The 2015 sales figures are in, and e-book sales had their first meaningful decline: from $1.6B in 2014 to $1.4B in 2015.
Sales had increased exponentially for a while, then plateaued around $1.5B per year, and this is the first real decrease. Is it a blip or the start of a decline?
- 2002: $2.1M
- 2003: $6.0M (+ 185.7%)
- 2004: $9.3M (+ 55.0%)
- 2005: $16.0M (+ 72.0%)
- 2006: $25.2M (+ 57.5%)
- 2007: $31.7M (+ 25.8%)
- 2008: $61.3M (+ 93.4%)
- 2009: $169.5M (+ 176.5%)
- 2010: $441.3M (+ 160.4%)
- 2011: $1,092.2M (+ 147.5%)
- 2012: $1,540.0M (+ 41.0%)
- 2013: $1,535.0M (- 0.3%)
- 2014: $1,600M (+ 6.7%)
- 2015: $1,400M (- 12.5%)
Note that the AAP no longer gives as much detail on sales (they want you to pay for exact figures), so the totals for the last 2 years are rounded to the nearest hundred million dollars.
Just for fun, back in 2013, I predicted a “5–10% increase” for 2014 (actual was +6.7%), so I did pretty well there. I didn’t make a prediction for 2015, but I don’t think I would have expected a decrease of more than 10%. It still marks 5 years in a row of e-book sales of over one billion dollars, and remember this only counts large publisher sales, not self-published e-books, which account for a larger and larger slice of the market. So overall e-book sales may even still be going up.
For adult books, e-book sales were down 9.5%, and children’s & young adult e-book sales were down 43.3%.
Overall trade book sales were $7,186.3M in 2015, up slightly from $7,128.7M in 2014. That would put e-books at about 19.5% of the total.
In the random “Really Useful Stuff” Department, I recently started using DropBox, the online file storage / backup / syncing service. It allows you to upload files to be stored online (in the “cloud” you keep hearing so much about). This allows you to (a) back up your files, (b) sync them between computers and mobile devices, and (c) share files (even files too large to email) with friends or co-workers.
The best part? It’s completely free.
The second-best part is that it’s really easy to use, even for the non-tech-savvy. When my sister (who hates computers and only grudgingly accepts that they’re not going away) told me she was uploading photos on her trip to Italy (basically giving her unlimited storage space, since she could then erase her camera’s memory card and take more pictures), I knew it was easy to use. Even better: she shared her photo folder with me and I could see pics from her trip each day. Cool.
To use it, just sign up for a free account and install the free DropBox desktop application (for Mac or Windows; there are also mobile versions for iPhones and Android). It will create a “DropBox” folder on your computer. To use it, just follow the directions below:
- Drag & drop any files or folders you want into the DropBox folder.
- There is no Step 2.
Your files are now backed up online, and you can access them from any of your other computers (or smartphones) that you’ve installed DropBox on, or any Internet-connected computer (by signing into the DropBox website).
For example, set it up on your home and work computers, and drop a file into the DropBox folder at work. When you turn on your computer at home, the file will be waiting for you in the DropBox folder on your home computer.
There are a million more uses for it (including sharing folders with friends or co-workers, or having an off-site backup, very useful if your computer gets messed up or your house gets flooded or burns down), but those are the basics. Now that I use it, I’m not sure how I got along without it.
With a basic account, you get 2 GB of free online space. (Or you can pay $9.95 a month for 50 GB, or double that for 100 GB.) If you sign up using the link below and install the desktop application, we’ll both get an extra 250 MB, so you’ll start out with 2.25 GB.
I hope you find it as useful as I do. For anyone who already uses DropBox, what else do you use it for? I’d love to hear some ideas in the comments below.
I just wanted to highlight a few new blog features that I thought my readers might enjoy:
“Share and Enjoy!” Links
You may notice the spiffy (OK, I think they’re spiffy) new icons that appear below each post. These are links to popular social networking and news aggregator services, like Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Reddit, etc. If you find an article you especially enjoy, you can share it with your friends by clicking the appropriate icon. There are also links to email the article or subscribe to the RSS feed (also see the icons in the upper-right of the page). I work hard researching and writing my blog posts, and I hope my readers find them useful. It’s very rewarding to receive confirmation that people are enjoying the blog when I see that people have shared my posts with their friends.
