Way back in the long-ago time of 2009, I did a keynote presentation at Balticon titled "The Future of Content Delivery." I covered a lot of ground in the burgeoning eBook/podcast/self-pub/freemium areas, including a breakdown of the pre-order system ARealGirl and I used to sell over 1,000 hardcover copies of THE ROOKIE in the first week, sans any help from publishers, media coverage, PR or advertising.
If you want to listen to the presentation, click here. You can skip past my bombastic intro and listen to just the presentation by forwarding to the 5:00 mark. It's got some naughty language, so be warned. It covers a lot of ground, some of which is still useful to aspring authors contemplating if they should pursue a traditional book deal or strike off on their own. I get to the eReader and eBook analysis at about 35:00.
A focus of that speech, however, was how eBooks offered a way for aspiring authors to reach the masses, and how cell phones were going to become the dominant consumption device for reading digital content. This was in the heyday of the Kindle 2 launch, when Amazon was really ramping up efforts to change the game. Change the game it did, sure, but at that time I was convinced that consumption on eBook-only devices would soon be dwarfed by people reading on smart phones and other smart devices. I predicted that while Kindle sales were huge, the numbers sold were statistically insignificant to the sales of smart phones, and that the day of the dedicated eBook readers would soon pass.
So let it be written, so let it be done! At least that's what app maker Flurry states in a recent study. I found this info through Junkie Gmork (Carmen Wellman), who saw it in this Activity Press article.
According to mobile app researcher Flurry, almost 90% of time spent reading eBooks, globally, is done using smartphones, not tablets, and not dedicated eReaders. Flurry's study beaks it down to small phones, large phones, "phablets" (my new favorite word), small tablets and large tablets.
So, Kindles, Nooks and Kobos are great. Tablets? Also great. Kindle Fire and Nook tablets? Even greater. But, still, the amount of eBooks read on all of the above pales in comparison to the amount read on smart phones.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
People carry smart phones around with them 24/7. More and more of these people are discovering they can read eBooks on the devices they already use for dozens of other purposes, that they constantly have at their fingertips. Right this very moment, there are over 1 billion smart devices out there (phones and tablets). It means there is a huge, as-yet-untapped market for eBooks, where the reader doesn't need to buy anything new other than the book itself.
In other words: there are millions of potential customers who can enter the market at a price of "free" to about five bucks. People buy smart phones for many reasons, then later understand their fancy device gives them this cool eBook thing.
This is for a market segment (eBooks) where some experts say a 41% increase in annual eBook sales is a "growth slowdown."
But, does this massive increase in "digital consumption real estate" (I'll coin that phrase, thank you very much) mean anything for the indie writer? Absolutely. Blogger David Gaughran's analysis states that indie publishers have 30% of the top-selling Amazon eBooks. That is staggering to me. Sure, you can expect a few home-run hitters like Hugh Howey or Amanda Hocking, but for 30% of the top eBooks sold to be indie titles? Gaughran goes on to estimate that indie writers have captured 25% of all of Amazon's ebook sales. And Amazon? That's a big-ass store right there. A quarter of that is lot of sales.
I AM CHERRY PICKING
This is just one study. I haven't done serious legwork to see if other studies support or contradict these findings, nor have I looked into the methodology (not that I am an expert in such matters, to say the least). This Publishers Weekly article only talks about dedicated eReaders and multi-use tablets: it doesn't mention phones at all. Which is weird.
CAN'T FIND THE SLIDE DECK
A bummer, was kind of nice to see these stats and the fancy pictures I put together. But hell, this preso is four years old, which is equal to eight lifetimes in the tech world.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Are we going to see more indie eBook successes, or will Big Publishing catch up to what's going on and commandeer the market? Are you frightened that eBook sales improved "only" 41% from 2012? Will we get a second season of FIREFLY?