An Electric Eclectic insight of the Pandemic’s effects on book sales.

Despite shops being closed for much of 2020, figures show Britons bought books in volume – although many authors continued to struggle.

UK

More than 200m print books were sold in the UK last year, the first time since 2012 that number has been exceeded, according to an estimate from official book sales monitor Nielsen BookScan.

Although physical ‘bricks & mortar’ bookshops in England were closed from 23 March until 15 June, and then again from 5 November until 2 December, with differing lockdowns in place around the rest of the UK – Nielsen has estimated that the volume of print books sold grew by 5.2% compared with 2019. This equates to 202m books being sold in the UK last year and was worth £1.76bn, up 5.5% on 2019, said Nielsen.

The Bookseller magazine (https://www.thebookseller.com/news/bookscan-estimates-2020-full-year-print-market-55-value-1234212 ) said the figure represented the biggest volume rise in the books market since 2007 and the highest annual value since 2009.

Waterstones, Kate Skipper called the figures encouraging. “So many people have turned to books for sustenance, information and joy through this difficult year.”

USA

Physical retail and online retail have taken dramatically different paths during the pandemic. Well-established chains like Brooks Brothers, GNC, J. Crew, and Neiman Marcus have all made Chapter 11 filings, while Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and Target reported record sales.

While book publishing, generally, has performed strongly thus far during the pandemic, bookstores have not.

Despite much positive news around publisher net sales, the U.S. Census data show that bookstore sales declined 28.8% in October 2020 vs. 2019 and 31% YTD.

Through the summer of 2020, Barnes & Noble, like most independent booksellers, balanced opening restrictions against offering online order pickup and greatly expanded online sales. By late fall, cafe and magazine newsstand sales were still down significantly, but book sales were running ahead of a year ago, aided by a doubling in online sales.

COVID-19′s impact on publishing sales and the supply chain has been less than many feared it would be. Whatever doom and gloom surround the publishing industry during the COVID crisis, sales cannot be singled out for scorn. Trade sales in 2020 were almost uniformly ahead of 2019, and in several categories, unit sales were up over 20% through mid-December.

EBOOKS

The ebook format has been to some extent reborn during the pandemic, recovering from shrinking percentages of overall sales, and publisher disdain for the format.

AUDIOBOOKS

After years of spectacular sales growth, audiobook sales growth slowed significantly in 2019: 16.4% versus 34.7% in 2018, based on data from the Audio Publishers Association (APA). NPD Group reported that unit digital audiobook sales were up 15% through May 2020. The AAP calculated that downloaded audio sales were up 17.3% to the end of October.

In the library market, Overdrive, which had been seeing year-over-year growth in audiobooks, saw depressed audiobook adoption in the pandemic. A possible reason cited by the company: commuters who had been listening to books in the car (or on mass transit) were no longer going into the office.

ELECTRIC ECLECTIC asks…

Overall, the numbers are positive for audio; only the pace of growth is slowing.

Podcast consumption offers an interesting perspective on this data.

Spotify reported in July that in its second-quarter 21% of users were listening to podcasts, up from 19% in Q1. Overall consumption of podcasts more than doubled.

Podtrac recorded 47% download growth for the 52 weeks ending November 01, 2020.

Are these listeners being lured away from audiobooks? Or are podcasts just part of an overall burgeoning audio trend?

PUBLISHING

The pandemic has had an enormous impact on how publishing companies are staffed and how staff execute their work. And, by all accounts, that impact may mark a permanent shift in publishing workflows.

In early August, Penguin Random House confirmed it will not return to its offices “until sometime in 2021… or until it’s safe and it’s practical, whenever that may be.”

Also in August, Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch sent out a note that “we will not be requiring anyone whose work can be done remotely to return to any of our offices for the foreseeable future.”

GENERAL

Overall retail sales changed only slightly in 2020, but there were huge swings month-to-month. April sales were down 14.7% from March but were followed by an 18.3% jump in May. November retail sales dropped 1.1% from October but were up 4.1% from November 2019.

Book retail is a set of businesses. First, it’s both physical and digital. More than half of all book retail takes place online (with Amazon accounting for at least half of those sales). Physical retail, on its own, has several components, broadly speaking: chain bookstores, independent bookstores, big-box retailers like Costco, and “newsstands” at drug and grocery stores, airport stores, etc.

Then there is digital, capturing more than 10% of most book publisher sales, and the vast majority of self-publishing sales. Amazon controls at least three-quarters of that market.

TO CONCLUDE

The changes in the retail landscape speak volumes. (Pun intended).

