The Frankfurt Book Fair is taking place at the moment, so the amount of literature coverage on TV has gone up as well. As in previous years, e-books and e-readers are a hot topic of discussion.
Tonight I chanced to watch tagesthemen, a major TV news program. And the obligatory book fair report was about e-books and e-reading. The first part of the report was about the challenges that e-books and the sale of print books via the Internet pose for bookstores (though only approx. 15 percent of all book sales in Germany are online sales). But then the report started talking about self-publishing and even interviewed German indie author Martina Gercke, whose romance Holunderküsschen (Juniper kisses) is one of Germany’s big indie publishing successes. In general, the report was balanced and positive. No “Wah, the sky is falling – Amazon is going to eat us all” rhetoric and a positive portrayal of indie authors. Indeed, the report concluded with the words that e-books, print books and audio books will coexist and that none of them will cannibalize the other. The whole thing is available online here, by the way. Alas, only in German.
For all of those who are waiting on news about the state of the German e-book market as well as the current market share of e-books in Germany, one interesting figure I have found is that eleven percent of the German population occasionally read e-books on tablets, smartphones and dedicated e-readers. However, the same people who read e-books also continue to read print books, so the actual market share of e-books is lower. Nonetheless, the revenue generated by e-books has grown by 260 percent (from an admittedly low level) and is now at 175 million Euro in 2012.
In that light, I am happy to announce that the launch of our line of German language e-books has been a success. Sales are still modest, but nonetheless German language books made up almost a third of my total sales in September, which is a success in my book. Plus, September was my best sales month ever (and would have been even without German books), though my sales are still modest by other people’s standards.
Under the cut you’ll find some details about our sales figures for August (where I sort of forgot to post the figures) and September:
Let’s start with August. In August, traditionally a slow sales month, I sold 17 copies across all titles and sales channels. This is the same number I sold in December and January, traditionally strong months. The detailed breakdown is below:
Amazon UK: 8
Amazon Germany: 1
The interesting bit here is that my sales at Amazon UK are as high as my Amazon.com sales, even though the UK is a much smaller market. This was before I launched the line of German books, so the lone German sale is for an English language book.
September looks much better, because I sold 27 copies across all titles and platforms, making it my best month ever. What is more, I started selling at XinXii again and finally made a sale at Kobo to a reader in Australia. Here is the detailed breakdown:
Amazon UK: 2
Amazon Germany: 8
Interestingly, my UK sales, which have grown steadily throughout the summer, all but died in September and October isn’t looking much better. I suspect that sales cycles might simply be different and British people more likely to buy books during the summer. Meanwhile, Amazon.com sales picked up (which fits in with what Dean Wesley Smith says about the seasons of publishing here). The German sales were all for our two (now three) German books, making the launch a resounding success. XinXii sales, which have always been erratic, are finally picking up again, and I finally sold a book at Kobo. I also passed the 200 lifetime sales threshold sometime in September.
I know that those figures will probably have the KDP Select evangelists screaming and clicking the freebie button, but the figures show that slow and steady growth does work, though it takes longer than the artificial freebie and Amazon voodoo push. Expanding your product line (in my case with German translations, though it could also be audio books or something else) also increases sales.