Ebook/Ereader Growth

Publishing in the Future or the Rise of Independent Authors

27 September 2014

From The Huffington Post UK:

Publishing of tomorrow will be different due to the rise of independent authors, who write and publish their books in more formats, for more audiences and through more channels than ever before. We can see this future already in markets which leave the age of printing books fast to switch to electronic and increasingly mobile books – like China, South Korea or Indonesia. Europe will follow and we should be prepared for the changes. As authors, as publishers or as readers.

Since I joined the publishing world in 2005 a democratization of publishing has taken place, with non-traditional forms of publishing competing for the limited reader´s attention, and I find it gratifying to help texts to find new readers. When I worked for Random House as Director Business Development we were embracing new forms of online and social media marketing and worked to get in direct contact with the readers. The advent of better eInk-devices in 2007 in the US allowed the fledgling markets for ebooks to start growing and we focused first to convert our catalogue of great titles into the new format to be ready for the start of the German market. It took a lot of faith to invest so early in this still small market, to convince the authors to trust us with their electronic publication rights and convert the titles into the new formats.

But it was the right decision, in a couple of years ebooks will overtake print, something not many would have predicted only a short while ago. We saw that growing market and decided to help developing it further and in 2010 Skoobe was conceived, a joint venture of two of Germany´s biggest media companies, Bertelsmann and Holtzbrink to offer a book-flatrate similar to the Netflix-model for movies in the US. Skoobe has since garnered more than one million downloads, a very active user base and 7.942 ratings in Google Play and Apple iTunes with an average of 4.5 out of five stars. We predicted the rise of mobile and tablets for longform reading and the readers love a monthly flatrate and read as much as they want.

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We realized that books do not only compete with other books anymore, but with all other forms of entertainment, especially on mobile devices. Hence it is crucial to make a large selection available so that everybody can find the right books and do not spend their time on Facebook or other new media platforms.

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We believe, that the electronic books is actually better than any printed edition, because it is inherently more affordable, more portable and can be individualized to be read in the font size and font type the reader suits best.

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Marketing is changing as well, and to quote Robert Bidinotto: „Social media has been the great equalizer of advertising, promotion and marketing. This is essentially asymmetrical warfare. No customer going to Amazon knows what is traditionally published or independently published – and they don’t care”. The good news is, that the creativity of authors is even enhanced when unleashed from the traditional, slow and expensive publishing process and the readers can expect more great novels than ever before.

Link to the rest at HuffPo UK

‘Showrooming’ carried out by 43% of Brits

25 September 2014

From The Bookseller:

British consumers’ intent to buy e-books online has tripled since 2011, according to Nielsen’s Global Survey of e-commerce.

The data company also found that British consumers are almost 40% more likely to buy items online than Europeans as a whole.

In data released today (25th September) Nielsen said that between 2011 and 2014, the number of UK respondents who intended to buy e-books online in the next six months increased 200%.

Over the next six months books are set to be purchased online by four in every 10 people in the Britain.

Six in 10 (59%) people in the UK said they can usually get the best price online for a product, while more than four in 10 (43%) said they often check out products in a shop before buying online – a practice known as “showrooming”.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

KDP Select Global Fund Updates

17 September 2014

From Kindle Direct Publishing:

We have continued to see significant early trial response from customers to Kindle Unlimited (KU). Similar to what we’ve done in the past around holiday spikes in borrowing activity, we are adding a bonus of $2.7 million in August on top of the regular base fund amount of $2 million.

To further highlight the KDP Select books and authors that are most popular with customers, we are introducing a new element to the program: “KDP Select All-Stars”. Based on what KDPS titles are being read the most during the month, we will identify each All-Star author and title on each applicable KDPS title’s detail page. In addition, KDP Select All-Stars will earn financial bonuses. Anyone with titles in KDPS–even a debut author with a single title–can qualify if their work becomes a customer favorite.

For August, we will pay out All-Star bonuses to the top 100 most-read authors and, separately, the top 100 most-read titles. We will calculate ‘most-read’ by combining books sold plus qualified borrows from KU and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) during the month. Calculations only include sales and qualified borrows for titles enrolled in KDPS. Recipients will be contacted in the next few days.

The top 100 most-read KDPS authors will each be awarded the following amounts:

  • Authors 1 through 10 will receive $25,000
  • Authors 11 through 20 will receive $10,000
  • Authors 21 through 30 will receive $5,000
  • Authors 31 through 50 will receive $2,500
  • Authors 51 through 100 will receive $1,000

Authors of the top 100 KDPS titles will each earn the following amounts:

  • Titles 1 through 10 will receive $2,500
  • Titles 11 through 50 will receive $1,000
  • Titles 51 through 100 will receive $500

Denoting All-Stars on detail pages is a new element of KDPS and we expect our approach to this will evolve over time. We hope it adds a little fun and adventure to the program!

