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One Micro-Publisher’s Book Sales

22 October 2011

An interesting picture of ebook sales from January 2010 to September 2011.

From Walt Shiel – Author, Pilot, Publisher:

The first, gratifying, news is that we are selling a lot more books. Although we’ve been in business since 2005, our total sales increased by 450% over those seven quarters! And that is unit sales, not dollar volume. I’m not going to get into raw numbers, since that is not my point…so don’t even ask. Again in unit sales, eBooks represented about 18% of our sales in the first quarter of 2010 but, and this is the kicker, 76% of unit sales in the last quarter (July-September 2011).



Next I looked at our sales of eBooks alone. We offer eBooks in three formats — Kindle, ePub, and PDF. So far, sales of the PDF formats is insignificant, down there in the noise level of the data. And, far and away, we sell more Kindle books than ePub books. We have our ePub editions for sale in the B&N Nook Store, the Apple iBookstore, Kobo Books, BooksonBoard, and a dozen other miscellaneous sites (the first three represent about 99% of our ePub sales). It turns out that, although Kindle represents the largest percentage of our eBooks sales, ePub is making some inroads, having jumped from almost zero in the first quarter of 2010 to about 20% in the last quarter.



So, what does it all mean? We’re still mulling it over. I have to admit that I am somewhat saddened by the tremendous increase in sales of eBooks while, at the same time, encouraged by the heady jump in total books sold. As for dollar sales, I will say that we make at least as much (in some cases more) per eBook sale as we do per print book sale.

Why would I be saddened? Personally, I am not a big fan of eBooks in any format, although I do read them occasionally. Somehow, I think we are losing something as a culture if eBook sales continue to increase the way they have over the past couple of years. However, if our readers want eBooks, we will offer eBooks.

Link to the rest at Walt Shiel – Author, Pilot, Publisher


Ebooks, Small Presses

9 Comments to “One Micro-Publisher’s Book Sales”

  1. What I find most interesting is how his print sales stayed fairly even, but then the ebook sales zoomed. It fits right in with what’s been happening with my buying habits since I purchased a Kindle. I buy the same number of print books as usual– one or two a month. But now I’m buying three or four ebooks a week. I also realize I haven’t been to a used book store in months. Why buy a used paperback I’ll end up giving away when I can buy a new ebook for about the same cost? I’m not alone in this. Every person I know who’s bought a Kindle is USING it.

    Which probably explains the disparity between Kindle and epub. Isn’t epub for tablets like the iPad and Android thingies? Tablet users read books, sure, but they use their tablets for a lot of other stuff, too.

    Interesting article, PG. Thanks.

    • Actually, just about every eReading device and app other than the Kindle (and all the associated apps) is designed to read the ePub format. That includes the B&N Nook, Kobo Reader (and their just-announced Vox), Sony Reader, and all the other miscellaneous devices. All those tablet devices also read ePub, which is the format for Apple’s iBooks, too although Apple allows apps for other stores and formats (including the Kindle for iPad/iPhone/iPod apps). And, just to keep things from being too clear, Amazon just announced that they will be using the KF8 format for the new Kindle Fire — KF8 is just Amazon’s implementation of the new HTML5 standard that, oh by the way, happens to be basis for the just approved ePub3 standard.

  2. Thanks for the mention on The Passive Voice, Mr. PG. As soon as I can validate the numbers, I’m going to post the eBook sales split among the various vendors.


    • Thanks for sharing your numbers, Walt. I’ll look forward to seeing more information as you receive it and I think many others will as well.

    • Yes, thank you for that. I’m curious to know if it’s worth emailing BooksonBoard, since they apparently require Human Intervention to get one’s stuff on their site.

  3. Those are some amazing figures on eBook sales. I think some of us have become eBook addicts. I bought 2 just today (good way to procrastinate writing 😉 )

    However, I must admit that I do not buy as many print books as I used to. I wonder if that is typical or an anomaly that theirs haven’t gone down. I suspect an anomaly from the other reports I’ve seen.

  4. Just wanted to drop a brief thanks, PG, for being such a great “news service.” Your links and excerpts are invaluable. They save me a lot of time and scanning, never to mind the expense of some of the subscriptions! OTOH, they provide links to lots of worthwhile fascinating sites — this excerpt from Walt Shiel being a prime example.

  5. Walt, maybe you’re just reading the wrong ebooks.

    If you’re reading trad pubbed books in digital you’re reading the same old safe and steady stuff that has been approved by the gatekeepers. What’s the point?

    Try searching out some good indie books and then see how you feel. Don’t fall for tsunami of crap bull the trad pubbers and agents come out with. Look at the indie books that are making waves.

    Mark Williams has a great post on this over at WG2E entitled The Tsunami Of Excellence.


    • Mick,

      You’ve made too many assumptions. I read a wide variety of books from big publishers, indie presses, and self-publishers (the latter mostly as eBooks). Over the last couple of years I’ve read far more nonfiction than fiction, mostly due to research for a new historical novel of my own (I am also a writer, you know). I have read, or tried to read, quite a few novels by the wunderkind of self-publishing but generally find the stories too raw, too violent, and/or too obscene to hold my interest long. I don’t read vampire or romance novels, so can’t comment on those.

      I stopped reading most of the big-name novelists I used to enjoy, as too many of them have succumbed to the lure of producing the same formula over and over.

      I spend most of my working day staring at a computer monitor, which is part of why I don’t enjoy long-form reading on an eReader (even the eInk Kindles). I wish I could get more of the stuff I enjoy reading in the mass market paperback format, but the availability of that is declining as eBook sales rise. And MM is not a cost-effective option for small indie presses or self-publishers.

      But that’s just my own biases. If our readers want eBooks, that’s what we’ll give them. Doesn’t mean I personally have to like that format.

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