Monday, October 20, 2014

Paperbacks Sold Online Rule The Marketplace

Ebook sales, by units, rank third, behind hardcover books and paperback books.  When you look at revenue, ebooks are still third but fall further back from the other two formats.  This comes from a Nielsen Books & Consumers Survey from January to June, 2014.

42% of all books sold are paperbacks.  25% are hardcover books.  23% are ebooks.  3% are audios.  7% are “other” though I can’t imagine what that looks like if its not print, audio, or digital.  But because paper books sell for a lot more than ebooks paper books make up more than 80% of the book revenue.

When it comes to where books are sold, we are an Amazon nation.  Amazon sells six out of every 10 e-books sold. Online commerce accounts for 39% of all books sold (based on units not price).  These books can be in any format.  Almost all of the online commerce comes from Amazon. 21% of all sales come from bookstore chains, primarily Barnes & Noble.  Mass merchandisers, book clubs, independent bookstores, supermarkets, warehouse clubs and drugstores combine for 21% of the market.  16% of all books sold don’t come from any of these sources.

What was interesting about the survey is it revealed what motivates the purchases of book buyers:

·         12% said in-store displays inspired their purchases.
·         10% said friends and family recommendations influenced their purchases.
·         8% said they purchased their titles after browsing the websites of online retailers.

I’m also sure that social media, traditional media, advertising and other factors influence book purchases.

All of these surveys, bestseller lists, and sales scans tell us where people buy what they buy.  But are consumers reacting to the marketplace or does the marketplace react to consumers?

For instance, if you determine you will only buy ebooks, then what you buy depends on which reader you use and what that company offers by way of selection and price.  Such a person will never be influenced by what’s in a physical store unless they purposely window-shop and use the store as a showcase.

There were some genre variances in people's buying habits.  For instance, 47% of all romance book units purchased come online but only 25% of all children’s book units sold come online.  A likely reason is that romance or erotica is purchased online so no one feels awkward buying it in a store.  Further, fiction increasingly is read digitally, whereas children’s books are physical by choice.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

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