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  1. Earp

    Earp Copy That Contributor

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    E-Book Sales Down Nearly 20%

    Discussion in 'Electronic Publishing' started by Earp, Apr 30, 2017.

    I'm not sure anyone saw this coming:

    http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/27/media/ebooks-sales-real-books/index.html

    I kind of like this: "The article includes an even more interesting statistic: that one-third of adults tried a "digital detox" in 2016, limiting their personal use of electronics."
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I wish we had links to the original data - I'd like to check whether this is all e-books, including self-published ones...
     
  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I think I found at least a bit more detail, at https://www.publishers.org.uk/media-centre/news-releases/2017/uk-publishing-has-record-year-up-7-to-48bn/ but I'm confused by their categories...

    e-book sales down 3%; 17% drop in the total consumer e-book market. - what's the difference between these two categories?

    and discouraging to read that fiction sales were down 7%, meaning they've dropped 23% since 2012.

    And it's still not clear if these numbers include self-published books...
     
  4. Frostbite

    Frostbite Member

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    I saw there was a fair chance this would happen. E-reading was a massive hype in the last years, and like every hype it eventually dies out. In the end no way of reading will the paper book. That's probably why libraries still exist, but video stores/cd stores died out.
     
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  5. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin We may just go where no-one's been.... Contributor

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    Fake news!
     
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  6. Tea@3

    Tea@3 Senior Member

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    Thad McIlroy posted this a month ago:


    A Revolution in International English Book Markets
    March 30, 2017 by Thad McIlroy

    A few weeks ago AuthorEarnings released their latest book industry report. As always, there’s a lot of important information to grapple with—this time, even the title takes some wrangling: February 2017 Big, Bad, Wide & International Report: covering Amazon, Apple, B&N, and Kobo ebook sales in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The report is a shocker: it reveals that the traditional method of marketing books in other English language markets is obsolete, while at the same time the opportunity has never been bigger.

    For those who haven’t discovered AuthorEarnings, it’s the only solid source of data on the self-publishing industry and more generally on the sale of ebooks (as well as online sales of print books). There are two other quantitative data sources serving the U.S. book publishing industry, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and Nielsen BookScan. AAP provides net revenue figures for 1,200 of the largest U.S. publishers (and creates an annual estimate using additional data); Nielsen tracks book sales at retail.

    There are problems with the AAP and Nielsen data. While AAP unquestionably captures sales at the largest publishers, no one knows how much they are missing. A 2005 study from BISG estimated that there are over 60,000 publishers in the U.S. The U.S. Census Bureau also misses many of these sales—its data represents only 2,663 “establishments”. The biggest problem with the Nielsen retail data is that it doesn’t include Amazon sales (because Amazon refuses to cooperate).

    AuthorEarnings launched in early 2014, a cooperative effort of author Hugh Howey and a researcher known then (and still) only as Data Guy. They were determined to fill the gap by creating sales estimates from the major online retailers, including Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Google. While their methodology is transparent the industry was reluctant to accept their conclusions; their reports were still called controversial even last year. But the tide has since shifted and AuthorEarnings is now accepted as a key data source for anyone seeking to understand publishing trends in the U.S., and, as we see in their latest report, internationally as well.

    While we strongly recommend that you take the time to read the full report, there are a few key takeaways that we want to highlight and discuss in this post:

    • The U.S. currently leads the world in both ebook penetration rate and the indie share of the ebook market, but other countries are starting to catch up: in particular the other four major English-language ones (New Zealand adds another small percentage). Taken together, ebook sales in these four additional markets add a combined 25% to the U.S.-only total.
    • Self-published indie authors are taking far greater advantage of international sales than traditionally-published authors are.
    • Bestselling U.S. indie authors are more likely to also be bestsellers in the U.K. than their bestselling traditionally-published U.S. counterparts. The same holds true in the opposite direction.
    • Other than the top 1% of authors who receive coordinated international releases and global marketing campaigns for their titles, most traditionally-published authors are lucky to become bestsellers in a single market only, if ever at all.
    • Traditionally-published genre authors, in particular, appear to be losing out on international ebook sales.
    • Authors in English-language markets outside the U.S. have the greatest international opportunity: the enormous U.S. market. Traditional publishers in those markets succeed in selling U.S. rights for only their top titles; the bulk of their lists languish abroad.
    Cliff Guren and I have been discussing the report. As we’ve done for several months now, we are posting an edited transcript of our conversation.

