We had fun at an AMA last weekend hosted by audiobook reviewer (and listener!) Brian Krespen. The other person in the hotseat was Steve Campbell who was narrating Department 9, the third Chimera Company novel. (I say ‘was’ because he’s just finished).
I admit to being nervous with these sorts of things, but Brian did a great job and it turned out to be a lot of fun. You can find a recording of the AMA on Twitter (below) and Facebook.
Also, if you’ve been following my occasional ramblings on the publishing industry, you’ll have read me pointing out that many traditional publishers in the Anglo-American markets survived the pandemic year of 2020 with profits up, despite physical bookstores being closed at several points. Some of this was a rebound as readers rushed back to the stores, but most of it was due to a shift online.
Not that I want bookstores to close, but the stats were a blunt pointing out of what should be an obvious fact: physical bookstores need book publishers a whole lot more than publishers need bookstores.
So I was interested to read this article from the Bookseller stating that over two thirds of UK publishing revenue came from online channels in 2020.
I haven’t seen the report’s detail, so I can’t verify what they mean by ‘publishing’ in this instance. But I expect it to mean ‘trade publishing’. In other words, books from traditional publishing organizations that would until recently have been sold overwhelmingly through physical bookstores.
Note that this is revenue, rather than the publisher profits that I’ve been mentioning recently.
Things sold online tend to be cheaper. Also tradpub trade organizations love to complain that Amazon is screwing them on their margins*, and a big chunk of those online sales will be paperbacks sold through Amazon. Despite both these factors, profits were up as well as revenue. All of which seems to suggest that online sales through Amazon were very profitable in 2020**.
‘*’ They could be right about the margins, but distortion is so common in pro/anti Amazon positions that I just don’t know. Amazon takes a 40% margin on paperbacks when they retail my books.
‘**’ Being nice to suppliers is way down on the list of Amazon’s priorities, and they can and do change their rules to suit them. Just because tradpub selling print books through Amazon looks like a sustainable business model in 2020, doesn’t mean it will be in the future.