Friday, December 10, 2010

October e-book sales

First, JA Konrathe makes a great point. Only 14 publishers are being counted in ebook sales. E-book dependence in romance is biased towards smaller (uncounted by AAP) publishers and indie authors.

So what fraction is the uncounted? Hundreds! That article indicates ~400 publishers have e-books out, plus indie authors, but only 14 publishers count.

Considering the large '2nd wave' of new ebook adoption I'm seeing, there must be a significant rise in e-book sales. A whole new crowd at work just bought Kindles! I know a dozen people buying loved ones a Kindle for Christmas. So there is a 'missing link.' Well, that is uncounted e-book sales. :)

Now to the charts:

On of my favorite ways to plot e-book sales (from the 14 publishers who report) is by year. This style of plot show the year to year growth in e-book sales. October didn't stick out as much as I thought it would after the Kindle 3 launch.

But that is only from the 14 reporting publishers. What if the typically high e-book prices of the reporting 14 have driven customers to the alternatives? It is possible that 15% to 50% more sales are occurring than are being reported by now.... Even without the uncounted sales, the market is growing quickly. :)

Mass market paperback (MMPB) sales were weak. Beyond weak... We finally see a clear drop in sales that points out the weakness of the category. Most likely next year e-book sales will exceed MMPB. Not too much of a surprise as all the indications are that Romance and SF&F are the two genres whose readership is embracing ebooks. And yes, both have dozens of sub-genres (the variety is part of what makes books great!).

Adult Hardcover, the profit center of the publishers, was exceptionally weak too. Without the 'unique 2009 September boost in sales' there is no hand waving away the weak sales.

Adult Paperback did ok in October. But with Weak September sales, it is more of the same trend. Someone is not ordering books; I suspect as part of Borders attempt to reduce inventory and debt.

Overall, my summation of 'trade books' just ads up to one thing. Someone is not ordering this year.

Christmas Day could be the #1 sales day of the year. If that is indeed the case (if only for Amazon), then we will see the fast shift. Or maybe it will be Borders.

I do not want to dance on any graves, but if Borders does not gain a new management and strategy, they are done as early as the 1st quarter of next year. If they dissolve, I expect their customers to go to:
1. Big Box retails (Costco, Walmart, Walgreens, Target): ~30% of Borders customers
2. Indie book stores: ~30% of customers (there are 2,200 of them out there!)
3. Indie book stores: ~20% of the customers
4. Amazon (online and Kindle) 20%

The trend is towards ebooks. Now if only we had the complete data. I cannot wait to see Christmas sales.

But how can the AAP only count 14 out of 400 publishers on e-books? Not to mention skipping indie authors.

Got Popcorn?


  1. These stats are really helpful. Thanks for compiling them. And also thanks for the review of The Painted World! You really made my day. :)

  2. I'm glad it made your day.

    The stats are to put things into perspective which is someone (probably Borders) is not ordering.


  3. Neil, really interesting. It shocks me how flawed the reporting is in the publishing industry. I read that the New York Time Bestseller List doesn't even take into account online sales. Seems impossible. Do you know? As someone from another industry - financial services - but now writing a novel, I love all your graphs and business projections! Ahh....

  4. Melissa,

    Thank you. I started these graphs to better understand the data. Mostly as I had learned from Realtor (tm) press releases how skewed data can be presented.

    Good luck with your novel! What genre?