Welcome back to our new Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.


[ Originally posted: December 17th, 2008 ]

Bowker, the global leader in bibliographic information management, recently released 2007 book publishing statistics compiled from its Books In Print database. Based on figures from U.S. publishers, Bowker is projecting that U.S. title output  last year increased slightly from 2006 to almost 300,000 books. That’s over a quarter of a million books published in one year alone.

Here’s another interesting statistic, while traditional book publishing was basically flat last year, there was a staggering rise in the reported number of on-demand and short-run books to 134,773, pushing the grand total for projected 2007 U.S. book output to 411,422 books. In fact, Bowker has planned to separate this particular output from its traditional reporting and has begun tracking the On Demand industry segment separately.

What does this mean for you? To begin, your book may not stock in every bookstore. Or any bookstore. And it’s entirely possible that you may not want it to.

As a self-publishing author, these statistics undoubtedly suggest your sales opportunities will continue to grow and become more profitable. Sales are shifting from offline to online. More and more people are becoming comfortable with (and even accustomed to) shopping online. Selling books online is more cost-effective than selling through a typical bookstore, and that means more money in your pocket. It’s no coincidence that Amazon’s book sales numbers mirror the same increases on an annual bases. That’s good news.

It’s been said before on this blog, make sure your self-publishing choice lets you set your own retail price, royalty, and discount to take maximum advantage of shifting consumer trends.

Something to keep in mind as you wrap up your writing and begin the publishing process.

Have fun and keep writing.

– Karl Schroeder

Well, it should come as a surprise to no one that Bowker has updated its data sets since we first wrote this blog back in 2008–and the news is, unsurprisingly, mixed but mostly positive when it comes to the world of indie and self-published authors!  The newest report, which covers industry data for precisely the years that have elapsed since our original post (2008-2013), shows that the market for ebooks as well as self-published books has mostly stabilized.

Bowker Report

Here’s what’s changed: while overall, the growth of print and ebook sales has proven to be exponential (436.53% in five years––not bad!), the rate has slowed to a still-impressive 16.56% between 2012 and 2013.  There’s no reason to believe that this should be interpreted as a “slow-down” rather than a natural stabilization, as the Bowker report breaks down the percentage of increase or decrease by indie, hybrid, or self-publishing company.  The fact that some companies are proving to be breakout successes (Smashwords and Blurb, for example) while others have seen steady growth, others slight decline, simply goes to show that the self-publishing market has responded to increased pressures by diversifying and steadying.  Says Bowker Director of Identifier Services, Beat Barblan, self-publishing is “evolving from a frantic, wild-west style space to a more serious business.”  There’s also the lovely little fact that, in 2013, there were as many self-published works (458,564 to be precise!) as there were total titles published in 2007 (including those published by traditional means).

Ebook sales continue to account for the majority of percentage increase in terms of sales over the last five years, which may provide some guidance as you move forward in selecting your self-publisher.  Whatever avenue or company you choose, take a good long look at both the Bowker report and your own personal desires when it comes to sales margins and profits.  You get to call the shots, so make sure they’re on target with the most up-to-date information.  And the verdict is in: the statistics still suggest good news for you, the self-publishing author! 

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

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