State of Publishing: E-book Sales by Category and Genre
Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Location: Books & Such main office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
New financial/sales reports are just coming in for publishing for 2010 and the first half of 2011. Now, for those of you who are yawning, I promise to only discuss what’s likely to show important trends that every writer should be aware of. So read up!
Here are the newsworthy items:
- Fiction remains the leading sales driver of e-books. But the chart below illustrates just how dominant fiction is. The chart on the left is for unit sales; the chart on the right is for revenue generation. What does this add up to? Fiction brings in more than half of e-book revenue, while all other categories are like saplings shaded by a redwood. Why should you care? Because this tells you that, if you’re writing nonfiction and aiming your personal marketing plans toward selling e-books, that might not be the best plan unless you have a special “in” to your market. But if you write fiction, many readers await your e-book.
- Of the various fiction genres, literary/classics take the lead in unit sales, with science fiction close behind. Holding third place is Christian fiction. We can guess that the classics have the lead position because so many of them are being offered for free or 99 cents for an author’s oeuvre. I own all of Jane Austen’s work and paid 99 cents for the package. Sci-fi makes sense because those who read this genre tend to be purchase technological toys; e-books and sci-fi readers are a perfect fit. But look at Christian fiction, beating out romance, mystery and general fiction.
- Buyers who purchase e-books online tend to purchase print books from the same source.
- e-books constituted 4 percent of units sold in 2010.
I’ve suggested one application for the first graphs–where you would place your marketing energy based on what you write. Now, let’s talk about other implications of the study’s results.
- Does this information give you pause or renewed energy for the category you write?
- In what ways might these numbers help you to direct your marketing energy/dollars? What do the numbers tell you about where your buyers are?
- How do you balance this study with the reality that, while e-books are gaining strength very fast, most buyers are hugging their books to their chests rather than clicking “buy” on e-readers?
- Unfortunately this study didn’t look at the price paid per unit for e-books. What’s your best guess as to what that might be? What do you base your opinion on? And what are the implications of the unit price for writers?
I know these questions don’t necessarily lend themselves to off-the-top-of-your-head answers, but I believe it’s worth the time for each of us to consider what these numbers mean. They predict the way ahead for all of us.