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Monday, May 30, 2005

Book industry statistics II: Bowker Report

Interesting tidbits:
14% increase in books published
Strongest growth sector: adult fiction
University press change in growth percent (from 2003): +16.7%
Adult nonfiction HC: -$.27/title

Press release
Bowker website

Friday, May 27, 2005

Reflections on used book sales

This is a great piece discussing the used book market, especially in relation to the online market and the publishing industry in general. It brings up the 2005 BookExpo America forum on the used book "conundrum." The publishing industry has a growing list of boogie-men (rising on the list quickest is probably Google), but it seems online used booksellers are still the locus of one of their many complaints.

Trend Watch: Libros en Espanol

One sector of the book business that seems to be getting a lot of press is Spanish language books. One entrepreneur who has received some press recently is Rueben Martinez of Libreria Martinez. Martinez has been very successful running bookstores geared toward the Spanish-speaking community. A recent article discusses the growth of Spanish language books in the US market.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Future of the Blog and Correction

As has been leaked out by my partner Lucas Ames of LRABooks, I will soon be leaving the blog for personal reasons. I am nearly positive Lucas will be taking over the blog and its direction, but would also like anyone else interested in contributing to email me. If such a transfer takes place, I hope to ensure continuity of the posts/content. That is to say, I don't think much will change. We will, however, fully disclose the background and industry profile of anyone posting. As an aside, AJ at Alibris emailed Lucas (see the guard is changed already) to point out an important correction to the Manley award post: Alibris' revenue is not declining. The subsequent post proves this and I apologize for not making that clear. I am really not as much of a hater as I seem.

EBay/Half Information

Ebay (2004 data)
Revenues: $3.27 billion
Profit: 23.8%
Employees: 8,100
Sales Growth: 51.1%
Ms. Whitman's salary: $994,052 + $1,553,480 (bonus)

Monday, May 23, 2005

Alibris Business Facts

2003 Sales: $45.5 million
Yearly sales growth: 46.4%
2003 Employees: 49
Yearly employee growth: 8.9%
Key investors: CMGI, Aberdare Ventures, Bedrock Venture Partners, and Lightspeed Venture Parners, and Ingram Book Group.
Mr. Manley's salary: $225,000 + $30,078 (bonus)

Thanks to Hoovers for most of the data.

Alibris' Manley Up for Award

Alibris CEO Marty Manley is a finalist for the Ernst and Young Northern California Young Entrepreneur of the Year award (press release). The Northern California program is part of E&Y's larger national Entrepreneur of the Year award program. Manley was selected from a whopping pool of 58 nominees. Looking at other finalists, it seems that Alibris is one of the best recognized names of all of the finalists' companies. Given the rather large recent failures of Alibris (IPO, declining revenues, fee restructuring) I wonder on what level Manley could win. He certainly keeps afloat a massive website with an impressive reach in the book business, yet has the past year been a success for Alibris? Without a doubt, he used to have one of the best, if not the best, listings services available, but now that is seriously debatable.

Friday, May 20, 2005

WebTV With a Point

Some six years ago we set-up my grandmother with a WebTv to introduce her to email and facilitate communication with her six children and twenty-five grandchildren. We were all quickly disappointed, even Grams with her very low expectation for technological standards. I recently came across an article which suggests a TV-internet combination may be making a comeback. A recent article on AuctionBytes explains how Time Warner customers in Texas are testing software that allows them to keep track of their eBay auctions on their TV. I don't necessarily expect this to catch on but I still think it is cool. Wayyyyy cool.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Chain Store Facts

Publishers Weekly recently posted some data from Reed Business Information regarding chain bookstores. All article data can be found in the 9 May issue or directly from Reed. For curiousity purposes only, BUY INDEPENDENT.

Barnes and Noble
Stores: 666
Employees: 42,000
Number unionized: 30

Stores: 1,176
Sales: $250/sq ft/year

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Wonders of Pocket Watch

I recently used SkuFlow's new offering, Pocket Watch on my Dell Axim at a book sale with great success. The site loads way faster than others and since it is search Amazon only produces results much quicker than Addall. Oh yeah, did I mention it allows you to search up to 10 ISBN's at one time? The one draw back is that if you are a Half.com seller or are concerned about Half.com competition no data is included. However, it does offer Amazon's sales rank which can be a useful tool when book buying. For disclosure purposes, we have no connection to Dell, but have a link exchange partnership with SkuFlow.

