Barnes & Noble re-launched PubIt! this week as Nook Press, a largely superficial makeover which failed to address some fundamental problems, like restricting access to US self-publishers only, and introduced new howler: updating existing titles causes the loss of all ranking, reviews, and momentum.
There were only two noteworthy things, to me, about this launch. First, the PubIt! brand had been closely associated with Barnes & Noble. This re-launch seems like an attempt to tie the Nook Press brand to their subsidiary Nook Media, probably in advance of a sale (Barnes & Noble already sold a stake to Microsoft, and a smaller slice to Pearson – Penguin’s parent company but maintain a controlling interest in Nook Media).
This re-launch is full of things that sound great in a corporate press release (innovative editing tools!) that most professional self-publishers won’t really care about, which makes me further suspect this is more about prospective purchasers.
Second, and this is what I want to focus on today, Barnes & Noble finally released some hard numbers regarding self-publishers. From their press release:
* PubIt! continues to attract 20% more independent authors every quarter.
* Titles from self-published authors continue to increase by 24% each quarter in the NOOK Store.
* Customer demand for great independent content continues to dramatically increase as 30% of NOOK customers purchase self-published content each month, representing 25% of NOOK Book sales every month.
That last point really caught me by surprise. Self-publishers have obviously grabbed a lot of market share on Amazon, but conventional wisdom was that (for a variety of reasons) they fare worse on other retailers. While I’m sure that’s still the case, it seems the phenomenon was overstated.
25% of Nook sales are self-published e-books. This is in reference to units sold not dollar amounts, but I’ll deal with that distinction in a bit. Nonetheless, that’s a crazy number! Aside from it being great to see how well self-publishers are doing, particularly on a venue that puts so many obstacles in their path, it also gives us an opportunity to look at the market as a whole.
In an interesting interview with Digital Book World last Friday, Kobo’s CEO Mike Serbinis revealed the following:
In some countries, our ebook units sold from Writing Life are on par with one of the big-six publishers. In one of our countries, self-published books [as a category] is beating the largest publishers.
Again, this is heartening. It’s amazing to me that self-publishers (as a whole) have grabbed a bigger piece of the market – in some countries – than the largest publishers. However, for the purposes of this piece, I’m more concerned with the American market – where Serbinis admitted Kobo’s market share was still in the “low single digits.”
The Kindle’s share of the US market is far larger – with most observers pegging it at between 60% and 65% (most of the rest is split between Apple and Barnes & Noble, with Google, Sony, and Kobo combined perhaps getting around 5%). But how much of that have self-publishers grabbed? Continue reading