Indie Book Trends

As many as a quarter of the top 100 Kindle ebooks on Amazon.com are from indie publishers, according to data revealed at a trade presentation by the retailer. Though the term indie is broad, covering everything from self-published authors to publishing houses that fall outside the big six, the news has been interpreted as a victory for the go-it-alone author. (Source: The Guardian)

By 2010, Amazon controlled ninety per cent of the market in digital books—a dominance that almost no company, in any industry, could claim…The business term for all this clear-cutting is “disintermediation”: the elimination of the “gatekeepers,” as (Amazon founder Jeff) Bezos calls the professionals who get in the customer’s way. There’s a populist inflection to Amazon’s propaganda, an argument against élitist institutions and for “the democratization of the means of production”—a common line of thought in the West Coast tech world. Amazon executives speak of the “Rust Belt media,” comparing book publishing to the steel industry in the seventies. “Even well-meaning gatekeepers slow innovation,” Bezos wrote in his 2011 letter to shareholders. “When a platform is self-service, even the improbable ideas can get tried, because there’s no expert gatekeeper ready to say ‘that will never work!’ ” (Source: The New Yorker)

According to Bowker’s Books in Print, their preliminary estimates indicate that the number of books published in 2010 jumped from just over 1.3 milion in 2009 to over 3.1 million in 2010. Of these, 2.776 million were “non-traditionally” published books, including print-on-demand and self-published titles although this number doesn’t even take into account any books published without ISBNs or most e-books. (Source: Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group)

In a reversal of trends in recent years, ebook growth is basically flat in the U.S. while hardcover books are selling much better this year than last. According to November 2013 numbers from the Association of American Publishers, adult ebook sales are up 4.8% through August to $647.7 million. Meanwhile, sales of hardcover books are up 11.5% to $778.6 million over the same period. The trend over the past several years has been quite the opposite, with ebooks growing in double and triple digits and hardcover sales falling, giving way to the cheaper format. Paperback sales, however, continued to decrease, down 11.6% from a year ago to $898.9 million. (Source: Association of American Publishers)