Monday, May 16, 2005

New BISG report brings mixed feelings

The Book Industry Study Group just published a report that states that book sales are expected to increase slightly this year (Harry Potter), but will continue to remain stable. The one area, as we've mentioned here, due for expansion is religion. Religion books are expected to grow at a decent rate, by industry standards, through the next few years. Many outlets have covered the publication of this report. One from the AP, via ABC News, does mention a trend we've posted here about the growing number of college students look to the used book market.

Ingram Adapts to Reach Indie Presses

Ingram, the massive book distributor/wholesaler, has recently adapted its business model to try and reach the independent section of the publishing industry. The company will now give publishers the opportunity to outsource their entire distribution through Ingram. Ingram is not the first distributor to offer this, but given its size and name recognition it will certainly earn some immediate converts. For those booksellers who always wanted to support independent publishing companies, but found it too difficult, this may evolve into a seamless process for purchasing from both large and independent presses.

The Problems of E-book Publishing

In an article that every online bookseller will love to read, David Coursey writes about the faltering e-book industry. According to Coursey there are 8 major things this industry has against it and only 2 for it. This discrepancy leaves e-books "foundering." With the recent push of Google and Amazon in the area of electronic books this article is a reassuring read.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Boston Independent Booksellers Featured

The Boston Globe is running an article today featuring three independent booksellers in the Boston metro area. While the article is short on industry information/realities, it is well written and offers a hopeful picture of the bookselling industry. It would be especially interesting for them to run a follow-up in a year. Bookselling online is not directly mentioned in the article, but the reality is many independent stores like those featured place a percentage of their inventory online.

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Notorious Pennyseller

The oft-maligned pennyseller has made it big. This article discusses the recent article in the Wall Street Journal profiling the pennysellers of Amazon. If you lack a subscription to the WSJ have one of your friends/relatives enrolled in higher education look the article up on Lexus/Nexus in a few weeks ("Penny Dreadful: Amazon Has Plenty of Penny Books, but this is One Tough Business Model" 5/9/2005). Finally some facts behind these infamous sellers!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

eBay Hits Decreasing

Want to add to the growing fear (for some) that eBay is simply a fad? A recent article reviews declining site visitors at the site and many other large websites.

The entrepreneur in you?

Being an entrepreneur is one of the most exciting turns your career may take/has taken. As an online bookseller, with a website or without a website, you need to start thinking of yourself as an entrepreneur. One "business coach" believes that being an entrepreneur is more about who you are than what you do. I am not sure how sold I am on the first two techniques, but of course I have not yet given them a thorough try. The third method he lists, however, is incredibly useful and worth reading the article.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

An Indie Author's Shot-out to Indie Bookstores

Making money on self-publishing your own work can is probably just as difficult as making money as an independent bookseller. Because of this, many of these authors find it difficult to offer independent booksellers the same type of discount provided by larger distribution firms. One author, however, has decided to offer a 30% discount to all independent bookstores. The book which is due out in May is "a story of family, faith and conflicting desires, set in both Center City Philadelphia and Amish Country." Her awareness of the independent bookseller, despite the constraints built into her own method for success, is laudable.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

E-Merchant technology event

I recently came across an announcement of a e-business trade show in Chicago, IL this weekend. Small Business World will be sponsoring the event. I cannot imagine a bookseller traveling to this charade, but it is possible that some locals will attend. Without a doubt there seems to be some interesting, if sophomoric, seminars. What worries me is the blatant corporate ownership/influence of the event. A true opportunity to learn about the ups and downs of e-business would probably limit this type of access. Considering the weather this weekend in Chicago, I'd expect even locals to avoid this event... an alternative? Perhaps a trip to Millenium Park?

Taking stock: eBay

I think it is important to keep track of how investors see the few publicly traded listings services like eBay and Amazon. Always our favorite The Motley Fool recently posted an article discussing the history of eBay vis a vis the stock market.