    [​IMG]
    Source: Data Guy

    Cliff: We have to start by thanking Data Guy at Author Earnings. He’s shining a bright light in an otherwise dark corner… Our industry has basing business decisions on bad data. For example, in February the AAP reported that trade sales were down 1.6% for the first three quarters of 2016. They also reported that ebook sales were down 18%. Data Guy’s January DBW Presentation “Print vs. Digital, Traditional vs.Non-Traditional, Bookstore vs. Online: 2016 Trade Publishing By the Numbers” shows that print trade sales for 2016 were up 3.3% and ebook sales were up 4% (albeit for the whole year). Why the discrepancy? As the latest AuthorEarnings report demonstrates, it’s impossible to understand what’s going on in the industry without including all of Amazon’s data, most prominently self-publishing and Amazon imprint sales.

    What follows below is a snapshot of where the book industry stands today. Each of these assertions is backed up by the data in this latest AuthorEarnings report.

    • The U.S. market share of the Big Five is shrinking.
    • Ebook revenues (as a percentage of the total dollars spent of books as a category) are still growing (though more slowly).
    • Amazon dominates ebook sales—traditional and self-published combined—with nearly 80% of the market in the U.S. and more than an 80% share in the U.K.
    • Apple is the next largest ebook retailer, but with a mere 9% in the US and about 7% in the U.K.—no one else has any meaningful share in the two current largest English-language markets.
    • Amazon is the dominant retailer for indie and self-published content, and Amazon’s own imprints are growing rapidly—accounting for 14% of ebook sales in the Amazon bookstore (up 4% from the January, 2016 report). If the past is any predictor, the share of the Big Five outside of the US will continue to shrink as Amazon’s self/indie publishing platforms grow and as Amazon expands its branded publishing program.

    What’s your take on the report?

    Thad: Several issues emerge from the data. First, people need to throw out, once and for all, any belief that ebook sales have fallen from their peaks in the last couple of years. The claim in repeated once again in a recent Guardian article, which led to the usual triumphalist chorus of comments and tweets affirming that the printed past remains largely in place.

    The ebook claim is exclusively true for the larger traditional publishing companies reporting into the AAP and Nielsen. And, it’s almost certainly true that the reason for this shift is the insistence of these publishers to keep ebook pricing up over $9.99, often much higher, and often higher than the cost of a discounted new print book. Consumer surveys record that anything over $9.99 is a significant barrier for the average book buyer (and moreso for genre fiction readers).

    But also implicit in this discussion is that if a customer won’t buy a $14.99 ebook, they will instead buy the same hardcover for $13.99 or so. But what if the result is that won’t buy either version?

    Cliff: The battle isn’t print vs. digital—it’s reading for pleasure vs. all the other forms of entertainment that now compete for our attention at home and on our mobile devices. That said, the indie presses and self-published authors seem to be doing a better job of targeting the micro-communities that are willing to pay for books. What’s in store for the Big Five?

    Thad: This same Author Earnings report includes the assertion that the “Big Five ebook market share has fallen precipitously in early 2017, to just 20.8%.” This was reinforced just this week when Bertelsmann, parent to Penguin Random House (PRH), announced a 9.6% drop in revenue and 3.6% in profitability (EBITDA).

    We don’t need to feel sorry for those big companies. They are all part of larger conglomerates which are mostly still profitable. For example, PRH’s parent, Bertelsmann, reported that despite the gloomy news at PRH, overall profit rose 3.3% because of success in its TV, music and services divisions.

    It’s the authors I’m concerned about. In the face of solid data about strategies that would almost certainly increase an author’s sales, the larger publishers have been following practices that lower them. They are inadvertently undermining their authors prospects not only in their home markets, but also abroad.

