This presentation, given at the 2013 San Francisco Writers Conference, examines 10 big publishing industry trends that will shape the future for authors, publishers and readers alike. Presented by Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, an ebook distributor.
A blast from the past: Ebook market share in 20081.2 10.80.60.40.2 0 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 Source: Association of American Publishers, publishers.org.
Ebooks as a percentage of US wholesale trade market 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012Source: Association of American Publishers, publishers.org. 2012 Smashwords estimate
Ebooks to overtake printPrint books Ebooks Print booksEbooks Dollars Units
Why ebooks are hot• Screens offer better reading experience than paper • Changeable font size A B C D • Portable and compact• Ebooks offer better consumption experience • Lower cost than print • Convenient sampling and purchasing • Huge selection
Percentage of book purchasesmade online vs B&M, Print and E- Web Brick & Mortar Today?
Bookselling moves to the Web• Brick and mortar stores disappearing• Decline of print• Consumer drivers: • Price • Convenience • Selection• Self-published books displayed side by side with traditional books • Big publishers losing control distribution
Authors gain the tools to e- publish• Ebook printing press is free to all• Ebook distribution free to all• The knowledge of professional best practices if free and available to all
Publishers losing their monopoly• Writers no longer need publishers to publish, distribute and sell• Writers asking: • “What can a publisher do for me that I can’t do for myself?” • “Will a publisher actually harm my ability to reach readers?”
Indies are Now Out-Publishing Big Publishers• Self-published ebooks scaling all the bestseller lists • Multiple Smashwords authors have hit New York Times bestseller list in the last year • Every week, indie ebooks in retailer bestseller lists of every retailer• Retailers giving indies seat at merchandising table
Indies are Now Out-Publishing Big Publishers• Indie ebook author advantages • faster time to market • greater creative control • lower expenses • better distribution to global market • Immortal ebooks never go out of print • lower prices to consumers • earn more per book
Indie Ebook Authors Earn Higher Percentage of List Price Indie Traditional 60-80% 12-17%• Indies earn more at lower prices • At $2.99, indies earn $1.80. Trad. author would have to price at $10-$15.00 • Lower price = reach more readers = more sales at higher profits per sale • Higher price = reach fewer readers
TREND FIVETraditionally published authors suffering from high prices
Authors Yield Two Benefits from Every Sale1. Money from the sale • Unit sales X royalty per unit = profit1. Gain a fan • Fans spread word of mouth, recruit new fans • Fans eagerly await your next book • Fans are less price sensitive Pricing strategy essential to maximize both
How to interpret the data on preceding two pages:Titles priced under $1.99 generally underperform on gross author earnings Not a huge difference in earnings whether you price at $2.99 or $10.00+, YET, at $2.99 books achieved over 6 times as many unit sales. If you can earn approximately the same selling low price as high price, then price lower andreap the platform and fan-building benefit of unit sales. More readers = more potential fans.The data was aggregated from over 50,000 titles across fiction and non-fiction (mostly fiction). Keep in mind that every book will behavedifferently. Experiment and see what works for you.
TREND SIX Content Explosion Leads toDownward Pressure on Prices
Number of books published indie vs. traditional Indie books New trad. books Today
Glut leads to ebook price competition $4.25 $3.00 October 2010 December 2012Average price of Smashwords ebooks
... Impact of content explosion• The glut will only become more pronounced• Excess supply leads to price competition• Lower prices increase affordability and accessibility • More books will be read than ever before • Readers will still pay for books• Can publishers drop prices to $2.99- $3.99?
TREND SEVEN Print is Dead for Most Self- Published Authors (and will become less and lessimportant to traditionally published authors)
Print is Dead• Brick and mortar bookstores disappearing• Most self-pubbed authors don’t have access to brick and mortar distribution• Customers choosing low cost ebooks over high-priced print books• Exceptions: • Face to face print sales will continue • Some books are meant for print (for now) • Specialty souvenir books sold in non-traditional outlets
TREND EIGHT(Your ENGLISH-language) Ebooks are going global
The Global Ebook Opportunity• Countries outside the US are entering the exponential phase of their ebook growth• Ebook retailers going global • Apple iBookstore (50), Amazon (10), Kobo (14), B&N (U.K.+)• 46% of Smashwords/iBookstore sales global
TREND NINEBig NY Publishers getting into self publishing
In July, the parent company ofPenguin acquired Author Solutions Author Solutions earns over 2/3 of itsincome selling over-priced services to authors $25,000 publishing packages! Blood sucking parasites
Ebook self-publishing can be fast, free and easy if you do it yourself. Cover design is cheap (under $300 usually).Spend for the cover, it’s worth it. Editing is expensive, butvaluable if you find a great editor, but if you need to borrow money to pay for it, don’t do it. Print self-publishing can be free or extremely low-costTip: I’m not opposed to authors hiring professionals to helptake their book to the next level. Shop around. Ask fellow authors for references. View the individual service professional’s portfolio. Work directly with the service provider person (artist, editor, etc) rather than through a service bureau intermediary like ASI who will mark up. Remember that most ebooks sell poorly, so it’s difficult toearn back your money. If you can’t afford an editor, barterwith fellow writers, and leverage beta readers. See Secret #12 later for more cautionary guidance to protect yourself from harm.
TREND TENThe Previous Stigma of Self- Publishing is Disappearing
Stigmas to reverse Aspire AspireTraditional IndieAspire Indie Aspire Traditional 4 yrs ago Today? Future?
The Old Model for Reaching ReadersAuthor -> Agent -> Publisher -> -> Bookstore -> Reader
The New Option for Reaching Readers Author -> Agent -> Publisher -> -> Bookstore -> ReaderConsider using a distributor like Smashwords to reach more retailers, save timeby centrally managing distribution through the SW Dashboard, get aggregatedsales reporting, payments and tax reporting. If you can find a great agent, great,they can be powerful business partners.
Which model is better than the other? Neither. Both have their attributes.Many successful authors will straddle both worlds
You have optionstoday that didn’t existback in the dark agesof publishing (5 years ago)
YOU decide when and how yourmanuscript becomes a PUBLISHED BOOK
The task before you is not easy. It requires hard work. Most books don’t sell well. yet…
The Opportunity to Reach Readers Has Never Been Greater
Honor your readersGive them great books that are asgood or better than those released by Big Publishers(and do it faster with great covers and lower prices)
Thanks for considering the future.E-publishing resources next slide…
Free Ebook Publishing Resources• Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (best practices of successful authors)• Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (how to market any book)• Smashwords Style Guide (how to format an ebook)
Q&AConnect with Mark Coker and Smashwords:Web: www.smashwords.comBlog: blog.smashwords.comLinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/markcokerFacebook: facebook.com/markcokerHuffPo: huffingtonpost.com/mark-cokerTwitter: @markcoker