This is the first post of two on the subject of changes in publishing. I came across an interesting post by Jane Friedman on the subject, based on a Nielsen presentation by Jonathan Nowell. Studying the last decade, one can reach a number of interesting conclusions.

When looking at the graph below, it’s interesting to remember that the first Kindle was released in late 2007, while 2011 saw the release of Kindle Fire.

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

by Jane Friedman

  • Fiction ebook sales: Romance started off as the strongest genre in ebook format, and has remained dominant since. Today it constitutes 24% of all ebook sales.
  • Fiction print sales were up 20% from 2004–2009, and have decreased 37% since then (as a result of ebooks picking up momentum).
  • In the latest quarter, adult fiction accounts for 65% of ebook sales.
  • Overall U.S. print book sales in 2014: 37% juvenile, 23% adult fiction, and 40% adult nonfiction. A separate survey has shown that 80% of YA purchases are by adult readers, for adult readers. Part of the appeal for adults seems to be that YA is fast-paced and quick to read—you can finish a book in a day.
  • 2008, the last Kindle-free year, was a peak one for adult fiction. Since then, romance titles have remained pretty steady. However, general fiction has dropped significantly, especially between 2010-2012. The same is true of Mystery/detective, only the squeeze here started in 2009. Other genres that have slumped include Fantasy, Science Fiction and Occult/Psychological/Horror.
  • Do e-book fiction sales cannibalize print fiction sales, then? Not necessarily. From 2008–2010, three mainstay fiction authors sold 27 million print units collectively. From 2010–2012, they sold 23 million print units PLUS 28 million e-book units.
  • As for nonfiction print book sales, they were up 18% from 2004–2009, and have decreased 23% since then. The hardest hit categories: travel (-50%) and reference (-37%). The flourishing categories: religion/Bibles (+43%) and cooking/entertaining (+11%), the latter specifically driven by celebrities.
    The juvenile category (which includes YA) had its best sales year ever in 2014. Sales are up 12% from the prior year.

If you’re interested in further information, the slide pack from Nielsen is full of fascinating data, so feel free to take a look, or read Jane Friedman’s original post for more!

The next post will deal with the recent release of the Publishers Association’s Statistics Yearbook 2014.

If all these numbers give you a headache, why not read my award-winning children’s book, Runaway Smile, for free to clear your head?