs. I wouldn't be surprised if smartphones were the second most popular reading device. The most popular ebook format is still PDF because most people read on PCs. Dedicated readers as a popular device is a relatively new event.
I have seen this comment a number of times and, while it may be true, it really rings false with me.

Reading a novel on a Blackberry is incredibly tedious; I can't imagine choosing to do so for regular, long-form content.

Lengthy, dedicated reading on a computer is better but, really, it's hard to curl up with my quad core desktop and 24" widescreen monitor ... or even a laptop where the screen proportion is 16:9 instead of 9:16 and the thing moves around when I do. It's not comfortable.

Based on sales of e-ink screens, we know something in the neighbourhood of 10+ million e-ink readers are out there and most, presumably, in regular use. If this is really the number 3 or number 4 position, it won't be for long.
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