Is the eBook assault on traditional publishing over?

It has been several years since eBooks started roiling the publishing industry and book stores, but it finally looks like that maybe the onslaught from eBooks is over. While a number of indicators are that eBooks, mainly through Amazon and its Kindle reader or program for computer devices, took a large part of the market, it looks like the market may be starting to stabilized for traditional publishers, but at a much lower level of sales.

Ebooks are books that are distributed in an electronic format instead of a print format. There are multiple forms of eBooks, but one of the best well know formats is the Amazon Kindle program where books are downloaded to a special Kindle Reader or a Kindle program on any one of a number of computer devices. Ebooks have been a boom to vendors like Amazon and a great help to writers and authors for a number of reasons which have changed the market for books and publishers.

The first transformation of the publishing industry is that eBooks allowed anyone to write and publish their own book with little to no costs. Anyone can write an eBook with a word processing program, like Microsoft Word, and when done, format and upload it to a vendor like the Amazon Kindle KDP Select program for publication. A buyer can then buy either a print copy of the work or an electronic eBook version of the work. One of the big advantages of eBook over print is that there is no large cost to do a print run. Prior to eBooks, if someone wanted to get a book into print that no publisher was interested in, it would be up to them to find someone with a printing press, usually a ‘vanity press’, and pay them the few thousand that it would cost to do a print run, usually of about 1,000 books. Typically, those books would sit mostly unsold forever since there was no marketing or promotions or ability to get the book into any of the sales channels. People who went the vanity press route to get their work published would usually sell a few copies, give away as many as possible to the people they knew, and then get stuck with boxes sitting in storage in their garages and basements forever.

With eBooks, there are none of the problems of how little or how many copies a work sells. If only one copy sells or one million copies sell, the Amazon system takes care of it all automatically, downloads are automatic once paid for, print copies are only printed on demand and as ordered.

With Ebooks and programs like Amazon Kindle writers get paid much faster than the old publisher model for paying royalties. Pre eBooks, writers were only paid twice per year and there was a ‘hold back’ amount to cover returns from distributors and book stores. I personally know a person that use to have a book section in his comic book store and his distributor would allow him to return and take credit for books that had been sitting in the store for a decade, with no questions asked! An eBook does not have that problem, Amazon pays authors once per month for any and all amounts earned, no more waiting as long as 18 months to get the royalties for a book that sold a long time ago!

Another advantage for authors is that eBooks typically have a much higher royalty percentage than print copies. The typical royalty percentage for a print copy is about 17.5% of what that publisher sold the book for to a customer, distributor or retail store. The royalty for authors through the Amazon eBook Kindle program is 35% on retail prices of $2.99 and below, or above $9.99. The program pays 70% to the writer on books with a retail price between $2.99 and $9.99. Why would Amazon structure the royalty percentage this way? Apparently, Amazon has determined the most number of units and highest revenue overall is when an eBook is priced around $9.99, especially when the typical print book is around $20 to $30. So Amazon is giving writers an incentive to price their book at $9.99 to get the highest royalty payout. This is an example of how Amazon structures things so their interests and the interests of the authors are aligned in a way that traditional publishers have not been able to do so or not wanted to do so. (I would like to thank and credit J.A. Konrath for his lengthy postings about the publishing industry over the years for this information on how things work in the publishing industry. )

Ebooks do have one big disadvantage when compared with traditional print publishing, however. The problem is that with the barrier to publishing books having come down, anyone can put out a book. As a result, the market is flooded with terrible books, many of which never sell anything. As an example of how tilted the market is, I put out a book in August 2012 about taking and passing the bar exam; How To Pass the Bar Exam by Louis Desy. To date, about 381 copies have either been sold or given away under the Amazon KDP select program as a free promotional or as part of the Amazon program where authors get a cut of a pot of money parceled out to authors if they allow their book to be ‘borrowed’ under a Kindle program. Most of the time there are no sales or one sale of the book, which puts the book at about 1.5 million in ranking. That means 1.5 million book sold more copies than my book. I estimate Amazon has about 2 or 3 million titles listed and ranked in their system. That would mean there is at least 500,000 books that sold nothing in the same time period. Sales or borrowing of 2 or 3 copies of my book as put my book as high as 15,000 in ranking; meaning that everything with a higher number had not even sold 2 copies!

