Amazon at Peak of Self-Publishing Industry

Amazon self-publishing, CreateSpace dominates, CreateSpace ISBNs, self-published authors’ profits

Amazon’s Self-Publishing Platform is Supremely Popular

Major publishers have been facing dropping sales. According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP), sales of adult books, ebooks, and children’s books dropped in the first quarter of 2016, compared to the first period of 2015. Ebooks accounted for a bit more than 27 percent of adult book sales in 2016, showing a drop from the same period in 2015. Sales of children’s and young adult ebooks fell even more drastically.

Amazingly, Amazon continues to succeed as the publishing industry struggles. Part of its secret of success is its DIY print business, Create Space. According to Bowker, the company that issues ISBN numbers to mark new books, self-publishing has taken off in a major way. The number of ISBNs created for self-published books grew by 375 percent between 2010 and 2015. CreateSpace is at the top of the list of most-used self-publishing platforms.

CreateSpace Dominates

Using ISBNs as a measure, the six most successful self-publishing platforms for both print and ebooks, starting with the most widely used, are: CreateSpace, Smashwords, Lulu, Blurb, XLibris, and AuthorHouse. CreateSpace is miles ahead of the next-most-used platform, with more than four hundred thousand ISBNs developed in 2014. Smashwords published only around one hundred thousand ISBNs in the same time period.

Amazon’s dominance in self-publishing actually stretches beyond CreateSpace. Its Kindle Direct Publishing platform allows authors to publish their ebooks without ISBNs, so Bowker cannot record that data. Clearly, Amazon is cornering the market on self-published books.

Reasons to Self-Publish

Self-publishing is indubitably growing, and some accuse self-published authors of overtaking the major publishing houses, largely contributing to the drop in publishers’ book sales. Authors are drawn toward self-publishing because they can circumvent publishers, avoid the painful book-acceptance process, and keep most of their profits for themselves.

According to the Author Earnings report, more units of self-published ebooks have sold than units of ebooks published by the Big Five publishers. The report captures 75 percent of downloads made from Amazon, so it can determine rather accurately how well self-published authors are faring. While Big Five publishers earn more gross dollars overall from ebooks, self-published authors make more profit than authors who publish ebooks with big publishers.

Typically, self-published authors can earn up to 70 percent of sales profit. In contrast, authors who go with the Big Five publishers earn between 10 and 15 percent of the print sales price. Self-published authors also maintain the ability to adjust the price of their books, so they have the option of lowering prices to boost sales.

CreateSpace Is Successful

There’s a reason that authors flock to CreateSpace to publish their books. Aside from its convenience and user-friendliness, CreateSpace has the added advantage of backing by Amazon as its sales platform. Amazon’s gargantuan customer base means it gives each book massive potential to be seen. Compared to other venues, Amazon attracts a fair share of eyeballs! Moreover, authors who want to promote their books’ visibility within Amazon can pay for additional marketing services offered by CreateSpace.

Official book sales figures may be receding, but self-publishing is a force to be reckoned with. With CreateSpace, Amazon has worked out how to make the most of this market.

Gilan Gertz is Content Marketing Manager at GreenPoint Global, a tri-continental outsourcing company. For the past six years, she has researched and written about a variety of topics for GreenPoint Global's online Publishing, Health-Care, and Education Divisions. Previously, she worked as a psychotherapist in outpatient settings. Gilan has a BA from Barnard College and a Master of Social Work degree from Yeshiva University.

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