Print is making a comeback and e-book sales have decreased. Nielsen Pubtrack data is demonstrating that digital sales have fallen 6% in 2014, which equates to 223 million e-books being sold in the US, down from 240 million units in 2013.
Nielsen fetches its data from 30 of the largest publishers in the US, so this is an accurate portrayal of sales from mainstream bestsellers such as John Grisham, Stephen King and EL James.
The research has basically said that e-books sales are down right? So what are the genres that are selling the most units? Adult fiction had the highest percentage of e-book sales, with 51% of sales purchased in the category bought in digital format. 50% of general fiction, romance, suspense, mystery and fantasy, which were also e-books.
Many pundits who follow the publishing industry often have a bone to pick with Nielson data. The main area of conjecture is that Nielson only talks to big publishing companies and excludes indie authors. The average self-published writer does not have a proper ISBN number, so its impossible to accurately gauge their sales. They can sell one copy or thousands, its impossible to tell. Amazon actively tries to prevent this information leaking out, by their terms of service stating that authors can’t publicly disclose revenue or risk being booted out of the Kindle bookstore. Considering Amazon owns 75% of the e-book market in the US and 95% in the UK, few authors are willing to report sales.
Why have e-book sales really fallen in the US in 2014? The average price of an e-book has increased over 14% due to new agreements signed by the publishers, giving them more control over discounting by bookstores. Barnes and Noble Nook digital sales dropped 29% year to year, their market share now runs in the single digits. Kindle Unlimited, Oyster and Scribd received a ton of media attention for their e-book subscription services.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.