Finally, many authors outside the U.S. derive most of their qualified borrows from the KOLL and have not been able to benefit from the growth of KU. This has meaningfully altered their ability to compete within the wider pool of KDPS loans. To adjust for this, we are adding an additional bonus of $80,000 to be paid out on all KOLL loans outside of the U.S.

Link to the rest at Kindle Direct Publishing and thanks to J.A. for the tip.

Uncomfortable Statistics for traditional publishers – Good news for Indies

5 September 2014

From author Kathleen Jones via Do Authors Dream of Electric Books?:

The Big 6 are not so big any more. According to the latest figures for 2013, Penguin Random House came top of the table with a 24% share of the market, but its sales were down £342m (15%). All the others – Hachette, HarperCollins, Pan MacMillan, Bloomsbury, and Simon & Schuster were also down. Their total share of the market was only 59% – down from 70% in 2001. Is this a sign that their dominance of the book trade is fading? I think it is. But they won’t go down without a fight, so – more turbulent times ahead.

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The hope of many ‘mid list’ and ‘literary’ authors dumped by the Big 6 for commercial reasons has been a group of valiant and well-respected independently owned publishers still willing to take on authors for their literary merit. These presses have been having a hard time of it in the orca-infested ocean that is BookWorld at the moment. The trend for conglomeration in the face of severe competition continues and this inevitably means mergers and job losses. The Penguin Random House merger has seen major bloodshed among the staff (out of the public eye) with the loss of many talented individuals, some of whom have now gone freelance because there’s simply nowhere else to go. Several small independent publishers have been hoovered up – sadly the innovative Quercus press was acquired by Hodder (part of Hachette) after making big losses.

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What the 2013 figures do show is that self-publishing in both ebook and paper book formats is really taking off. Paperback sales through Lulu rose 38% and CreateSpace sales were up a massive 161%. This is bound to send shivers of fear through the boardrooms of the publishing industry. Half of all book sales (both traditional and self-published) in the UK are now through Amazon.

Rumours that ebook sales are flat-lining are untrue. Obviously they aren’t soaring at the goldrush rates that happened in the beginning, but they’re now climbing at more realistic levels. According to Nielsen, ebook sales across the industry were up 20% overall in 2013 and readers spent more than £300m buying at least 80m ebooks. This accounted for more than a quarter of all book purchases. One in five of these sales (12% of all sales) was an ‘Indie’ book. Early figures from the first three months of 2014 show that the moment when ebook sales will overtake paper book sales is very close and the percentage of ‘Indie’ books is also rising fast, particularly in the USA.

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Many [publishers] are still hostile and unable to accept the fact that e-publishing is here to stay. They seem to think that if they throw their weight about a bit they can put it back in the box. They feel the same about self-publishing. It’s obvious to observers that the two sectors are going to have to co-exist.

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The rosy dawn of self-publishing is over – it’s now a serious business and we are in competition with traditional industry professionals who won’t necessarily play fair. They see themselves as the legitimate land-owners and ourselves as the barbarian hordes.

Link to the rest at Do Authors Dream of Electric Books?

Here’s a link to Kathleen Jones’ books

Are Tablets the Solution for Latin American Education?

28 August 2014

From Publishing Perspectives:

The past few years have seen global surge in tablet adoption not only among professionals but also in schools throughout the world, particularly in Latin America. The surge has been considerable in underdeveloped countries, driven by rising incomes, high-speed internet connections, digital content consumption and the efforts of education NGOs (one of the most popular example being the One Laptop per Child program), plus some specific government initiatives in markets such as Brazil and Colombia.

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In Latin America, statistics about internet usage reveal growing interest in online content. According to ComScore’s 2013 Latin America Future in Focus report, the region has the fastest-growing Internet user population in the world. Social media consumption is extremely popular (5 of the top 10 most engaged markets with social content worldwide are Latin American) and online advertising is on the rise, with phones and tablets accounting for a considerable percentage of digital traffic.

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This growing presence in Latin America is not limited to the professional market. According to a report by Ambient Insight, the rate of growth in the mobile device usage is likely to increase over the next four years. The report argues that apart from rising individual purchases, the surge in spending in mobile devices will be driven by major digitization efforts rolled out across the region by public education systems.

