How are your ebook sales doing?

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PG would be interested in hearing how the ebook sales of indie authors are doing during the Season of Coronavirus.

Feel free to share your experiences/observations and provide links to other places where this topic is discussed in the comments.

Unfortunately, a few people are having difficulty signing in to make comments due to some glitch in the new website theme that PG has so far been able to remedy. If you are one of those, feel free to send an email to PG via the TPV Contact Page .

36 thoughts on “How are your ebook sales doing?”

  1. Sign in test – works fine. The only thing I have seen is that I am forgotten every time I close the TPV page, despite “Remember me” on the login page.

    • I’m sorry, WO. This is the first I’ve heard of this problem.

      I’ll do some checking to see if I can’t get that fixed for you.

  2. Ebook sales completely dead – 1 KU borrow this month. Thank you – whoever that was!

    I’m working hard on NETHERWORLD, the second book in the trilogy. Writing every day, but sometimes it feels futile, especially when considering that I’m in the high-risk group for complications if I get the virus and in the group which will have a hard time getting medical care if they need it because society has suddenly decided we are less worthy – based on age.

    Since I moved to a retirement community in Davis, CA, with the intention of having a great place in which to live and write for at least the next thirty years, this rankles.

    • in the group which will have a hard time getting medical care if they need it because society has suddenly decided we are less worthy – based on age.

      Where can we find out about this? I have seen nothing. In the US, or somewhere else? What’s the age cut-off? How are people over X years finding care hard to get? Where have they been turned away?

      I did read Ezekial Emmanual said people over 75 should not be treated, but he has zero power.

      • Hospitals in NY and other hard-pressed places are setting up documents to make decisions about who should get a ventilator if they need help breathing, and who should be resuscitated. The stories are all over the NY Times and the Washington Post, the LA Times, the Boston newspapers, the Seattle PI…

        As in Italy, there is an outcry because they decide a priori that people’s lives do or do not have value (ie, are worth spending scarce medical resources on) by things that leave out people over 65, disabled people, people with chronic illnesses.

        Google ‘ethical decisions re coronavirus care’ – and you’ll find article after article in major mainstream newspapers; here’s one:
        https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/24/upshot/coronavirus-rationing-decisions-ethicists.html

        I don’t want to post a bunch of links on PG’s site, but I don’t know how you’ve avoided reading about these ‘decisions’ and the outrage that follows them – Italy, the UK, the US… from activists for, say, the disabled. We get fewer resources and less medical help in ‘normal’ times, and are facing this kind of ‘ethics’ now.

        • Do we have any evidence of ventilators being denied in the US?

          And documents? When Cuomo rejected the 15,000 ventilators in 2015, they drew up a document about how the stock of existing ventilators would be ethically distributed. The same bunch of ethics experts offered their deep thoughts. That was quickly swept under the rug when the virus hit.

          I avoided reading about the decisions in the US because they aren’t decisions. They will be decisions when people over age X are denied treatment.

          And outrage? This is the age when people go actively searching for something to justify their perpetual state of general outrage.

          The NYT is behind a paywall, but the bit I could read talked about experts and their discussions. Sounds like Zeke Emmanual and his college chums. No real decisions in the US.

          • The US medical system seems to be holding up. Washington state is releasing resources and a field hospital to other locations where tbey *might* be needed. Ohio acted early and built up capabilities but haven’t come close to needing them. There are reports of retired medical staff volunteering in California and elsewhere and getting zero replies.

            A lot of the complaints about lack of capacity and/or resources are about *projection* worst case fears. Indications are distancing and the shutdowns are preventing worst cases except in NYC.

            The biggest real issues to surface seems to be the failure to re-stock tbe national stockpile over tbe last decade to the pre-swine flu levels and the cancelation in 2014 of an old project to produce cheap ventilators.

            https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/29/business/coronavirus-us-ventilator-shortage.html

            It is hard to find accurate news among the flood of doom and gloom reporting but the US is so far weathering the crisis reasonably well, given the early disinformation coming from the WHO. So far, it seems there has been no need to deal with extreme ethical questions.

            The one exception is NYC but even that is questionable.

            A little reported fact is that prior to the crisis, the feds ran an overall evaluation of the system and found areas that needed work (the stockpile, the need for cheaper ventilators) but the assessment was tbat the US was among the best-prepared countries.

            Older and at-risk people adhering to lockdowns have never been in greater danger than younger folks. Except maybe boredom if they’re not into digital entertainments. Rest easy folks.

  3. Mine are great. I had a Bookbub in the first week of March for a Comfort Read book (Mindtouch), and now people seem to be recommending it to one another as something soothing, so I think a lot of that is a ‘right book at the right time’ thing.

    I also released a new book, and for something fairly niche (it’s for existing readers of one of my less mainstream novels, which is all aliens, no humans) it’s selling well.

  4. OK, I’m logged in. I never realized that I had to register for a new account here. I was under the impression I could use my WordPress.com login.

