Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Well, this is a surprise

From Author Earnings:

After two and a half years of quarter-over-quarter growth, Indie eBook market share shrinks significantly

•Indie ebook market share drops all the way back to early 2015 levels.
•Traditional publishers regain a little lost ebook ground.
•Amazon publishing imprints grow a lot.

More:

In consumer spending terms, the May-to-October drop in indie title dollar market share parallels the drop in their share of unit sales. For the first time since Q1 2015, readers are spending more money on ebooks by Small/Medium Publishers than they are spending on indie ebooks. Despite the Big Five’s slight uptick in unit-sales market share, their share of consumer ebook dollars has continued to drop–albeit less steeply than in previous quarters. …

The share of overall Kindle author earnings going to the Big Five has finally gone up a little. Although at 23% it still remains below its January 2016 level, Big Five authors have regained a little of the ground they lost between January and May. But the biggest recent winners seem to be the Small/Medium publisher authors, whose share of total Kindle author earnings has surpassed 20% for the first time. …

But for us, it’s the drop in indie author earnings that triggers the most questions.

Several possible reasons for this observation are discussed, with another emerging from the extensive comments on this post. The drop in Indie market share certainly isn’t because the Big Five have re-thought their strategy of pricing ebooks waaay too high (unfortunately). The Author Earnings post mentions possible changes in how aggressively publishers are handling ebook marketing, and also possible changes to Amazon’s algorithms that might be starting to favor traditionally published authors, and also possible declines in how far Amazon is discounting print editions.

In the comments, lots of people mention a sudden vast drop in pages read (a payment criteria for ebooks enrolled in KU). Something screwy is evidently going on with Amazon’s measurement of pages read, which is just killing Indie authors’ income. It sounds like this factor might be big enough to explain some (maybe not all?) of the drop in Indie market share.

Incidentally, it sounds like the position of debut traditionally published authors is absolutely dire right now. Pricing their ebooks so high is destroying their discoverability by killing both their ebook sales, and their print sales are not making up for it. Seriously not good. In a few years I expect things will be different, but ouch.

Makes me wonder whether it’s possible for your agent to argue a Big Five publisher into putting a ceiling on your ebook editions: No more than $7.99, say. That would probably be tremendously beneficial, not just to debut authors, but to authors like me.

Anyway, very interesting post, which I found via The Passive Voice.

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