Mar. 10th, 2016

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There are a few things going on in the Ellora’s Cave world of late, so this is a catchup post. (March 16 Edit: there are some corrections, which I’ve detailed in an update at the bottom.)

Ellora’s Cave Titles Per Month Decline

I’ve previously shown a chart about the long decline in Ellora’s Cave’s titles published per month.

Here’s an update on that chart covering the last few months including January and February, probably the biggest title push months for romance publishers. January gets a big bump because many people get e-readers (or new e-readers) for Christmas, plus publishers want fresh stock for Valentine’s Day.

EC-releases-by-month-2

Year over year, you can see the decline since the events of August and September 2014 (with the layoffs and defamation lawsuit, respectively).

That chart is pretty devastating, but not as much so as looking at a chart of the quarterly releases since the beginning of 2013:

Ellora's Cave Quarterly Releases

Ellora’s Cave Author Numbers Decline

In addition to publishing fewer titles over time, Ellora’s Cave has also had declining numbers of authors, as this next chart shows.

First, before I present it, there are some caveats here:

  1. The information is taken from screen scrapes of Ellora’s Cave’s website over time, both by myself and by archive.org, so it’s limited to the accuracy of the underlying page. In at least one case, I know of an author signed to EC who never had a book published by them, but the author’s name appears on their screen scrapes. I have no idea how many authors this is true for.

    In other cases, the same author was on the Ellora’s Cave pages more than once. Right now, EC’s author page lists both Allie Standier and Allie Standifer even though her name on the former’s book cover is spelled like the latter. It’s not like editing is supposed to be a core competency of a publisher or something.

  2. Authors appear on these pages before their first EC books are published (because preorders), so this isn’t a true correlation with the books published charts above.

  3. The time intervals aren’t as linear as neat columns make them appear to be, and this causes some horizontal distortion.

Ellora's Cave Author Counts

When I first showed an earlier version of that chart, what people wanted to know was: how many new authors was Ellora’s Cave signing?

That’s a little bit harder question to answer, so I took my handy screen scrapes, cobbled together a simple Ruby on Rails application and imported the data. This involved some cleanup, as author name variants and URLs had changed over time.

Then I tried to normalize the data into quarterly time periods (save for the last, which is two months and a week), assuming people joined or left linearly along the time span between scrapes. Unsurprisingly, there’s still a huge inflection point in the third quarter of 2014.

Ellora's Cave: Authors Gained vs. Lost

Since the end of the third quarter 2014, existing authors have been leaving Ellora’s Cave at five times the rate new authors have been joining (210 vs. 41 authors, respectively).

How Many Books Have They Lost?

Ellora’s Cave has lost a ton of authors, and many more have had rights revert on some books, but not all books. The question, though, is: how many? In other words, how big is their book catalog vs. how big was it before?

That’s a question that eluded me on how to answer for some time.

It turns out that All Romance E-Books allows one to search by publisher, which is pretty genius.

Ellora's Cave Catalog Size on All Romance E-Books.

Further, archive.org has saved some of those searches. So, while I have four points of data, I can make a reasonable estimate of a fifth by adding the books published between the end of the second quarter and the end of the third quarter 2014.

Ellora's Cave Catalog Size

Between the end of second quarter 2014 and the end of the third quarter 2015 (so 15 months), Ellora’s Cave lost a net 1,037 books. In the same period, they published 345 new books, so the total books reverted (or canceled) was 1,382 books, or 92/month. (Assuming information provided to All Romance E-Books was accurate, of course.)

In the five months since, Ellora’s Cave has published 41 new books but is no longer publishing 574 books, so they’ve reverted (or canceled) 615 books, so just over 120 per month.

Regardless of how you slice it, it’s not a happy picture of what’s going on at Ellora’s Cave, and my sympathies for all the writers who still have books there and would rather not.

Robin L. Rotham’s Post

Robin L. Rotham blogged about her experience with Ellora’s Cave. She was one of the early writers to provide a declaration in support of Dear Author’s side of the Ellora’s Cave lawsuit.

What is new in this post is her revelation about how Ellora’s Cave’s alleged unilateral change of contract affected Robin personally:

3. EC made a deliberate unilateral change to the payment terms of my books (and those of many other authors) contracted before the spring of 2008, and as a result, they’ve underpaid my royalties by more than $18,000 since late 2011. Because they’d suddenly made their royalty statements long and difficult to analyze, with many and varied amounts supposedly received from Amazon for each book, I didn’t detect the underpayment until late 2014, when I audited all of my royalty statements. I sent EC a spreadsheet detailing the underpayments, demanded immediate payment and offered to accept the rights to my books in lieu of payment.

Ellora’s Cave Performs Extreme Manscaping on EC Romanticon Site

I note a distinct lack of male cover models compared to an archived version of the site. Instead, there’s a lot of flames and incensed rhetoric, but without the lovely lingering scent of church incense.

So I guess Romanticon, formerly an annual convention, is officially dead then. Not a surprise, just an…what’s the word I’m looking for?…unusual way to announce its demise.

Tina Engler Moved Back to Ohio

Tina Engler, Ellora’s Cave founder and majority owner, announced on Facebook that she’s moved back to Ohio. I don’t think this will come as a surprise.


Corrections

March 16th Update….

There are a few significant corrections that have affected the charts I’ve provided above. In the interest of transparency, I’ve linked the original versions below.

Releases by Month

This and the next section are for corrections made on March 16th, 2016.

Corrected graph is here. Link to uncorrected version.

  1. January 2013 inadvertently counted five February 2013 releases (that were also counted in February, yay weeks split between two months). This changes the scale of both monthly and quarterly charts.
  2. August 2015 inadvertently omitted one release.
  3. December 2015 missed six releases late in the month due to a formula error.
  4. February 2016 incorrectly included two re-releases. My intention was to include only first-time releases as I believe that shows a truer picture of publisher state.

Releases by Quarter

Corrected graph is here. Link to uncorrected version.

Corrections are the same as noted above.

An Early Look at Earlier Years

Okay, we’re done with corrections. New Topic.

Here’s an early look at some data I’ve imported from FictionDB’s Publisher Series Lists. I haven’t imported anthologies yet, though I have imported smaller multi-author titles.

First, it appears that their information for 2012 is really incomplete (and almost non-existent for later years), so don’t make any assumptions about 2012 based on this. Also, it appears their information includes mostly in-print books including both print and e-book versions. I de-duped any duplicate entries, keeping only the earlier entry.

That said, given that this dates well into the Kindle era, it’s quite possible that a significant fraction of these titles are re-releases, I’d just have no easy way to know that.

Lopping off the years 2001-2006 (as those also seem to be incomplete), here are the numbers for 2007-2012 imported from FictionDB.

2013 and after are from direct import.

Ellora's Cave Annual Releases per FictionDB Data

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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