    The time-honored method for selling American English-language titles abroad is selling publishing rights into other markets. This made sense in a world of print books: the logistics of international distribution were tough for all but the largest publishers. So copyrights were resold (licensed) instead of printed books. For English-language, this meant mainly the U.K. (Canada is mainly a re-distribution territory of the U.S. or the U.K.; Australia is almost always a distribution territory for U.K. publishers.)

    As Data Guy acknowledges, this works just fine for the top 1%. But below that? It’s a crapshoot. At the midlist and below the publisher will often fail to sell rights. In the market between the top 1% and the midlist, rights will often be sold, but there’s not much cash involved and hence not much commitment from the buyer: the book is ghettoed to an also-ran status even before it’s published.

    If the publisher fails altogether to sell rights to a particular book, the default assumption is “oh, there wasn’t much international interest in that title,” when it should be: “those fools in the U.K. are missing the boat on this one and we’re going to market the heck out of it on Amazon, Apple and Kobo’s international stores.”

    As noted above, the result is “most traditionally published authors are lucky to become best sellers in a single market only, if ever at all.” The traditional rights sales system essentially fobs off the global responsibilities of the U.S.-based publisher. The result is that they become very U.S.-centric in their marketing and promotion: they’re not thinking of global sales opportunities because they’re not handling global sales. Those are shifted onto the “rights department.”

    Independent authors, on the other hand, increasingly appreciate the trends that AuthorEarnings reports: as noted above, self-published authors can increase their sales by some 25% just by paying attention to other English-speaking countries. That’s huge.

    Cliff: Data Guy’s January DBW presentation sharpens your point… Traditional publishing is now the narrow, rocky path for most authors with books in categories such as romance and thrillers where readers have overwhelming moved to ebooks and self-published content has gained the most traction. In 2016, 156 million romance titles were sold online, and 96% of those sales were ebooks.

    • 55% were self-published or published under a single-author indie imprint
    • 11% were Amazon imprints
    • 34% were from traditional publishers

    Data Guy’s numbers show that Amazon has 82% of the English language ebook sales in the major English-language markets. If you’re a romance author you can safely say that Amazon is your best bet for reaching your readers around the world. They are reading ebooks and they are buying them from Amazon. Sci-fi (adult and juvenile), fantasy, horror, action/adventure and mystery are following the same pattern. Adult general fiction isn’t far behind.

    In summary: For self-published authors the news is very good. But an overriding challenge remains: too many books are being published, and ebooks don’t go out of print.

    2017 should be declared “International Self Publishing Year”—self published authors need to include every English-language country in their core market focus. How best to do so is the topic for another blog entry.

    Source: http://thefutureofpublishing.com/2017/03/a-revolution-in-international-english-book-markets/
     
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  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    In the purely personal anecdotal realm, I'm buying far fewer ebooks, and essentially none of the ones that I am buying are new fiction. I tend to buy in ebook form:

    1) Technical books, especially those that will go out of date. The ebook purchase saves me from the guilty disposal of two pounds of paper into the recycling in a few years.
    2) Quite old fiction that I already know I love, to give me something to read on my phone in idle moments. And due to their age, they're cheap. Dorothy Sayers, Georgette Heyer, Agatha Christie.
    3) Nonfiction that I hear about and say, "Ooh! Want! I can't wait TWO WHOLE DAYS for it to come in the mail!"

    I'm trying, with moderate success, to cut out category 3, and the result is that my ebook purchases are dropped drastically. I also rediscovered the library.
     
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  8. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's funny, because my buying habits are almost the polar opposite! I buy nearly all my fiction on Kindle these days. I want to keep reading a lot, but I can't afford for my house to get overstuffed with books. Or ...MORE overstuffed with books. :eek: However, I nearly always buy my non-fiction reference books in paper form, because they are easier to 'use.'

    So my Kindle usage is actually WAY up from what it was a couple of years ago.

    What is bizarre, though, it the huge variation in the price of Kindle books. Some are actually free (although I don't download these if they are from living authors ...I wait till I need to pay for them, and then ante-up. I don't like the idea of authors not getting paid.) Others are horrendously expensive ...sometimes even more expensive than the print copy. I don't quite understand how that works.
     