Related Posts Links
When viewing an individual blog post, you’ll now see a list of 2–5 links to related posts at the bottom (below the “Share and Enjoy” icons, and above the comment form). These links (and the comment form) only show up when viewing an individual post page (the page for this post is here), not the overall blog home page. This should be a convenient way for you to find related posts that discuss the same or similar topics. Another great way to find similar posts is to click on the links in the “Browse by Category” or “Browse by Tag” boxes in the left-hand column.
Subscribe by Email
Just added today, you’ll now find a box at the bottom of the right-hand column that allows you to enter your email address to receive notifications when I post a new article on my blog. Once you subscribe, you’ll receive a confirmation email, and once you click the link, you’ll receive an email each time I make a new blog post (usually about 10–12 times a month). Don’t worry — I hate spam as much (probably more) than you do, your email address will never be given to anyone else, and you can unsubscribe at any time. I’m still testing this one out, so please let me know if you encounter any bugs and let me know what you think of it!
Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think of the new features, or if there are any other suggestions or other features you’d like to see. Thank you!
As gas rises well above $3 a gallon, and a latte at Starbucks can run you close to $4, it got me thinking more about the prices of e-books. There is lots of debate over bestsellers selling for over $9.99 — in many cases $12.99 or $14.99, which is beyond the price range I will generally pay for e-books. But, on the other end of the spectrum, one of the perennially most popular posts at the authors’ forums I hang out at is some variation of “Should I price my e-books at $0.99 or $2.99?”
This choice always manages to depress me. I understand the appeal of pricing our work as low as possible ($0.99 is the minimum sale price on Amazon’s Kindle store) and getting as many readers as possible. At one point, I even sold my novels for $0.99 each. But I also understand it’s an unsustainable price point, one that will not support authors producing quality work. Making the choice even less appealing is the fact that novels priced between $2.99 and $9.99 now earn 70% on Amazon, but only 35% for books below that price. (Barnes & Noble’s breakdown is similar: 65% / 40%). So, you’re only making half the royalty on one-third the price — meaning you make one-sixth the royalty on $0.99 books as on $2.99 books, leaving only 35 cents per sale. You’d have to sell 100,000 copies a year just to make any kind of living (yes, royalties are taxed, including self-employment tax), and there just aren’t many authors who will manage that. (UPDATE: there are 44 indies on the planet selling that many through Amazon.)
And, really, can readers not afford $2.99 for an e-book? Isn’t that a more than reasonable price? How many readers will say, “Sure, I’ll buy it for 99 cents, but $2.99 is just out of my price range”?
This debate also got me thinking about what a great deal a full-length novel for just $2.99 really is. For that price, you get several hours of entertainment (compared to a 90-minute movie for $10 or more), an instant download, a digital copy that lasts forever, text-to-speech, and all the other cool features of e-books, like adjustable text sizes and built-in dictionaries. At $2.99, that’s cheaper than dirt. I mean, what else can you buy these days for under $3? I set out to take a look.
Well, you can’t buy a gallon of gas or a latte for under $3 these days, but how does $2.99 compare to the prices of a few other inexpensive items? I mean, is an e-book literally cheaper than dirt?
I checked Amazon.com, and I couldn’t find a bag of dirt for less than $2.99. Their most popular brand of dirt is $6.99 — you can buy both books in my Edge of Apocalypse Series (Right Ascension and Declination) for less than that!
This is a depressing start.
OK, let’s try something lower than dirt. How about … I don’t know … how about poop? Surely an e-book will be worth more than a bag of poop! Let’s check it out on Amazon … oh, crap. Does that bat guano really cost almost 10 bucks?? That’s more than all 3 of my novels combined!
All right, I know what you’re saying now: dirt and fertilizer can actually be useful, for gardening. Fine. A depressing line of thought, but fine. So how about if we look at something totally useless, and also gross and worthless. Something like … lemme see … fake poop! Yeah! Surely my e-books are worth more than fake poop, right? Right? Wrong.
So I set out to find the most useless item I could find, something with no redeeming value whatsoever. Some product that really just … stunk. And then I found this: a foul-smelling spray called (I swear I am not making this up) “liquid ass.” Surely my e-books are worth more than — wait, that junk is almost $5? And that’s on sale? I’m in the wrong line of work.
OK, maybe I’m going about this the wrong way. All of those things, while seemingly worthless, might have some value to someone (gardeners or pranksters, I suppose). But what about stuff that is even more plentiful than dirt or bat poop … stuff that’s all around us, like water or air??
