How are readers finding books?

Being hard at work in San Francisco, I couldn’t attend Digital Book World’s Discoverability conference last weekend in New York; but DBW’s newsletters are so consistently useful that I’ve looked forward to hearing about it.

Here’s the first scoop:  We know less than we thought we did about how readers are (or aren’t) finding our books!

Reader behavior is in flux and the ways in which people engage with and discover new content has grown exponentially, according to data from Bowker presented by the company’s vice president of publishing services Kelly Gallagher . . .

– In 2011, nearly half of consumers changed their book-buying behavior (chart below)
– 39% of books are sold online, 26% in stores, and the rest in nearly a dozen other ways (chart below)
– People discover new books in up to 44 different ways

Perhaps most daunting is that e-reader owners, tablet owners, online book shoppers, customers of different retailers, people of all demographics, readers of all genres are all discovering books in different ways.

Imagine the complexity: a 27-year-old female romance reader from suburban Indianapolis who reads on a tablet computer but spends most of her time browsing the Web on her laptop versus a 43-year-old female romance reader living in Los Angeles who reads and buys exclusively on her e-reader. They’re both romance readers and female, but couldn’t be more different otherwise when it comes to how they discover and read books — and reaching them takes different marketing tactics.

The details are fascinating, and so is the chart.  Read all about it in DBW’s newsletter!

Battle of the Amazons, or, Comparing Apples & Oranges

If you want to know where publishing is going, forget tea leaves and oracles and read these two reports from the front lines.

In “The Difference Between Apple & Amazon,” Dan Frommer hits on a contrast with implications for what we’ll be buying and doing for the rest of our lifetimes.  As Peter Brantley recently observed, in the 21st century it’s technology companies, not authors or publishers, who are shaping literature.  Frommer looks at this Colossus of Rhodes astride our landscape and reminds us that one foot’s about making stuff that everybody on earth wants to use, and one foot’s about selling really cool hardware.  Which is reaping bigger profits?  Which is more likely to achieve planetary domination?  Some surprising answers here!

In “Hats off to Amazon” Mike Shatzkin perceptively assesses the real message in Bezos & Co’s recent press conference.  It’s not the new Kindle Fire, or being able to opt out of ads, that makes Amazon — now more than ever — a force to reckon with.  It’s their astute exploitation of where multimedia’s going and who’s on board, notably including the kids who are growing up with tablets rather than books, TV, or CD players as their default entertainment source.  In a culture that defines the winner as the one who dies with the most toys, this is major news!

The Grammar Hammer embraces misplaced commas

Today’s Comma-D of Errors, from FreeWood Post:

“The Russian Embassy was trashed today in D.C. by an angry mob of inebriated men who showed up from the neighborhood bar across the street thinking there was a promotion for “Free Pussy.” They commenced to start a riot and trashed the place but were disappointed after discovering that there was no free pussy.

“It seems there was a misunderstanding when protestors were standing out front with signs reading “Free Pussy, Riot”…”