  9. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Very interesting article. It's hard to make any real judgements, though, if Amazon is left out of the data.
     
  10. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well, unfortunately lots of libraries don't exist any more at all. And the one I live near to has deteriorated to the extent that it's hardly ever open, and the contents are pretty dismal. Not to mention at least half of it is devoted to CDs, DVDs and CDs, while their available books are now semi-dependent on donations. And most of them are genre books, in paperback form. I hardly ever go there any more, except to donate books!

    Video and CD stores died out because of the popularity of online streaming. Digital entertainment is not a 'flash in the pan.'
     
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  11. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    Oh come on guys, you all are writers... read between the lines!

    Yes indeed, paperbacks and hardbound, as well as Ebooks are in decline, and that will likely continue... but not so for audiobooks, which have been steadily growing in popularity for the last 15 years.
    http://goodereader.com/blog/digital-publishing/audiobook-sales-are-exploding-in-2016

    In my opinion, Ebooks are an incredible waste of technology. Besides the Theatre, books/traditional publishing are the only entertainment that haven't gone through a massive transformation. Books can, and should be interactive. The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, by Neal Stephenson, tells the story of Nell, and her interactive (outlawed) book. That is the shape of things to come. That is if the big book publishers are intent on staying in business.
     
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  12. Frostbite

    Frostbite Member

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    Really? Here in the Netherlands the libraries are still going pretty strong, the two I go to just has a handful of CDs/DVDs. There are always people, and it's open 7 days a week.

    Didn't CD stores most likely died out as a direct result of easier and cheaper access in the form of piracy in the late 90s to mid 00s? I can be mistaken, but that's what I've understood of it.
     
  13. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    The UK closed lots of libraries for 'austerity' - in regard of CD stores they were pretty much killed by amazon and other such sites, although tbf HMV are still going they've just closed their unprofitable stores.
     
  14. ajaye

    ajaye Senior Member

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    We still have a strong library culture in Australia and I hope to hell we don't follow the UK's lead.

    My little country town has a population of around 6000 and our library is an important hub for the community. Books, DVDs, CDs, audio books, inter-library loans, kids' story time sessions & school holiday activities, author talks, scrabble club, genealogical resources, daily newspapers, computers for patrons' use, free wifi - hell nearly everything's free. The one thing I'd whinge about is it only opens for 2 hours on a Saturday and 3 hours on a Sunday.
     
  15. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Hmm. That's an interesting perspective. It might well apply to younger people who don't much like to read. However, at the moment there are still a lot of old fogeys like me who like the privacy and simplicity of actually reading a non-interactive book (whatever that is?) And we still buy lots of books in whatever form we prefer.

    However, I'm also sensing that younger people aren't quite the readers we used to be when we were younger, because they've had so many other forms of storytelling available to them. So you may be right in the long term. But if what we hear a lot late is correct, that we old baby boomers are going to be outnumbering the young and restless in the very near future, if not already, then it might be silly for an industry to disregard us. We still have money (more than we deserve, apparently) and we still spend lots of it on books. The kind we read to ourselves, either in paper form or on devices like Kindle.
     
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  16. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I used to work in a school library. There are still plenty of kids who fall in love with reading--reading--fiction. And most of the overwhelming success stories in books over the last decade or two have been aimed at younger audiences. I think we're okay.

    I like audiobooks, but they don't fill the same role as a printed or e-book. I listen to audiobooks when I'm driving or doing something with my hands. It's not nearly as immersive as sitting down and reading.

    As I understand it, single books or series (like Twilight or Harry Potter) can have such huge sales that they significantly impact overall sales numbers. The current decline may not be part of a long-term trend so much as it's a recovery to "normal" after the crazy numbers those two series brought us.
     
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  17. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I certainly hope you're right. I don't come into contact with very many children these days. Many of my friends have grandchildren, with varying degrees of success at getting them to read.

