Monday, September 28, 2015

The Truth About Ebook Sales, Oyster’s Failure, and Apple Goes to the Supreme Court

Karen Jones Gowen is visiting the Insecure Writer’s Support Group today with tips on how to query a small press.

Fortune ran this article last week: Apple Will Ask Supreme Court to Hear its Ebooks Price-Fixing Case. That’s right, Apple is taking this thing all the way to the top. Do you think they have a chance?



Book Business Magazine ran an article about why Oyster failed:

“But mostly, it is the publishers that killed Oyster, because there was never much interest in seeing it succeed as it challenged their existing and highly profitable ebook business model in their home market.”

There are other ebook subscription services out there, such as Bookmate and Amazon Unlimited. But will they succeed? Is it good or bad for authors?


This one at Talking New Media was really interesting. They wrote that the NYTimes cited monthly sales stats from the AAP and claimed ebook sales were declining. But these figures aren’t accurate.

The 1,200 publishers polled represent only 46% of the publishers out there. (It also included the big five.) According to the article:


“That difference is especially important because the Big Five are the same five publishers which negotiated agency contracts last fall and spring, giving themselves more control over their ebook prices. According to the WSJ, the new contracts resulted in higher ebook prices and fewer eBooks sold.
“And it’s not just the WSJ; there’s independent confirmation in terms of ebook sales in the Kindle Store. According to the Author Earnings report, the share of Kindle ebook unit sales represented by AAP members has dropped from 45% to 32%.”

So, while the bigger publishers are seeing their ebook sales decline, smaller publishers and self-publishers are not because they understand lower, competitive pricing. Think the big boys will ever figure that out?


Just a reminder about the IWSG Anthology Contest.
It’s open to all IWSG blog and Facebook members and the deadline is November 1st.
See the IWSG site for the full scoop.


42 comments:

Elsie Amata said...

I don't think the big boys will ever figure that out. They want the big bucks.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Not surprised the big publishers don't do as well with e-books. They cannot be shared like print books but they cost almost the same.

Murees Dupé said...

I noticed that e-books by traditionally published authors will go for twice the price of their paperback. Why, I don't understand. Perhaps they are forcing the reader to either buy the lower priced paperbacks? But it's good to know that indie authors are still selling lots of e-books:)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's good to know eBooks aren't declining.

Arlee Bird said...

All I know is that I'm not interested in paying top prices for ebooks if I can have a hard copy for almost the same price. However, if I had an ereader that I got into the habit of using then I'd probably get the 99 cent books.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

No, I honestly despair that they'll ever figure it out at the big publishers. I've seen one of my ebooks as high as $10 on Amazon. Ugh.

Thanks for keeping us up to date, Diane.

Christine Rains said...

I think the big guys will stick to their guns until two or three of them fall, and then the last ones will realize the reality of it and adapt.

Karen Lange said...

I don't know if the big boys will figure it out. On one hand they can be so smart, on the other, not so much. Happy Monday!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Diane - it's certainly a quagmire out there for ebooks etc. But I'm glad ebooks and books keep going ... for at least a decade we'll need to read proper books still. Interesting to see what happens with Apple's case .. cheers Hilary

randi lee said...

Now that's some interesting stuff, Diane. I wonder what's going to happen with Apple? I'll keep my ears to the ground for news on that case, for sure!

Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

it would certainly be nice if they did, and eventually they might but I think it's a long time in coming.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Natalie, and that is a crime they cost that much.

Murees, paperbacks are so expensive to produce, so it doesn't make sense to me.

Randi Lee, I still don't think Apple was in the wrong. Maybe they will win their case.

Mason Canyon said...

It's good to know the smaller publishers and self-publishers are doing okay despite the problems the bigger publishers seem to be having or maybe it's because of the problems the bigger ones are creating for themselves.

Bish Denham said...

Yup until they get their prices down I'm not paying as much for an ebook as I would for a hard copy. No doubt in time, the Big Guys will get their act together and realize they can make more $$ by selling in volume.

Hart Johnson said...

What is measured definitely makes a difference in eBooks and the size and direction of growth BUT I have talked to a lot of authors who have done much more poorly this year than in past years. I think the market is a bit glutted and serious authors need to think of some system of quality control so the authors really doing what they should can still reach readers. A peer-review stamp of approval sort of process, maybe.

Jo said...

The trouble is the prices they charge sometimes. Brandon Sanderson has a new book out and the Kindle version is $15 something. Ridiculous.

