Apple’s iBooks Director at Digital Book World: Liveblog

Next up (at 11:35 am EST) at Digital Book World is Keith Moerer, director of Apple’s iBooks Store. He will be interviewed by Michael Cader, founder of Publishers Lunch.

The DBW program says the iBooks Store is the second largest bookseller in the world, but I happen to be sitting at a table with an expert who says otherwise. Thad McIlroy, author of The Future of Publishing, says Nook still has a 17 percent share of the eBook market, though that is dwindling quickly and will probably disappear completely in Thad’s view. He puts the iBooks share at 10 percent. Kindle is more than 60 percent.

If you don’t see the liveblog entries, click on the headline of this post.

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Len Edgerly January 15, 201512:04 pm

Cader: 1 million new users a week? That’s a big number. I want to tee this up for you again. Tell me about the great new feature set in iOS.

Moehrer: Family sharing is a big feature. Easy for customers to download free books. It’s easy for new customers to open iBooks for the first time. Those are leading to the growth.

Cader: I’d love to keep talking, but .. lunch calls.

Len Edgerly January 15, 201512:01 pm

Cader: Restrictions on free books?

Moehrer: No restrictions. Indie authors have been very creative, often making first book in a series free. We’re happy to distribute it. Free content is a way to acquire a new reader on iBooks. Our goal is to turn those new readers into paying customers. Romance authors have been very aggressive and successful in making free books available and turning them into returning customers.

Len Edgerly January 15, 201511:59 am

Cader: How do you work with self-published authors?

Moehrer: It’s one of our biggest growth areas. It started with focusing on romance authors but now is expanding. A shoutout for Smashwords, a valuable partner with iBooks.

Len Edgerly January 15, 201511:58 am

…I’m back after a freezup, had to restart the Mac. This happened just as I was going to post the observation that the energy in the room now is a lot lower than yesterday’s grilling of Russ Grandinetti, the Kindle sr vp. The stakes were higher then–60 percent of the eBooks market compared with maybe 10 percent.

Still, this is a great get for DBW to have the iBooks director on stage. Cader’s questions are a lot less challenging and intense than those he and Mike Shatzkin asked Grandinetti yesterday.

Len Edgerly January 15, 201511:48 am

Moerer: Books with movie tie ins do well at iBooks, during the window when the movies come out at iTunes 90 days after theatre release.

We’ve made a real effort to focus more on genre fiction, including romance, mysteries and thrillers, and sci fi and fantasy.

Nonfiction has been an area of strength for iBooks, starting with biography and memoir, especially for celebrities.

Len Edgerly January 15, 201511:46 am

Cader: Stuff on the first screen sells well. What about past that?

Moerer: The home page is powerful, but we see a lot of traffic from category pages. We also use email and social media. We help authors promote outside iBooks Store. Author events at Apple Stores, Twitter chats.

Len Edgerly January 15, 201511:45 am

Cader: A lot of your team are here with us at DBW. How do publishers engage with you and your team? How do they bring to your attention their titles?

Moerer: We accept no coop placement. It’s all editorial curation. Send me an email and kMoerer@apple.com . Got that? His inbox just got busier!

Len Edgerly January 15, 201511:43 am

Moerer: It’s in Apple’s DNA to support creators of all types. In books, we recognize without authors there are no books, so we are constantly working with authors–not just bestsellers. We are constantly looking for ways to support authors. If an author self-publishes, our business terms are the same – 70 to 30 split in revenue.

We are not a publisher ourselves (dig, dig against Amazon), so we are partners with publishers.

Len Edgerly January 15, 201511:42 am

Cader: Is larger screen leading to more reading books?

Moerer: Don’t track that, but do see more book purchases from the phone than before.

Len Edgerly January 15, 201511:41 am

Cader: How far has iBooks store come from launch of the iPad?

Moerer: Launched in 2010. We’re global and definitely growing. Recently passed milestone. Apple customers have downloaded 1 billion books to date. Over last 6 months, iPhone 6 and 6+ are notable as reading devices. Bigger screens. iOS 8 has iBooks installed on all new devices and devices upgraded to iOS 8. A major area of progress. Since September we have averaged 1 million new customers a week. We expect that to continue this year.

Len Edgerly January 15, 201511:33 am

McIlroy here at our table told me earlier that Apple failed miserably in setting up the iBooks Store, losing an initial share of about 14 percent. [17 percent, if I’m remembering his comment correctly.] The store’s creation happened to arrive just as the eBook sector was experiencing dizzying growth, and it caught some of it. The eBooks share fell back to 5 percent [10 percent], and the store seems better designed now, he said, largely because the iBooks store is now included with iOS8.

I have not used the iBook Store to any extent, because it is so limited in the devices that books can be read on–Apple only. If Nook does disappear from the scene, iBooks will no doubt move into second place, way behind Kindle.

Comments 1

  1. Tom Semple wrote:

    I’ve never understood the appeal of iBooks from a consumer perspective. As an ebook ecosystem, it is by far one of the most limited: you can only read on iOS and Mac OS devices. Updates to the app are infrequent and features are very basic.

    There is no storefront that you can access with a browser, and the in-app storefront does not facilitate discovery, unless all you are interested in are ‘featured’, ‘ny times’, or ‘top charts’. No recommendations (not that those cannot be wildly off target at places that do offer them). It seems rather sterile.

    From an independent author’s perspective, I think the lack of ‘discoverability’ (for example, you cannot do a browser search and have ibookstore page come up in the results) is a huge problem. Big publishers probably appreciate that they can pay Apple to feature their books, because of the focus it gets.

    I’m also skeptical about market share claims. In the above conversation, notice how often ‘free books’ are mentioned. How they always say ‘downloaded’ rather than ‘purchased’. What percentage of the books ‘downloaded’ are free? How many are ‘downloaded’ to more than one device that someone has? How many of those people go on to purchase regularly?That information remains closely held.

    Posted 15 Jan 2015 at 2:12 pm

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  1. From iBooks is Growing by 1 Million Customers(*) per Week ⋆ The Digital Reader on 15 Jan 2015 at 1:25 pm

    […] of an interview, and I blame Michael Cader for only lobbing softballs at Moerer. I agree with Len Edgerly; Shatzkin was much more challenging and intense when he grilled Grandinetti […]