At around the end of June, something weird happened over at EasyReaders.org, our ebook shop.
Bear in mind that Easy Readers LLP, the legal entity behind EasyReaders.org, is a mini-mini, micro, barely-visible-at-all operation, the most minuscule of tiny, small businesses.
Granted, it takes up a lot of my time, and I have some fun with it, but if it wasn’t for the fact that I work gratis, it wouldn’t exist, and never would have. Still, I get to tell people who ask what I do all day that I run a publishing company, of sorts.
A typical ebook sells between twenty and fifty copies the week we launch it. The launch price is £5.99, so we’re talking a few hundreds of dollars here.
Now and again we’ve had a bestseller which might have brought perhaps a thousand of your cute little American bucks flooding into our grateful coffers. But these can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
Total annual revenues, since you ask, are a fraction of one decent salary, hence me working for the joy of it rather than for actual money.
What I’ve learnt about publishing has been interesting, though. Take, for instance, the newest book (or ebook) by your favorite author.
That too might not sell a vast number of copies, perhaps not covering the costs of editing and printing, shipping, and marketing, to say nothing of sales tax, the slice that goes to the vendor (bookshop and/or online), the payment processor, and repaying any advance extended to the writer.
But given that this new work is by your favorite author, the fact that it now exists, and is popping up on book websites and in actual book shops, means that you, and possible new fans of said writer, are likely also to be interested in ‘Other books by…’
A percentage of a publisher’s annual revenues comes from sales of titles from its ‘back catalog’. If I enjoy the most recent spy story from John le Carré, for instance, I might buy others by him. The new titles function to promote the ‘back catalog’, see?
Check the ad below for this week’s ‘launch offer promotion’ on our new ‘opera easy reader’ and you’ll see that I craftily mention the others in the series, too.
That’s for those who already know they like them, but also to give context for people who aren’t buyers yet, but might be. This is not just one thing you might enjoy, but lots of things. What fun!
The ebooks store will also try to tempt you to add something else to your cart, once you’ve already decided to buy something: “Like La traviata? Then why not add Rigoletto to your cart?”
That’s called a ‘cross-sell’ (adding something of equal value), I think. There’s also likely to be an attempt to ‘upsell’ you: “Now you’ve bought this small value thing, so clearly trust us at least a little, why not trust us some more and buy this larger thing, too?”
It’s all about squeezing revenues from the back catalog, see? And the more extensive the back catalog becomes, the more important the marketing side becomes, the actual publishing part becoming just an occasional distraction.
Cynical world, isn’t it? And now I’ve given away all the secrets, too. Consider this a public service announcement from OnlineItalianClub.com!
But I was going to tell you about the weird thing that happened over at EasyReaders.org back around the end of June!
Until then, we’d been getting ebook ‘reviews’ on a daily basis, certainly several each week. Reviews are when buyers leave a star rating, from * to *****, and maybe a comment to say what they liked or didn’t like about the ebook. In terms of establishing the vendor’s credibility to the purchaser, they’re vital!
When I buy something online, I always, always, always read the reviews. And I will often leave them too, if the vendor asks me, which often they don’t, as some have learnt I can be scathing in my comments.
When I’m researching or buying something, I assume a product or service with no reviews is either new, so no one has bought it, or unpopular, in the sense that no one liked it much, but no one hated it enough to be bothered to scathe (yes, that really is a word!)
Actually, no reviews doesn’t really mean either of those things, though I myself assume so when I’m the customer, as comparing the number of reviews we got to the number of copies sold, it was always evident that only a small percentage of people would leave one.
In the same way, maybe three or four thousand people will read so far in this particular article, and I publish three each week, but a month can go by without anyone commenting, either to say something nice or to tell me I’m up myself.
Nevertheless, with the extensive back catalog (we have hundreds of ebook titles now), sales of new titles running at between twenty and fifty in the first week (plus the cross-sells, remember), the number of ebooks being bought and read were such that even with a ‘review hit rate’ of just a few percent, reviews were coming in regularly. Which was appreciated!
And then, just like that, at the end of June, they stopped!
There were three reviews on June 24th, one on the 25th, and one on the 26th.
Anita wrote one on July 5th, then nothing until Elsa (an angel) reviewed Turandot on November 10th, more than four months later.
Of course, I suspected a technical fault (sometimes websites break when software is updated), but even though I tested the system several times, I couldn’t pin it down.
I sighed, and hoped that it would fix itself. Often that happens, as other site owners figure out there’s a problem and pressure the people who wrote the code to fix it.
Two days after Angel Elsa, Angel Karen left a review, too. Which I didn’t agree with, but hey, that’s the point of reviews – to give people a chance to say what they think, and maybe warn others.
So, some relief over at ebooks HQ! But then?
DIDDLY-SQUAT, for four more weeks!
Until Angel Elsa popped up again, to write (about Rigoletto this time): “I thoroughly recommend this series of books.”
So here we are, with just the very occasional heavenly apparitions, in particular from one spirit who seems to have become detached from the herd.
But for the rest? From July 1st until today, approximately 1500 ebooks have been sold, for a value of around £10,000, and there were just FOUR reviews?
Boh. Has to be a technical problem…
Or the post-pandemic effect.
Or people must really hate me!
If anyone has a theory, do please leave a comment on this article (rather than emailing, so saving me a lot of work).
That way at least we can see that the comments function (reviews are a type of comment) is working!
P.S. ‘La traviata’ -25% ends Sunday night!
The first of these we did was a simplified text + audio version of Nabucco, one of composer Verdi’s most famous operas. Next we did Puccini’s romantic classic, Turandot, then another Puccini weepy, La Bohème, and back to Verdi, and his Rigoletto.
This week yet more Verdi.
So what’s ‘La traviata‘ about, then?
Beautiful Violetta enjoys a busy life of friends, parties and luxuries, thanks to the support of a rich, older man. She sees no need for true love, at least until she receives bad news from her doctor, and is introduced to Alfredo…
Why not begin with our ‘easy reader’ ebook before seeking out a recording of the opera on Youtube? It’ll help! Or just use this original Italian reading/listening practice material to add a little variety to your study program.
- .pdf e-book (+ audio available free online)
- .mobi (Kindle-compatible) and .epub (other ebook readers) available on request at no extra charge – just add a note to the order form or email us
- 8 chapters (based on the act structure of the opera) to read and listen to
- Comprehension questions to check your understanding
- Italian/English glossary of ‘difficult’ terms for the level
- Suitable for students at pre-intermediate level or above
- Download your Free Sample Chapter (.pdf)
This being the first week, La traviata is 25% discounted, so just £5.99 rather than the usual ‘easy reader’ ebook price of £7.99.
Do check out the FREE sample chapter (.pdf) before you buy a copy, though. That way, you’ll know whether the level is suitable and that the format works on the device you intend to use it on.
How do I access my ebook?
When your order is ‘completed’ (normally, immediately after your payment), a download link will be automatically emailed to you. It’s valid for 7 days and 3 download attempts so please save a copy of the .pdf ebook in a safe place. Other versions of the ebook (.mobi/Kindle-compatible, .epub) cannot be downloaded but will be emailed to people who request them.
Have you read/listened to Thursday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news?