One of my favorite authors, Hugh Howey, just published a great report highlighting some important trends in the publishing industry. For those not yet familiar with Howey, his self-published book Wool via Amazon was enormously successful. Starting off relatively unknown, it became an underground hit, then broke out and reached the New York Times Best seller list, has been optioned for a movie by Ridley Scott, and is recognized as the forefront of a huge wave of self-published authors marketing their works online.

The report has some great data and graphs that allow us to draw some interesting conclusions:

  • Indie publishers (aka self-publishers) are reaching a tipping point where they are just about to usurp big publishers as the highest volume sellers.
  • According to Amazon, the market segment in this report, genre novels, is now dominated by ebook sales. With 92% of the market going to ebooks and the remaining 8% split between audio books, paperbacks, and hard covers. Print is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
  • Authors are almost always better off self-publishing. The low cost of entry to publish ebooks, and the higher margins returned to the original author make it a win-win situation for authors of any skill or success level. Howey breaks this argument down for the not-so-good, the average, and the great works out there and concludes that authors of all skill levels will do better with indie publishing.
  • Indie publishing is better for consumers. The cost of indie books is, on average, much lower than those from big publishers. Also, more revenue makes it back to the original author, hopefully enabling them to have a greater chance at writing future works.

This is of course limited to the genre novels, that excludes non-fiction and classic literature. This survey also is limited to, while arguable the biggest market place, brick and mortar book retailers and smaller e-book distributors are left out of this picture.