What Authors Can Learn from Shopping Behaviors

I love to shop. For the most part, I prefer shopping in physical stores where I can not only see what I am purchasing, but I can touch and feel it also. I know many people prefer to shop online. While not everyone shops the same way, there are a few similarities overall among people’s shopping preferences.

A new study by Catalyst, a marketing agency specializing in retail, explored consumer-shopping behaviors across multiple channels. Their research found that most customers prefer convenience over other factors when shopping. Here are a few of the findings from Catalyst’s study:

  • Convenience Is Paramount
    Amazon wins when it comes to convenience. Most customers prefer researching and buying products online.
  • Efficiency Matters
    Customers look for what saves them time. If it is not readily available to order or purchase, or if shipping is not fast, customers will walk away from a purchase.
  • Price Matters—but Quality Matters More
    Customers want the best quality for the lowest price. They are willing to pay more for a product when convenience and customer service are perceived to be superior.

There are a few nuggets of wisdom for authors in this study and its findings. Here are two lessons from this study that can help you sell more books.

1. Your books must be available in multiple channels for buyers to purchase.

Believe it or not, not everyone shops on Amazon. Your book needs to be available for purchase (and quick delivery) at the places where your readers shop. Having your book available for purchase on Amazon and your website is not enough. Make sure your books are in wider distribution so that they are conveniently available to more people.

2. Your book’s price affects sales.

One of the best rules to follow when independently publishing a book is simply this: Follow the industry standard. When pricing your book, this means that your book is priced in the same range as other books in its genre that are published by the large industry publishing houses.

Since print-on-demand is more expensive per book than offset printing (printing large numbers of books at once of 1,000 or more copies), independently published authors often price their books higher than industry standard. Pricing high allows the author to make a decent return on each book sold. However, pricing your book higher than other books in your genre can result in a loss of sales. Remember, people are looking for the best quality at the lowest price. If a reader is considering purchasing your book or another book on the same topic, if the books appear equal in quality, the reader will opt for the lower-priced book.

Book buyers are shoppers and they, like most consumers, prefer convenience, efficiency, and good deals.

Related Posts:
Do You Know What it Takes to Sell a Book?
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Are eBook Sales Stagnating?

eBooks lost a little bit of sales ground in the third quarter of 2014, according to data from the latest survey of book-buying behavior from Nielsen Books & Consumers. Here is what this survey found for sales of books from January through September 2014:

flatline

  • eBooks accounted for 21% of book unit sales
  • Paperback Books made up 43% of book unit sales
  • Hardcover Books were 25% of book unit sales

In 2013, statistics showed that ebook sales increases were slowing. In other words, ebook sales were not growing at the same rate in 2013 that they had been in 2012. It appears that ebook sales continued to slow in 2014, creating a bit of an uptick in sales of print books.

Nielson’s recent book-buying behavior survey also showed where print books are being purchased:

  • 39% of books are purchased through e-commerce outlets (led by Amazon)
  • 21% of books are purchased through bookstore chains

For ebook sales, Amazon continues to be the leader with 57% of readers reporting buying ebooks through this retailer in 2014. Amazon’s closest competitor is Barnes & Noble, where 14% of reader purchased ebooks via the Nook store in 2014. Interestingly, only 6% of readers reported buying ebooks through the Apple store.

While it does appear that sales growth for ebooks is stagnating, keep in mind that digital books command one-fifth of all book sales. That means that about one out of every five books sold is an ebook. So, if you sell only ebooks, the growth of sales may not be where you hope they are. On the other hand, if you sell both print and digital copies of your books, you have your basis covered for maximizing book sales.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while the growth of ebook sales is stagnating in the United States, it is growing in other parts of the world. This growth will especially be seen in developing countries where the use of smart phones is growing, allowing readers easy access to digital books. Making sure that your ebooks are available for sale worldwide is one way to tap into this growing ebook market.

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