In the news:
Shelf Awareness this morning reports:
At Amazon.com, net sales in the fourth quarter ended December 31 rose 22%, to $21.3 billion, and net income dropped 45%, to $97 million. Some of the company’s results were below analysts’ expectations, but because operating income rose 56%, to $405 million, and because of aggressive growth in some high-margin businesses, including e-books, Wall Street was happy. In after-hours trading, Amazon rose 9%, to $284 a share, near its all-time high.
Although Amazon was cagey as always about statistics, it did say that “for the second year in a row, Amazon’s tablet was the most popular item for customers–Kindle Fire HD continued its run as the #1 best-selling, most gifted, and most wished for product across the millions of items available on Amazon worldwide.”
Commenting on the growth of digital books, CEO Jeff Bezos said, “We’re now seeing the transition we’ve been expecting. After five years, e-books is a multi-billion dollar category for us and growing fast–up approximately 70% last year. In contrast, our physical book sales experienced the lowest December growth rate in our 17 years as a bookseller, up just 5%. We’re excited and very grateful to our customers for their response to Kindle and our ever expanding ecosystem and selection.”
Amazon now stocks digitally more than 23 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, books, audiobooks and apps and games, up from 19 million a year ago.
Meanwhile, a recent statement by Barnes & Nobles anticipates the chain closing one third of their stores in the next ten years to focus on stores that are thriving. Until recently, expansion was the name of the game. (Does this remind you of a global economy you might know?)
The news from Timbuktu is ambiguous. After first reports of mass destruction of manuscripts, some locals say many were successfully hidden from rebels bent on destruction, as they were once hidden from colonial powers. Fingers crossed.
Finally, a bill has been introduced in the state of Connecticut to require publishers to sell ebooks to libraries at the same price as consumers. Something about this jogged my memory. It turns out publishers tried to charge libraries higher prices in the 1960s, and a hearing was held in the US Senate, leading to a handful of successful lawsuits against publishers and a chance for libraries to buy books without paying a premium. Hat tip to the HathiTrust for digitizing that document.