Man on a books

Editor’s note: This article was written in 2013. The numbers themselves are out of date but the trend continues. Standby for a 2020 update.

I began this piece titled ‘Marketing Your Book in the 21st Century.’ The idea being that 21st Century technological innovation has made obsolete almost everything 20th-century book publishing, marketing and selling business.Which is true … so true, as a matter of fact, that the pace of technological innovation has made the title, ‘Marketing Your Book in the 21st Century’ itself is obsolete. My research, so far, has found that metrics from as late as 2010 are now obsolete in 2013. The truth is, how and where books are sold is changing fast, real fast. Many of the book marketing strategies and tactics accepted as common practice five to ten years ago don’t work anymore because the environment that made them work doesn’t exist anymore. 
Here are a few facts:

  • Google has estimated that as of 2010, approximately 130,000,000 unique book titles have been published since we’ve begun publishing books.
  • 3 million new titles were published in 2011.
  • Bowker, the company responsible for managing International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN’s) estimated releasing 15 million ISBN’s in 2012.
  • Amazon has over 22 million listings under ‘paperback’ and more than 8 million listings under ‘hardcover’.
  • Barnes & Noble, America’s largest brick & mortar bookstore (700 stores) stocks anywhere from 60,000 – 200,000 titles per store.
  • Independent bookstores stock anywhere from a few thousand to up to 40,000 titles.
  • In 2012 Amazon sales represented 27%+ of all books sold; that percentage grows each year.
  • In 2012 more books were sold online (43.8%) than in all brick and mortar retail stores.
  • Large bookstore chains (Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, etc.) accounted for just 18.7% of book sales in 2012, down from 28.7% in 2011.
  • Independent bookstore accounted for just 3.7% of book sales.
What do these facts mean to you the author? They set the stage for how and where you will be able to market and sell (and not sell) your book. Your book must compete with 30 million other books! Over the next few weeks, I’ll teach you where books sell and where they don’t sell – you’ll be surprised! Next week we’ll discuss why bookstores are a terrible place to sell books.