Tag Archives: Data Guy

Trends in book business: small publishers win big traditional publishers in specific ebook genres

2018-10-12

A new report on the state of the ebook, audiobook and print book markets in the US was recently delivered by the number-crunching wizard Data Guy at Digital Book World Conference 2018. The statistics – that cover almost the entire online books sales in the US – indicate that readers of different book genres have vastly different preferences on book formats. Let’s analyze book publishing trends that can be identified from the Data Guy’s statistics.
ereader on top of stack of books

Strong sales of ebooks and audiobooks continue

The Author Earnings report measures ebook, audiobook and print book sales in the US online bookstores from April 2017 until September 2018. The total sales during these 18 months were:

Ebooks 4.0 billion dollars, 781 million units
Audiobooks 2.6 billion dollars, 145 million units
Print books 7.3 billion dollars, 407 million units

Roughly half (54%) of print books are sold by brick-and-mortar bookstores in the US. Even if we add print books sold by physical bookstores to the numbers that were achieved by online stores, ebook unit sales nearly match print book unit sales in the US.

The trend identified in the Author Earnings report is the decline of sales via brick-and-mortar bookstores, reduction in the number of physical bookstores, and increasing sales via online stores. Amazon is a dominant player that is still growing its market share in all book formats, also print. In fact, for some nonfiction genres, Amazon accounts 70-75% of all print book sales in the US.
bookshop of antique books in Spain

Ebook vs print book market share is highly dependent on genre

Erotica and mystery genres have been regarded the most successful categories in ebooks, and Data Guy’s report confirms the wisdom for mystery genre, at least. Business & Money titles in nonfiction category are more popular as ebooks than print books. The following numbers indicate sales only at online bookstores in the US.

57% of Business and Money category unit sales are ebooks and audiobooks.

59% of these ebooks are published by other than big publishers (such as indies, self-publishers, small publishers). The situation with audiobooks is completely different: 80.6% of audiobooks were made available by big publishers, and 56.5% of print books are from big publishers.

50% of Health, Fitness and Dieting unit sales are ebooks and audiobooks.

62% of these ebooks were published by small publishers, indies and self-publishers. 81.6% of audiobooks were produced by big publishers. 54.7% of print sales were made by big publishers.

73% of Teen and Young Adult unit sales are ebooks and audiobooks.

A massive 71.6% of these ebooks were published by small publishers and self-publishers, whereas 74.7% of audiobooks came from big publishers, and 65.2% of print books were by big publishers.

93% of Mystery, Thriller and Suspense category unit sales are ebooks and audiobooks.

52.9% of ebooks by big publishers, 93.1% of audiobooks by big publishers, 89% of print books big publishers.

Small publishers see opportunities in book formats and genres where the upfront investment is low – often ebooks. Audiobooks and print require more upfront investment, and large companies can afford financial risks better than small businesses.

Data scraping

Ever since Data Guy published his first report on ebook sales that included statistics never seen before, book industry experts have been discussing about the true state of digital book market versus print market. Independent of what you think of Data Guy’s number collection methods (that he calls data scraping), there is plenty of demand for his statistics in the book industry. Bookstat provides detailed reports on book sales for publishers without months of delay. When Bookstat numbers were tested against NPD PubTrack statistics that measure the ebook sales of big publishers in the US, the numbers matched within 6% accuracy.

You can listen to Data Guy himself explaining the data scraping method and other details in a podcast by Mark Dawson.

Readers adopted fiction ebooks quicker than non-fiction: Non-fiction ebook market has room to grow

2016-07-18

Book market statistics provided by publishing organizations are often quoted as the only authoritative numbers that reflect what is going on in the book trade. Many industry analysts have disagreed with these “official” numbers for years saying that they only represent a portion of the market: sales of big publishers. Especially, the emergence of digital books has brought a huge number of small publishers and self-publishers whose book sales is not tallied up in the statistics published by, for instance, AAP, Nielsen, or publishers’ associations in Europe.

An analyst who calls himself Data Guy (at Author Earnings) has discovered a way to collect data from ebook sales independent of which organization (or person) has published the title. He has created a system for extracting data from Amazon Kindle Store web pages. Therefore, all the statistics he can provide is from the US. Nonetheless, it is useful reference for ebook authors and publishers across the world because the US is the pioneer and the leading country in ebook business.

In July 2016, Data Guy gave a speech where he presented statistics specifically concerning romance literature ebook market in the US. The included data, however, has many valuable lessons for all authors and ebook publishers. Here are a few highlights from his speech.

author earnings: Slide07 july 2016

Source: Author Earnings.

In the US, non-fiction books has slightly over 50% of the print book market, and fiction slightly under 50%. In many European and Asian countries, non-fiction books have way larger market share from the print market. For instance, in Finland non-fiction print books had 35%, text books 35%, fiction 26%, and ebooks less than 4% market share in 2015.

Now, Author Earnings reports that non-fiction ebooks have only 12% market share in the US ebook market. Fiction dominates the ebook market with 88% share, and roughly half of purchased fiction is romance. Although we haven’t seen the ebook market in Europe segmented by genre, we believe the overall situation is roughly the same: non-fiction ebooks haven’t been adopted as quickly as fiction.

Yet, the potential to introduce something new to new generations of readers is in non-fiction and text books: digital media lets authors and publishers embed more attractive images, animation, photo galleries, interactivity and even moving pictures in books. You can view samples of this in Klaava Travel Guide titles.

author earnings, Slide12, july 2016

Source: Author Earnings

In the US, Amazon really dominates the ebook retail sales with 75% of title purchases going through the Kindle Store. Amazon UK has similar, some claim even stronger position, of the national ebook market, but elsewehere in Europe, other stores compete successfully with Amazon. For instance, in Germany Tolino is a major player in the ebook market. In Scandinavia, Adlibris and Storytel are big digital retailers (there is no Amazon store in Scandinavia yet, but Nordic citizens buy from Amazon.com if they want Kindle products).

It is still early days for digital books. The market developed quickly in English-speaking countries, primarily because of romance and crime titles. Fiction ebooks are replicas of print books. The big technical development is still to happen, and non-fiction and text books will drive the development. For instance, Amazon Page Flip is one of the early signs of things to come. It is a marvellous new feature for browsing non-fiction books.