    Anyway, my sales are fine, even up a bit. I’ve been advertising using AMS ads, and added a few more for our latest books, and I have a new book out.

  5. I’ll use this to comment on how my local public library system is doing. On Friday, March 13, we announced that our library branches would be closed from Monday March 16 through April 24. That left our patrons a day and a half (Saturday and Sunday afternoon) to check out books. The library staff checked out more books in a shorter time than any of them had ever seen before. The line ups were as long as the toilet paper line at Costco, I am told. I won’t know how many books were actually checked out until I get a report later in the month.

    Now, the book returns are locked, all fines and due dates on physical books are suspended. Most of the branches are empty, except for occasional inspections by the managers for roof leaks, vandalism, and the like. Staff is working from home, taking reference calls. We have some of the staff working on projects like cataloging local history documents that can be done from home or with appropriate social distancing.

    We’ve been working on online story times, although we have run into some copyright issues. Almost all publishers and authors are fine with live online readings, but it gets messy when we record and play back on demand. Some publishers and authors are okay with that, others balk. The American Library Association did a web conference on the subject. The upshot was, “Yes, you are liable for infringement, but we don’t think anyone will sue you. Hold your story times and stop when an author or publisher complains. If you stop, it’s unlikely that they will sue. If they do, it’s unlikely that there will be a judgement against you. But a judgement would be legally justified.” Great advice to a trustee who worries continually about the bottom line and the taxpayer’s money.

    Our regular March trustee’s meeting was held the week after closure. We voted to change the wording of our emergency closure policy to meet the contingencies of shelter in place and increased the digital book budget by about 20%. I’m waiting to hear our digital numbers for March later in April.

    As of today, we have 23 dead in our small county in Washington State and I expect our closure will be long past April 24. We are looking into circulating physical books without opening the branches, but waiting for clear guidance from the epidemiologists who still are not sure library books are a covid-19 vector, which disinfection processes work, and how to protect our staff.

    Nevertheless, I can assure you that folks are reading.

    • Very interesting information, Marv. I’m happy folks are reading. I regularly read ebooks from my local library.

      One question – How does one disinfect a book? Every page or something more like a virus death ray?

      • The virus can only last a certain amount of time on paper, or the common cellophane covers on many books. After a few days, doing nothing but waiting, they books should be safe to handle.

        You don’t have to disinfect them – there is nothing on most surfaces keeping the virus viable.

      • Currently, the best practice is to let the books sit in quarantine for some number of hours– suggestions vary from 3 to 72 hours. Even a 72 hour quarantine would be manageable, but we don’t know how to protect our workers who move returned books into quarantine storage. We won’t use protective garb that is in short supply for healthcare workers. It’s indicative of the uncertainty in this pandemic that there have been no known examples of covid-19 transmission via physical objects like books, but no one knows yet for sure, so we remain cautious.
        There are other methods, such as pressurized hydrogen peroxide vapor processing that are known to be effective for processing medical equipment, but not on our practical horizon.

          • Currently, as I understand the reports, there is no evidence that covid-19 is spread on currency. That is not to say it is not, only that there is no evidence that it is. God, I wish the evidence were clearer, but I can’t see that it is. We are living in far too interesting times.
            Germany seems to have the clearest information on precise transmission vectors. I look there for information.

          • In John Ringo’s UNDER A GRAVEYARD SKY, the artifical virus was spread via hand sanitizer in airports and bus station.

            This one is natural, which helps. It makes it susceptible to existing treatments as well as good old soap. People worry about currency and many are using plastic as muchas possible but there is no evidence of long lasting surface contamination. And that is one area where they *have* tested a lot.

            https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/one-chart-shows-how-long-the-coronavirus-lives-on-surfaces-like-cardboard-plastic-wood-and-steel/ar-BB11qzwr?li=BBnb7Kz

            Mind you, currency is longer than most but paper is among the shortest. There are bigger concerns.

        • Glad to hear from you and A that quarantine will do the trick for printed books, M, but don’t like the idea of librarians being at risk. (One of my jobs in college was working in the library, putting books back in the stacks. I still have a soft spot for librarians.)

    • Heh!
      His best act is one time only, remember.
      In this case the primary open reporting sources are print and tradpub oriented.
      The don’t do much tracking of alternate channels and since the supply chain is shattered they don’t see any good news to report. Hence…silence.

      Amazon probably has lots to report but they’re too busy shipping product to do pressers.
      We’ll probably get a hint once they report on KU payouts, pool size, and bonuses.

  6. It would be great to get a look at Amazon’s pages read data for eNovels. I have a perverse suspicion actual numbers are down. I haven’t heard a single
    person saying they were using lock down time to read. Poor sampling method, and perhaps everyone is hesitant to admit they are re-reading Harry Potter.

    I have heard much about Netflix, YouTube, and exercise programs that all start tomorrow.

