A Half-Million Self-Published Books

Last week was a week for new book publishing and selling statistics. On Monday, I reported on the Nielson book selling figures that came out for the first half of 2014. Today, I am writing about the new analysis of self-publishing in the United States conducted by Bowker.

raining books

Bowker has released a new Report on Self-Publishing in the United States. In the report, Bowker analyzes the number of self-published titles from 2008 through 2013. Here are some of the findings in Bowker’s report:

  • The number of self-published titles in 2013 increased to 458,564, up 16.5% from 2012.
  • There were 302,622 titles that were self-published as print books in 2013, a 28.8% increase over 2012.
  • On the other hand, the number of self-published ebook titles decreased 1.6% in 2013 to just 155,942.

Interestingly, while Bowker is calling these titles “self-published”, the company is including small publishers in this report. According to the report, small publishers as a whole registered 46,654 ISBNs in 2013, placing them fourth among companies that registered ISBNs.

The top three self-publishing companies registering ISBNs in 2013 with Bowker were (in order): CreateSpace, Smashwords, and Lulu. CreateSpace registered 186,926 ISBNs—all for print books. On the other hand, Smashwords registered 85,500—all for ebooks.

These figures reveal that, for 2013, the growth in self-publishing came not from ebooks, but from print books. These figures compliment the Nielson book sales stats that show that 67% of all books sold in the first six months of 2014 were print books. Many self-publishers understand that it is still by and large a print book world.

Half a million books! That figure is staggering. Self-published authors and small presses produced half a million books in 2013! Remember, Bowker is only counting the books that were registered with ISBNs. I believe that there are many more books that were self-published via the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform that never acquired an ISBN (Amazon does not require an ISBN to publish an ebook via their KDP system). Afterall, a new ebook is added to Amazon just about every five minutes.

Self-publishing has definitely come into its own. If you are considering self-publishing, I encourage you to go for it. Many authors have found it fulfilling and worthwhile to maintain control of the entire process from manuscript to book to marketing.

The other thing these numbers reveal is that competition for books keeps getting stiffer. The more books that are published, the more options people have. Why should they choose your book? Now is the time to hone your pitch. Make sure your message is unique and lets your readers know why they should choose your book over all the other books out there.

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Being Heard Above the Noise

Bowker recently released estimates of print book production for 2013. The company reports that the number of print titles produced in 2013 dipped slightly from 2012 according to Bowker’s annual report on U.S. print book publishing. The year 2013 saw 304,912 print titles published, while the year 2013 saw 309,957 print titles produced.

Noise

Bowker’s figures do not take into consideration ebooks published during the year. So, in just considering how many new books were published in 2013, the figure is higher than 304,912, because a number of books are now being published in digital format only. One statistic shows that 31% of ebooks purchased on Amazon each day are self-published books.

It’s hard to get noticed in a noisy world. Bowker’s statistics show that publishing in the United States is noisy. There are multiple books on almost every subject vying for a consumer’s attention.

Competing in a noisy market is not necessarily about making the most noise. Having a “noisier” marketing campaign than other authors does not guarantee more sales. Sometimes noise is just annoying. Rather, utilizing unique angles and hooking your readers with the “What’s in it for me” angle that they can’t resist seems to bring the best results. Creativity is what gets attention.

Cook up some creative ideas to get your book notice. Here are five to consider:

  1. Host a contest. Make it unusual and unique with an enticing prize. (See “Use a Twitter Contest to Sell More Books” for one idea).
  2. Donate some of your books to local businesses that have reading material in their lobbies and cater to your target audience.
  3. Showcase your book at a local festival (see “What’s Your Marketing Shtick?”).
  4. Put a magnetic sign about your book on your car. (see “One Creative Book Promotion Idea”).
  5. Make your book cover into a cover for your smart phone or tablet for a walking book advertisement (see “A Walking Advertisement” and “Walking Advertisements”).

The book market in the United States is crowded and most likely going to stay that way. Creativity is needed to get noticed above all the noise.

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