Ebooks are just a flash in the pan, right?







Not according to the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

The AAP article  of July 18, 2012, which summarized the Bookstats Report for 2012, indicates that for the first time in the history of American publishing, eBooks in 2011 became the number one format for Adult Fiction.

The eBook phenomenon continued in 2011 with eBooks ranking, for the first time, as the year’s #1 individual format for Adult Fiction; Children’s/Young Adult titles showed the strongest performance among categories; brick-and-mortar stores remain the biggest sales channel; and direct-to-consumer saw strong growth according to BookStats 2012, the most comprehensive annual survey of the size and scope of the US publishing industry.

The AAP piece provided these additional highlights from the Bookstats report:

  • In the overall Trade sector (encompassing Fiction and Non-Fiction for
    Children, Young Adults and Adults), eBooks’ net sales revenue more
    than doubled in 2011 vs 2010. This significant growth was particularly
    fueled by eBooks’ performance in the Adult Fiction segment where, for
    the first time, it ranked #1 for the year in net revenue among all
    individual print and electronic formats.
  • Among categories, both Religion and Children’s/Young Adults showed
    strong growth while Children’s/YA ranked as the fastest-growing category in publishing in 2011.
  • Despite the negative impact of Borders’ bankruptcy and closures, particularly on print book sales, through three quarters of 2011, the Trade market held up equal with 2010 revenue figures, even showing a slight increase.
  • Brick-and-mortar retail remains the #1 sales distribution channel for
    publishers in 2011, as it did in 2010. Publishers’ revenue from
    direct-to-consumer sales nearly doubled, topping $1 billion
    for the first time.

These statistics come as no surprise to me.

The digital revolution is not a minor skirmish fought in some backwater village.  It is not a weed that will wither and die under the heat of a hot summer sun.

Rather, in the new world of digital publishing, eBooks are storming the battlements of the publishing establishment and scoring decisive victories.  They are changing the game.

For independent writers, eBooks represent a tremendous opportunity and just as great a challenge.

It goes without saying that the trend toward digital is not lost on major publishers.  They may have been slow to respond to it, but they are watching it like hawks. And they plan to ensure that they retain the lion’s share of the proceeds from eBook sales.

So, as usual, it’s still David versus Goliath in the publishing business.  The only way David wins that fight is by speed and agility.

David has to shuck and jive, punch and feint, flank the big boy standing a stone’s throw from him.  When your weaponry consists of three smooth river rocks and a sling shot, you have to devise a heckuva of a strategy to compete with the heavy weight champion of the world.

Independent writers have to work hard and smart and long in order to survive.

We will.

One of the law school students in my class drew the ire of a professor who called him into his office.

“I don’t think you are cut out for law school,” the professor told him.

“I’ll be there when they pass out the diplomas,” the student said.

And he was.


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