    • The one area verified is video streaming.
      Up by a lot.
      Signup to free services, free trials, and paid subscriptions are all up by as much as 85% according to Nielsen (who have a track record of *downplaying* streaming audiences). Biggest viewership gainers are, of course,the ones with tbe biggest subscriber base: Netflix, Amazon, HBO. Most paid services are exposing significant amounts of content for free, figuring it’s a good time to hook people, plus free services like Pluto, Tubi, and IMDB TV are reporting massive activity.
      And throughout it all, the much maligned US internet infrastructure is holding up with no need for throttling as in Europe.
      So yes, reading is up, as it should be, but so are the cheaper and more popular sources of entertainment. Just remember that most readers have deep TBR lists.

  7. The U.S. Internet infrastructure is holding up remarkably well. In fact, the MIT Technology Review has reported Internet capacity has been built out substantially in response to increased usage in the two months since the stay home orders began. Traffic has visibly moved from concentrations in metro areas like Manhattan and the bay area outward. The big bandwidth companies like NetFlix have been active in the build out to support the edges.

    https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/04/07/998552/why-the-coronavirus-lockdown-is-making-the-internet-better-than-ever/

    Hold on tight everyone. Tomorrow will not be the same as today. Our society and economy are changing fast.

    • A lot of that is the activation of “Dark Fiber”.
      Back during the dot com era a lot of optical fiber was laid down all over by companies looking to secure marketshare. Typical tech sector gold rush, with 100 companies each aiming for 10% share.
      Then reality set in.

      “During the dot-com bubble, a large number of telephone companies built optical-fibre networks, each with the business plan of cornering the market in telecommunications by providing a network with sufficient capacity to take all existing and forecast traffic for the entire region served. This was based on the assumption that telecoms traffic, particularly data traffic, would continue to grow exponentially for the foreseeable future. The advent of wavelength-division multiplexing reduced the demand for fibre by increasing the capacity of a single fibre by a factor of as much as 100. According to Gerry Butters, the former head of Lucent’s Optical Networking Group at Bell Labs, the amount of data that could be carried by an optical fibre was doubling every nine months at the time. This progress in the ability to carry data over fibre reduced the need for more fibres. As a result, the wholesale price for data communications collapsed and a number of these companies filed for bankruptcy protection as a result. Global Crossing and Worldcom are two high-profile examples in the United States.

      Similar to the Railway Mania, the misfortune of one market sector became the good fortune of another, and this overcapacity created a new telecommunications sector. ”

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_fibre

      Somebody somewhere owns that Dark Fiber and they’ve made a business out of activating it at need. So instead of digging up trenches and laying out cable, increasing network capacity is most often a matter of picking up a phone.

      It also helps that the internet was designed to continue to operate under catastrophic conditions.
      Like a nuclear war or everybody in the country turning on Hulu to watch at once PARASITE. 😉

  8. A couple of comments were emailed to PG because the commentors were having problems getting in (I’ve solved some problems, but have more to address):

    From Blaze:

    ebook sales: down about 40% in March against normal. Launched a novel with almost no preorders. April starting to recover for sales, back up some, but no where near close.
    Amazon Ads went stupid in Feb. Spend went through the roof and sales plummeted to the point I turned almost all the ads off except for a couple of old ones with low bids.

    From Colleen:

    I’m reading a lot more while locked in – almost back to my “pre-marriage normal” of a book a day. Two friends are readers as well. One just finished building a new home and is in the process of moving (and what a mess that is!) and so not reading much. The other, though, is also reading a lot more right now.

  9. As stated elsewhere here, definitely a Corona uptick for me in ebooks. My latest is in Amazon Top 100 in 2 subcats.

    P.S. No problems for me logging in and commenting.

  10. From Grace via email:

    To answer the question on ebook sales during lockdown, mine are up 60% compared to last month.

  11. Our sales plummeted at the start of the lockdown. Paperback sales just stopped. Ebook sales were way down with revenue taking a 75% hit. What continued to sell were books in the tail end of a fantasy series, which was expected after running a 99 cent promo at the end of March, but sales of the series starter flatlined.

    This was expected when US schools started sending children home. We always take a big hit in the summer when school lets out as our readers are busy mothers. With children stuck at home, there appears to be little time to read.

    Figuring that 35% of 99 cents is better than 70% of nothing, we dropped our entire backlist to 99 cents across the board while dramatically cutting back our ad spend (CPC rose while conversion tanked, driving customer acquisition costs way up). We’re not paying a penny more than 35 cents per click. Sales are coming in, but it’s largely people cleaning up the series, but we are moving enough of the series starter to halt the nose dive in our sales rank. That combined with the extreme belt-tightening is keeping us at an expected 50% loss of revenue for the month of April.

    We increased paperback prices by a buck per title to help offset the loss when sales return. And when we release the series closer in May, we’re putting every title back to full price and raising it all by a dollar, as was our original plan upon completing the series.

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