The latest Author Earnings report foretells a reversal of the ongoing trend of publishers’ declining ebook revenues.
For the past couple years the Author Earnings report has detailed the rise of indie authors in the ebook market, but the October report shows that Amazon and other small and medium publishers gained market share at the expense of indie authors:
Data Guy explained it thusly:
During the five short months since May, it seems that indies have somehow lost their market share gains of the preceding 18 months. This has been counterbalanced to a limited extent by a slight uptick in traditionally-published unit sales: both Big Five and Small/Medium Traditional Publishers have each gained roughly 1% in market share. But most of the lost indie market share seems to have instead gone to Amazon Imprints, who have gained a whopping 4% in market share.
That’s depressing news, but curiously enough it is not reflected in the gross sales stats. indies took a serious hit in revenues, and so did the Big Five.
Small publishers and Amazon were the ones which truly gained market share this quarter, but it is hard to say whether that will continue.
This could be a sign that the major publishers are rethinking their pricing policies, but that is unlikely given that a later section of the report shows that the Big Five are still pricing their ebooks at at higher price points.
At best I would say that the market has entered another period of flux, disruption, but that’s not the only theory. Author Louisa Locke laied out a plausible alternative in the comment section of The Passive Voice:
I know that a lot of the most successful hybrid authors have gone wide this year (gotten out of KDP select) because they were not happy with the loss of sales that the introduction of KU was producing. If some of the most popular author’s books are no longer in KU, this means that their books are not going to be as visible–since page reads definitely gives a book an edge–hence their sales will be down even more on Amz. However, many of them also report that sales that iBooks in particular (added to Nook and Kobo sales) are in many cases taking up the slack. So only a study looking at ebook sales everywhere would be able to see if the drop on Amz is really just a shift in where sales are happening.
In addition, my impression is that the success of Amz imprints (which are in KU) is in part because these books are still in KU–and now have less competition from popular indies there, and the fact that Amazon has been promoting their imprints rather than promoting indies with things like Kindle First, etc.
Do you think she’s right?