Il blog di Antonio Tombolini

ebooks in Italy before and after Kindle (B.K. and A.K.)


Today, for the I-keep-giving-you-data-while-I’m-still-waiting-to-be-disproven-by-the-always-announced-but-never-released-data-of-others series, I’d like to share something new with my twenty-five readers. I’d like to describe a sketchy analysis I did just yesterday, driven by the key question: what impact is Kindle’s arrival in Italy having on the ebook market in general and on the performance of pre-existing ebook stores in particular?
First question: two months after its launch, what impact is Kindle having on the Italian ebook market?
Answer: the ebook market has doubled with respect to sales during the same period last year, net of Kindle.
In other words: the market is (more or less) quadrupling, and Kindle is approaching 50% of the total market. In still other words: that which last year (ebooks B.K.) was 100 becomes 200, to which we add another 200 represented by Kindle, so the total market that was 100 last year (B.K.) becomes 400 this year (A.K.).
What is this claim based on? Obvious: an arbitrary over-generalization of data I can obtain from:

  1. STEALTH sales (our distribution platform supplies about 30% of books to all stores, Kindle included).
  2. Ultima Books sales (our online bookstore sells all books of all publishers).

OK, this was the easy part. Now let’s move on to something harder.
Second question: what’s happening to Italian ebook stores of the B.K. era?
Answer: muster up all the patience you can and bear with me here. To make it easier for you, since you usually just look at the figures anyway, I’ll even get fancy and include a few graphs.
So what will my claim be based on? Another arbitrary over-generalization of the performance of single stores obtained from STEALTH data, which includes data on all the stores.
So, first step, what was it like in the world (i.e., STEALTH) B.K., or rather in November 2011? Here you go, take a look at the first graph:
Retailers' share on STEALTH Nov2011
Clearly I won’t give you the names of individual stores, except for our own Ultima Books – I’ll just leave you guessing. The situation in November 2011 B.K. consisted in one store leader (Store2) with about one fourth of the market, and the top 5 stores sharing 80% of the market.
But Kindle debuted on the first of December, bringing the Italian ebook market into the A.K. era. So what’s happening to the stores?
Retailers' share on STEALTH Dec2011
BAM! One month after the Kindle launch, the existing stores are joined by a not-so-mysterious Store1, which immediately gains the biggest share (29%) of an even larger market. But what happens to the others?
Clearly they all lose shares in order to make room for Store1. Ok, everything’s clear up to here. But things really start getting interesting in January 2012:
Retailers' share on STEALTH Jan2012
Store1 continues to increase its share up to 35%, and to do so it obviously has to squeeze the others. But not all of them: some stores continue to lose shares; but others, even with a booming Store1, recover their share and start growing as well. And one of these, luckily for us, is our own Ultima Books 🙂
Interesting, isn’t it?
[BONUS HINT: assuming a value for the 2011 market, something I already took a shot at some time ago, it’s not hard to assign absolute values to those percentages …]

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Il blog di Antonio Tombolini