Ebook Distribution
Ebook distribution—what Australian authors need to know

The first thing to be aware of is that the vast majority of ebook customers (readers) are located in the USA. If your book is geared towards US readers, or an international readership, you are more likely to achieve sales in the ebook industry. The second thing to be aware of is the fact that Amazon controls the lion’s share of the US book market (both hard copy and ebooks). Bowker Market Research reported that in the first quarter of 2012 Amazon’s share of book sales in the USA was 29%. The next largest group was Barnes and Noble at 20%. There are approximately four times more physical books sold than ebooks, but this trend is shifting dramatically year upon year.

Worldwide ebook sales market share data is very hard to come by, especially when some of the sellers, like Amazon, do not release such data. The industry is also changing so rapidly that no amount of data or research can keep up. Therefore those of us in-the-know, working at the coal face, are often the best to discuss distribution decisions with. For example, although Amazon and Barnes & Noble were the most significant players in the first quarter of 2012 in the USA, Barnes & Noble is not as successful in other countries, even Canada, where the homegrown Kobo brand has a higher market share. Also, with the rise of fixed layout books like children’s books and cookbooks on Apple iOS devices (like iPads), which currently outdo Amazon’s Kindle Fire in usability (zooming etc.), Apple is gaining ground. In June 2013, Apple claimed to have a 20% market share of US ebook sales.

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