Perhaps the reason print book sales are on the rise has nothing to do with coloring books, digital fatigue, the “ebook fad” or book store appeal. Data Guy has offered a different reason based on the data he has scraped for Author Earnings.
To start, independent book store sales are up 5 percent from 2015, but the rest of the brick and mortar stores are down 5 percent, on average. However, the industry is up 15 percent as a whole with the difference coming from Amazon.
Data Guy states that the real reason print sales are up is because a change in how Amazon priced its titles. In 2015, discounts on ebooks for large traditional publishers was eliminated. In turn, Amazon discounted the prices of print books in mid-2015 – and that’s where we see the change in print sales.
To break down the data even further, when Amazon discounted sales in some of the spring and summers months, sale units on print books were up 7 percent. However, when it scaled back its discounts just a few short months later, the overall percentage of unit sales also dropped and at the end of the year, the industry saw an increase of just 3.3 percent from a year before.
Data Guy surmises that the question really shouldn’t be about print vs. digital. People want to read, and they are going to do it in ways that are easiest and convenient for them. This bigger question is brick and mortar vs. online sales. Online sales are ever increasing with Amazon taking the bulk of the sales.
Because we are currently seeing online sales wallop brick and mortar unit sales, he said about two-third of traditionally published adult books are bought online.
He uses unit sales rather than dollars spent as a measure of consumer buying behavior.
But all of this just reflects traditionally published books.
What about the non-traditionally published books? Consumers spend $1.25 BILLION on these, which equates to about 300 million units. The majority are indie ebooks with an average price around $2.99.
One more fascinating note taken away from Data Guy’s presentation — 43 percent of all ebook dollars (and 24 percent of all book dollars) are now going to books without ISBNs. That’s something to consider and I would love to hear your opinions on that on the comments.
Data Guy had a lot more interesting tidbits that I will share very soon.
Reblogged this on YOURS IN STORYTELLING….
1) ” …independent book store sales are up 5 percent from 2015,”
Nothing to do with Amazon discounting there, clearly.
Maybe we need to stop looking for one convenient “reason” to explain every rise and fall (it’s all the fault of agency, OR colouring books OR Amazon discounting, OR…) and allow that multiple factors are at play and there is no black-and-white us-and-them scenario.
2) “43 percent of all ebook dollars (and 24 percent of all book dollars) are now going to books without ISBNs.”
Does this include Amazon imprint ebooks which do not carry ISBNs? If so the number is no surprise.
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One could also argue that eBooks have been hobbled to the point where readers see print as an equal or better value. The novelty has worn off. As well, sales data provides only a skewed view of relevant reader behaviors such as reading books that don’t get counted (e.g public domain eBooks, self-published books, etc.) instead of books that do get counted. The data doesn’t provide clear insights into important aspects of reader behavior. We understand little.
Reblogged this on Indie Lifer.
Quote: One more fascinating note taken away from Data Guy’s presentation — 43 percent of all ebook dollars (and 24 percent of all book dollars) are now going to books without ISBNs.
Cost is a major factor. Bowker makes ISBNs too expensive, particularly when purchased in small lots. When I started Inkling Books in 1999, I bought a thousand for $600, that’s 60 cents each. At the time, with print the only real option, that was a stretch. Now that each ebook format requires a different ISBN, I’m glad I did. Each book takes about five of them. For me, that’s only $3. For someone with limited funds who has to strain to buy them in lots of ten at $250, that’s $125, which can be painful for many. No wonder many say, to heck with this.
I discussed what needed to be done with Bowker staff when the issue of whether ebooks should be “required” to have ISBNs was being debated. I argued that a scheme intended for labels on soup cans in the age of mainframe computers was ill-adapted for ebooks in the age of the Internet. He argued for the status quo and the publishing industry, with its typical obsession with the status quo, agreed with him.
There is an alternative, one where the assigning authority would issue the numbers for only the title/content. The rest of the number string would be assigned by the author or publisher. Those other numbers would define what the format etc. is according to certain rules. One set of numbers, for instance, would define a book as epub and of a particular version. Another set could be incremented to handle revisions. Still another might describe the encryption scheme. It’s a far more effective scheme that having an ISBN that, while the Bowker database may include all that information, that database has to be consulted to know even the distinction between a print and digital book.
I might add that there’s nothing keeping some organization of sufficient visibility from issuing those numbers. I tried to get Google to do that but failed. That’d allow commercial books to have an ISBN plus this number. It’s also be cheap enough, independent authors could at least get this number, bringing some order to the system.
The current mess illustrates that, if you make something too expensive, no amount of publishing industry dictate will get people to follow their rules. And behind all the other woes lies a critical fact. In the U.S., Bowker has a monopoly and behaves like a typical one.
Here’s a link to some comments and advice on ISBNs from a publishing consultant. Alas, his 2011 prediction of Bowker no longer being able to get away with inflated fees still hasn’t come true.
–Mike Perry, Inkling Books
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With regard to ISBN’s, I have to agree with Michel. Bowker is pricing them too high for a lot of people. But it would appear that Bowker is only seeing the increase of published books, and have raised prices twice in the past couple of years as a result. Not to mention removing the ability to purchase a block of 1,000 directly from their website. Now you have to contact them directly.
I doubt Bowker will ever lower the prices, they have no reason to. They have no competition in the USA. Unless all publishers start moving the Canada where ISBN’s are free (or stop using ISBN’s altogether), the status quo will continue.