So I checked trusty Amazon.com again and found this single bottle of water for … $3.39?? Wait, guys, water is still just Hydrogen and Oxygen, right? And you’re charging over $3 (plus shipping) for one lousy bottle? You know water falls from the sky, for free, right? It’s almost as plentiful as …
Then it hit me: air. Fine, e-books are just electronic ones and zeroes, etherial and without tangible form. But at the very least I should be able to rest assured that no one would pay more than $2.99 for air.
Unfortunately, the briefest of Amazon searches informed me that, yes, people are purchasing air in a can, and they’re paying $20 for the privilege. That’s … that’s more than I charge for a combination package of all 3 of my novels in paperback form.
Since this little experiment was depressing me more than I anticipated, I figured it was time to wrap it up. What is something that literally no one would ever pay more than $2.99 for? Something worth so much less than my e-books, that there’s no way it costs as much. Something that’s only worth a few cents?
That’s it! What would people pay to buy, literally, a few cents? A penny. A one cent piece. You know, the things you throw away or leave on the counter when you get them in change? And not an old, rare penny with numismatic value either, I mean a brand-spanking-new, not-worth-more-than-a-penny penny.
At this point, if I told you 4 new pennies sold for $4.95, would you even be surprised?
Sigh. And some people think e-books should cost less than $2.99?
The image pretty much says it all, but head into a Barnes & Noble store tomorrow (Saturday, February 26) and check out B&N’s Nook Color “reader’s tablet,” and get a free cup of coffee at the B&N Cafe. The fine print: you must visit the Nook or Nook Color counter and try a demo unit, then ask for a coffee coupon. The coupon is good on Feb 26 only, only at “B&N Cafe (serving Starbucks coffee)” locations (not Starbucks), and you get one non-customized “tall” (which means “small” in Starbucks language) coffee.
The Nook Color is an Android-based tablet computer with a 7″ LCD screen. B&N markets it as a “reader’s tablet,” and it can read e-books from B&N, as well as color children’s books and magazines. It is $249.
It’s a good excuse to stop by B&N this Saturday. If you do, please leave a comment below and let me know what you thought of the Nook Color.
In homage to the hilarious Dave Barry, I thought I would clear up some popular grammar misconceptions by answering grammar questions sent in by readers. Let’s get started!
What is the serial comma, and why should I care?
The serial comma (also known as the Oxford comma, since that’s where it went to college) is the last comma in a list or series such as “red, white, and blue.” Some people don’t use it, mainly because … I don’t know, pressing the comma key a second time in a single sentence is really hard? Sure, most times it’s not really critical, but sometimes it can make a big difference, so it’s best to use it, for clarity. Consider if your wife saw you post one of these two status updates on Facebook:
I had sex with an amazing woman, my wife and my best friend.
I had sex with an amazing woman, my wife, and my best friend.
The first one is clarifying that the amazing woman is your wife, who is also your best friend. The second one sounds fun but will have you looking for a good divorce lawyer.
What is the deal with people using quotation marks incorrectly?
I’m glad you asked. This is a pet peeve of mine. You see this all the time on signs at restaurants and stuff. When you put something in quotes, you should either be quoting another speaker or using the quotes to mean that something might not really be what it’s claimed to be — like if you say that O.J. Simpson is “innocent” or that Sarah Palin is an “author.” But when a restaurant touts their “Fresh” Fish, I eat elsewhere.
Is proper capitalization really a big deal?
Yes. Proper capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse, and helping your uncle jack off a horse.
y r u so srs abt this grammar stuff? its no big deal
Get the hell off my blog.
I always get confused with your and you’re and there, their, and they’re. Help!
First of all, that’s not in the form of a question, but I want to help you out, because there’s no quicker way to look silly than to use one of these words incorrectly. Words that sound the same are called “homophones,” which means that they have negative attitudes toward words of the same sex getting it on. If you don’t know the difference, spell out the words instead of using contractions. Doesn’t “I hate you are stupid blog and you are stupid grammar rules” sound dumb?
Why doesn’t anyone know how to use apostrophes anymore?
Thank you, dear reader, for bringing up this vitally important issue, which I think should be one of our nation’s top 3 priorities, along with curing prostate cancer (or at least finding a better way to check for it) and instituting a college football playoff.
What do all of these examples have in common?
Sale on SUV’s
I told my parent’s that school is for loosers
If you answered “they are all abominations,” you get a gold star. Apostrophes are used to indicate a contraction, or possession. Not just because you pluralized something and felt like hitting the apostrophe key since you saved a keystroke by skipping a serial comma earlier.