Ebooks has had a large effect on book stores, since with the ability to download eBooks, there is no need for a buyer to ever step into a book store again to purchase a book. This has had a devastating effect on retail books stores with a number of store going out of business since the financial crisis and Borders completely liquidating after filing bankruptcy in 2011. Barnes and Nobel has hung on since then, but large parts of the stores are now devoted to non book items, like toys and gifts, and appears to only be able to do well with its college bookstores that are mainly in the textbook business for a captive audience at the college they are part of. Barnes and Nobel did have their own eBook reader product, the Nook, but it has mostly faded away over time and was a constant money loser every quarter due to not being able to compete with the Amazon Kindle.

It can be argued that some of the changes over time were inevitable since the idea and possibility has been around since the 1980s at least. In the early years people made some efforts with computer PDF files but the problem in those was how to prevent copying and get paid for downloads? My friend that I mentioned about his comic book store, was part of an effort in the 1980s to prototype a kind of reader like device, but the hardware was not up to the task, kept overheating, and was too early in time for a successful device being made at that point. Maybe if he and his group had made their attempt in the mid 1990s the hardware would have been up to the task and they would have been successful?

In short, the changes over the years from eBooks have been brutal for book stores and traditional publishers but a boom for Amazon and authors.

Louis J. Desy Jr.
Friday, August 24, 2018

Are Newspapers Dead in the Age of New Media?

One question that occurs to me is; are newspapers going to be able to survive in any form? In recent years the main newspapers in my area, The Boston Globe and The Worcester Telegram, seem to be literally fading away.

The Boston Globe was sold to the New York Times for $1.1 billion years ago. The Worcester Telegram was later sold to the New York Times for about $265 million a few years that. After holding onto both for a decade, both were resold by the New York Times to John Henry for $70 million with the Worcester Telegram being resold shortly afterwards, resulting in a loss of over 90% on the original investment for the New York Times.

The price was so low that it was as though the Worcester Telegram had negative value for in the deal, since the old main building in downtown Worcester had to undergo some kind of major cleanup and ended up being sold for only $300,000 at one point.

The Worcester Telegram use to have a Washington D.C. bureau but today is lucky to have reporters operating out of one of the outlying towns in an old distributing office for the paper.

The Worcester Telegram had its own printing plant in downtown Worcester so people could get a copy of the paper around midnight every day and the reporters and editors of The Telegram were able to check on what was coming off of the press each day. Later, it was rumored that the printing was moved to Millbury, then Dorchester and recently to somewhere closer to Providence.

Now it is impossible to correct problems with the edition, since once the print run is done, it would be at least an hour before any papers get to Worcester, plus there would be more of a delay in bad weather. I remember the paper still being dropped off in snow and ice storms but can’t see how that would be possible anymore with the papers being trucked in from 40 or 50 miles away.

As time goes on, it seems that most newspapers are unable to turn any kind of a profit. They are just simply fading away as their operations are cut down more and more as time goes on.

Hopefully, things will stabilize at some point but so far I see no indication of that happening any time soon.

Louis J. Desy Jr.
Thursday, August 23, 2018

Are Digital Currencies, Crypto Currencies or Bitcoins, Money? Problem with being a store of Value. Part 3 of many

A BIG problem for Bitcoins to be called money is the store of value problem it has.. Even if we overlook all of the other risks and problems of using Bitcoins, a big problem is that over time the value is changing by large amounts. As an example, last December I setup an account with Coinbase and put in $50 USD in Bitcoin. I just checked right now and that $50USD in Bitcoin is now $20.81, for a loss of about 60% in a matter of months. Now, if prices had declined by the same amount, so the purchasing power of the original $50 was in line with prices, that might not be a problem. That has not happened so storing my $50 USD in Bitcoin is down 60%, not exactly what anyone would expect when they ‘stored’ money, in any form, for a while. One of the arguments in favor of Bitcoin is that Bitcoin avoids transaction fees and currency exchange costs, but that sort of does not work, since in this example I lost 60% to avoid a few percent in transaction fees or currency exchange costs.

Hopefully, the problem of having Bitcoins as a store of value will fix itself as there are more in circulation and the prices of the coins become less volatile when compared with other store of value and forms of money, like USD. The amount of volatility that Bitcoin should have when compared to USD should be something like interest rates and/or the real rate of inflation. Most of the recent changes in price for Bitcoins all seems to be driven by speculation, first on the spike up as speculators piled into Bitcoins as they price rose, and now on crash as people panicked and got out of Bitcoins as the prices fell, just like the crowds do in any boom and bust cycle with all market frenzies.

