stephen.jpgYou can’t fool all of the readers all of the time.

If the Big Six traditional print-book publishers thought they could snooker readers into turning their backs on ebooks and going back to a book business built around exorbitantly priced hardcover bestsellers, here’s a news flash:

The polls have closed, the results have been counted, and a record turnout of Kindle Nation citizens have voted to continue the Kindle Revolution!

Among the key take-aways from the 1,892 individuals who responded February 6-13 to the Winter 2010 Kindle Nation Citizen Survey:

* Kindle owners are voracious readers who have already made dramatic changes in their book buying behavior. 64% now buy at least 15 Kindle Store ebooks a year (and that does not include free titles), and over half of those respondents buy at least 30 Kindle Store ebooks a year. While 61 percent used to buy 15 or more new print books a year (from Amazon or physical booksellers) before acquiring a Kindle, that number has declined to just 15% today. * Kindle owners are poised to make further changes in book-buying and reading behavior, some of which could have grim consequences for traditional print publishers. 73% say that they have “become more price-conscious” as a result of the “recent ebook price wars, 60% say that higher bestseller prices would lead them to “buy more backlist or indie titles,” and 48% say they’ll “look to buy ebooks by authors who provide Kindle exclusives.”
* That willingness of Kindle owners to look beyond bestsellers for interesting, affordable reading content may signal a declining acceptance of the traditional “gatekeeper” role of the major publishers. The respondents’ ratio of positive-to-negative views of the Big Six publishers was 18% positive to 35% negative, compared to 46% positive to 3% negative for small independent publishers, 86% positive to 1% negative for Amazon itself, and 44% positive to 20% negative for soon to be fledgling ebook seller Apple.
* Recent controversies over book pricing have apparently helped Kindle owners become more educated and/or opinionated about key players’ roles and tactics. Only 6 of 1,892 respondents said they had “never heard of” the Big Six publishers, 60% agreed strongly or somewhat with the statement that “publishers & Apple should be investigated for price-fixing collusion,” and 93% agreed strongly or somewhat with the statement that “hardcovers are overpriced and ebooks should be much cheaper.”
* But the survey indicates that publishers may have been wise to keep their recent pricing-related communications “in-house” and let authors speak directly to readers through online forums and other venues, since a 57% positive to 3% negative ratio in Kindle owners’ views of bestselling authors suggests far greater credibility, at least for now, than that suggested in the aforementioned 18%-to-35% ratio for the Big Six.

Click here to see complete, detailed results of the survey, and keep your dial tuned to Kindle Nation Daily — here on the web or here to have posts pushed directly to your Kindle — for ongoing breakdowns of the significance of the survey results.

Additional Survey Results, coming soon:

* What If Big Six Market Share Leader Random House Breaks Ranks with the Apple Five?
* Kindle Features: Past, Present, and Possible
* Prospects for Competition and Co-existence Among the Kindle, iPad, and Other Devices
* Kindle Owner Demographics
* How Many Devices in a Kindle Household?
* Bezos’ Nightmare: 20-20 Hindsight on Amazon’s 2003 Decision to Begin Development of the Kindle

Editor’s Note: The above is reprinted, with permission, from Kindle Nation Daily and you can find the original here. PB


  1. “If the Big Six traditional print-book publishers thought they could snooker readers into turning their backs on ebooks and going back to a book business built around exorbitantly priced hardcover bestsellers, here’s a news flash”

    Er – is that really the situation? Haven’t the Big Six (or five of them but not the one run by the former Amazon employee) just signed up to the ebook equivalent of itunes? Do you really sign up to ibook if you want ebooks to not happen?

    The Big Six till now haven’t really engaged with ebooks because it wasn’t a big enough portion of their sales to spend a lot of effort on. Things have changed. While there may be a few holdouts who find the whole thing a headache, I doubt you’d find a single publishing firm out there who is taking a position of trying to get people to not buy ebooks, ever.

    The question of publishers no longer being “gatekeepers” and thus no longer relevant always surprises me. Bounteous gallons of fiction has been available on the internet for more than a decade. For free. But, with a minutely small exception, people pay for the stuff which has been vetted by the gatekeepers. Because they don’t want to be slush pile readers.

    Some publishers set themselves up for this and deserve the backlash. All those ebooks whose prices they never dropped, where you could get a physical copy for much cheaper, massively undercuts them with the trust factor. But their current proposal? Which appears to equate price with ‘newness’, and so you pay that premium price for the brand new novel (the ebook equivalent of the hardcover, and a variable amount between $10 and $15 so far as I can tell) or you wait until it’s a ‘recent release’ and drops to paperback prices. Or you joyfully snap up cheap back catalogue? That’s a model I have no problem with IF THEY STICK TO IT.

    And, importantly, if they improve the quality of the damn books. If they are going to finally engage with the ebook industry as an important thing, treat it as important. Proof-read. Give us covers. Accept that we are buying, not renting, and the fact that it’s electronic makes no difference whatsoever.

    And don’t stop me from buying the damn things just because I live in Australia.

  2. Since McMillan ebooks reappeared on Amazon, a surprisingly large number of them have been priced higher than the available paperback edition. That tells me that McMillan is trying to convince me to buy the dtb rather than the ebook. Instead, I just decided to read something else.

    Norman, OK

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