The State of Ebooks 2017
January 19, 2017 - Kindle Unlimited
class=”p1″The once high-flying ebook attention endured a second uninterrupted year of prosaic sales expansion in 2016, renewing doubts about a platform’s ability to attract imitation readers and sentinel off foe from other forms of digital entertainment. Experts are churned about a industry’s future, with predictions of continued low expansion resisting with predictions of a resumption of sales momentum.
For a initial few years of ebooks’ rise, Amazon helped keep prices down—often pricing best-sellers during only $9.99, charity a estimable bonus to buyers. But when Amazon finally mislaid a price-fixing lawsuit to Apple—and had to offer credits to subordinate ebook buyers in June—the normal cost of a best-seller shot adult to about $15. It’s wholly probable that buyers incited divided from ebooks during that point, when a discounts no longer outweighed other issues (such as not being means to lend a book to a friend). But as time marches on, we might find that vast publishers—which have mostly been resistant to ebooks—will concede belligerent to indie authors who are embracing a medium.
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The Year in Review
2016 started out with bad news for ebook publishers. According to a Association of American Publishers, in Jan 2016, ebooks sales were down 6.7% from a year before. Publishing experts consternation either ebook sales will continue to diminution or if they have reached a plateau. Richard Nash, an businessman and digital media consultant, says that a postponement in a industry’s expansion could continue for a nearby term. “The categorical thing we’re saying is a acknowledgment of a plateau,” he says. “Now, accurately how prosaic it is from a section sales standpoint is formidable to tell. There are substantially dual micro-effects indicating in conflicting directions. One is a volume of intensely inexpensive calm that is accessible by Amazon.” The second micro-effect is a diminution of section sales due to cost increases by normal publishers.
Plateaus are never flat, Nash notes. “There are always … small peaks and valleys even within a plateau, and we think, by and large, that’s where we are now, and that’s where we are for a foreseeable future, i.e., until something poignant happens to change that,” he says.
With a difference of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service, subscription ebook services continued to onslaught in 2016. Oyster close down operations early in a year. And, in a pierce designed to contest with Amazon, Scribd introduced Scribd Selects, in that members now get total entrance to comparison titles and 3 books of their choice per month.
Nash says that subscription services that contest on cost and preference (such as Amazon) will browbeat a market, while those that offer a smaller preference will quarrel to benefit traction. It’s due to a inlet of a services themselves. “The preference of not carrying to click each time we wish a strain is flattering significant,” he says. With ebooks, it comes down to how many times a reader needs to make a decision. It turns out it’s not unequivocally often. So subscription services such as Spotify and Apple Music make some-more clarity in their attention than Scribd does in a domain. “The many zealous book reader is creation a preference a week,” says Nash. “Whereas, with music, a many zealous listener would be carrying to make 300 decisions a day that they now don’t have to make.”
Amazon’s practical stranglehold on ebook sales is another reason that subscription services are struggling. The ecommerce hulk controls “something north” of 70% of a ebook market, says Mark Coker, a owner and CEO of Smashwords, a association that helps authors and publishers discharge ebooks. For $9.99 a month, Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited module allows ebook readers to select from some-more than 1 million ebooks.
“You’ve got this singular purveyor of ebooks that has been means to precedence a widespread marketplace position to require and brag authors to enroll their books into this disdainful module [KDP Select], and Amazon controls their cost of products sold,” Coker says. “They control what they compensate a author or publisher for that book for whatever a magnitude of reading is.”
Coker adds that normal publishers haven’t come to terms with a pricing vigour that Kindle Unlimited has started to put on their business. “It means that 99-cent books start to feel too expensive, generally if you’re an zealous energy reader,” he says. “There are a lot of readers out there, intrigue readers especially, that can review 30 books a month, and it also has implications for normal publishers. It’s unequivocally enchanting when we speak with normal publishers about what we consider Kindle Unlimited means to them—none of them are concerned.”
A Look Ahead
After an bomb duration of expansion and afterwards a leveling off of sales, ebooks need something new and confidant to kick-start sales, according to Nash. Part of a problem is a selling experience—it’s not unequivocally enchanting and needs to be done immersive and fun. An interactive practical existence “ebookstore” could make ebook shopping as serendipitous as anticipating a new book during Barnes Noble while browsing. “I totally determine that all kinds of investigation are required in those areas, though it’s not going to have a poignant business outcome for a prolonged time,” Nash says. “I don’t consider Amazon is going to be a source of that solution, since Amazon, basically, doubles down on cost and preference and, increasingly, convenience, though not on a joyous [experience].”
Coker has many predictions for a trends that will impact a attention in 2017 and beyond. Print, notwithstanding a quip over a past year or so due to a adult coloring book fad, will continue to remove belligerent to ebooks, he says. Publishers who continue to prioritize imitation over digital will do so during their peril. Meanwhile, indie authors will continue to take marketplace share from normal publishers. Indie ebooks now control “somewhere between 10% and 20% percent of a market,” says Coker.
He thinks a trend will continue due to indie authors’ rival advantages, including “faster time to marketplace and some-more artistic and promotional coherence for their books.” The bolt of high-quality, low-cost ebooks—due in partial to those indie titles—is putting downward vigour on pricing. “I consider that is a vast trend that has unequivocally come into play a final integrate years and is going to play itself out even some-more significantly in a subsequent few years,” Coker adds. And, of course, Amazon’s prevalence will continue to impact a industry, environment a tinge in terms of pricing and accessibility of titles.
Growth in ebook sales has clearly plateaued, and it’s not transparent where new business and sales will come from. “So a doubt afterwards becomes, ‘What are a new sources of demand?’-—and we only don’t see them yet,” says Nash.