Amazon is now selling over one million ebooks a day to bring in nearly $6 million, with indie publishers becoming increasingly dominant as the market share for the Big 5 traditional publishers continues to fall.
A massive new survey by AuthorEarnings shows that in two years, the market share of paid unit sales between indie and Big 5 ebooks has more than reversed. The Big 5 now account for less than a quarter of ebook purchases on Amazon while indies are closing in on 45%.
AuthorEarnings, which is run by best-selling indie author Hugh Howey, says it may be that major publishers are finding it difficult to compete with indie authors on diversity, price, quality, and frequency of publication. It adds that the shift in market share from Big 5 to indies has steepened since the return of agency ebook pricing last year which saw trad publishers making big hikes to their ebook prices.
The aggregate share of indie self-published titles on Amazon’s best-seller lists, at 27%, hasn’t changed since September 2015 and is still more than double the representation of Big 5 titles. But one big change is the extent to which Amazon’s overall Top 20 Best Sellers have come to be dominated by self-published titles from indie authors — and nearly half were sales at prices between $2.99 and $5.99.
On January 10, the date of the AuthorEarnings data collection:
4 of Amazon’s overall Top 10 best-selling ebooks were self-published indie titles.
10 of Amazon’s overall Top 20 best-selling ebooks were self-published indie titles.
56 of Amazon’s overall Top 100 best-selling ebooks were self-published indie titles.
20 of Amazon’s overall Top 100 best-selling ebooks were indie titles priced between $2.99 and $5.99.
I have written several times on this website about the takeover of the best-seller lists by indies and Amazon imprints and I wrote an article on January 15, just a few days after the AE data grab, about how the Big 5 had been totally frozen out of the Amazon.com Kindle Top 10 best-sellers as self-publishers, indie presses and Amazon imprints took all 10 spots — Big Freeze as indies and Amazon imprints sweep Kindle Top 10.
Looking at the share of daily ebooks sold, the survey reveals the market share of indie self-published titles has grown substantially since the September 2015 report, with trad publishing’s market share falling and indie books now accounting for over 42% of all ebook purchases each day on Amazon.com.
AE says some of that indie sales growth is paid Kindle Unlimited borrows but direct retail indie book purchases are also up substantially and account for more than half of the growth.
In fact, AE says on the day of its latest data collection, 20 of Amazon’s overall Top 125 best- selling ebooks were self-published indie titles which were not enrolled in Kindle Unlimited.
The data shows how trad publishers are losing out:
- Fewer than 45% of the ebook purchases each day on Amazon.com are trad-published.
- Only 29% of the ebook purchases each day on Amazon.com get counted in the monthly StatShot reports from the Association of American Publishers.
- 43% of the ebooks bought each day on Amazon are not counted in any traditional industry statistics, such as from Bowker, Nielsen, etc because they don’t have ISBNs.
The survey calculates that in mid-January 2016, Amazon’s US ebook sales were running at a rate of 1,064,000 paid downloads a day. Only around 14% — 155,000 — of this total were through Kindle Unlimited while 909,000 were regular retail ebook purchases.
The full breakdown is:
Amazon’s daily ebook unit sales (January 2016):
Total — 1,064,000
Indie Self-Published ebook Kindle Unlimited full-read equivalents — 155,000
Indie Self-Published regular retail ebook sales — 293,000
Small/Medium Publisher ebook sales — 204,000
Amazon Publishing imprint ebook sales — 115,000
Big 5 publisher ebook sales — 244,000
Uncategorized Single-Author Publisher ebook sales — 53,000
Self-published indie titles accounted for nearly a quarter of all daily gross consumer dollars spent on ebooks on Amazon, with consumers spending around $5,755,000 a day on ebooks on Amazon.com in January —a run rate of over $2.1 billion a year, including more than $1 billion in consumer spending on ebooks not included in industry sales figures from the Association of American Publishers.
Ebook sales on Amazon.com are generating $1,756,000 a day in author earnings.
AuthorEarnings also took a look at print books and audiobooks on Amazon.
The Big 5 holds less than a quarter of print best-seller slots, and their unit sales, dollars, and author royalties are less than half of Amazon’s print business while self-published indie authors have captured a significant share of the author dollars from online print sales.
Amazon’s print book sales have shown continued strength and as of mid-January 2016, Amazon.com’s print sales were running at a rate of 969,000 print books a day.
Self-publishers were found in surprising sectors of the print market, including the adult coloring book sector which was a big success in 2015. In January’s snapshot, 11 out of Amazon’s Top 35 best-selling print books were adult coloring books and 5 of those 11 were self-published coloring books by indie authors.
Indie authors are taking home a far bigger share of the proceeds of a print book sale (36% of list price, on average), compared with the 8% paperback royalties and 15% hardcover royalties that are typical for traditional publishers.
Audiobooks are one of the industry’s fastest-growing segments and indies are also starting to make inroads into that market. AE says in January, Amazon was selling around 119,000 audiobooks a day — about $2,100,000 worth — generating $204,000 a day in author earnings.
This latest survey from AuthorEarnings and their DataGuy is a very wide-ranging investigation of the Amazon book market and you can read the report and charts in full at AuthorEarnings. All figures and charts published here are courtesy of AuthorEarnings.