In the meantime, research centers are raising public awareness of this growing trend and starting to analyze it in depth. The Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI) produced a report on the pros and cons of tablet education in schools, pointing out that the use of digital devices in classrooms is indeed becoming a major trend in current government policies on digital inclusion.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

The imaginary war between print and digital books

26 August 2014

From The Daily Dot:

If there’s one important lesson to be taken from the battle between ebooks and traditional print, it’s that sometimes there are no winners and losers, just a delicate seesaw act.

This week, that seesaw tipped a little bit towards the argument for print, when a study was released in which 50 people were all given the same Elizabeth George story to read. The outcome indicated that readers retain more when engrossed in a traditional book than they do when looking at something on a Kindle. Reporting the findings for The Guardian, Alison Flood quoted Anne Mangen, a lead researcher on the study from Norway’s Stavanger University, who said that “the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does.”

. . . .

This Elizabeth George study confirms what many have long suspected, which is that ebooks are and always will be inferior to print, and that they can be detrimental to the essentialness of immersing oneself in literature.

That said, while the struggle between ebooks and print has already claimed several victims (e.g. book stores), the fight is less one-sided than you might think. The majority of projections have ebooks surpassing print books sometime in the next few years, and yet at the moment, things aren’t as dire for print as traditionalists tend to make them out to be. In April, Jim Milliot of Publishers Weekly inspected the numbers on either side and found that both the rise of digital sales and the decline of print sales have slowed. So for now, print lovers can rest their weary heads in the knowledge that although ebooks are popular, they’re not completely pervasive.

The possibility that usually gets obscured in this debate, meanwhile, is that ebooks aren’t necessarily supposed to be the same as print. In defending printed books for Mashable, editorial director Josh Catone admits that as he sees it, “Ebooks are not simply a better format replacing an inferior one; they offer a wholly different experience.”

Ebook fans cite their emerging potential in this regard to open up possibilities where traditional media can’t. Allen Weiner at The Daily Dot, for one, argues, “Ebooks have created greater democratization in the creation and distribution of new literature and event scholarly thinking. Without having to go through the iron gates of major publishers, new authors have emerged who have access to an unprecedented number of digital self-publishing platforms.”

. . . .

Based on this analysis, it would be easy to assume that the majority of ebook users are young, tech-savvy professionals, looking to stay well-read, without taking any extra time out of their busy schedules.

But this isn’t entirely accurate. Newer Pew Research statistics put the lion’s share of e-readers between the ages of 30 and 64. However, tablet owners are a little younger, generally somewhere under age 50.

In conjunction with this, a CNET poll from 2009 put 50 percent of Kindle users specifically over 50 years old. Bloomberg Businessweek’s Bruce Nussbaum observed this in action the same year. “Every time I see a Kindle, it is held by a Boomer,” Nussbaum declared.

Link to the rest at The Daily Dot and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Digital sales up 10% in first quarter

21 July 2014

From The Bookseller:

Consumer e-book sales rose 10% in the first quarter of 2014, according to the Publishers Association, with strong performances from children’s e-books, and digital downloads of audio titles.

The figure show the continuing slowdown in digital growth rates, after last year’s  industry-wide growth rates of about 20%, but also how e-books continue to gain ground over print-book sales, which were down 2.5% in the first quarter, according to Nielsen BookScan data.

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The PA said the numbers continued the increasingly strong performance of digital formats which in 2013 represented 16% of total book sales, and has grown a massive 305% over the past five years.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

July 2014 Author Earnings Report

17 July 2014

From Author Earnings:

It has been nearly half a year since we first pulled data for nearly every ranked ebook on Amazon.com’s thousands of category bestseller lists. This is our third quarterly report, and every data set tells us something new. With enough reports, we should be able to spot emerging trends in the world of digital publishing in order to help authors make the best decisions with their manuscripts.

As before, we are dividing the ebooks up by publication path while looking at the following four measures: the number of ranked titles, the number of unit sales, gross earnings, and authors’ earnings. Our primary focus at AuthorEarnings.com is the writer, so we pay special attention to the last of these measures.

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Of note here is that all of our graphs show remarkable consistency across data sets taken over the course of half a calendar year. And with our latest data set, we estimate that self-published authors now account for 31% of total daily ebook sales regardless of genre. This makes indie authors, as a cohort, the largest publisher of ebooks on Amazon.com in terms of market share.


Gross sales are where it begins to get interesting. Now we are factoring price into the equation. We know self-published ebooks cost less than ebooks from the Big 5, but how much less? Being able to see the combined effect of price and sales rank in a single graph for 120,000 ebooks is very powerful. A lot of small discrepancies begin to average out with such a massive sample size. And while indies have seen positive movement across all three quarters, it’s too soon to tell if this is a global or a seasonal trend. It could be that indies promote their books year-round while major publishers pull out all the stops around the Holidays. This time next year, we should be able to answer this question.