    I do prefer to read actual printed books as well. It's just that I don't have any place to store them any more, hence the Kindle! I culled 10 garden-waste bin bags full just over a year ago, and donated them to the local library and to Oxfam. Hardly made a dent. Yeeks. My husband is as bad as me ...except he doesn't bother to cull any.

    I can downsize just about anything else, but not books! And I do re-read them. I'd say probably 80% of our book collection is non-fiction reference books—everything from historical research to cookbooks (that I use) and nature identification books (that I use) and stuff like that. When I did my cull, I got rid of all sorts of books that I simply DON'T use. And no sooner had I dumped them, than I found a need for a few of them. And I also discovered I'd inadvertently 'donated' my collected works of Norman McCaig. Damn. I hadn't intended to do that at all. Such is the culling frenzy....
     
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  18. ajaye

    ajaye Senior Member

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    At my library the other day there was a class of school kids choosing and borrowing books. A boy and a girl, about 8 years old? were in front of me. The boy's books had monster trucks and motorbikes on their covers and the girl had a pony book. Pony books will never die :) .
     
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  19. Frostbite

    Frostbite Member

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    Like you've said in your last comment, later parts of generation Y and generation Z grew up with many more forms of entertainment than the generations before them. Most of those forms that could 'be in the way' of getting children to read is television and gaming. I myself (1997) am a good example of that, I rarely touched a fiction book because I had more 'enjoyable' forms of entertainment. Playing a game or watching tv was definitely my go-to choice over reading when I was younger. (That was mostly because I was too inpatient :eek:)

    But then, this is just the example of myself. In high school I remember more than enough people reading books. I think there's a big enough percentage of youth that enjoys reading. Mostly because reading is using fantasy actively, especially in sci-fi/fantasy genres, while gaming or television is using it passively, and even if people don't read at a young age I guess it will grow on many over time.
     
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  20. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    I think, if done properly, that interactive books can have all the magic that the traditional books have for us older folks. It will happen, interactive books are on the way. What worries me, is that they become something akin to video games!
     
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  21. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Can you explain to an old fogey here? What in heck is an 'interactive book?'

    BTW, I'm not speaking against them, whatever they are. It's just that fashion and technology move very quickly, and leave lots of people behind—both because of preferences AND financial reasons. It doesn't make monetary sense to do that, if the people left behind are a large portion of the population and are quite willing to continue spending money maintaining the 'old stuff.'

    For example, I've invested tons of money (I'd say 'thousands' of pounds) in DVDs over the years. If suddenly I can no longer get a DVD player to play them on, I'm going to be mightily pissed off. No, I'm not going to go out and buy them all over again in a different format. I'll just go do something else. The manufacturers of the new format will get zero income from me. Bugrit, as Terry Pratchett would say.

    There isn't any reason why the latest thing always has to immediately replace the older one. A more gradual approach is less disruptive, both to the user and to the economy that produces the older stuff. A diverse society is more healthy, overall, than a mono-culture. Isn't it?
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2017
  22. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    That would be one in which you interact with.;)
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2017
  23. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    It could be anything from musical interludes, to clicking on an illustration and watching the scene come to life... characters in the story talking to you, you responding in kind... multiple endings, nonlinear plot lines... and lots of hidden "Easter Eggs". The reader might even become a character in the story!
     
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  24. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Ah. Thanks. Now I see what you mean. I can also see why you're concerned that it might become a 'computer game.'

    My own feeling is not enthusiastic. It's not reading. And while it's called 'interactive,' it's actually very passive. Where is the exercise of the reader's imagination? Essentially, you're just watching a movie somebody else made, and simply choosing how much of the movie you want to watch.

    I suppose it's just a step up from old-fashioned story illustration, though. So ...whatever. It doesn't sound terribly appealing to me, but I'm getting old and will soon die.
     
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  25. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    So its a hi tech version of those fighting fantasy books that were arround about 30 years ago - the ones where you used a dice to determine your skill, stamina, health etc then 'had adventures' through choices in the book - if you choose x go to page 29, if you choose y go to page 32... I liked those as a kid and we didnt need no steeenking computers
     
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