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.
- 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?
Something that isn’t addressed in the graph is gay and lesbian fiction. E-books became very popular, because no one could see WHAT you were reading on your Kindle. This may change with the mainstreaming of gay and lesbian characters into popular fiction.
An interesting point, thanks! If I find any data on that, I’ll be sure to share 🙂
Reblogged this on Books and More.
Thanks Nicholas. It seems I might have made a good decision to split my fantasy novel into smaller volumes when it was heading past the 120,000 word mark.
As to e-books, I didn’t think I would take to them so well, but I love my tablet and love the ease of holding it to read, not to mention the lighting.
Same here! And yes, I think you made the right choice 🙂
Interesting information, Nicholas. Have a great week. 🙂 — Suzanne
Thanks – you too! 🙂
This is fascinating. I would not have thought that YA is read by so many adults, but it does make sense that in this fast-paced world, people would opt for quick reads. I wonder what the numbers are for short story readers – up or down?
I hear short stories are getting increasingly popular, but am still waiting for the numbers 🙂
I suspect that may be why romance is popular: short, fast reads.
Very true. I have a friend who’s a romance author. She’s currently rewriting her debut novel, with the explicit aim of making the language easier.
That may be true, but most are feel good reads, too. I think that is part of the draw.
Such a subjective thing, good reads, isn’t it? 😀
Good reads – the reason my TBR is tumbling. 😀
True. Teens prefer doomed love, the supernatural, and dystopian novels. 🙂
That’s why I don’t review teen books. I can’t get into any of the above. My grandsons read nothing but dystopian.
It’s surprising they don’t read more 19th century romantic authors, then 😀
True! Still, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and William Wordsworth are studied in school, with Poe being the most popular.
Judging by the way we were taught Herodotus, the way school teaches literature somehow manages to take all fun out of it 🙂
Reblogged this on Barrow Blogs and commented:
Never sure how I feel about eBooks – great for convenience but I love holding a ‘proper’ book
Fascinating post and analysis. Thanks!
Thanks, glad you enjoyed it 🙂
I read in Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (the author is the founder of Smashwords) that the ebook revolution has yet to hit most countries outside the United States, BUT that the trend is growing and will explode just like it did in the US.
Living in Greece, I agree with that assessment 🙂
Data is always intriguing. Shows past trends and behavior patterns. People’s habits are so odd, just when you think they are predictable, though…
I know. Plus, there always seems to be another trend down the line. I mean, Rubic’s cube, anyone?
These stats are always interesting. Yet, I have to admit, I read them and then keep writing what I’m writing:)
Lol – best attitude there is, as far as I’m concerned 🙂
Reblogged this on Armand Rosamilia.
This is great news, IMO. I couldn’t live without my e-reader, read all of my books on screen. My husband, on the other hand, refuses to get with this century and needs to hold a physical book. Hey, at least he’s reading, right?
Lol – you’re just like me, whereas your husband’s just like Electra 😀
Why does THAT not surprise me? LOL
Lol – I know 😀
Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
Interesting look at the statistics for book sales based on the last ten years and looking at print vs. Ebooks and also individual genres.. courtesy of Nicholas Rossis thanks.
Fascinating numbers. I still root for real paper books. I have many downloaded on my Kindle but avoid reading electronic books, although I like the convenience of having a library in my purse.
Lol – you’re just like my wife 🙂
Old habits are hard to break, and I do mean that in the literal sense. 😀 😀
Wow, I didn’t realize that. Thanks for the info.
Thanks and welcome! 🙂
That’s a great way of looking at it! I’m reminded of various studies that show how the commons scare of people no longer reading don’t take into account changing technologies. For example, a large number of people nowadays read on their mobile phones.
Great information, Nicholas! Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend!
Thanks, glad you found it interesting! 🙂
Interesting how romance is routinely at the top. I wonder if that shows there are more female readers. Kind of like how you would find the Harlequin romance displays in stores, but nothing like that for guys. Do you think the ‘romance sale superiority’ trend has been going on longer than people realize?
Quite possible. I confess to being unfamiliar with pre-ebook trends 🙂
Same here. I barely pay attention to the current trends. Just typing away at my own little world, which might not be the best idea. Keep getting told that I need to be more businessman than artist.
Sad but true for both of us…
Is it really that sad?
A friend of mine sent me this by email the other day:
“I frequently browse the Amazon best-seller list, trying to locate self-published books among the likes of James Patterson. It’s easy to spot them from the cover: half-naked guys. What I do next, is see if the author has published two dozen books before. Most of the times, she has. But there are times, as is the case with Kim Linwood, where you get a first-time author who self-publishes a book and gets the kind of sales that earns her some 100K month.
Needless to say, I tracked her down. No blog, 94 Twitter followers, 200 FB Likes, that’s it. BUT she caught the current wave: stepbrother romances. Girl meets bad boy, falls for him and on his bed only to find out that their parents are about to get hitched. Or the parents have just hitched, and girl meets stepbrother and falls for him. There’s the naughty, forbidden element (it sounds like incest, but it’s not) that somehow works for readers. This girl tagged the book as such, published two weeks ago, and she’s got herself a best-seller.”
Wow. I really don’t know what to think about that. Honestly, part of me wants to get a beer for some reason.
Join the club… Although I’d probably go for something stronger 😀
Only other things here are vodka and bourbon. Also some really harsh whiskey.
Interesting stuff, there ! ☺ Van
Glad you liked it 🙂
It is always good to see figures confirming feelings. I had always asserted that serious readers would continue to buy real books, especially in the case of non-fiction. I have also always been aware (though constantly surprised) that romantic fiction was consistently dominant, but I am pleased to see the increase in the youth market, and to know that they are still reading.
Best wishes from England. Pete.
That’s exactly why I love hard data, Pete! You may have a hunch, but until you see some supporting evidence, it’s hard to know just what’s going on.
Great post, Nicholas, thanks! I was especially intrigued by “80% of YA purchases are by adult readers, for adult readers.”
Yes, that was quite surprising, wasn’t it?
What constitutes an “adult,” however? I find people in their early twenties read them, but usually not 40-year-olds! Working in a bookstore, my surprise is how many teen girls buy hard copies rather than eBooks.
Interesting! Yes, the borders, so to speak, don’t seem to be fixed.
Interesting article. I am planning to publish my first on Kindle. My next, which is the travel book – for that I want to publish it in print
Whichever road you take, may your journey be pleasant! 🙂