In February, we were able to announce that self-published authors are earning nearly as much as Big 5 authors combined when it comes to ebook sales on the Kindle Store. In the two quarters since, the earnings for Big 5 authors has shrunk while that for indies has grown. We can now say that self-published authors earn more in royalties than Big 5 authors, combined.

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It bears putting a number here and stressing what we are seeing: Self-published authors are now earning nearly 40% of all ebook royalties on the Kindle store. The days of looking at self-publishing as a last option are long gone. A lot has changed in six months.

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It wasn’t surprising to see that most Big 5 books employ DRM, but we were shocked to see that it is practically 100% of them. Indies, on the other hand, locked down roughly 50% of their titles. Since there isn’t any variation in the Big 5 books, we are forced to look at the self-published titles for any effect on sales, and indeed there is one. The 50% of non-DRM ebooks account for 64% of total unit sales.

Indie titles without DRM sell twice as many copies each, on average, as those with DRM.


We believe this is one of the most important graphs we have ever published. At a glance, we can see how each publishing path performs in the top genre categories, and we can also see how these genres compare to one another in both total revenue and market share by publishing path. This last distinction is crucial, because the old-time advice to “never self-publish” has now faded to the advice that “self-publishing only works in certain genres.”

The truth is that, regardless of which publishing path an author chooses, some genres of trade ebooks sell vastly better than others, period. Other genres languish. For Big 5 authors, Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense is by far the most lucrative genre. But you don’t hear many people assert that traditional publishing is only good for people writing sleuths. Another common refrain is that nonfiction and literary fiction are uncrackable genres for indies. But in non-fiction, self-published authors are earning 26% to the Big 5′s 35%.

It turns out that Big 5 publishers have nearly as small a portion of Romance earnings (18%) and Science Fiction & Fantasy earnings (29%) as indies have of Literary Fiction earnings (13%) and Nonfiction earnings (26%), respectively.

Self publishing isn’t just viable for Romance and Sci-Fi/Fantasy. While indie authors are absolutely dominating traditionally-published authors in those particular genres, indies have also taken significant market share inall genres, including Mystery/Thriller/Suspense and Non-fiction. The market for literary fiction is anemic for indie authors simply because it is an anemic segment of publishing overall.

In fact, Literary Fiction makes up only 2% of Amazon ebook unit sales and 3% of Amazon ebook dollar sales. More startling is the fact that 20% of that 3% belongs to a single aggressively-promoted title, The Goldfinch.

Link to the rest at Author Earnings.

The Tenured vs. Debut Author Report

17 July 2014

UPDATE: Oops. Posted this late last night and was off the grid this morning. Latest report up above.

From Author Earnings:

In our most recent earnings report, one chart jumped out at us and begged for deeper analysis: It was a look at daily author earnings according to publication date, and it revealed the heavy reliance Big 5 publishers have on the sale of their backlist titles. The same chart showed, less surprisingly, that self-published authors are making the vast majority of their earnings on recently published works. In a single chart we were witness to the economic effects of new participants entering an industry in which they were formerly uncompetitive. The same chart made it apparent that the effects self-publishing will have on the trade book industry have only just begun.

Because of this chart, we began looking more deeply at authors from two different camps: those who debuted prior to the explosion of self-publishing and those who debuted after. Authors getting their start today will of course be joining the latter camp. And we believe those authors will want to know the following:

• Big-5 publishers are massively reliant on their most established authors to the tune of 63% of their e-book revenue.

• Roughly 46% of traditional publishing’s fiction dollars are coming from e-books.

• Very few authors who debut with major publishers make enough money to earn a living—and modern advances don’t cover the difference.

• In absolute numbers, more self-published authors are earning a living wage today than Big-5 authors.

• When comparing debut authors who have equal time on the market, the difference between self-published and Big-5 authors is even greater.

In this report, we will also reveal how e-book earnings represent roughly 64% of a traditionally published fiction author’s income, and therefore why authors should focus less on statistics geared toward publisher earnings and trade bookstore sales and consider their own incomes instead. Finally, we will tackle the difficult question of just how many authors are earning a living wage today. The results are sobering. I’ll spoil it for you and say that there aren’t many. But there are reasons to celebrate. Read on to see why.

