The Rise Of Ebooks - Opportunities for Indie Authors and Publishers


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Presentation by Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, an ebook self-publishing service, to the Bay Area Independent Publisher's Association on April 11, 2009. Publish multi-format ebooks at

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The Rise Of Ebooks - Opportunities for Indie Authors and Publishers

  1. 1. The Rise of Ebooks A Conversation with Mark Coker of Smashwords April 11, 2009 Smashwords, Inc.  Ebook Publishing Platform and Online Bookstore 15951 Los Gatos Blvd. Ste.16  Los Gatos, California 95032  On The Web:
  2. 2. Why Ebooks Failed in the late 1990s <ul><li>Paper reading vastly superior to screen reading </li></ul><ul><li>Overpriced </li></ul><ul><li>DRM=confusion, frustration </li></ul><ul><li>Limited selection </li></ul>
  3. 3. Wholesale Ebook Revenues Surpass $100 million Data: AAP 58% compound annual growth for 6 years vs. 1.6% all books
  4. 4. Annual growth rates, p- & e- Data: AAP
  5. 5. Monthly growth, y-o-y ebook vs. overall market Data: AAP
  6. 6. Do Ebooks Really Matter? $113,220,000 (ebooks)  $24,225,025,000 (all books) = 0.467%
  7. 7. Build it and they will come <ul><li>Statistics understate results of early movers in ebooks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For books available in both e- & p-, 10% of Amazon’s sales are ebooks </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Why ebooks are succeeding now <ul><li>Screen reading now rivals paper </li></ul><ul><li>Amazon + Oprah </li></ul><ul><li>iPhone (Stanza 1.5 million users) </li></ul><ul><li>Free books are gateway drug </li></ul><ul><li>Greater content selection </li></ul><ul><li>Prices coming down </li></ul><ul><li>DRM on death’s doorstep </li></ul>
  9. 9. Will Ebooks Replace Print Books?
  10. 10. Ebooks are similar to print books and stone tablets <ul><li>Each offers lovingly prepared packaged units of words </li></ul><ul><li>Each delivers words on a substrate medium </li></ul><ul><li>Each is cool </li></ul><ul><li>Each represents a different way to enjoy a book </li></ul>
  11. 11. Consumers may one day prefer ebooks over print <ul><li>Ebooks are less expensive </li></ul><ul><li>Digital can enhance reading experience </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Screens will become better than paper </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Changeable font size </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Portable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Compact </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Library in the cloud </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Books as both hub and spoke within richer, more immersive experience </li></ul>
  12. 12. How ebooks will impact book supply chain for publishers printer P-publisher Shipper/w/d customer bookseller E-publisher customer ebookseller E-publisher customer ebookseller E-distributor E-publisher customer
  13. 13. The ebook opportunity for publishers <ul><li>Publishers become more important, not less important </li></ul><ul><ul><li>curators of content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>re-imagine the book </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Digital opens worldwide market </li></ul><ul><li>Lower cost books </li></ul><ul><ul><li>higher per unit profit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>lower cost = larger available market </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Digital enables frictionless discovery and sampling </li></ul><ul><ul><li>may drive print sales and ebook/print bundles </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. How to publish in e- <ul><li>Straight form narrative works best </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Picture books, complex layout, more challenging </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Formatting is different </li></ul><ul><ul><li>goal: one book, many devices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>keep it simple! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Pricing is different </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t use DRM </li></ul><ul><li>Multi-format is essential (see next slide) </li></ul>
  15. 15. Why Multi-Format Matters
  16. 16. Q&A <ul><li>About Smashwords </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ebook publishing platform and online bookstore </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social media-enabled selling and marketing tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Distribution to Stanza </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Free Smashwords Style Guide for formatting tips </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Free Smashwords Book Marketing Guide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>85% net to publisher </li></ul></ul>Where to find me: Web: Blog: Twitter: Email: mc at smashwords dot com