The Current State of Book Sales

Are ebook sales growing? Are indie published book sales growing? What percentage of print books are purchased on Amazon?

These are questions I hear a lot. Fortunately, the people over at Author Earnings do a great job of putting out reports that reflect not only what is happening in the overall book purchasing market, but also the market for indie published books.

Author Earnings most recent report covers book sales for the last three quarters of 2017. I am going to summarize a few of the salient points here. If you want to read the entire report, you can do so on the Author Earnings website.

Bookscan captures between 70 to 80 percent of all hardcover and paperback book purchases in the United States (both physical and online purchases). Author Earnings only looks at online book purchases. Here are some of their findings.

  • Over half of all print books are purchased online. In 2017, 45.5% of all print book were purchased through Amazon. Did you catch that? Almost half of all print books alone are sold through Amazon. Amazon is a giant in the world of book sales!
  • The Indie share of the book market continues to grow, especially in the ebook realm. Indie published titles made up 28% (284 out of the top 1,000) of the top selling ebook authors in the United States.
  • The sweet spot for pricing an ebook is still $2.99 to $4.99. eBooks in this price range sold the most units on Amazon.

One of the big takeaways from Author Earnings most recent report was the highlighting of how vastly different the top selling genres for print and ebooks are.

eBook sales are largely fiction. Romance readers largely purchase digital books—90% of all romance purchases are ebooks. Science Fiction & Fantasy readers also prefer the digital format—75% of all this category is now ebook and audio. However, Children’s books are still largely print purchases, as are Poetry (82%) and Drama & Plays (85%).

According to Author Earnings, the top 10 Print and eBook genres in 2017 were:

Indie publishing is truly becoming mainstream. Of course, this means more competition for all authors as the number of books published continues to grow. The Author Earnings reports is full great information that you can use to both effectively price and position your books for more sales.

Related Posts:
Sales of Indie Books Continue to Grow
Are You Considering Publishing a Book?
Global eBook Sales are Within Your Reach

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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:


  • 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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