On the one hand, from now on publishers must treat bookselling as online- and digital-first, physical-second, with no further questions asked.

Pre-COVID it was still valid for publishers to ponder “where does Amazon fit within our reseller channel strategy?”

The question henceforth is “how do our reselling channels align with an online-first strategy (particularly for Amazon)?”

And the mouse in the corner might be heard to squeak “and what should we do about the bookstores?”

Although the sudden pandemic-driven shifts may slow or revert toward the mean with the achievement of a “new normal,” we believe that important underlying changes will persist and continue to evolve.

Keep Happy, Paul

Two books ALL authors NEED

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Whether you are writing your first book, consider yourself an emerging writer or are an established author, there is always something more, something new to learn about our business.

We may be well versed regarding grammar or have a literary doctorate under our belt; it does not mean we know what Etherpad or Zoho are. Trim sizes and paper weight may confuse us and we may never decipher the difference between the Frontispiece and a Colophon.

If you are looking to publish small press or mainstream it is good to know the accepted word counts of various genres. It also makes sense to understand publishers and agent’s jargon, such as Boilerplate, Permissions and Blues.

What does 4/0/0/4 mean to you? Or Casewrap? Are you familiar with Endsheets?… I’m just asking.

Who should write your books Foreword and who should write your Preface? Do you need either one if you include an Introduction?

Do you understand Copyright and why you might need a Disclaimer? Is it a legal requirement to have an ISBN… and where do you get them anyway?

How would you like some clear advice regarding the difference in formatting eBooks and Print books (Paperback and Hardcover) along with font style advice and free downloads?

How about some samples to help you write your back cover ‘blurb‘ and getting to know how literary agents work and what is it they do… exactly?

All these questions and more are answered, many with examples you may copy and use; along with links, site addresses and downloads to make your life a whole lot easier, to save you money, time, and ton of wasted effort and frustration.

EEnewLogoPaul White, the founder of Electric Eclectic, has two books designed to aid authors and writers to understand the publishing world and what you need to know to be a successful indie author.

Paul’s books are not about the writing process, neither do they offer advice on promotion or marketing… there are a plethora of publications, blogs, vlogs and podcasts which portend to do that.

Do not expect his books to be ‘self-help’ handbooks or a ‘step-by-step’ instruction manuals… they are not.

‘The Frugal Author’ focusses on the cost of self-publishing, giving detailed information Publication1on reducing expenses while maintaining, if not increasing, quality.

Paul says’ “No one needs a large ‘book debt’ before publishing. I advise how authors can be in profit from their first few book sales.”

Following the success of The Frugal Author, (revised edition now published), Paul received many questions about publishing and writing. This encouraged him to write a second book on ‘being indie’ where he addresses, in detail, the most frequent questions asked.

AuthorStuffThe result is ‘Lots of Author Stuff you Need to Know’, a weighty tome of understanding, knowledge and experience of the printing and publishing world. It is a book every author needs to have to hand regardless of experience.

“These books are full of the distilled results, the acquired knowledge and personal practice of being a successful, award-winning, Amazon bestselling indie author.” Says Paul.

The Frugal Author: https://mybook.to/FrugalAuthor

Lots of Author Stuff you Need to Know: https://mybook.to/Authorstuff

Prices on hold until the corvid 19 crisis is over. So, now is the perfect time to download both.

 

An update…

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This is a short post to let you know what is happening with this, Electric Eclectic’s blog, right now.

As part of Electric Eclectics re-organisation and streamlining we are moving more information about Electric Eclectic to this site.

Regular visitors may notice the increase in the number of pages and there are more to come, along with links to relevant online pages, information and services.

Of course, we will still keep blogging so you are entertained with short stories, book excerpts and we will notify you when the latest edition of Electric Press magazine is ready for you to read. We shall continue recommending and reviewing books, hosting new book launches and, maybe, even indulge in the odd giveaway?

During the transition, we may not post as many times as we normally do, but please keep dropping by to see the changes we are making and feel free to browse the archives, which you can do by scrolling, selecting a date from the left-hand menu, or by selecting on the ‘archives page‘ from the top menu. Whichever way suits will lead you to a plethora of exciting and informative material.

Thank you for reading this and please come back soon.

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Paul

The Secret Entity

I first posted this in November 2014, (how time flies) on my writer’s blog, Ramblings from a Writers MindHowever, I am re-posting it here, on Electric Eclectic’s blog simply because I think you will find it enjoyably informative… at least I hope you do.