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[We started] wondering how much of traditionally-published author revenue was coming from new releases by long-tenured authors, and how much of it was coming from debut authors. This is a crucial question for a new artist hoping to break into an entertainment sector. What we were hoping to discover is how many seats are left on the traditionally published bus. So we divided authors and books into “New” and “Old” using January 1, 2010 as a cutoff date, and checked.

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This final chart reveals a startling insight: If the Big 5 hadn’t signed a new author since 2009, and simply released new works from their long-established authors, they would still be making 63% of the e-book revenue that they are making today. Ownership of backlist and long-tenured authors is quite clearly big publishing’s most powerful commodity. This goes a long way toward explaining ever more restrictive reversion and non-compete clauses in publishing contracts. It also lends credence to rumors that some top-name authors are already receiving ebook royalties higher than 25% of net. Publishers rely heavily on these established authors and may be willing to violate their own most favored nation clauses in an attempt to retain them.

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This time, when comparing only the earnings of “New” authors who debuted after 2010, we see that below a tiny handful of mega-selling Big-5 debuts (like Veronica Roth), far more “New” indie authors are making a good living from their Kindle e-books than their “New” Big-5 peers. This is a logarithmic scale, which means a little separation signifies quite a difference in outcomes.

Some might argue that this comparison does not reveal the entire picture, because best-selling traditionally-published authors have a healthier complement of print sales than their indie counterparts. However, non-ebook revenue for traditional-published authors makes up a smaller percentage of their author earnings than you might think, and this is especially true for authors of fiction. To see this requires a digression, one that may be just as important for the aspiring author as our larger analysis in this report.

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While only 32% of the publishing industry’s gross revenue currently comes from e-books, nearly 64% of the average traditionally-published fiction author’s earnings is coming from their e-books. Earnings for the average genre-fiction author will skew even further toward their e-book sales. Perhaps an e-book-based comparison between publishing types is not so unfair a comparison after all. Especially when considering that the gain of 8% – 15% royalties on print sales means taking a massive cut in e-book royalties—from 70% of gross to 25% of net.

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[This data] neatly captures so much of what is going on in the e-book market today, mainly that there are far more indie debut authors from 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 who are now holding spots on the Amazon bestseller charts than Big-5 debut authors. Even more striking, the number of today’s bestsellers from these “New” indie debut authors increases steeply year-over-year, while the number of today’s bestsellers from “New” Big-5 debut authors stays flat. The number of today’s bestsellers from small to medium publisher debut authors is also growing year over year, although not at the same explosive rate with which indie debuts are grabbing and holding slots on the charts.

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After years and years of querying and jumping through gatekeeper hoops, it appears that even the less-than-1% who are lucky enough to land an agent and a Big-5 publishing contract can’t manage to quit their day jobs. (This is an observation in the data that matches what we have seen anecdotally in the publishing and bookselling trenches).

By contrast, we see over 700 Indie-published authors who debuted in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 who are today earning more than $25,000/year from their Kindle e-books alone. For these authors, e-book sales on other platforms and POD print sales will add another 20%-30% on average to this total. It’s easy to see that, for the past 4 years, and even taking lost print sales into consideration, far more Indie authors than Big-5 authors are earning a living wage from their writing.

Link to the rest at Author Earnings

Appeal of print over ebooks intangible to Kiwis

4 July 2014

From stuff.co.nz:

At a certain type of BBQ or dinner party the printed book versus e-reader debate is always likely to break out.

Printed book defenders tend to be more forceful and emotional in their advocacy.

Their preference for the printed book is based on intangible factors such as the feel of a book and the smell of a book. A deep passion that the traditional book is the right and proper way to read and should never be allowed to die is evident.

E-reader advocates tend to see it as a no brainer and point to more functional advantages such as lighting , weight and cost.

A UMR research online survey, using a SAYit database throws some hard numbers into the mix.

Twenty-one per cent of New Zealanders surveyed declared they owned a hand-held device used primarily for e-book reading.

A very high level of readership of books were declared. Thirty-four per cent of New Zealanders said they had read all or part of 20 print or e-books or listened to audio books in the last 12 months. Only 7 per cent had declared they had not read even part of a print or e-book or listened to an audio book.

This was much higher levels of declared readership than the USA.

. . . .

On the crunch question of the best way to read, printed books were the winner. Amongst those who had at least started one e-book, 35 per cent preferred to read books in print, 22 per cent on an e-reader and 44 per cent went for the prefer both equally option.

Those most in favour of e-books were predictably under 30 year olds who only preferred the printed book by a 28 per cent to 27 per cent margin.

Those aged 45 to 49 were the most hostile age cohort for e-books with 42 per cent preferring the printed version and 18 per cent an e-reader.

Link to the rest at stuff.co.nz

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