Well, that’s all for this edition of David’s Grammar Guide. Leave your grammar questions in the comments below, and try not to think too much about how “fresh” that fish you had for lunch really was.
Excuse the off-topic post, but hopefully some of you will find it helpful. I’ve seen too many examples recently of false advertising, misleading claims, and outright scams. I hate to see anyone get ripped off, but that goes double for my readers. Here are some examples of people getting ripped off every day, and how you can avoid it:
OK, this one just makes me sick. Remember AOL? The old Internet company famous for sending out trial CDs by the truckload and for making it impossible to cancel their dial-up Internet service? Well, broadband Internet passed them by, but they still have an old user base, many of which still use their @aol.com email addresses. However, 75% of the people still signed up with AOL at $24.99 a month (4 million of them) keep it just for the email, and don’t use their dial-up service at all, since they’re already paying for much faster broadband service. The nauseating part? You can keep your AOL email address for free and cancel the dial-up service you never use. One phone call could save 4 million people $300 a year. That’s $1.2 billion wasted. Ugh.
Lots of people apparently still fall for these forwarded emails and spam. Look, Bill Gates is not going to send you $1,000 for each person you forward that email to, you will not have 7 years of bad luck if you fail to forward it, and that unbelievable photo is just Photoshopped. Aside from wasting time and annoying the people you’re sending them to, these chain emails can contain viruses (which are often attached to emails saying “please forward me to as many people as possible so I can spread!”), or be used by spammers to harvest all those email addresses that are quoted as part of the chain. Just because something is in “print,” does not mean it’s remotely accurate, so please at least check it out at the debunking site snopes.com before hitting the forward button — at least 99% of these chain emails are utterly fake. Even worse, if you believe these annoying emails, you’re more likely to believe the really dangerous email spam, the ones that claim someone in Africa wants you to help him get $50 million into the country, or that some magic pill will cure all that ails you. Just hit delete.
Do you have a container of Tic-Tacs around? Go grab it, please. (I’ll wait.) OK, check out how much sugar those Tic-Tacs have: 0g. Very cool, they’re sugar-free! But wait … look a little closer. The serving size is 0.49 grams. Hm, I don’t think that number is random. Now look a little closer at the amount of sugar. Where it says “0g,” there’s a little triangle asterisk thing. Look at the bottom and it says “less than 0.5g.” OK, so they rounded it down to zero. But wait, the serving size (one tic-tac) is only 0.49g, so even if the thing was 100% pure sugar, that’s still less than 0.5g, and is therefore rounded down to zero. In other words, they could label a bag of pure sugar the exact same way, and “legally” call it “sugar free,” just by screwing with the serving size. And our great Food & Drug Administration allows companies to label food like this. Thanks for looking out for us, FDA! Does anyone doubt that whoever makes Tic-Tacs funds some political action committee or lobbyist who gave some nice campaign contribution to some Senator on the FDA oversight committee? Legalized corruption, you gotta love it. The takeaway: either read those food labels very closely, or just ignore them altogether.
This is getting really bad on the Internet. As people start to ignore online ads, the advertisers are getting sneakier, crossing the line from scintillating ad copy (that perhaps exaggerates just a tad) to outright bald-faced lies and scams. One of my favorite recent examples are these ads for “news stories” about acai berries. One recent ad claims to be from “Health 5 News,” and takes you to a page that looks like a news article. It comes complete with a picture of a (completely fictional) news reporter, who claims she was “skeptical” of the magical claims about acai berries, and so tried it out for herself. Guess what? She loved it! She lost 30 pounds, had more energy, grew 4 inches in height, it cured her cancer, and she gained X-ray vision. Just click here to try for yourself! The only problem? The whole thing is a scam. There’s no Health 5 News, no reporter, no experiment, it’s just one big misleading ad for a product that doesn’t do any of the things they claim it does.
If you haven’t really looked at your phone bill for a while, please do. When I was a teenager, I remember looking at my parents’ home phone bill and finding three charges for $7 each per month, to rent phones. I’m talking about landline phones, not even cordless phones, that you could buy for $10 at Wal-Mart. And my parents (and millions of others) were paying $84 per year (we had 3, so it was $252 per year) for these stupid things. Man, I was mad, and I put a stop to that right away. I recently heard a similar story, of a guy who took over his grandmother’s finances when she got sick, and she had been “renting” a $10 phone, at $7 per month, for 50 years. That’s $4,200 for a $10 phone. It should be criminal. But the phone company (just like AOL, above), is not going to call you up and remind you that you’re getting royally screwed. The worst part? The guy called the phone company and told them to cancel the rental and come pick up their phone, and they just said to keep it, since it wasn’t even worth paying to have it shipped back to them. Nauseating.