Ann Bennett said...

I'm glad the indies have an edge somewhere. That said, it does not bode well for a writer's bottom line. The glut of 99¢ ebooks discourage sales of more costly books. People can only read so much. The big five have a serious point that needs to be respected.
I think Amazon unlimited should share profits with any book listed whether consumers read it or not. This is a draw for their subscription services. Paying writer's for the number of pages read is a great way for them to keep more of the profits.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I read the same evaluation about ebook sales. They really aren't declining or leveling out at all except for the big publishers. The entire original report is very misleading and bad reporting. I don't think those book services are good for writers at all.

Chrys Fey said...

Then I'm glad I'm with a small publisher. ;)

Karen Walker said...

Thanks for keeping us so well informed, Diane. It's hard to know what to believe and whom to trust.

Sherry Ellis said...

It's good to see ebooks are doing well, but I hope they don't cause the demise of paperbacks. Even though paperbacks are more expensive to produce, it's nice to have a product you can read without the use of technology.

cleemckenzie said...

I wish I could figure out what the BIG GUYS are thinking about anything. I'm just pleased to see more options for writers. Bet they aren't that keen on those options.


Can't wait to see what the IWSG Anthology looks like.

Robin said...

I think the kindle (and E-books) are here to stay.

J E Oneil said...

Funny how you can manipulate statistics to get any answer that you want. And no, I really don't think the big boys will figure it out. They'll probably just raise prices even higher.

nashvillecats2 said...

I read your post with enjoyment and interest, I don't know much about E Books, so have learned something today.
Yvonne.

Patricia Stoltey said...

There are definite advantages to going with a medium or small publisher, and e-book pricing is one. Those big guys will figure it out someday, if they survive that long.

Tammy Theriault said...

The numbers don't lie! I DO wonder what will happen with that Apple case...

Laura Marcella said...

Do I think the big boys will ever figure it out? They probably already have. The question is, will they change? Probably not. The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior, and most people don't like admitting they've been doing it wrong.

Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

Heather M. Gardner said...

It's all still very confusing to me.
My small publisher just joined Oyster, so I don't know what will happen with that.
I know my book sales have declined just about everywhere. :)

Heather

Medeia Sharif said...

I only pay for high-priced ebooks if I absolutely have to have the book and I'm a huge fan of the author. I wait for Kindle deals and other sales on other high-priced ebooks.

Crystal Collier said...

I read about that--the big pubs trying to claim ebooks are dropping in popularity. Idiots. There have been so many ebooks I looked at purchasing and decided against it because the cost was ridiculous for an ebook. At that point I just go to the library and they lose a sell completely.

David P. King said...

Yeah. This has been a question of mine now that I'm dabbling into self publishing. With our economy, folks will gravity towards 2.99 over 9.99 for an ebook any day. And .99, even more so. No brainer. :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Mason, either way works.

Hart, that would be good if something like that was in place. I know authors who still insist they don't need an editor.

Sherry, unfortunately, that's the draw. Print books are so much more expensive to produce.

Laura, you are so right.

Heather, Oyster is another good place to sell ebooks.

M Pax said...

I usually look for print w/ traditional publishers. They charge too much for an ebook. Sometimes they have exceptions. It should be more often than sometimes, though.

shelly said...

Interesting discussion here.

Loni Townsend said...

Maybe the big publishers sees a different set of numbers? I tend to wonder what the POV of some people are, when it seems clear to the rest of us.

Yolanda Renee said...

I was shocked to see ebooks at 15.99 and up.
I wonder what the authors of those houses think?

I've got my submission ready, I think. LOL

Just need to find someone to do a line edit.

Maurice Mitchell said...

By raising prices they guarantee that book sales will decline. Maybe they're hoping it will increase physical book sales.

Romance Reader said...

Thanks for this informative and interesting post.

Tyrean Martinson said...

I don't know that they will figure it out anytime soon. Sadly, with B&N doing so badly and many small bookstore owners barely making it, I'm not sure where book sales are going to go at all. I'm not a a big fan of gatekeeper attitude, but I do want to still see traditional bookstores surviving even if they mainly shelve those gatekeeper company books. I like paper books.

Nicki Elson said...

Maybe the execs at the big publishing houses should be required to take a refresher course in basic economics. But let's hope they don't figure out the pricing issue for a while - go #TeamIndie!

Robert Bennett said...

I feel like I missed something very big recently. Time to go do some research. Thanks for the article!