From the Archives: “Self-Publishing Statistics – Trends in E-book Consumerism”

Welcome back to our 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: June 6th, 2012 ]

Since November 2009, Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading, a survey conducted by Book Industry Study Group’s (BISG), has been tracking the habits and preferences of book consumers who have acquired an e-book or a dedicated e-reading device within the past 18 months. The report shows important information for authors and publishers. Not only do the findings squash the pessimistic rumors that the publishing industry is dying, but the report also gives authors and publishers a glimpse at the future of publishing. Here is an overview of some of the most interesting and hopeful statistics.

  • Readers’ preference for designated e-readers has dropped from 72% to 58%, while readers’ preference for multi-functional tablets has increased from 13% to 24%.
  • The Apple iPad was not the preferred tablet; instead, readers choose non-Apple devices, such as those offered by Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
  • More than 62% of survey respondents reported an increase in dollars spent on e-books.
  • More than 72% of survey respondents reported an increase in the number of e-books they are purchasing.

The movement from e-readers to tablets is important for authors and publishers to be aware of because it offers insight to what readers want. As multi-functional tablet devices become more popular, authors and publishers will be expected to produce a richer, more interactive e-book experience. In addition, the increase in e-book sales is great news for authors and publishers. It shows that there is a demand for great writing and that publishing, though in a new format, is still alive. If you are considering self-publishing a book, be sure to consider offering both a print and electronic version of your book. This will ensure that you appeal to both e-book and print consumers.

– by Kelly Shuknecht

We’ve written about the changes in the long-term outlook for e-books more recently than this 2012 post, but I think it’s important to look a little further back in time–to a moment in the history of e-books when it looked as though both print and e-book models might have unlimited growth possibilities.  But of course, they don’t–unlimited growth often looks possible in the early stages of a new market, only to slow and eventually plateau when that market’s growth reaches a balance with existing ones.

Bowker Report

In the case of e-books, the market held steady through some fairly revolutionary changes within the distribution platform––from dedicated e-readers to iPads and tablets to mobile––but the bottom ultimately dropped out after Hachette and Amazon resolved their price-fixing dispute.  And I have to be careful when I weigh the consequences of this dispute, since one of the oft-quoted reasons Hachette brought its suit in the first place was to negotiate better terms for its authors.  One of the end results has been, of course, that booksellers and publishers were able to jack up their prices for e-books, often reducing the price difference between print and e-book editions to a pittance.  And if buying an e-book saves readers just two or three dollars off of a print price (often in excess of $20 for new books), the preference for the weight of a print book in hand wins out.

Or at least, that’s what sales figures are showing. People still read print books.  And they’re not about to stop reading e-books either, due to their portability.  But there’s no getting around it: “Consumer behavior has changed,” says Randy Petway, Chief Revenue Officer at Ingenta.  When asked by Publishing Perspectives what the greatest challenge facing publishers today might be, he responded that it’s “Understanding and adapting to the way content is bought and read since the rise of digital publishing.”  We may have reached a new equilibrium in the quantity of e-books sold, but we have yet to fully contextualize this new market in other ways––including finance and law. This place we’ve reached is a messy one, as Petway reminds us, but it’s also rife with opportunities.  What will be our next step forward?

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠

From the Archives: “Statistics Suggest Good News for the Self-Publishing Author”

Welcome back to our 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.

by Karl Schroeder

While in many ways the e-book and digital book industries have stabilized, reaching a kind of balance with print publishing in the wake of Hachette’s price-fixing settlement with Amazon, much has changed.  Nielson, for example, is reporting that “in 2014, US publishers sold almost 142.5 million adult fiction titles in the three major print formats (hardback, trade paperback and mass market paperback) and 132 million ebooks (across all platforms).”  To put that in the context of Karl’s original statistics, Publisher’s Weekly and Bowker both reported that earlier, in 2013, “the number of self-published titles rose [by] 16.5%, to 458,564. The increase was due entirely to the release of new print books which rose 28.8% to 302,622 offsetting a decline in self-published e-books which fell 1.6%, to 155,942.”  In less than a decade, then, the number of self-published books outpaced the total number of books of ALL kinds published in the United States in 2007.  Not only that, but there are now more self-published print books alone being published each yer than there were traditionally published books in 2007.

But what does this mean for you, the indie author, in 2016?

First of all, it means you’re not just on the cutting edge any more–you’re part of a phenomenon.  And because self-publishing is in some ways the new normal, that presents both some very good and some very hard news.  Good news first: there are loads more resources out there and available to you now than there were a decade ago.  You can probably find a “how-to” step-by-step guide for each and every aspect of self-publishing just by hopping on Google and typing in a few keywords.  Need to convert your book to a new format or launch a fresh marketing campaign?  There are entire companies out there that specialize in such things, now.

The hard news is this: self-publishing has more or less lost its novelty.  It’s a stable market niche that has gained a lot of attention and a fair bit of respect over the years, and it’s clearly not going anywhere.  Libraries have policies in place as to whether they can add self-published books to their collections, and bookstores like the Tattered Cover in Denver and the Amazon Bookstores now dedicate entire shelves to self-published titles.  Algorithms have been tweaked.  News has been made.  And all of this presents a bit of a challenge to you, the indie author.  How to stand out in such a crowded marketplace–and for the right reasons?

Luckily, I have one last bit of good news.  Well, I guess it’s more a statement that comes full circle.  If you take care with your book, and give it the time and energy and focused attention that it deserves–or rely upon the assistance and advice of paid professionals to do so–then your book will stand out.  It has always been the case that readers can recognize a well put-together title from across the bookstore, library, and even airport.  A beautiful cover, a polished jacket, a carefully managed marketing campaign: all of these things are within your reach, thanks to the hard work of many who have gone before.  And if you stick around on Self-Publishing Advisor, you just might stumble across the exact insight you need in my Wednesday marketing strategies posts, Elizabeth’s Thursday reflections as a longtime industry expert, Royalene’s Friday perspectives as a successful self-publishing author, and our other posts throughout the week.

If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, 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,



Spooky Self Publishing Statistics

Happy Halloween everyone! In honor of this spooky holiday, I want to share some self-publishing statistics that may shock you. Don’t be afraid; just keep reading.

As you can see, self publishing is a popular option in the publishing industry. Despite the tough economy, self publishing is thriving. If you have been waiting for the perfect time to self publish your book, that time could be now.


Wendy Stetina is a sales and marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the printing and publishing industry. Wendy works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; and together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction, or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Wendy Stetina can put you on the right path.