Notable Data on Book Sales

The Nielson company studies consumers in more than 100 countries to provide the most complete view of buying trends and habits worldwide. Through their BookScan program, Nielson tracks book sales for the book industry. This program captures the data from around 80 percent of all book sales in the United States.

Each year Nielson releases reports about the data they collect. These reports give authors and publishers valuable information on what is happening in the book industry, especially in terms of book sales. Nielson’s 2015 report has some interesting information.

Nielson’s 2015 data shows that the self-publishing movement continues to grow. It is taking market share away from big publishers, especially in the ebook arena. Over the past four years, the big publishers market share for sales of ebooks fell from 46% to 34%, while self-published and small press ebook sales market share grew from 19% to 42% (see chart below).

Nielsen-1-market-shareWhat I found the most fascinating in this report is how people discovered books in 2015. There is a big difference in how consumers discover print books versus ebooks.

Nielson found that in-store browsing was still the number one way that people discover new print books to read. The second was through in-person recommendations from friends and relatives. However, this did not hold true for ebooks. The top way consumers discover ebooks to read is through browsing online sites. Family and friends recommendation still held high sway for ebooks, but not as high as for print books. Most notable was that the third and fourth most common ways for readers to discover ebooks was through reading a free sample online and through online recommendations based on what they have previously purchased or read (see chart below).

Nielsen-3-discovery-US-a-710x569I believe this data gives you some good information for marketing your books. eBooks are digital, therefore, people discover them in the digital realm (the Internet). So, concentrating your marketing efforts in the digital realm makes sense for ebooks. Print books, on the other hand, are physical. Readers predominately discover these books in the physical realm. Therefore, if you are selling print books, you can’t just concentrate your marketing in the digital realm. You must also market in the physical realm with print materials and physical displays of your book to attract buyers.

I am grateful that Nielson shares its data so that we, as authors and publishers, can stay abreast of how best to promote our books.

Related Posts:
What You Need to Know About Selling eBooks
Sales Data Worth Mining
Staying Relevant

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3 thoughts on “Notable Data on Book Sales

  1. Again, though this is good data, it is of little help in finding redemptive or spirit-filled novels. It doesn’t even help much in finding Christian Religious Fiction. That’s the huge gaping hole is the discovery process for believers.

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  2. Yes, it’s interesting, but for Christian fiction, largely irrelevant. I review books from the traditional publishers—but they are rarely even Christian, usually only Old Testament level, and often, merely clean reads. Out of the tradpub Christian novels over the past year, only one was rated redemptive, and none spirit-filled.

    In the self-pub world, a large percentage are redemptive or at least Christian—that is they have a savior. In Amazon’s lists a large percentage of the top 100 authors, in any given Christian genre, are selfpub or small pub. That will probably increase. At this point, the larger the publisher, the less likely they are to publish a book with True spiritual content. Enclave was fair in this regard, but I expect Gilead to pull back from Truth into less realistic spiritual reality.

    That’s why we’re working so hard to support Christian authors called by the Lord to help in the Final Harvest.

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