The Changing Publishing Landscape

Recent industry news shows that the publishing industry is undergoing a huge shift. The Christian book market’s news this summer included:

  1. ChristianTrade Association International closed its doors in June.
  2. CBA has ended Christian Store Week, a program designed to drive traffic to Christian bookstores.
  3. News that RBTE (Religious Booksellers Trade Exhibit – largely for the liturgical crowd) is “struggling” to go on.


The industry is changing. Book publishing and marketing today barely resembles what it was a decade ago. Many things have changed.

Print no longer dominates the landscape.

  • eBooks are taking up a larger and larger percent of book sales (about 25% currently).
  • 70% of consumers reported that online consumer reviews were the second most trusted source of information for purchasing decisions.

Brick-and-mortar stores are no longer the number one seller of books.

  • In 2012, for the first time, online retail stores sold more books than brick-and-mortar retail stores in the United States. Last year, 43.8% of books bought by consumers were purchased online, while only 31.6% of books were purchased in large retail chains, independent bookstores, other mass merchandisers, and supermarkets.
  • Over a quarter of all books purchased are bought on, accounting for 30% of all book dollars spent.
  • With increasing Internet connectedness and decreasing physical bookstore browsing, the way people discover books is shifting. As recently as two years ago, one-third of new books were discovered in physical bookstores. Now, that number has shrunk to one-fifth.

Self-publishing is becoming mainstream.

  • The number of self-published books produced annually in the U.S. has nearly tripled, growing 287 percent since 2006, and now tallies more than 235,000 print and digital titles, according Bowker® Books In Print.
  •  Amazon’s CreateSpace was the largest player in the self-publishing space last year, publishing around 60,000 titles.
  •  Self-published titles are beginning to dominate the ebook bestseller lists. For example, five of the 10 ebook bestseller titles for April 2013 as compiled by Digital Book World were self-published titles.

The publishing world is changing. This is good news for independent authors and small publishers. The whole process of publishing and selling books from the entry point to publishing a book to marketing that book has become within reach of almost anyone. Of course, with more books available, the hardest work now is getting your books noticed.

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2 thoughts on “The Changing Publishing Landscape

  1. As I understand it, the current majority of Christian fiction readers are older women. I would guess these ladies are more inclined to purchase books in stores. If more readers of Christian fiction are purchasing books online, then either (1) the current Christian fiction readership is starting to buy online or (2) the Christian fiction readership will change.


  2. Heidi: The genre that sells the most ebooks is fiction. So, many fiction readers are using e-readers of some type.


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