Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Print-on-Demand and Kindle Sales - A Comparison Revisited: Opportunity for Authors Who Self-Publish

Forbes magazine recently ran an article discussing the publishing industry's current attitude and misunderstanding of the ebook revolution in the publishing industry. The Publishing Maven posted a short blog post about this article.

Forbes states Amazon has for the first time sold more Kindle books than print books. Publisher's attitudes range from dismay to denial, claiming Amazon is simply making up the numbers. Perhaps buggy makers reacted the same way when automobiles first began to appear on the roads.

I think publishers are missing the point, and the opportunity, ebooks offer. One publisher complains there is less profit to be made in ebooks. For the publisher perhaps, but not for authors who self-publish directly and bypass the traditional publisher. Yes, the industry is changing but it does not mean publishing will no longer be profitable. It simply means the source of revenue is going to come from a different type of book, in this case digital instead of print.

Editors, designers and cover artists will still be necessary and might make a better living working as freelancers contracting directly with authors. Some of the big publishing houses will survive because they will adapt in time. Others will not. Self-publishing, I predict, will become more common and accepted in the publishing world. 

In my opinion, it is the move to self-publish and not the print-on-demand print model or ebooks driving the change in the publishing world. POD and ebooks are allowing authors to self-publish and make more money doing so. This, and not changes in technology, is what will lead to the demise of many of the traditional publishing houses.
In an earlier post I shared sales figures for the past few months of my print-on-demand paper books and Kindle sales. Today, even with a few hours left for books to sell, I totaled up my sales for the month of May. My books are seasonal to some extent in sales. Summer months are significantly slower. This May sales for print books dropped significantly from previous months but were still nearly double from a year ago in May of 2010 (note to self - you have got to find a way to get your customers to buy books year round!).

Kindle sales dropped this month as well but I still sold 63 Kindle books, only 4 fewer books than print books sold.

The one trend I have noticed since I introduced Kindle editions of several of my books is sales for ALL of my books have increased significantly, particularly the books available in both POD and Kindle editions. My best guess concerning this jump is Amazon must be combing the sales results for both versions, boosting each version higher in the search results.

My best selling Kindle book, The Game of Basketball, shows up first for an Amazon search for "basketball" and second for "coaching basketball." Game Strategy and Tactics for Basketball shows up third on Amazon for a search of coaching basketball. The Game of Basketball today was listed 7th in books and Game Strategy and Tactics for Basketball was listed 4th. 

Game Strategy and Tactics for Basketball is my best selling book in paperback and has sold well for two years. The introduction of the Kindle edition has not hurt sales of the print-on-demand edition and the past basketball season was the best yet for sales of this book. The Game of Basketball languished as a paperback with disappointing sales on Amazon. The introduction of the Kindle edition not only took off as a Kindle book, but seems to be driving sales of the paperback version as well.  The Game of Basketball has steadily climbed in Amazon paper book rankings and sales.

Perhaps what publishers resent is the opportunity for authors to self-publish and simply bypass the publishing houses. Publishers also seem to resent Amazon's role in all of this as well as the technology driving the changes.

People are still reading, and buying books, and this is a good thing. Technology and online retailers like Amazon are making it possible for authors to have direct access to distribution and customers, bypassing the old publishing gatekeepers. Books, editors, designers and authors are not going anywhere. Publishers might be going the way of buggy makers.