Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tips for Writers: Taking Advantage of the Ebook Market

The image above, stating "Books Aren't Dead. (They're Just Going Digital)"  is the November 2007 cover of Newsweek before the release of the first Amazon Kindle reader. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos told Newsweek Senior Editor Steven Levy, "This is the most important thing we've ever done. It's so ambitious to take something as highly evolved as the book and improve on it. And maybe even change the way people read."

He was right: E-readers are definitely changing the way people read.

According to a recent report by the organization BookStats---who recently completed an 18-month study surveying nearly 2000 publishers---ebook sales soared 1,274.1% in the 2008-2010 period (203% in 2010), representing 6.4% of trade revenue. This is a huge growth spurt for ebooks and an opportunity for writers.

To highlight this fact, I am including this article from Jerry Simmons’ July 2011 Tips for Writers Newsletter, which discusses the importance of the current ebook market as a marketing and bookselling strategy for authors.


Old is New Again
Over the past year I have written many times about the fact that authors need to move quickly in order to take advantage of the window of opportunity left by major publisher's slow acceptance of eBooks and the digital marketplace. That window is beginning to close as more major publishers combat rapidly declining print sales by aggressively moving into eBooks.

The world's largest trade publisher recently announced their once popular mass market romance series, Love Swept, will be re-launched in eBook beginning early next year. This highly successful series once demanded a large market share and shelf space in both bookstores and retail mass merchants and was a darling to booksellers. Over time as the mass market paperback fell from grace and sales declined, Random House stopped publishing.

With the rise in eBook sales and the fact that romance is the number two selling category behind non-fiction, the publisher made the obvious decision it was time to resurrect this series. Those authors still under contract will get new life and new authors hoping to land a contract will see opportunities open for your agent. Prices for the new re-launch in eBook will be between $2.99 and $4.99 which is the perfect range for eBook romance even though some of the titles are very old backlist. 

If the Love Swept announcement wasn't enough, Random House also made news with another announcement indicating they were teaming up with the highly popular web site Politico to produce instant eBooks. In years past at the height of the mass market paperback, instant books were very successful. Publishers with ties to media such as Time Inc. had the contacts to produce books of a topical nature in a timely manner.

The fall of the Berlin Wall was one such example, the book division worked in concert with magazine writers to produce a quick mass market paperback which provided more depth and insight than the magazine. Priced right and packaged with the help of photo journalists, these books sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Instant books then became successful as crime stories, political reports or any number of topics. With the drop in mass market sales the instant book was all but abandoned. Now with eBooks, that publishing model appears to be back in play.

So why is this important? History is beginning to repeat itself in book publishing as the majors begin testing more product in the digital marketplace. This of course takes attention away from other writers and their content because these newly launched eBooks will be supported by lots of marketing and a nice marketing budget.

On the flip side, this marketing push does nothing but bring attention to eBooks and the large cache of available product. With only 1 in 600 manuscript submissions getting published, this will open opportunities for writers. Research Firm Emarketer predicts that by the end of this year there will be around 21 million eReaders in use and another 24 million computer tablets available. That is a dramatic increase over 2010 and again bodes well for the future of eBooks. If in fact old is new again then perhaps these will create more opportunities for new and emerging writers to gain recognition.
This article was provided with permission by author, Jerry D. Simmons of Copyright 2011 Jerry D. Simmons.

If you’re an author, you may want to consider turning your work into an ebook, if you haven’t already done so. According to a February Bloomberg report, 58 percent of ebook sales are generated by Amazon, and the Amazon Kindle holds 67 percent of the ebook reader market share. Here’s the link to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing site:


Jennifer Rova said...

Very interesting! Since I just finished writing a book and am about to query agents, this was a timely article for me. I know nothing about eBooks but because of your post, I will follow up on your suggestions to explore this medium.

Jennifer Lamont Leo said...

So much to chew and digest here. I find myself simultaneously intrigued by and scared of many of the technological changes sweeping the publishing industry. I will revisit this article more than once. Thanks.