Amazon’s Self-Publishing Platform is Supremely Popular
Major publishers have been facing dropping sales. According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP), sales of adult books, ebooks, and children’s books dropped in the first quarter of 2016, compared to the first period of 2015. Ebooks accounted for a bit more than 27 percent of adult book sales in 2016, showing a drop from the same period in 2015. Sales of children’s and young adult ebooks fell even more drastically.
Amazingly, Amazon continues to succeed as the publishing industry struggles. Part of its secret of success is its DIY print business, Create Space. According to Bowker, the company that issues ISBN numbers to mark new books, self-publishing has taken off in a major way. The number of ISBNs created for self-published books grew by 375 percent between 2010 and 2015. CreateSpace is at the top of the list of most-used self-publishing platforms.
Crowdfunding Draws on Reader Engagement
The answer to getting published in a crowded marketplace just might be crowdfunding. Crowdfunding raises capital for a business or project via the group efforts of individual investors. Done primarily through social media and crowdfunding platforms, this method of fundraising taps into a person’s network to gain needed funds and exposure.
Crowdfunding turns mainstream business financing on its end. Instead of writing a business plan and presenting it to potential investors, or in the case of publishing, showing a finished manuscript to a publisher who might turn it into a book, crowdfunding gives the entrepreneur or the writer the upper hand. The writer presents his or her concept online and asks for people to help pay for publication by contributing any sum of money.
Native Ads are Well Suited to the Digital Age
Time Inc. has announced its intention to double down on its native advertising. In a July 2016 announcement, the media company declared its intentions to restructure its editorial and advertising system, including an uptick in the use of native advertising. Native advertising is a type of disguised advertising, in which paid promotional messages mimic the style of the publication where they are placed.
The CEO of Time Inc., Joe Ripp, explained that native branding solutions have provided a large revenue stream for the company. Time has been producing native advertising since 2014 in an effort to improve profits. Print magazines have been suffering circulation and profit loss for many years, as readers turn to online content, and advertisers distribute the greatest share of their budget to online ads.
Time Inc. is not alone. Major newspapers such as the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and The Washington Post have been using native advertising as well.
Comics Are Immune to Publishing’s Sales Dip
Comics are proving impervious to the sales problems endemic to the publishing business. While publishing overall showed slipping sales revenue from 2014 to 2015, the comics’ periodical, book format comics, and graphic novel market has been going strong in the United States. According to a joint report by Comichron and trade news site ICv2, the 2015 market was worth more than a billion dollars. That represents a 10 percent increase in sales since 2014.
Graphic novels jumped the most in sales revenue, showing 23 percent year-over-year growth. Sales of print comics also took a leap, growing by 13 percent. Only digital comics saw a drop in sales, showing a 10 percent decline in sales from 2014 to 2015.
Even though Americans appear to be reading fewer novels and works of non-fiction, they are clearly grabbing hold of the comics’ trend. Several aspects of the comics’ experience are attracting them.
Poor Book Sales Have Led Publishers to Reinvent the Book
The Association of American Publishers (AAP) has released its 2015 final sales estimates, disappointing book publishers. Total industry sales dropped by .6 percent between 2014 and 2015, showing another year-over-year drop. Even though unit sales rose, overall profits have dropped.
Ebooks showed sharply declining revenue, down to $2.84 billion in 2015 compared with $3.20 billion in 2014. Overall, print books’ revenue rose, with paperbacks forming the basis of that revenue. Downloadable audiobooks continued their stratospheric climb, with sales that rose by more than 37 percent since 2014.
The AAP derives its figures by combining sales figures of more than one thousand reporting publishing companies. AAP claims that its estimates reflect sales from other publishers as well. Indie book publishers might paint a different picture of the industry, but these figures denote the climate for major publishers’ book sales.
News Publishers are Frustrated by Ad Blockers
According to research by eMarketer magazine, more than 25 percent of Americans will block online ads this year. More than sixty-nine million Americans are expected to use ad blockers in 2016. That represents a double digit jump in the number of people acting on their frustration with online ads since last year. Moreover, by 2017, more than eighty-six million people are projected to make use of ad blockers.
For survey purposes, eMarketer defined an ad blocking user as anyone who uses the Internet at least once a month via any device that has an enabled ad blocker. Around one in five people have caught on to the utility of these devices, and the idea of reading ad-free content seems to rapidly spreading.
Naturally, marketers and advertisers are dismayed by this trend. Any industry that depends on ad revenue, such as publishing, marketing, and ad agencies, is negatively affected by online users’ efforts to stop ads from appearing. Just when they had adjusted to the online universe by producing digital versions of their wares, the uniquely digital problem of ad blockers grew to epidemic proportions.
Social Media is Becoming the Most Popular News Source
Reading news on social media has become the norm, according to a recent survey by Pew Research. Pew asked 4,654 Americans about their news-acquiring habits and found that 62 percent of adults get their news on social media. That’s a majority of adults, and it represents a shift. In 2012, only 49 percent of adults reported seeing news on social media. While people haven’t completely abandoned newspapers, it’s clear that in order to remain relevant, news corporations have to post their content on social media. Two thirds of Facebook users and 59 percent of Twitter users get their news from those sites. Social media is pervasive, and it’s become the source of all types of information, including serious news.
People Read Long News Articles on Smartphones
A new study by Pew Research found that Americans are reading more long news articles on their phones than ever before. As smartphones improve their capabilities, their owners increasingly use them to access and read lengthy news articles, a phenomenon once considered unlikely. It turns out that attention spans can last longer than a few seconds, and online readers can stick with a long article until the end. Smartphones have whetted Americans’ appetite for meaty news articles.
Pew found that news articles longer than one thousand words hold smartphone readers’ attention for a lengthier period of time than short news articles. People are more engaged with the longer articles: they scroll, click through, and read for an average of 123 seconds per long article. In contrast, they remain engaged for an average of fifty-seven seconds in shorter stories. Continue reading
Newspaper Groups Extend the Reach of Ads
Small-scale local media brands have been given a better chance at attracting ad dollars, thanks to new alliances forming among publishers. In April 2016, four news organizations announced their new group, Nucleus Marketing Solutions, which will allow marketers to extend their geographic reach. The move follows in the footsteps of other news corporations, both in the United States and Europe, who join together to broaden their scale and draw in the types of vast advertising deals that are usually only available to multi-shore news brands like The Wall Street Journal.
Nucleus Marketing Solutions will sell ads on behalf of its partners. Each of its four current participants (Gannett Co., Tribune Publishing Co., McClatchy Co., and the Hearst newspaper group), boasts a portfolio of renowned publications, including USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Miami Herald, and the Chicago Tribune. Plans are in the works to incorporate other affiliate partners in the U.S. advertising market.
Magazine Readership is at an All Time Peak
Over the past thirty years, many of the most popular magazines in the United States have seen their circulation drop precipitously. Nevertheless, recent industry reports indicate that magazines have been making a comeback. In fact, magazine readership is at an all-time peak, with the Association of Magazine Media saying that 91 percent of Americans peruse magazines. In March 2016, the average audience for magazines was 1.9 billion people. That audience tends to be active on social media: it gave online magazine brands 900 million likes and followers during the first quarter of 2016. At first glance, this news seems confounding. If newsstand sales have dropped, and some large magazines have reduced the size of their circulation, how is it possible that readership has increased? Continue reading