Look for eBook Sales to Remain Flat in 2015

The stunning increases in ebook sales from 2012 to 2014 led many to wonder if print books were about to become obsolete. Some predicted e-books would soon represent 50% to 70% of all book sales. Then late in the first quarter of 2014, growth rates slowed. After years of double – and triple-digit increases, ebooks remain at around 30% of revenues for the publishers who report their sales through the Association of American Publishers.

Rise of the Machine
With first-generation dedicated e-readers, consumers could only do one thing – read. But with tablets and phones, the distractions of email, social media updates, and video on demand, pull casual readers away from ebooks, thus dampening sales.

An estimated 80 percent of 18 to 24 year olds own a smartphone.

The growth in smartphone and tablet use offers more eReading opportunities but also more distractions.

Apple Owns the Tablet / Smartphone Market
In tablets, Apple continues to dominate the U.S. market with about 80 million users. Consider:

  • A third of tablet owners use them for reading.
  • Tablet owners are the source of 42% of ebook purchases.
  • An estimated 21 million people read books on their phones but account foronly 7% of ebook purchases.

So Where Do eBooks Go in 2015
The biggest threat to new authors and new titles is the glut of high-quality low-cost ebooks.

The quality ebooks – especially self-published ebooks – has dramatically increased competition.

A decade ago, publishers constrained book supply by publishing a limited number of new titles each year. Not anymore. With the introduction of ebooks, every author can be found on Amazon. This rapid growth in the supply of ebooks has eclipsed demand. This means most new ebooks will sell substantially fewer copies than previous new releases.

Where Does eBook Pricing Go in 2015
Down. During the first years of the ebook revolution, large publishers refused to discount their ebooks. Most tried to sell in the $14.95 to $19.95 range. Meanwhile, small publishers and self-published authors were happy to earn royalty rates of 70% and budget-conscious consumers loved the low prices.

FREE and 99 cent ebooks allowed unknown authors to gain new readers and establish careers. No more.

In the last year, large publishers have stepped up their price-cutting and begun offering temporary promotions on titles from big-name authors. In 2015 these temporary promotions will give way to permanent lower prices on backlist titles from big names and more aggressive discounting on recently released titles.

Will Free work in 2015
As the market becomes flooded with free ebooks, FREE will lose influence. With the glut of FREE, high-quality books, good isn’t good enough anymore. To reach readers, an author must deliver an emotionally satisfying read. This holds true for both fiction and non-fiction. If readers aren’t giving your book four or five star reviews and using words in their reviews like, “wow,” “fantastic” and “amazing,” your book probably won’t stick and sell long term. Books that resonate with readers turn consumers into evangelists.