So Medium Bought Glose — an Online eBook store.
Medium announced the purchase of Glose, a French ebook store a few days ago. According to Ev Williams, the owner of Medium, the site will not be linked to Medium in any way. He does say, though, that there might be benefits to Medium readers. I would assume therefore that, there might be a small discount for purchasing books or something of that nature.
There is definitely space for another online ebook store, but not one that operates the same way as all the others do. Ev Williams invited comments from indie authors, and it was unsurprising that one comment kept coming up. It was about a desire for level playing fields — that authors from traditional publishers not be given advantages that indie authors were not. Indie authors do not have the advantage of name recognition or large budgets for advertising.
The Status Quo of eBook Stores
As it is, Amazon’s fees for advertising are outrageous. The fact that advertising costs 50% of the sale of one’s books all the time tells me that the algorithm is specifically designed so the price of advertising ensures that one will never be able get 10 or a 100 books sold with advertising — only two. That means if you want your gross to be $1000, you have to invest $500 in advertising. That’s hardly worth the effort.
There is still the idea that somehow, indie authors, do not have the expert writing skills that traditional authors have. That’s not true. It’s more that during the past thirty years, the publishing industry has changed. Due to factors like competition from the web, print on demand technologies, and book stores now selling on consignment, the profits of the publishing industry are not as vast as they were half a century ago.
This has meant that publishers now have to watch every penny when they promote newbie writers, so they are rather more keen to publish autobiographies of celebrities and politicians (they supply the ghostwriter) than give an emerging author a chance.
This has led to many simply self-publishing. Some of those books are incredibly good — well worth reading. Only they’re hard to find because online bookstores do not give the same status to unknown writers that they do to name-recognition writers.
Glose is Hardly Different. Will Ev Williams Make it Different?
I have absolutely no idea why anyone would want to discuss the contents of a book with anyone else. Then, again, most people I know are real readers. As we finish one book, we pick up the next. We see no point in discussing the book with anyone else — especially if it’s fiction.
To quote from the About section on Glose, “Glose is the next-generation social reading platform where people can discover, read, highlight thousands of books, and engage with other readers through shared annotations. We make reading more fun, productive, and social with easy access on your smartphone, laptop, or tablet. Your books, progress, and highlights are always synchronized in real-time, so no thoughts or comments are ever lost.”
Glose claims to offer more than a million books from traditional publishers. Prices are expensive — same price range as that of traditional publications in the other online bookstores. It’s no surprise that the number of sales of traditionally published eBooks has fallen. At the same time, the number of sales of indie author ebooks has risen — the one category of books that continue to rise.
Why? Because indie authors sell their books for $2.99 on average whereas as traditionally published authors sell their books for $19.99 on average. We all point out that the cost of uploading a traditionally published book is the same as a self-published ebook. The reason for the difference in price is simple — the publisher wishes to make as much money as possible out of the publication, and cost is more related to what the market will be willing to pay (what the market will bear) than to the actual cost of publication (the way it used to be).
Ev Williams provides no explanation for the purchase of the ebook seller. Medium’s blog quotes Nicolas Princen, the founder and CEO of Glose. He says, “Glose’s mission has always been to help people read more, and help them get more out of what they read.” You will forgive me if I regard that statement with some cynicism. Ed Williams headlines his comments with “Let’s rethink the book experience.” He goes on to explain, “I’ll post more at another time about why this deal and how we got here, why books are still important, how they might be better, and some of the things we plan to do.”
For the life of me, I cannot imagine how an ebook site will make my reading experience better — short of allowing me to download 20 or 30 free books a month.
In short, your guess is as good as mine as to why Medium purchased Glose. I am, however, looking forward to finding out.