If you thought that e-book sales at Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle Store were completely dominated by large publishers, you might not be giving small publishers and self-published authors all the credit they’re due.
A new Author Earnings report suggests that self-published books now represent 31 percent of e-book sales on Amazon’s Kindle Store, and self-published writers earn almost 40 percent of the store’s royalties. The report also noted that DRM harms e-book sales and that self-published books succeed in a wide array of genres, versus the limited few to which conventional wisdom would relegate self-published authors.
The research shows that books by the Big Five publishers account for only 16 percent of the titles on Amazon’s bestseller list, news which bodes well for Amazon’s newly launched Kindle Unlimited, an e-book subscription service that has debuted with books by Big Five publishers conspicuously absent. Author Earnings notes that the data are also good news for self-published authors, who are gaining ground in both fiction and nonfiction sub-genres: “As it has proven to be in other fields of entertainment, the indie movement in literature is not a blip and not a gold rush. It appears to be here to stay.”
The Guardian says that the quarterly report is assembled by self-publishing advocate Hugh Howey and an unnamed “Data Guy,” drawing on publicly available data on the rankings of 120,000 titles available on the Amazon Kindle Store and combined with sales estimates. Though the report is praised as an attempt to shed light on a changing market, Bookseller editor Philip Jones notes that it’s unclear exactly how accurate Howey’s claims are, or what the “Data Guy” uses as specific sources. “Nobody has a good view of this market, because Amazon holds all the data and doesn’t share it,” he told The Guardian. “Anyone who claims otherwise is just making it up.”
Here are six major insights from the report that, taken with a grain of salt, suggest the potential for the success of self-published books on Amazon’s Kindle Store.