Louis J. Desy Jr.
Thursday, August 23, 2018

Comic Book Sales – Iceman as of 12/17/2017

As a followup to Just Some Guy video about the Iceman comic book series
( Dear SJW Marvel: Why Does Iceman #3 exist? )

I took a look at the sales as reported by Comiccron for Iceman.

In summary, what I have found, is that the sales look like that after only a few issues are below the 15,000 copies per issue, where it is rumored that Marvel would cancel a series.

Here is a chart and graph of the sales as reported by

(Change is change from prior issue)

Chart of sales through issue #6

While the most recent issue for which sales are available, issue #6, do show a large jump, almost back to the initial first issue, it looks like there was some kind of special promotion that may explain that jump in copies. If this is correct, then when sales for the next few issues are reported, I would expect sales to resume their decline as though the promotion never happened. The one good thing, that a quick look at the numbers seem to show, is that the rate of decline seemed to be starting to ‘level off’ with issue #5, and it looks like the series should be be able to hold at or above 12,000 copies. The only problem is that this would be 3,000 below the rumored Marvel cancellation level of 15,000 copies for a series.

Based upon how it looks like the decline in sales is half as what is was in a prior month, here are my projections for the decline in subsequent sales of the series:

Projected Iceman sales for issue #7 through #12 as of 12/17/2017

There may be disruption in the decline trend due to the large jump in issue #6, but I expect that over time that reported sales by Comicron would revert to near this trend.

I will try to update this data as new sales are reported.

Agree or Disagree, Like or Dislike, I look forward to the discussion about comic book sales and its effects on stores and the industry as a whole.

Good Luck and Take care,
Louis J. Desy Jr.
Sunday, December 17, 2017

UPDATE on Friday, December 29, 2017:

sales update:
Iceman #7 12,677 November 2017 Comic Book Sales to Comics Shops

Apparently, Iceman is being canceled as of March 2018:
And Now Iceman is Confirmed Canceled Too

Are Digital Currencies, Crypto Currencies or Bitcoins, Money? Part 2 of many

In the previous, first part, we discussed, “What is Money”. In this discussion we will compare money to Digital Currencies and whether or not they can be considered money. My short answer is that Digital Currencies are a form of money but are still forming and hopefully becoming less volatile in terms of value for transactions.

As a review for something to be considered money it has to be or have:
1: Medium of Exchange
2: Unit of Account
3: Store of Value
4: Sometimes a standard of deferred payment.

So the question is, do Digital Currencies have all of these elements, and are thus a form of money?

1: Medium of Exchange – Digital Currencies have exchanges that allow one to exchange them with other people, either in typical United States Dollars or even to transfer BlockChains from one person to another in exchange for goods or services. So Digital Currencies can be used as a Medium of Exchange.

2: Unit of Account – Digital Currencies do have a Unit of Account in that one can talk about or refer to them in whole units or parts, and convert them into other mediums of exchange. One of the more common exchanges where this is done is ( ) Here people can setup an account and exchange other forms of money for various Digital Currencies.

3: Store of Value – Digital Currency can store value for use immediately or for use at a time in the future.

4: Standard of Deferred Payment – Digital Currencies can be last a long time, as long as proper care is taken with the BlockChain used to store the item. The BlockChains can be stored on a computer or online with an exchange for later use.

The main ‘problem’ I see with any of the uses of Digital Currencies as money is with the large recent run up in the prices of some Digital Currencies, the value of them is very volatile. From what I am able to tell, most of the run up is due to a large number of people piling into Digital Currencies all at once, and thereby driving the price of them up overall. This is not a good thing for the long term use of Digital Currency since no one would want to pay out for anything for a currency that was going to rise a lot more in the future.

As an example of this volatility problem, the first purchase made with a digital currency was a pizza for 10,000 BitCoins back on May 22, 2010.

The First-Ever Bitcoin Purchase Was Remarkably Inglorious:

Citing to:
BitBeat: Happy Bitcoin Pizza Day!

