I have a confession to make. I have never purchased an ebook. I read ebooks on a Kindle app, but every ebook on my Kindle app I acquired for free. I do buy books. However, if I am going to spend money on a book, I buy a print book.
My behavior is not outside the bounds of normalcy for book buying. The Codex-Group, which conducts book audience strategy research, has found that most book buyers read far more books each month than they buy. According to the research that Codex shared at Digital Book World 2017, most book buyers only purchase one out of every four books they read.
This means that three out of every four books book buyers read the reader obtains for free. Where do readers get these books? Most people receive free books from four main sources:
- Borrow from a library
- On loan from a friend
- Free download offer
- Book received as a gift
Additional data from Codex’s research shows consumer’s favorite ways to get books:
- 18% prefer to read for free
- 25% claim they never pay full price—buy used or join a subscription service
- 16% prefer to purchase ebooks only
- 22% state they are impulse buyers—purchasing a book as soon as they see it
While at first glance this data may seem discouraging, I believe it contains some valuable nuggets for publishers:
1. Not every reader who reads your book will have paid for your book.
This is okay. Expect to give some books away for free; it helps with publicity. Readers who read your book for free can help you secure more sales. If these readers like your book and recommend it to others, you have scored a win.
2. Focus on the impulse buyers.
Codex’s data shows that 22% of book buyers are impulse buyers. In addition, Codex reports that these impulse buyers are more likely to purchase nonfiction titles than other genres. If you are a nonfiction author, these impulse buyers can boost your sales.
The truth is that selling books is hard work. The number of people reading books is holding steady while the number of books published is increasing exponentially. There is a glut of free books available online.
If God has called you to write and publish a book, his plan is for your book to impact lives for his Kingdom. Keep in mind that impacting lives provides an eternal payoff that is greater than the money you make selling your books.
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Photo courtesy of Tamarcus Brown