Books, novels, novellas, whatever term you use it does not really matter. Neither does it matter, in this instance, if you are reading a hardcover book, a paperback or even an e-reader. Because this post is about the story that lays within, not the format, the genre or classification of the book.

A story is a most wondrous gift which can be bestowed on anyone. It affords an avenue of escapism from life, from reality. A tale can whisk you away to worlds which do not exist but feel real, feel true as you read and absorb each word on each and every page.

A great story will draw you in, make you part of its netherworld, a place where you can battle the bad guys, or be the bad guy, or girl, or dog or horse… or simply watch, from your lofty viewpoint, all that transpires below.

No matter if you love a twisted plot of dirty deeds, or raunchy romance, fast action with death and destruction, a private detective prying into everyone’s business, or a love and betrayal saga of family and ever-changing fortunes;  as a reader, you must consider how the author weaves such magic, how they are able to draw you into their fiction, into their deep mindbending imagination.

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Whether you are laying on a recliner by the pool, soaking up the sun at the beach, or simply curled up in your armchair at home, a book is a magical portal, a gateway to another life, through which you can escape the humdrum of everyday tasks, at least for a while.

When you immerse yourself into a story the mundane evaporates, it disappears into the shadows of forgotten responsibilities, while you become absorbed into your own private world, a world that no other person can ever become part of.

Now, you may find my last statement somewhat beguiling.

Why would I say no other person could possibly enter the same world as you? After all, you are reading just one copy, a single edition of a book. Many other people must read the same story? They too have visited this fantastical world you now find yourself in?

WRONG.

Unlike watching the television, a downloaded video, or visiting the cinema where you sit with family and friends watching precisely the same action, hearing the same sounds, the same voices, a book is a far more personal experience.

It is a unique individual encounter.

When you read a story your eyes will be scanning the chains of words which are sequenced by the author. Yet it is not the author who is telling you the story. It is not these chains of words, mere ink blobs on the pages which paint those pictures in your mind. It is not they which lead you from one scene to another.

You see, in between the words there lies an invisible entity.

It is this entity which connects your mind to the authors, no matter how far away they may be in distance or time. Alive or long dead… you will become connected.

It is this which is the true magic of a book.

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Wonderful plays and fantastic films work from the basis of good creative script writing, however, assisting the scriptwriters to deliver the words to an audience in a manner that will capture their attention are the actors and actresses. Their ability to deliver a speech or to convey dialogue convincingly is a wonderful skill.

Cameramen, directors, special effects, best boy’s and grips… and so on, produce the scenes and effects. But that vision, the moving images on the screen and the actor’s voices are not your story; they are the director’s interpretation of the screen-writers construal of the theatre play, which is based on the television series of the original book written by… whoever it may be.

Therefore, you are separated by degrees from the creators own thoughts.

I prefer a direct connection to the author, one without the intervention of another person, or persons, translation being foisted upon me.

Without becoming too technical, I am writing this post in a style far removed from the one I am using to write my novel. The way you are reading this is the way I have deliberately formatted my narration. In this instance as if I am speaking, talking directly to you personally. (Which I am)

In my fictional stories, the voice you hear is inside your head, may be omnipotent, or it may seem as if one of the characters is speaking, telling you the tale, it all depends on how I intend you to hear my story.

I hope I have explained that clearly?

The second reason reading a book is such a personal experience is, as you read, your mind creates a world so real and so detailed and in such a subjective form, it is only possible for it to exist in your own imagination.

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Take a simple statement:

“The long black sedan drew up to the pavement outside the hotel.”

Simple?

Yes?

No.

If it were a film I would agree because we would have both seen the same car, drive up to the same hotel, from the same direction, in the same weather conditions, at the same time of day….same….same…same.

However, when you are absorbed into the story of a book, you have to create the car yourself, imagine which direction it is driving, how the daylight reflects from its bodywork, or the lights glint on its polished paintwork as it drives under the portico of the main entrance… oh wait, your hotel did not have a portico? And it was not in the city centre… well, that’s ok, because this is your story and yours alone.

In mine it was night, the car was a dark blue stretched Bentley continental, what make was it in yours?  Was it a stretch, was it blue or black… or white? What time of day, or night did you create for your story? Was it Chauffeur driven?

This is the reason you cannot read the same story as your friends, your mother, sister, brother, uncle, aunt or Little Lord Fauntleroy. You can read the same book, but you can never experience the same story.

Ahh, now you are beginning to understand the true magic of a book, the amazing mystical power of narration.

It is something unique, something no other medium can offer.

Which is why I love the written word, why I love books above and beyond any other form of media for regaling a great story.

