9 Statistics Writers Should Know About Amazon

“In partnership with Porter Anderson, I write and edit The Hot Sheet, an industry newsletter for authors. Over the last year, here are some of the most important things we shared about Amazon that every writer should know.

1. Amazon’s print book sales grew by 15% in 2016—as estimated by Author Earnings. This gain was primarily driven by Amazon’s own discounting on print.

To the extent that print is ‘back,’ one can connect it to Amazon’s discounting. Since 2013, the traditional book publishing industry has enjoyed about a 3% increase in print book sales. However, print book sales have grown largely because Amazon sold more print books. Barnes & Noble’s sales declined by 6% in 2016, and sales from mass merchandisers (Target, Walmart, etc.) also declined.

2. Ebook sales at Amazon increased by 4% in 2016 (again, as estimated by Author Earnings), despite Big Five ebook sales declining. Nielsen’s Jonathan Stolper said at Digital Book World, ‘Price is the most important and most influential barrier to entry for ebook buyers, and the increase in price [at publishers] coincided with the decrease in sales.’ Any talk about digital fatigue, the consumer’s nostalgia for print, or a preference for the bookstore experience isn’t supported by the sales evidence—which Author Earnings’ Data Guy was eager to point out. If print is back, it’s partly because consumers are unwilling to pay more (or about the same price) for an ebook.

3. Eight of the top 20 Kindle sellers in 2016 were from Amazon’s own publishing imprints. Amazon now has 13 active house imprints. In 2016 alone, it’s believed Amazon Publishing released more than 2,000 titles.

Furthermore, Amazon is the largest publisher of literature in translation. In 2014, AmazonCrossing surpassed all other US imprints and publishers in releasing translated fiction. In 2015, it published 75 translated books, 50 more than the next biggest publisher, Dalkey Archive Press.”

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