I read a lot of blogs on the state of state of publishing. I have to tell you that the contradicting information and opinions about whether ebook sales are waning and print resurging is enough to make one’s head spin. If I want real data, though, I go to the folks from AuthorEarnings (AE) who gather incredible amounts of data to provide a snapshot of the publishing scene. Recently, they produced an incredibly detailed report on the state of publishing in 2016. It’s long, but has been prepared in easy-to-read graphics. It would take far too long to list every highlight, so browse at your leisure HERE.
So, are ebook sales dropping? AE’s short answer is no. In fact, their data shows that they increased by 4% in 2016 over 2015. Also, print sales among traditionally published books actually dropped through venue retail venues, chain bookstores, and Barnes and Noble in 2016. What did increase was sales from Amazon’s own print publications.
AE says that in 2015, “agency” contracts eliminated retailers from discounting ebooks from large traditional publishers, so Amazon raised discounts on their print books instead. Thus, the surge in sales. Apparently, Amazon has cut back on the discounts in 2017, which is already showing a cooling off of print sales.
Now, for non-traditional book sales, here’s surprising info: 43% of all ebook sales are going to books without ISBN numbers. And it’s not just self-publishing authors who are skipping the ISBN, but small traditional publishers as well.
Back in the day when I first started publishing, an ISBN number was essential. You couldn’t sell anywhere without one on the back cover. Things have clearly changed, which has also skewed the sales/publishing data of those who rely solely on books with ISBNs for their stats. In other words, there is a whole world of ebooks being sold outside the conventional means, and AE is one of the few who are paying attention to that.
You likely won’t be surprised to learn that romance and thriller/suspense novels still sell the most ebooks through both traditional and non-traditional means. My genre, mystery, is also fairly popular, along with fantasy, science fiction, and general fiction. A detailed, somewhat more complex look is spelled out in their report.
There’s much more in AE’s report, and it’s important for any writer who cares about where and how their books are likely to sell in the near future. As I’ve mentioned many times, consumer buying habits are changing, price matters, and, in my opinion, it’s still a good idea to work with Amazon than against them, at least for now…