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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Print Books vs. eBooks...Is there a Winner?

If you've read anything on the above subject, you understand how confusing the subject is. At one point, a month or so ago, I read something about ebooks outselling print books by 20%. The other day I saw an article exclaiming that in 2017 ebooks will over take the printed word. Wait, these are conflicting views. Which is right? Or are they both correct.

It turns out that both the above statements are true. There's just a qualifier or two that needs to be added to either/both. At this time in the fiction genre ebooks out sell print books 3 to 2. At least that's what I found on the web this morning. That number is subject to change depending on what source you choose to use. But, and this is the big catch, nonfiction print books far outsell ebooks – something like 2 to 1 as far as I could discern. That's substantial if you are a nonfiction author.

Since I write dystopian fiction, let's stick to that world for now.

First, ebooks

In the ebook world of fiction, Amazon has an approximate 65% market share (again, it depends on your source and I'm summarizing from two or three consistent sources I found). Barnes and Noble captures about 11% of the market followed by iBook (Apple). Apple has about 8% of the ebook share in this country. Depending on who you believe Apple has overtaken B&N slightly this past year - or - they are still fairly even - or - B&N is still ahead. All I know for sure is they are both lightyears behind Amazon. All other sources make up the remainder of the market (approximately 13%).

My summary of ebooks tells me this: you should have your fiction novel in ebook format and you should at the very least be on Amazon. This way your book will have maximum exposure.

But don't forget about B&N, iBooks, Sony Reader, and others. If you are too myopic with your sales it would seem you are leaving money on the table. If you sell 65 books this month on Amazon, applied logic from above suggests that you might expect to sell 11 on B&N and another 8 or so on iBooks. If you sell at $2.99, that's another $37 or so in commissions. Not a huge number, but money's money.

The flip side; Printed Books

If you are selling 100 ebooks a month, logic dictates you may be able to sell 66 print book to boot. Remember, digital outsells print 3 to 2, but they are not mutually exclusive. Depending on your price point and commission structure you could easily make another $130 bottom line commission from print sales. And that's nothing to sneeze at folks.

Now, if you happen to be a nonfiction author, forget everything I just said. Depending on your genre and the type of book you create (textbook vs cookbook vs historical) print sales outpace ebooks by 2 to 1. You HAVE TO have hard copies of your books available for sale. Whether on Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, or even your own website, it is crucial you have tangible books for sale.

But don't forget ebooks. The cost of converting a manuscript into eBook format is negligible nowadays and in a lot of cases you can do it yourself. The bottom line here is to keep all your options open.

Okay, have I confused you completely? Well, I hope not. Do your homework and you'll be able to figure out how much time, effort, and money to spend on the creation of either format. The info is out there...and there's lots of it. Just don't necessarily believe the first article you read. It always helps to get as many opinions as you can.

Something for my readers

Research also shows that as many as 60% of all downloaded/purchased ebooks never get read. Can that really be true? Certainly not the buyers of my fiction, right? I'm sure every last book sold has been read cover to cover by now. Perhaps two or three times in some cases. At least I hope so.


Until next time, stay cool this summer. Sit in the shade and read a great book.


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