Thursday, October 24, 2013


by Deb Werksman
Editorial Manager
Sourcebooks Casablanca 
This material was complied by a colleague and may in the future appear on our Sourcebooks NEXT blog.  Can't wait to hear what YOU think!

A look at sales distribution shows majority of exposure is still in print.

We believe in authors and we believe in books – and that those books should be available whenever and however readers want. Just as important, though, is WHEREVER readers want.

There’s obviously been a lot of emphasis on the proliferation of ebooks—especially in the romance genre, which has one of the highest percentages of ebook sales.  To find out just how much, though, we started digging into the sales of three authors whose books released in the same month this spring to find out exactly where their books were going. Surprise—more than half of the distribution for these three romance authors is in print!


A couple of caveats: this represents sell-in not sell-through except in the case of ebooks, which are recorded sales. The purple on the graphs above represent all ebooks.  The light blue is print books sold by Amazon.  The green are accounts where majority of sales are going to libraries, but could also have indie bookstore and other sales. The full size of the pie is not proportional from author to author (i.e. Author A has about twice the sales of author C, but the full pie is the same size for consistency).
So what do we take away from this?
·         Without a print edition, an author can be missing more than 50% of her audience.

·         Author C is relatively new, but got a starred review and some major attention in trade publications, which obviously had a huge impact in her distribution to libraries.

·         Author C also does some indie self-publishing, which made us think her ebook sales would be higher.

·         When Wal-Mart and Target are not part of the mix, Barnes & Noble and libraries are roughly equal, and there, ebooks can be more than 50%.
Is this surprising to you? Let us know what you think.


  1. My readers often tell me that they still love paper books so they can see them on their bookcases and hold them in their hands and even smell the wonder of a brand new book; but there are those who buy both ebook and paper. I'm just glad they're reading my books, no matter what the format or where they buy them. Loved the comparison of the three authors!

  2. I loved the pie-chart comparisons of the three authors. It's interesting how different authors' sales are in different areas.

    Bottom line, Sourcebooks understands this. Yay!

  3. Hi everyone, want to give credit that this blog was written by a colleague and may in the future appear on the Sourcebooks NEXT blog.

  4. I think it's fascinating to see the breakout! I still read mostly print, though have a Nook, but my eyes are tired from writing on a monitor for hours all day and until bedtime, so for me, reading a book is a break. :)

  5. I'm a print reader although I was given a kindle and I'm afraid I've only read one book on it lol. The pie charts are interesting. I'm usually an Amazon and Barnes & Noble buyer but I will still buy anywhere I see available books. Sourcebooks has been very generous in some of their marketing and I for one appreciate it very much.

  6. Looks like Walmart and Target are the place to be. Too bad they don't carry very many books!

  7. Thank you, Deb. I think part of why paper books remain popular has to do with emotion. Someone who has read books for many years might consider holding a bunch of printed sheets bound between covers an integral part of the overall experience of reading.

    Also, technology is moving at a pace faster than many of us can absorb. I'm doing my best to learn and adjust. But there's still a Luddite part of me who likes to stick with what I'm used to. Such as reading books made from dead trees. I can't be the only one.

    Keep up the good work!

  8. I'm a print reader and I have been trying to make the transition to e-books. I find that reading e-books requires more effort on the reader's part. But I think as e-reader technology develops it will become fun to read e-books.

    It's good to see that print still matters and it looks like a healthy participation in all forms of media is what authors need to do now.

    Thank you to the authors that shared their information. These pie charts a very helpful.

    Wonderful article.

  9. I buy both print and ebooks. I get the majority of my books at Amazon and Books A Million. I usually buy whichever way is the cheapest! Sometimes Amazon has books for sale in print that are cheaper than ebooks. I have found lots of great authors that are only in ebook.

  10. I definitely prefer print although e-books do make it easier to travel without lugging so many books with me!