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    © 2014, Joseph B. Wikert
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« Another way for publishers to control their own destiny | Main | The rebirth of paywalls »

November 11, 2013

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Glenn

You're spot on, Joe, with Changing revenue models. Driven by rapid growth in Generation Y readership, it's estimated that nearly half of the 80 million readers of ebooks in the US want free or heavily discounted ebooks, more entertainment value, and are willing to accept advertising; leaving authors and publishers to scramble for new ways to monetize their content. For example, independent authors are collaboratively pooling their ebooks and promotional muscle to counter falling ebook prices and break through in a cluttered market.

The big question is with long form fiction ebooks (novels): how do you monetize that with advertising or sponsorship -- especially with viewable ads -- without intruding on the immersive reading experience? Answering that question will lead to a dam burst of money flowing through digital book publishing.

As you say, there is a huge opportunity for startups created by the incumbents protecting the old model. The digital technology tsunami that swept the music industry is already engulfing book publishing. What will be left in its wake will be a transformation not seen since Gutenberg's invention of moveable type.

BookBuzzr

Great insights here Joe.

Just a couple of issues. One needs to distinguish between fiction and non-fiction when talking about content. Much of the insight here appears to revolve around non-fiction.

With regard to fiction ...

I've been talking to a number of readers about how and why they actually buy as part of our efforts at building new products at BookBuzzr. The pattern that emerges when it comes to fiction is that readers pick up books because of the following reasons:

1. A friend recommended a particular book.
2. The book was available at a discount (ex: used book store or Kindle price drop), or they received a free copy in some other manner.

Thereafter, if they like the author, they tend to go out and buy additional books from the author (whether the books are part of a series or whether they are stand-alone).

Especially with fiction, the length is not necessarily a hindrance. Many readers are looking for an escape and a chance to get lost in the author's world. In fact, on one of our reader sites - Freado - when we give away books that form part of a series, the participation rates appear to be higher and more enthusiastic.

Still, I do agree that readers' attention is being bombarded by new forms of content and snack-able pieces of content are likelier to succeed.

Matthew

Joe

I really think you are in danger of letting your personal experience colour your view of the world. You may not be alone in being increasingly attracted to short bursts of content but you might still be in a minority.This doesn't of course invalidate your suggestion that publishers need to look to new revenue models - but I'd suggst they've been doing this for years - though maybe not the big 5.

Glenn

Who is estimating that "80 million readers of ebooks in the US want free or heavily discounted ebooks, more entertainment value, and are willing to accept advertising". It would be good to know where this statistic has come from. Is it proper research?

On one hand it is hard to believe because it pretty much covers the book buying population of America and on the other hand it is easy to believe because depending how the question was asked, people are confirming they like good value and/or stuff cheaper or free. Who is going to say no to that?

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