Generally speaking, self-published books don’t get into chain bookstores, and they only get into indie bookstores if the author makes a significant effort. As someone planning to self-publish, I was wondering the other day about how much of the market I’d be cutting myself off from. What market share do online book sales enjoy? So I did a search, and found some tables and graphs here. If I’m interpreting this information correctly, online sales of books and music passed sales in brick and mortar stores back in 2007, and in 2009 comprised 55% of total book sales. That figure is trending upward, so I wouldn’t be surprised if online sales were in the 60% range by the end of this year.
In addition to that, according to the Association of American Publishers, in February of 2011, ebooks were the #1 format of all book sales, and “year-to-date 2011 vs YTD 2010: E-Books increased by 169.4% while all categories combined of print Trade books (Hardcover, Paperback and Mass Market) declined by 24.8%.” This figure (of ebook sales) may be less than actual. (Read Kris Rusch’s analysis of traditional publishers reporting of ebook royalties and her update here.) Since ebook sales are made online, this bodes well for authors marketing their books there.
Amazon currently enjoys 90% of online book sales. That figure is likely to drop in the next five years to 35%, splitting the market with Apple and Google. But it will be 35% of a larger total, making their absolute income even higher than it is today. They probably won’t have the difficulty that Borders is enduring. And any author with a brain will have her books listed in all three places.
No author wants to cut herself off from 45% of the market, but I’d rather think of the glass being 55% full. This year.