The short story is that a programmer, Laszlo Hanyecz, in Florida put out a message online offering to exchange some Bitcoins for a pizza. A while later another programmer in England saw the message. They agreed to exchange 10,000 Bitcoins for two pizzas. The programmer in Britian then used his credit card to make the purchase of the two pizzas from a Papa Johns and have then delivered. According to an account of the story the delivery person was ‘confused’ as to how and why someone in England would be arranging a delivery of pizza to someone in Florida; however this was the first know Digital Currency transaction. One part that is interesting is that at that time there was not much, if any market for using Digital Currency as money, since this is the first know transaction of Digital Currency, but both programmers apparently felt that 10,000 Bitcoins were an acceptable trade for two pizzas.

Louis J. Desy Jr.
Saturday, December 16, 2017

Digital Currencies, Crypto Currencies and Bitcoin – Part 1 of many – What is money?

The first part of looking at Digital currencies, Crypto Currencies or Bitcoin, is to define, “What is money”; since we need to decide and agree what is money before we can discuss if Digital Currencies, Crypto Currencies and Bitcoin are money or not.

First, a definition of money from Wikipedia:
“Money is any item or verifiable record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts in a particular country or socio-economic context.[1][2][3] The main functions of money are distinguished as: a medium of exchange; a unit of account; a store of value; and, sometimes, a standard of deferred payment.[4][5] Any item or verifiable record that fulfills these functions can be considered as money.”
Which further cites to:
4. Mankiw, N. Gregory (2007). “2”. Macroeconomics(6th ed.). New York: Worth Publishers. pp. 22–32. ISBN 0-7167-6213-7.
5^ Jump up to:a b c T.H. Greco. Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender, White River Junction, Vt: Chelsea Green Publishing (2001). ISBN 1-890132-37-3

So, for something to be considered money it has to be or have:
1: Medium of Exchange
2: Unit of Account
3: Store of Value
4: Sometimes a standard of deferred payment.

What are each of these things?

1: Medium of Exchange – The item or record is used instead of barter. Without money the only way to get or exchange goods would be by barter where you would exchange something you had for another item from someone else. The main problem with any barter system is that it only works or trades can be done where there is a “coincidence of wants”; i.e. I want what you have and you want what I have, so we can make an exchange. One top of that there is still the problem of quantities or amounts under a barter system.
Example: I have a used car and a famer has vegetables. The farmer wants my used car and I want some of the food, so we can make a barter exchange. The problem is amounts. The used car is probably worth a lot more than the food in small quantities, so unless I am willing to take large amounts of foods, and have the ability to transport and store the food, we still have a problem as to how to make the exchange. While we can introduce another party to the exchange where I take the large amounts of food in exchange for the car and another person does a barter exchange with me for the amounts of food I do not want, we are making the trade more complex and difficult to arrange a complete transaction.
With money, the farmer just gives me the agreed amount and then I can parcel out said funds as I see fit, or even save them for later use.

2: Unit of Account – With money it is easy to tell ‘how much you have’, you just total up the units of money and the value. Here in the United States one would normally talk in terms of United States Dollars (USD) when discussing how much money something was or how much they had. With a barter system, things have a value depending on how many of other items are wanted or needed and there is no clear unit of account to compare across items.
Example: In my earlier examples of a used car, how would one describe or talk about its value or unit of account? With the farmer, he would describe it in terms of how much food he was offering to exchange it for, but when comparing his offer to other offers, how would they compare. As an add on to the original example, lets say there was another buyer for the used car, a carpenter; he offers 100 hours of his labor on house repairs in exchange for the used car. At the same time the farmer offers 100 cases of 8 x 15oz cans of corn. Which is a better deal? How does one compare to the other in terms of what is offered? With money assigned to each, it is easy to make the comparison. Without money, it is hard to know which would be a better deal or how to value barter exchanges.

3: Store of Value – Money needs to be able to be stored for use later. An item or record that could not be stored or saved until later would not be useful for money since it would need to be used or exchanged immediately in order to avoid losing it. Most forms of money last a somewhat long time, even paper currency since those are usually made of some material that will last a while. One example is the United States Dollar. Even though most people talk about dollars being “printed on paper”, it is really printed on a material of linen and cotton. The typical printed USD can last, on average, 5.9 years. ( )

4: Standard of Deferred Payment – This means that money is the preferred way or allowed way to pay a debt. The reason this would be one of the elements of what money is, is that no lender would want to have a payments made on a loan they made in money that was or had lost value.

Agree or Disagree, Like or Dislike, I look forward to the discussion about Digital Currencies.

Louis J. Desy Jr.
Saturday, December 16, 2017