Self-published books' market share in UK grew 79% in 2013 to 18 million book sales, representing 5% of the overall book market, with prices up from 2012 levels; self-publishing market share will only rise, analysts say
June 16, 2014
– Self-published books' share of the UK market grew by 79% in 2013, with 18m self-published books bought by UK readers last year, according to new statistics.
With print sales falling by 10% last year, and book purchasing as a whole down 4%, ebook sales continue to grow, according to Nielsen's comprehensive tracking of book purchases, up 20% in the UK in 2013, with 80m ebooks bought by UK consumers, to a value of £300m. But it is the DIY market which is showing the most eye-watering growth, up 79% to 18m self-published titles purchased, worth £59m, according to the statistics released on Friday.
Self-published books still account for a tiny proportion of the overall market – 5% of the 323m total books bought, and 3% of the £2185m spent on books last year. But, presenting his figures at the Literary Consultancy conference this morning, Steve Bohme, research director at Nielsen Book, predicted the figure was only going to rise.
"Self-publishing is absolutely still booming," he said. "You can see print books down, and ebooks as a whole up – but a lot of that is driven by self-publishing, which has a much higher growth rate."
Bohme said that the more successful self-publishing is, the "more authors will look at it" as an option. "It's a growth market in the industry. Publishers as well will be looking at it to see how they can harness that."
The fastest-growing genres in self-publishing were thrillers and fantasy titles, said Bohme, and the price of self-published titles has increased compared to 2012, bringing the sector more in line with mainstream prices. Self-published ebooks most commonly cost less than £1, according to the new statistics, but they are growing faster at higher price points.
"And some of the authors are becoming a bit more established," said Bohme, with readers citing recurring characters, and series, as reasons for their self-published purchases, rather than just the sector's cheap prices.
"As authors are becoming more established, they get followings, just like mainstream authors, so the self-published market is becoming more like the traditionally published market," he said. "Self-published ebooks tend to be impulse buys, discovered by browsing in genre, or in the recommendation or offer sections. However, they are increasingly planned, via author. [So] price and blurb are the top prompts to buy self-published ebooks, but series and characters are increasingly important."
According to the new statistics, self-published ebooks tend to be fiction, but they are growing fastest in children's, and self-published ebooks tend to be bought by women: 37% of purchases were by females older than 45, 32% by younger women – this was the fastest-growing area – 20% by males older than 45, and 11% by younger males.
Looking at the overall ebook sector, Bohme expressed scepticism at the claim earlier this week from accountants PriceWaterhouseCoopers that the ebook would overtake the physical book by 2018. PwC predicted that the consumer market for digital books would almost triple from £380m to £1bn over the next four years.
Bohme puts the ebook market in 2013 at £300m by value and 80m by volume – about 25% of the overall market by volume, and 12% by value. "Longer term I think we could get there [to ebooks overtaking physical books], but I think we're a little bit sceptical [about PwC's forecast]," said Bohme. "I think ebooks would have to go some to get there by 2018, but it's not impossible."
(c) 2014 Guardian Newspapers Limited.