The Morning Coffee – 13 February 2014

Newsworthy stories this morning include Lego recreations of pivotal scenes in books (link), a new report on the library ebook market (link), results from a survey into European piracy (link), and more.The most important story today is Hugh Howley's report on author earnings, book rankings, and ebook prices in the Kindle Store. You have to read it. Seriously.

  • BgUYqGNCQAA344v.png largeAre New York Publishers Still Relevant? (Penny C. Sansevieri)
  • Book contracts (Studio Tendra)
  • Chrome OS gets more touchy with pinch-to-zoom, virtual keyboard (Liliputing)
  • Connecticut: ‘Wait and See’ How Library E-book Market Develops (PW)
  • Five reasons why you need a professional editor for your novel (TeleRead)
  • How Much of Your Phone Is Actually Screen? (Gizmodo)
  • Impatient readers lead to rapid-fire series release (MobyLives)
  • Lagardère reports that eBook sales now account for over 10% of sales, Hachette revenue up 6% (Talking New Media)
  • LEGO literature (Waterstones Blog)
  • The Report (Author Earnings)
  • That’s a lot of pirating: 68% of Europeans download or stream movies for free (GigaOm)

About Nate Hoffelder (11591 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

8 Comments on The Morning Coffee – 13 February 2014

  1. It’s rather ironic that you post an opinion piece two days ago that Forbes needs to hire someone who understands math, then post this extolling Hugh Howey’s giant mess of why correlation does not equal causation.

    • I’m still digesting the report, so I don’t understand what you’re getting at. Can you elaborate?

      • I’m on my phone so I’ll have to keep it brief, but my problem isn’t with the data, it’s with Howey’s analysis.

        The first rule of statistics applies in spades here: correlation does not imply causation. Just because two things happen concurrently does not mean they are related (the famous example is pirates and average world temperature — there are fewer pirates today than in 1800 and global temperatures have risen, but lack of pirates is *not* the cause of global warming).

        Yet Howey’s first point is just that: taking an infodump of two things (star reviews and price) and stating that there must be a direct correlation. It is entirely possible that there is a relation between the two, but without using tools like linear regression to control for variables you simply can not make the case that there is a statistical relationship between the price and the review score.

        Then he muddies it up even further by stating that this conclusion must be statistically sound because these self-published books have “a hundred reviews”. 100 reviews is far too low to be a valid sample size, as it is way too easy to fake. If a book has 100 reviews, only 5 “faked” 5-star reviews is enough to bump the average up a quarter of a star, the entire difference between the “big 5” and “indy” categories on his graph.

        Then there’s the whole issue that this entire report only tracks bestsellers, and only from a single retailer. The vast vast vast vast vast (vast vast vast vast vast) majority of books will never be a bestseller. How many no-review trivial-sale-number self-published books are there on KDP or NOOK Press? Tons. How many Big 5 books fail to make back their advances? Tons. The best you can say from this data is that there *might* be some trends in bestsellers on Amazon, but nothing more. Certainly nothing about the industry as a whole, as Howey tries to do.

        I’m not saying that this data isn’t valuable — analyzed correctly it certainly could be. But this blog isn’t it. This is someone with an agenda who doesn’t have a firm grasp of statistics making the numbers say what he wants them to.

        • You totally misrepresent Hugh’s report. He puts in plenty of qualifications saying X doesn’t prove Y and he needs more info to be sure. He NEVER said there must be a direct correlation. But his general conclusions, based on the facts, seem completely valid and make perfect sense. It’s up to others to try to disprove them or point to why the facts might lead to other conclusions. His reasoning makes a lot of sense. Plus he provides the raw data for others to analyze. He at least starts by looking at the facts, unlike the majority of those defending the Trad side.

          You seem to be the one with an agenda.

  2. Al the Great and Powerful // 13 February, 2014 at 9:52 am // Reply

    I am curious about your source for disparaging these numbers, flyingtoastr. What actual information do you have that supports your assertion that there is no causation? Howey is up front about the difficulty in finding solid data, and what he did to arrive at these numbers, can you show us the work you did?

  3. Hugh (& his data wrangler) have created just a first blast of this somewhat tricky to fully parse analysis. Most people in self-publishing and in the know are saying it all looks similar to their own hard data of sales. Amazon ebook unit sales are a lot more than what most analysts say they are.
    I predict it will ruffle some serious feathers within the industry and gets a suitable amount of hackles up, spawning dis-information refutations and backlash from the ‘establishment’ within another week or two. Can’t wait…

  4. Hugh is such a class act. Very carefully worded and not too gloating despite barrels full of evidence those defending traditional publishing are flat wrong. I did like his tiny uncredited dig at Mauss: “Some might call these manuscripts “first class,” but designations of class are rather offensive, aren’t they?”

    Viva the revolution!

  5. Al the Great and Powerful // 14 February, 2014 at 1:13 am // Reply

    Fair enough, flyingtoastr, I withdraw my criticism.

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