Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: e-readers keep gaining momentum. Why should you care? Because it affects:
- how much readers pay per book
- which formats are losing out to e-readers
- and how authors make a living.
Aside from that, you don’t need to care.
Here are the latest stats from Bowker’s PubTrack Consumer service:
- 20% of readers reported in October they are likely to buy an e-reader compared to 10% in the 2009 holiday season.
- Just over 10% of readers in September and October said they read e-books on a daily or weekly basis compared to 3% a year ago.
- e-books accounted for 4.2% of unit sales in September and October, which is substantially higher than third quarter ’09 when e-books accounted for 1.7% of units.
- e-books seem to have taken market share from mass market paperbacks and hardcovers, but trade paperback sales have proven resilient in the past year.
Other results from the analysis of book-buying behavior shows:
- e-books readers are becoming increasingly loyal to the format. They want to buy e-books as opposed to physical books.
- the increase in e-book sales appears to be lowering the total dollar volume buyers spend on books. Dollars per buyer fell from $34.81 in ’09 to $31.64 in ’10.
- sales per buyer in fiction–an especially strong segment for e-books–dropped from $19.62 to $17.12.
- nonfiction spending declined less than fiction, falling from $19.56 to $19.00.
As a side note, none of these stats reflects the number of free e-books downloaded vs. purchased e-books. Many titles are being offered for free for limited times to introduce a series or an author to e-book purchasers. Publishers have found this a very effective way to drive readers to purchase books, but no study has been done to track what long-term affect such a marketing device has.
And one other item for you to make note of. Prognosticators have predicted that, with so many e-readers and i-Pads being given as Christmas presents, the strongest day for book sales in 2010 is likely to be the day after Christmas, when happy new device owners are loading their readers with books.
Gift cards are predicted to have a significant factor on book sales this holiday season as well, with the two weeks after Christmas being one of the strongest selling seasons of the year.
What does all this mean to you? As someone who makes a living writing books or who aspires to make a living writing books, times, they are a-changin’. In the past, publishers counted on hardback books to bring in the majority of profit; nowadays, publishers have to create new financial pictures. For the author, e-books translate into the need to sell more copies to bring in as much money as could be made from hardback books.
Also, as an author, you need to be aware that after Christmas is an increasingly important time to promote your books. Sure, your books still are great Christmas gifts, but you want buyers to be thinking about your book during the weeks immediately following Christmas as well.
Now, here’s what I’m wondering:
Did you receive an e-reader for Christmas?
Did you give an e-reader as a gift?
If you received one, did you download free book or buy books?
Did you buy physical books for yourself or for others during the holidays?