Monday, July 7, 2014

So, What's Going on in E-Books? Smashwords Reveals All.

So, doing some interesting reading tonight.

Specifically, it’s on Smashwords’ third annual survey of what is driving the sale of independent authors’ ebooks.

Smashwords has a good summary of the study on the linked page, but I’m having some fun going through the study itself to see what comes up. I’ll sum up the interesting points:

Readers want longer books. Or, since correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation, the most popular books sold on Smashwords tend to be longer. I don’t know what that means. Maybe it’s a perception of cost vs. value. A longer book seems to be a better bargain than a shorter one.

Romance books are highly popular. They account for 7 out of 10 of the service’s top sellers. They tend to be “more experimental” Smashwords says (no word on what that means). Smashwords provides data to back up something I’ve noticed on GoodReads anecdotally: Most of the books people are searching for in the “What’s the Name of That Book” category are romance novels.

Free books tend to be the biggest movers – but the value of free has declined dramatically in the Smashwords surveys over the past three years. For example, in 2012, free books were downloaded on average 100 more times than books with a price tag. The number fell to 91 times in 2013 and plummeted to 39 times more in 2014. Free books continue to be a strong platform builder, but not as strong in the past. It’ll be interesting to see where this free phenomenon goes in the future.

Part of me wonders if the free phenom is being diluted by poor-quality books, or if its plummeting numbers is linked to authors publishing consecutive times and asking for cash from loyal readers.

Other interesting pricing info, with a caveat (the $2.99 price is the most consistent seller for both fiction and non-fiction):

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