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Author Earnings Report goes international
The main focus is on the UK, with a few surprises:
Up until now, Author Earnings has focused on the US ebook market, and mostly on Amazon.com, the dominant US retailer. There’s a reason for that. According to the International Publishers Association, the United States makes up 30% of the global book publishing market. In other words, $3 out of every $10 (or perhaps more appropriately, £3 out of every £10) spent on books of any format anywhere in the world, is spent in the US. And more than half of that $3 is spent online — two thirds of it in Amazon.com’s US bookstore — where, notably, for the last several years, most of the books purchased have been ebooks.
But now, it’s time to broaden our horizons a bit. The barriers that once made it difficult for an author to make their books available in other countries have now fallen. It’s time for all authors to start thinking globally — there’s a whole wide world of readers out there.
According to the IPA, after the US, the next four countries — China, Germany, Japan, and the UK — in combination comprise another 30% of the global publishing market: China has 10%, Germany 9%, Japan 7%, and the UK roughly 4%. The remainder of the global publishing Top 10 — France with 4%, Italy 3%, Spain 3%, Brazil 2%, and India 2% — between them add up to another 15%. Thus 10 countries make up 75% of global sales of books of all formats, with the US alone just about equal to the the next 4 combined.
But when it comes to digital book adoption rates, most of those countries significantly lag the United States, for a variety of reasons. As a result, the US now makes up a far larger portion of the world’s digital book market than print — well over half of it, in fact. The United Kingdom is the only other country whose ebook adoption rates even come close. The ebook markets of China, Germany, Japan, where print book sales are larger than the UK’s — and of France and Italy, whose print book sales are close to the UK’s — are still relatively nascent. Those countries still sell far fewer ebooks than the UK does.
Which makes the United Kingdom currently the world’s second largest market for digital books.
With our October report, we filled in the remainder of US ebook market by looking at the top 4 non-Amazon ebook retailers — Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Google, so now it’s time to move our sights across the pond. Perhaps we should have done it sooner. Although the UK ebook market is less than a fifth of the size of the US market in unit sales or revenue terms — Amazon.co.uk still sells more ebooks than any of the non-Amazon US retailers do in the US. More than the US Apple iBookstore or Barnes & Noble Nook store… and several times as many as Kobo US and GooglePlay US combined.
Simply put, Amazon.co.uk is the second largest retailer of English-language ebooks in the world.
In the UK, Big Five ebooks on average sell for prices that are only 50% more than Small/Medium publisher UK ebooks, and just slightly over double what UK indie ebooks are selling for. But in the US, under the new Agency contracts, the Big Five publishers are pricing their ebooks far higher in the US than they are actually able to sell them for in the UK — fully twice the average selling price of US Small/Medium publisher ebooks, and almost four times what US indie authors are charging.
As we’ve shown in previous reports, media stories about a “flattening US ebook market” are greatly exaggerated. They misinterpret the shrinking market share of the AAP’s 1,200 traditional publishers, 80% of whose sales are made up by the Big Five. And in the US, driven by higher agency prices, those five publishers are selling far fewer ebooks, their sales rapidly being supplanted by non-traditional publishers and indies. Today, more than half of all ebooks being purchased in the US are now non-traditionally published. And most of those sales are indie ebooks without ISBNs — a vast and growing sector of the publishing industry that remarkably remains uncounted in the industry’s official, ISBN-based statistics.
As usual, much much more at the source. With lots of pretty pictures.