Home » Ebooks, Non-US, Self-Publishing » Self-published ebook sales reach 20% of genre market

Self-published ebook sales reach 20% of genre market

13 June 2013

From The Guardian:

Self-published books accounted for more than 20% of crime, science fiction, romance and humour ebooks sold in the UK in 2012, according to newly released statistics.

The figures, from Bowker Market Research, show that while self-published books made up a tiny proportion – 2% – of all books purchased last year, this figure increases dramatically, to 12%, when print books are removed from the equation.

When just adult fiction and non-fiction ebooks are looked at, self-publishing’s share increases to 14% of the market, and in the crime,science fiction, romance and humour genres, self-publishing took more than 20%.

. . . .

“The overwhelming majority [of self-published books] are terrible – unutterable rubbish,” said [Andrew] Franklin [the managing director of Profile Books]. “They don’t enhance anything in the world.”

Franklin said there were “now unmeasurable numbers” of books being self-published. “These books come out and are met with a deathly silence, so the principle experience of self-publishing is one of disappointment,”

. . . .

“I was very shocked to learn you can buy Facebook friends and likes on social media. That is what passes for affirmation in what I think is the deeply corrupt world of self-publishing,” he said, stating his belief in the need for the publisher as “gatekeeper”. He added: “I think there is a process of the professional making of books which does make a real difference to the reader and the writer.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Julia for the tip.

If 20% of the genre market is “deathly silence,” PG respectfully suggests that Mr. Franklin is more than a little hard of hearing. Perhaps that’s why he’s just discovering Facebook and social media. In his defense, minding the gate undoubtedly occupies most of his attention.

Ebooks, Non-US, Self-Publishing

33 Comments to “Self-published ebook sales reach 20% of genre market”

  1. The consensus I hear among UK readers is that their market is running about two years behind the US.
    That means the big boom (if they’re to have one) is right around the corner.
    Mr Franklin is in for interesting times. 😀

  2. “the deeply corrupt world of self-publishing”




    MRD, Mandy Rice-Davies.



    While giving evidence at the trial of Stephen Ward, charged with living off the immoral earnings of Keeler and Rice-Davies, the latter made a famous riposte. When the prosecuting counsel pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or having even met her, she replied, “He would, wouldn’t he?” (often misquoted as “Well, he would, wouldn’t he?” or “Well he would say that, wouldn’t he?”).[5] By 1979, this phrase had entered the third edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. While doubts have been expressed about the veracity of the quote, these have not been substantiated.[6]

    • Precisely, Brendan! Don’t know how often that ‘well he would say that wouldn’t he?’ remark has popped into my mind recently. And I think we ARE about two years behind the US here, so he’s in for a hard time. I hope. Recently I was at a traditional book launch for a friend’s novel. Good writer, nice guy, excellent book. But the ‘presenter’ devoted some of her time to telling us that all true book lovers must shun Amazon in favour of their local bookshop. Our local bookshop is a big chain bookstore, not the knowledgeable and welcoming little independent shop which I used to love but which was driven out of business by the big boys many years ago. She went on to tell us that eBooks were ‘alright for holidays’ but everyone would go back to ‘real’ books, because – hey – you could lend them to your family and all your friends. I sat on my hands and zipped my lip.

  3. “The overwhelming majority [of self-published books] are terrible – unutterable rubbish,” said [Andrew] Franklin [the managing director of Profile Books]. “They don’t enhance anything in the world.”

    Franklin went on to say off-mike “Take a deeply psychological and carefully crafted book like…oh…Fifty Shades of Gray. One would not be off the mark to say James’ prose sings like a whip cutting through the air on the way to its pink target.”

    • +1

      But next time, please use some kind of symbol as a warning. Coffee is really hard to clean off of my keyboard.

      I loved it.

    • Thats great.

      Two years from now he’ll be saying “Very few authors make it through the gate at Profile publishing.”

      The part he’ll be leaving out is that there will be very few authors trying to get there.

      The year after that he’ll be looking at the dust on his phone and asking himself what happened. Followed by a bankruptcy notice in the back pages of the Guardian.

    • I just choked on my pink potato chips!

    • Barb, you are deliciously wicked!

  4. I’ll play along. Let’s do a little substitution.

    The overwhelming majority [of legacy published books] are terrible – unutterable rubbish. They don’t enhance anything in the world.