Car Insurance and Insurance Agents
You might have been with the same car insurance company for decades. And you may have an agent who claims to check around to get you the best deal every year, yet always just sends you a form letter recommending you stay with the same company. My parents (to pick on them again) were in the same situation. Yet, they made one phone call and found a different company who charged less than half the price. So, what was this agent doing for 20 years, claiming they were getting the best deal around, when one phone call would have learned they were vastly overpaying? He was cashing referral checks, that’s what. Hey, insurance agents have to get paid too, and you pay their salary (it’s important to remember this little fact when dealing with others, like financial advisors, for example). But their incentive is not to get you the best price — it’s to either get you to may more (if they get a percentage) or steer you to the company that pays them the highest referral fees. Either way, you lose. Even worse, it’s not like he pointed out that my parents (like many others) were paying for duplicative insurance they didn’t need. Car insurers love to charge you for “personal injury protection,” which is already covered by your health insurance, or roadside assistance, which you may already have through AAA or your car manufacturer (or both!). When you get hurt in a car accident and go to the hospital, you’ll pull out your health insurance card, not your car insurance card. And it’s illegal for you to get reimbursed for the same medical expenses twice (the insurers will check and they won’t both pay out), but perfectly legal for two companies to charge you twice for the same coverage. Buyer beware.
This article is getting too long, but I’ll just say this. We’ve all seen how “well” these guys planned for the future and protected their clients during the recent housing bubble and spectacular economic collapse their financial products caused. (Did you get a phone call from your advisor telling you to sell your house before the crash?) And my grandmother had some money with a big financial firm for a while, and when I took over her finances, I checked her statements. The value of her investments never seemed to go up, and her financial advisor wouldn’t say what fees she was paying, but every financial advisor I know drives a Porsche. Enough said.
Anything on HSN or QVC
You can get whatever it is for half the price somewhere else. Yes, no matter how enthusiastic the salespeople are. They recently had the gall to sell the Kindle 2 — after the Kindle 3 was already out — for $319, when a new Kindle 3 costs only $189 direct from Amazon.
Scammy Kindle E-Books
Last week, I saw an example of a “book” being sold on the Amazon Kindle store, called something like “How to Find Free Games for the Kindle.” It has 9 reviews, all of them 1-star. It is two pages long. Page one is “Press Alt + Shift + M to bring up Minesweeper on your Kindle.” Page two has a link to some free games in the Amazon Kindle store. (Here you go!) That’s it. And, according to its sales rank, it’s selling 50 copies a day. I just saved you 99 cents.
I’m sure I could think of many more examples, but I’ll stop here. Hopefully it’s made you a little more skeptical about claims you see in advertisements, emails, and food labels. Also, I know it’s easy to just get into a routine, but please take a closer look at your phone bills, Internet bills, cable bills, car insurance, etc. and see if you’re overpaying for something or paying for something you don’t need.
I have decided to release a short story I wrote several years ago, entitled The Glass Dragon, for free on my website. This 5,800-word short story explores the topic of time travel, and living a life of What Ifs.
A story of the convoluted consequences of a near-future world of time travel gone awry. Can the newly-introduced TimeCops restore order? Or will they be erased before they ever existed?
Download it from the “Stuff” section of my website, here:
While I’m currently providing this to my readers for free, I’d ask that you please don’t re-sell it or re-post it elsewhere. Please feel free to share the link to the download page, where anyone can download it for free. Thank you, and I’d love to hear any comments you have after reading it below!
Just a quick note that, thanks to everyone who voted for me in the first round, my entry for The Twiller has made the final round in the Red Adept Reviews Eulogy Contest. The three great finalists are vying for free advertising on Red Adept’s book review blog — and I could definitely use it! Anyway, please head over and vote — no registration or anything is required, just a click. (Mine is Entry #2.)
Hi all, just a quick plea asking you to take a quick detour to the Red Adept Eulogy Contest to vote on this week’s entries (I am slightly partial to Entry #5!). 😉
Voting is free and quick (no registration or anything), and the eulogies are pretty entertaining. You can read the entries (and read about the Twiller’s tragic accident) and vote here:
This contest is pretty important, since the winner gets some great advertising on Red Adept’s very popular book review blog.
I’m currently in second place, so I can definitely use your help! Voting ends this Sunday, November 14.