End-of-Year E-Pistols: Who’s Winning (& Losing) as Book Publishing Enters 2014?

End-of-Year E-Pistols: Who’s Winning (& Losing) as Book Publishing Enters 2014?

Random House first edition (1967) of the Marshall McLuhan classic.revolver-bullet-tinyIncome data from 5,000 authors responding to 2013 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey:
Median annual earnings for self-published authors = $1 to $4,999; for traditionally published authors = $5K to $9,999; and for hybrid authors (both) = $15K to $19,999.

revolver-bullet-tiny“The price readers pay for books is at an all-time low, thanks to ebooks and…aggressive discounting tactics,” reports Jeremy Greenfield in Forbes. “The average price of a best-selling ebook today is $5.27.

revolver-bullet-tinyThat stomping sound is Amazon’s new giant step toward dominating the entertainment market: Amazon Instant Video.  For $79 per year (less than the cost of Netflix), Amazon Prime members already got book discounts, free book loans, and free multi-product shipping. Now they can also stream movies and TV shows, including Amazon-generated productions, a new enterprise bound to burgeon in 2014 and beyond.
Worth noting: only Kindle and Apple mobile devices can download Amazon Instant Video, although there are apps for bridging the gap to competitors’ tablets and phones.phone

revolver-bullet-tinyIn format, the future is mobile. “In 2012 nearly 5 times as many smartphones sold worldwide as did PCs. The result is that in a very short time there have become twice as many mobile users as PC users,” reports  Digital Book World’s Thad McIlroy, citing Benedict Evans’s “Mobile is Eating the World.”  One key takeaway for McIlroy is that “a marketing strategy that runs paper to desktop to mobile has become a traffic jam. Try mobile, desktop and then paper.”

The other takeaway circles back to our previous e-pistols: In the worldwide battle for consumers, the winner will be whoever gives them what they think they want at the fastest speed and cheapest price.  Amazon is contemplating a rosy future.  Authors, maybe not so much, except for those happy few who snagged a seat in this game of Musical Chairs before the viral spread of self-publishing and Amazon.

Joe Konrath & Barry Eisler remain aggressively bullish on the new age of democracy in publishing.  Who’s right?  Time will tell.  But it’s been a long time since the last best-seller out of nowhere.