    … there were “now unmeasurable numbers” of books being offered to legacy publishers. These books arrive and are met with a deathly silence, so the principle (sic) experience of legacy publishing is one of disappointment. But just as there is a one in 14m chance of winning the lottery so writers think they will be the ones to hit the legacy publishing jackpot.

    I was very shocked to learn you can buy favorable book reviews in respected magazines and preferential placement in bookstores. That is what passes for affirmation in what I think is the deeply corrupt world of legacy publishing.

    [See, I can be just as silly as this guy. The difference is that I know I’m being silly.]

  5. Andrew Franklin is so bitter I’m going to use him in my next round of homebrew.

  6. The list of things Mr. Franklin refuses to appreciate about self-publishing is a long one. In particular is that self-published authors are not trying to win the lottery, they are trying to make a living. From many reports, there are writers who are doing that and doing it well. Self-pubs are eating into his revenues, sapping his power and eroding his control as gatekeeper. Hence the vitriol.

  7. Franklin’s condemnation of corruption in self-publishing is pretty funny considering the currently on-going trial here in the US for collusion amongst the publishers. More to the point he sees buying reviews as the key point of corruption, hasn’t traditional publishing been buying front shelf space and spots on the New York Times bestseller lists for years?

    Also, dismissing self-publishing as irrelevant in an article about it’s share of the market being up to 20% of the genre market, seems a bit out of touch.

  8. “90% of self-published ebooks are crap, but 90% of anything is crap.” — Theodore Sturgeon, updated for the 2010’s.

  9. I dont know what he publishes. But if it is Serious Literature he probably thinks all the genres hiting 20% are rubbish. So maybe his deafening silence relates only to literary self-pub books since that seems the last genre-wide bastion of the old way?

    And, yes, I totally just calle lit-fic a genre.

  10. “The overwhelming majority [of self-published books] are terrible…”

    Long ago, in a home office far, far away I installed a small bookshelf over my desk.

    On that shelf I arranged two sets of novels.

    The first set, my own opinion of belles lettres, though still commercial genre fiction, to which I aspired.

    The second set, my own opinion of, “If they’ll publish this s***, they’ll love my stuff.”

    Not a self-published book in either lot.


    • Ha, yes! I worked in a library for five years and seeing some of the new books that came in really did give me hope for my own book publishing endeavors.

  11. I wonder how much of the likes of Franklin’s bitching are read by the average readers? Do they care that the book they read was not anointed by the high priests of good writing? 20 prct of books published by Indie Authors attest that Franklin is irrelevant.

  12. YEah I think he’s talking about lit-fic. Most of that stuff (usually a handful are picked every year, and they’re touted as the next Tolstoy novel etc) is very hyped up (yet for all the classics, none are remembered for more than a year) and done through book review etc. I don’t think I’ve heard of a single lit fic done by indie pubs that’s made it even ‘decently’.
    Would like to try them, though.

  13. Isn’t Bowker only counting books with ISBNs? If so, their numbers are going to be wildly off.

    • Usually. But not in this case, apparently. This is a readers survey, so Bowker surveyed 3000 readers. I’ve seen no data regarding instrument or methodology. Personally, I wonder how and what readers were asked.

      So I think it’s wildly off even if they’re not tracking ISBNs.

      And I think too few people note that about Bowker. I’ve seen only one person (Nate Hoffelder) note the dissonance.

  14. “That is what passes for affirmation in what I think is the deeply corrupt world of self-publishing”

    Oh for the heady days when the industry was dominated by big media conglomerates, putting out books by halfwit celebrities and reviewed by newspapers that belong to big media con…

    Um, your honor, I’d like to take a mulligan…

  15. Just another badly behaving publisher.

  16. I continue to be frustrated that people treat Bowker’s figures are even remotely accurate.

    But this article is, obviously, slanted and it suits their purpose. As for Franklin, he strikes me as a guy who is watching his lifework come into question. Rather than face a painful reality, he is looking through the glasses to which he is accustomed. His words are a manipulative attempt to turn the train tracks, to stop the movement forward. It’s useless, of course. Nothing will turn this train.

    There’s a pathos to this, for me, at this point. We all face challenges. The key is to face them well.

  17. Hey, at least Franklin didn’t tout his e-book virginity.

  18. If you could see behind the podium, Mr. Franklin is clicking his ruby-glass slippers and saying, “There’s no place like traditional publishing. There’s no place like traditional publishing…”

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