Just received a Publisher's Weekly article titled, "Ebooks Rock" comparing the hardcover versus eBook sales ratio of major bestsellers. Although their point was that eBooks are changing the face of publshing, I think they missed the point--again. 


They compared bestselling authors and their sales ratios, with hardcover sales tipping the scale. However, looking at Amazon's own sales records regarding this ratio, eBooks are outselling hardcovers. Now, I recognize that we are evaluating traditionally-published bestselling authors, and that these sales routes are much broader than the road to Amazon's doorstep. But I think the article fails to recognize the extent of the market, where newcomers like Amada Hocking and John Locke will continue to fly beneath PW's radar. I think Locke, for example, would never have any print market record, but yet John had six of his novels listed on Amazon's Top 100 Bestselling list, including the number one spot.


I think PW's look at the topselling authors records (provided by major  traditional publishers) to make a broad statement about eBooks in generally, seriously understates what is happing in the publishing world. This happens when they go directly to primary publishing sources, then speculate about the market with a skewed outlook. Sure, eBook are changing the market--but I suspect the change is much broader than reflected in this article.


Or am I missing the point? Your thoughts?



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I read the same article.


If you note, the publishers aren't suffering much from ebooks. In some cases, they charge more for a Kindle than they do for paper, which means their expenses are lower.


My new publisher wants just about anything I can give her from the past. She is primarily e-publishing ebook, but will put out my book of stories in trade paper as well. And reprinted my Shamus nominated "Shadow of the Dahlia" in trade paper and e-formats.


A friend of mine told me ten years ago this would happen and it finally is, but I think it took Kindle putting pressure on other sellers to make it work.


The big problem with ebooks is that too many of them are self-published by people who have not yet learned to write good prose. And many are poorly edited. There are exceptions of course.


The secret to ebook sales is to get the word out, but the more people realize how easy it is to use a reader, the more books will be published in the electronic format.


Jack Bludis


The trends are pretty clear that the hardcover and mass market formats are sinking fast, with trade paperbacks taking the place of hardcovers for collectors who want a physical specimen that can be signed by the author, and with ebooks taking the place of mass market paperbacks. Also, I predict that the next format that will soar in popularity will be downloadable audio books.
My experience with trade paper has been dismal.  Give me hc plus mmpb any day.

Yes, I agree. I know as a reader I usually discovered new writers through mmpb. If e-books replace that (which seems most likely, for me anyway, the last few books I've bought by writers new to me I bought as e-books) it could be fine.


For me, anyway, my hardcover sales have been almost entirely to libraries (which is the only reason I think my publisher puts out hardcovers, well, that and to get newspaper reviews) and like you my trade paperback sales have been dismal. So dismal I haven't been able to get a mmpb deal, but most of my books are available as e-books, so we'll see if that works.



Much good luck, John!
I believe the explanation here is that the PW article counts all sales, including book store sales, while Amazon counts Amazon sales.  There is still a significant market for print books in book stores.  Of course, this may gradually change, but for the time being, many people still buy print and resist buying on line.
I.J.: Your point is well taken. Sales results must be looked at from a broader perspective than the Amazon prism. However, I believe the online market is fast surpassing non on-line sources.I believe more and more people are buying online for convenience and a broad choice to select from. And for those, it is only a matter of clicking on print or eBook selections. My guess, this balance toward the eBook market will become more pronounced in the next few years, particularly those of us in more rural areas.

Ebook sales soaring, e-readers selling by the millions, hardcover and mass market paperback sales cratering, independent bookstores closing, Borders declaring bankruptcy...not much doubt as to which way the tide of history is flowing. Another thread on this forum mentioned Barry Eisler's decision to reject a $500,000 advance in favor of self-publishing. None of this is good news for the New York world.

The good news: I believe this is a great time for authors. Many opportunities--from straight out self-publishing to partnership publishing--are emerging as this publishing industry changes with the times. People are always going to want a good story to read. There are many different ways of getting that story to readers as technology changes.


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