It is why I love to write.

Talking about writing… have you read any of my Electric Eclectic novelettes yet?

If not, you are missing a treat; each Electric Eclectic novelettes contain an amazing and captivating short story.

If you prefer paperbacks, I have now published several of my novelettes as Pocketbooks, smaller sized paperbacks which are perfect for slipping into a bag or, dare I say, a pocket. They will even fit into the back pocket of your denim jeans.

How’s that for convenience?

Visit @open24, Electric Eclectic’s Amazon store for readers and writers…

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eBooks or Paperbacks… or is there another option?

Ebook vs Print Books

How often do you get asked, or hear the argument asking which is better… eBooks or Paperbacks?

To me, both have their benefits and downsides.

The main thing against eBooks is, you need a device and you need that device to have The e-Book Accused of Causing the Death of the Paperback?power. An uncharged Kindle, iPhone or Tablet is nothing but a piece of useless junk.

Even worse, is when it cuts out halfway through a chapter and your miles away from a charger, like on the beach or halfway up a mountain.

 

Of course, good things for eReaders of any description is the number of books you can store on them and the lack of space they take up. (Not that you’ll read even a small percentage of the books you have stored, while on holiday… or ever.)

The good things in favour of paperbacks are, you can read them anywhere, power or no power, charging points or not. You can flick through the pages of a physical book whilst in the bathtub without the fear of totally ruining it if it gets wet.

table-leg-and-bookAlso, I have never (yet) seen an electronic device used to prop up the wobbly leg of a café table, I have seen this done with a paperback book.

If you drop a paperback, no harm done, just pick it up and continue reading, no broken screens, no expensive repair bills.

Oh, and when did anyone snatch a paperback out of your hands and make off with it? Never is my guess.

There is also the wonderful feeling of holding a ‘real’ book, sharing it and lending it to your friend, or having it displayed on a bookshelf in your lounge. You cannot do that with eBooks.

Paperbacks do have a downside.

They are quite large in comparison to an Android phone or a Nook, so take up a lot more room, which is fine at home but can take a good proportion of luggage space when going on vacation.

And so, the discussion goes on. You may prefer one format over the other, or you may take advantage of the benefits of each, as and when you want.

However, what if there was a middle ground?

What if… you could read a paperback the size of an iPhone?

Think of how many of those you could slip into your suitcase or rucksack, a handbag, or even your pockets.

You could read them anywhere, no batteries to worry about, no signal needed, no damage if dropped and no fear of anyone stealing them. You could even leave it unguarded on your beach towel when you went swimming, knowing it will still be there when you return.

How amazing would that be?

The thing is, this is not an idle thought, a sci-fi fantasy, or simply a futuristic dream. These books actually exist NOW.

EEPocketbook

Electric Eclectic has a growing range of ‘POCKETBOOKS’, smaller paperbacks whose dimensions are just 6×4″, which makes them ideal for travellers and commuters. These small-format books easily slip into a case, rucksack, handbag or, as the name suggests, a pocket, even the back pocket of your denim jeans.

Each pocketbook is a complete book, an entire Electric Eclectic novella or novelette. Most have an eBook option if you really prefer the electronic version.

Electric Eclectic is increasing the number of pocketbooks in their library, so keep checking in for new releases.

Here are some of the currently available Pocketbook titles.

Click on any cover image to read more on Amazon.

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The ELECTRIC ECLECTIC NOVELLA FICTION PRIZE 2020… is now open

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Are you an aspiring writer or an indie author looking for a publishing contract? If so, the Electric Eclectic Novella Fiction Prize 2020 is ‘right up your street’.

Simply write a 20K to 30K word story, in any genre and about anything you want, and enter the Novella Fiction Prize.

Entry is just £10.00 GBP, (via official entry form) and the winning authors will have their manuscripts published as Novellas.

The top prize is a full paperback publishing package.  Second and third places having their work published as eBooks.

Also associated prizes; professional cover designs, marketing packages and author assist support, media interviews and more.

The Electric Eclectic Novella Fiction Prize 2020 is an international literary competition for emerging writers and indie authors.

Submissions are encouraged from all literary fictional genres with no restrictions on theme or subject.

The emphasis of the judging will be on ambitious, imaginative and innovative approaches which explore and expand creative writing.

See; ‘How to enter the NOVELLA FICTION PRIZE’

 

Electric Press magazine: February edition, now out.

The Electric Press Literary Insights magazine: February 2020 edition is now available online. Simply follow this link. 

https://issuu.com/electricpress/docs/epfebruary20

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