Apple Reports No eBook Growth

Apple Shares Up, Huge iPhone And Mac Sales Overshadow Weak iPad

5:08 iTunes revenue $1.4 billion thanks to music, apps, books, etc. 2,500 publishers in over 20 categories on iBooks store, 100 million books.

Wait. What?

This was March 2nd, the iPad 2 intro:

So in six weeks or so, there’s been no growth? They didn’t report 105M or 110M or even 101M. They stuck with 100M.

That’s no growth.

Apple is very careful with the figures they release too. Are books that much of an afterthought — or is it as I see it, no growth?

And let me repeat what everyone else also noticed back in March: That’s a report of 100M downloaded, not sold.

Previously here:

eBooks: It’s Betamax Versus VHS All Over Again
Kindle Library Lending: ePub Is Dead


Filed under Apple: The Company, eBooks: General

15 responses to “Apple Reports No eBook Growth

  1. Curmudgeon Geographer

    I’ve read Apple makes it painful for publishers to submit books into iBookstore. Tidbits said so at least. True or not, selection seems sad.

    • mikecane

      One submission aspect is that a Mac is required to fill in the metadata form. In a world that still uses primarily Windows, that’s got to hurt.

    • It is. I hate them with every fiber of my being right now. I, who have never had an Apple product in my life, but went through J school on Macs, had no particular issue until I ran into their ecosystem about a month ago. O.M.G. They make XP look like fucking LINUX!!!

      Also, they hate books. Period. Their culture is anti-book.

      Angry Mojo is angry. Gr. Smash.

  2. JS

    Hey let’s focus on the negative! Which isn’t really a negative because the category is still in it’s infancy…but hey whatever.

    • mikecane

      Wow. You added a lot with that Comment.

    • Ravi

      JS, the category is NOT in its infancy. eBooks just overtook paperbacks in the US. eBooks aren’t done growing, but you can’t say they’re a baby anymore. Personally, I think they’ve hit puberty.

  3. Ravi

    Wow, you’re right. I thought the new number might be quarterly, which would have represented impressive growth, but the context of the transcript is clear – it is the same “to date” number from the iPad 2 announcement.

    I have to revise down my estimate of Apple’s position in the eBook market. I thought they were #3 (behind Amazon and Barnes and Noble). Now I think they’re probably #5 (behind Sony and Kobo as well).

    I’ll also note that they say Random House added 17,000 books to the iBookstore, but don’t cite a figure for total books available. It must be pretty embarrassing relative to the 900,000+ in the Kindle store (and similar availability in the Nook and Kobo stores). Probably less than Sony as well (though I don’t know how big their catalog is).

    This puts the 30% vig in an entirely new light. Whatever else it might be, it is an admission of failure by the iBooks team.

  4. Well, having just purchased a book from Two Ravens Press and having my iPad handy, I took a quick peek into the Swiss iBookstore. The store is still completely empty. The only books on the shelves are free Gutenberg titles. So I can tell you with 100% confidence that to date Apple has sold exactly zero iBooks in the Swiss store (although some residents may have an account in the US store and could buy from there).

    I’m astounded that they require using a Mac to fill in the metadata form to submit a book to the store. That’s just insane.

  5. Shock Me

    On the other hand, 100 million is a nice round number. It would be interesting to know how many each of the other various book stores for the iPad have sold so far and what device most are purchased on (desktop, laptop, phone, dedicated e-reader, iPad etc).

    New data on the available iBook titles in the store would be useful too. I’ve been finding more and more of the titles I want to read there. Still coming up empty on some searches (like when I stand in a local Barnes and Noble and look up the physical book I’m holding in iBooks).

    Ideally the number of available ebooks should exceed the titles available in a physical bookstore and should include an author’s back catalog (especially books no longer in print).

    Unfortunately, not all titles have ebook versions immediately and even with the B&N app not all B&N physical titles are available despite their best efforts.

    In any case, I am thankful my bookcases are no longer in danger of collapse. eBooks rock. Even the proprietary Kindle ones.

    • mikecane

      I don’t think the iBookstore will exceed the number of books Amazon’s Kindle Store offers for quite a while. Amazon has most of the self-published writers — and they don’t need to buy Macs to submit them to Amazon.

      • Shock Me

        Self-published writers may not even be on the radar of many people. Although with a good discovery mechanism having so many authors might be an advantage.

        Interesting tidbit about the Mac requirement. Not an issue for me obviously but any friction in the process can’t be helpful to Apple’s chances in this market.

        For my own reading, I tend to stick to titles from the larger publishing houses anyway given the likelihood an editor has at least run spell-check on them.

        When you have a moment, could you explain the advantage of self-publishing to the reader? The advantage for the writer is obvious. But how does one find these items and judge their quality quick enough to make the search worthwhile?

      • Ravi

        I think exceeding Amazon’s catalog is a pipe dream for Apple. My guess is they need to start by exceeding Sony’s catalog (since Sony is equally inept, but has been at this longer). Then they might think about playing with the grown-ups (Amazon, B&N and Kobo – which, not coincidentally, are all associated with sellers of physical books).

        @Shock Me: 100 million downloads may be a nice round number, but it is also a very soft number. What percentage of those downloads are sales? Half? Less?

  6. Shock Me

    “And let me repeat what everyone else also noticed back in March: That’s a report of 100M downloaded, not sold.”

    While I like precise data as much as the next person, could you explain the distinction you are making between downloaded and sold? Is it something to do with the number of samples? The number of free public-domain titles downloaded? The number of free versus the number of paid books (all of which were downloaded)?

    My library of iBooks far exceeds the number of titles I own from from B&N and Amazon combined. I imagine this is because I only purchase from competing stores when the title I am seeking is unavailable from iBooks (I like how the books are presented in iBooks best and use the in-app PDF library for the many electronic manuals I use routinely in my worklife).

    I would argue that the best result for the iPad and eReaders in general is support for many stores and a common format readable by the user’s app of choice based on desired features rather than the number of available titles. Unlikely in the extreme I realize, but something that would be nice.

    • mikecane

      Yes, it’s precisely a matter of downloading free books vs. books that have prices on them. Apple doesn’t provide a breakdown. I have over 1,000 entries in my Kindle for PC. But not all of them are books. Many are Samples. But I can’t tell how many because K4PC doesn’t let me separate the two so the software can give me a count of each. Of the full books, every single one of them is free — and legally, via Amazon offers. So, someone could argue I now have an investment in Kindle books now — but I didn’t have to spend a cent for that.

      >>>I would argue that the best result for the iPad and eReaders in general is support for many stores and a common format readable by the user’s app of choice based on desired features rather than the number of available titles.

      Yes. With the Agency pricing model gone so the stores could compete based on price.

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