Sales of ebooks from major publishers have declined since 2014. At their high, ebooks accounted for about 30% of all book sales. Now they have settled somewhere around 25% of book sales. That means that approximately every one out of four books purchased is an ebook.
Ebooks are an integral part of a good book sales strategy. As such, authors and publishers should know what drives ebook sales.
Smashwords, the largest self-publishing ebook platform, conducts a survey each year of their sales data to find nuggets of wisdom to pass on to authors and publishers to better understand the ebook market. Following are three takeaways from the most recent survey conducted by Smashwords on the books sold from its platform.
1. Fiction Dominates When it Comes to eBook Sales
More nonfiction books than fiction books are published each year. As a result, nonfiction has greater sales overall than fiction. However, when it comes to buying ebooks, fiction books have dominated this format since the beginning. Almost 90% of Smashwords book sales are fiction books. Romance is the largest seller amounting to half of all books sold by Smashwords.
2. Free Still Drives Discovery
Offering books for free to generate discovery has always been a tactic of authors. However, this practice has grown to a new level with ebooks. Authors can offer a free copy of an ebook at no great personal expense. Many authors are using this tactic to become discovered. One study cited that if readers like what they read in a free book, they are 85% more likely to buy another book from the author.
Smashwords survey found that people do download ebooks when offered for free. On Smashwords, books offered for free get 41 times more downloads than books selling for any other price. Remember, offering a free book is meant to drive discovery, so for authors of single books, this practice does not work as well as for those offering a series (series can be offered in nonfiction books as well as fiction). Smashwords survey found that series books significantly outsell standalone books.
3. Pricing Sweet Spot for eBooks
One perennial question that authors face is: What to price a book? Price a book too high or too low and sales suffer. There is a pricing sweet spot in selling books. Smashwords survey revealed that for fiction ebooks, the price point that maximizes both unit downloads and earnings for authors is between $2.99 and $4.99.
You can view all the results from the Smashwords’ Survey on Slideshare.
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