If you’re going to self-publish an e-book, the one market you cannot ignore (at least in the United States) is Amazon. According to the eBook Architect site Amazon currently has 60 – 70% of the American market. Amazon’s closest competitor is Barnes & Noble’s Nook with 15 – 25% share. Keep in mind that Barnes & Noble’s retail stores are struggling and their Nook tablet isn’t nearly as popular as Amazon’s Kindle, and it’s likely that the Nook market will have no where to go but down.
Third, and most likely growing faster than Nook is Apple’s iBookstore with 10 – 20% of the market. Far behind is Kobo with 2 – 5% of the market and Google Play Books with 1 – 2% of the market.
Since none of these e-book retailers give out sales data, most of these estimates are based on various data that may be open to interpretation. However, it does give you a rough idea of the e-book market:
- Amazon – 60 – 70%
- Nook – 15 – 25%
- iBookstore – 10 – 20%
- Kobo – 2- 5%
- Google Play Books – 1 – 2%
From my own experience, this market share break down makes sense. For every 1 e-book I’ve sold on Nook or iBookstore, I’ve sold at least 3 e-books on Amazon. So far, I haven’t sold a single e-book on Kobo, but I’ve sold close to 2 – 3 printed books a month on CreateSpace.
Obviously with these rough statistics as your guide, focus the majority of your e-book marketing efforts promoting your e-books on Amazon. Then worry about Nook, iBookstore, Kobo, and Google Play Books later. Since Apple’s iBookstore requires that you buy ISBNs to identify each e-book, skip iBookstore initially or go through Smashwords and let Smashwords put your e-book on iBookstore in return for a cut of your profits.
Remember, spend as little money as possible to maximize your profits, so focus on the e-book retailers that are free, which are Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and Google Play Books. Given the larger market share of Amazon, expect to sell more e-books on Amazon than any other retailer so focus your attention on Amazon and put a little effort in submitting your e-book on the other retailers. If your e-book isn’t selling on Amazon, chances are good it won’t suddenly do far better anywhere else.
The quality of your e-book is irrelevant. It all depends on the marketing. Market a bad book and you’ll sell a few copies before word gets around that your book isn’t that good. However, if you market a good book, word of mouth combined with your constant marketing efforts will keep your e-book selling steadily. Once you start publishing multiple quality e-books, then you can watch your sales slowly rise over time. Just make it easy on yourself by putting most of your energy promoting your e-book on the largest e-book retailer, which is Amazon (at least for now).