Self-publishing and ebook distribution platform Smashwords announced this week the results of its annual survey which tracks sales for the previous year and compiles an intense look at trends in ebook retailing from the data. Each year, this data has provided an in-depth understanding of how reading consumers are behaving in regards to their ebook purchases.
Some of the key points of this year’s survey include:
* Ebook Sales power curve is steep, yet incremental improvements in sales rank can result in exponential sales increases
* Readers prefer longer books (this is the 3rd year in a row the data confirmed these findings)
* $2.99 and $3.99 appear to be the sweet spots when it comes to unit sales and earnings potential
* “Free” books still a valuable marketing tool, but not as strong as it used to be
* Preorders are a remarkable best practice for indie ebook authors, but most authors not yet taking advantage of the tool
Mark Coker, CEO and founder of Smashwords, explained two new data points in this year’s survey, gauging the impact of the new pre-order feature and the way series titles were impacted in all of Smashwords’ distribution channels.
“This year, we break new ground with more data, including survey questions that explore preorders and series, two categories of inquiry that weren’t possible in prior years. These latter two categories were enabled by Smashwords’ introduction of ebook preorder distribution in July, 2013 and our new Smashwords Series Manager feature which allows us to capture, analyze and share the performance of series books.”
One final interesting point was that the survey really tried to uncover what causes a book, author, or story collection to get that “viral” edge that has everyone talking and sharing. While even Coker states that there is no magic formula that will propel an author’s work to the top of the bestseller list, there are important factors that provide all the tools a book needs to get noticed.
The most intriguing information to come out of the survey was the finding that longer books sell better than their mid-sized or shorter counterparts, which can’t only be attributed to perceived value. With so many industry experts warning authors that they have to give their audiences compelling content that will keep them reading, it only seems logical that readers want to invest their time and attention–not just their money–in a book that will draw them in and remain entertaining.
Coker’s report on the survey findings and his slideshow presentation on the survey data can be found HERE.