In April the pot pay-out to indie authors and small presses for ebooks downloaded via the Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription service operated by Amazon totalled $46.1 million. That would take the total ebook revenue in April towards $128 million, putting clear blue water between ebook and audio revenues.
The April StatShot from the Association of America Publishers tells a now everyday tale of decline in the US publishing market, with the usual selective statistics presented.
I defer to Porter Anderson’s coverage in Publishing Perspectives as a non-US perspective (“Because Publishing Perspectives is a news medium dedicated to covering the international book publishing industry, we report on news from the United States as information that’s important in world publishing. The States’ book market is the largest in the world. We do not, however, report on the American industry as “our” industry.”)
Publishing Perspectives reports on the AAP StatShot as follows.
- Hardback revenues down 9.2% ($218.1 million)
- Paperbacks down 16.3% ($208.9 million)
- Mass market down 10.7% ($12.7 million)
- Special bindings down 2.8% ($12.3 million)
In digital formats:
- Ebook revenues down 14.1% ($71.9 million)
- Digital audio up 5.8% ($65.0 million)
- Physical audio down 14.5% ($1.0 million
Year-to-Date Numbers follow a similar pattern, with hardback down 4.2%, paperbacks down 1.8%, mass market down 16%, etc.
By contrast ebooks were down just 1%, digital audio up 17.7%.
See the full AAP report for April here.
That compares to the March 2023 StatShot where ebook revenues were up 12.2%, just behind audio’s 14.1% rise.
But much of this is meaningless, whatever month we look at, as we all know the ebook numbers reflect only part of the real market.
As so often, we simply cannot see the full picture – something only Bookstat claims to be able to do – but there are windows that show a glimpse of what the AAP and reports like this from Publishing Perspectives are choosing to leave unremarked.
For instance, we know that in April the pot pay-out to indie authors and small presses for ebooks downloaded via the Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription service operated by Amazon totalled $46.1 million.
That would take the total ebook revenue in April towards $128 million, putting clear blue water between ebook and audio revenues, and pushing ebook revenue worrying close to the paperback and hardcover revenue numbers cited by the AAP.
And that’s before we even think about APub ebook downloads through Kindle Unlimited, which are not part of the pot pay-out, and before we think about a la carte sales by APub and indie authors on Amazon, and before we even begin to think about a la carte sales from the other ebook platforms that serve the US, like Nook, Apple, Kobo, Scribd and Google Play.
Let me end this post with a reminder of Jim Milliott‘s summary of the 2022 online sales, where the ebook numbers unrecorded by the AAP are given some structure. Per Milliott, “Based on Bookstat numbers, self-published authors generated approximately $874 million in e-book sales in 2022.”
That’s $874 million unrecorded by the AAP.