Posted on 2014-Mar-26
iTunes Bookstore Rising
Is Apple on its way to dethrone the big giant Amazon while Nook’s in bad shape? Despite getting involved in a price-fixing case, Apple seems to develop good relationships with authors by offering generous royalty payments and continuing to improve the EPUB standard based on their multimedia-compatible app. Apple iBooks has the best support for the EPUB3 spec at 82% of required features (almost there!). The weakening presence of Barnes and Noble’s business operation could give way to Apple’s dominance of the market that has been divided. While this may sound rosy for Apple to claim the second runner-up title from the former contestant, there are challenges that Apple is facing.
Who Comes Second?
According to The Digital Book World, there is a daunting question whether Apple or Barnes or Noble has retained its second place being the second largest eBook retailer in the U.S. The confirmation is still vague at this point, despite the writer’s claim that he has obtained the most up-to-date information from eBook distributors who have shared the market share. However, several distributors fail to share the data with him. For example, they do not want to share the percentage of their revenue that comes from Amazon. He further breaks down the group of publishers into four categories—large, medium, small, and indie—and shows how each category is tied to the eBook retailer.
For large publishers, B&N’s decline might have shaken their reputable industry’s ranking at No. 2. The decline in Nook sales speaks for itself that even though the bookstore managed to reap in $57 million in sales, it is still 26% lower than the previous quarter one year ago. While the writer tries to find out whether Apple has increased its market share, the company spokesperson remains tight-lipped. One little caveat is Google has already attracted large publishers and grown their market share. Depending on the genre, book, and month, medium publishers have split opinion about their preferable retailer between Apple and B&N. Additionally, Apple seems to work well with small publishers who have witnessed how they leverage effective marketing to promote book sales.
Barnes and Noble’s Operation Loss
As a result of the recent antitrust settlement combined with the sales decline at B&N, plus the bookstore’s failure to launch any new product for the past year, it seems these factors might help boost eBook sales at Amazon when Apple and B&N are gradually losing out their profit earning. Last month, CBS Money Watch reported how B&N had laid off their staff to support their Nook business. According to The New York Times’ report quoted in the article, however, fewer than 100 people had reportedly lost their jobs.
Apple’s Disadvantage Caused by Antitrust Settlement
While Apple does not have to worry about a sales decline anytime soon, the settlement seems to encourage readers to buy eBooks on other retailers such as Amazon Kindle Store, Nook Store, or Google Book Store. Instead of settling the case out of court like other big publishers, Apple appeals the case and now is “in the midst of high legal torture at the hands of a hostile judge, class action lawyer, state attorneys general and the Justice Department.” Eventually, it is estimated that Apple might have to pay close to $1 billion for the damages. The trial will start in two months and if the company loses again, eBook buyers will likely benefit from getting extra eBook credits. While the article on The Digital Reader does not report a hefty sum of credits, the one on TeleRead generally sings praise about its commenters having received their agency-priced money back.
What about Google Play Books?
Even though Google has yet to release the latest data of their Google Play Books, they had a reason to celebrate the first birthday by releasing an infographic that declared the number of its digital content: apps, eBooks, and songs. 5M+ eBooks have been published on the platform based on its blog that was issued on Mar 6 last year. Unfortunately, there is no update on the Play Store’s second birthday, perhaps suggesting the 5,000,000 eBooks previously suggested (even more than Amazon!) was a bit of a stretch.
Apparently, while the second largest is fighting for its place, Amazon sits on top comfortably hoping that readers would be using their credits to buy and read more. Barnes and Noble’s tough competition to remain in the business and Apple’s court case with the Department of Justice will continue to be in the spotlight. Once Google makes their sales data available, there might be a cool new surprise awaiting to be discovered.
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