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Book Trade; eBook Sales – nonsensical figures in The Bookseller

December 20, 2010 4 comments

The Bookseller really should know better!  In an online article today, it published an utterly meaningless statistic – not backed up by any figures that I could find – that Random House UK was ‘seeing a true tipping point in our digital publishing with an 800% year-on-year increase in e-book sales.’  800% of what exactly?

This is simply poor journalism as it does not give the reader any comparisons or data to make their own judgement as to whether this is a tipping point or not. I suspect that it probably isn’t (yet) and that it’s more likely a way of keeping the Random House brand in the public eye at a time when Hachette UK are divulging their actual eBook data!

A poor show – I am surprised at The Bookseller for using a ‘Letter to staff’ in a banner headline and expecting readers to take their report seriously. At the very least, why not wait until the actual RH figures are fully available and we can judge for ourselves.

On a more substantive note, I see that Luke Johnson – the former Borders UK financier – writing this month in Management Today, had the following to say about publishers and eBooks;

‘The future for some players may be much darker. Already, almost a fifth of revenues of certain major trade fiction publishers are generated by eBooks. I fear that soon parts of the industry may face a terrible reckoning – squeezed by piracy, deflation, Apple and Amazon: I desperately hope they manage it better than the recorded music business did. I was always told that there were three ways to achieve immortality: have children, plant trees and write books. I’ve done all three, but I worry intensely that today’s books may not endure, as previous titles have for the past few hundred years.

So the debate drags on – but in this case not helped by poor quality reporting by The Bookseller.

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