After a 2% dip in overall book sales in 2011, the stats are just out for 2012. And they make fascinating reading. Total book sales covering digital and print formats grew 4% last year, with revenue totaling an almost unimaginable £3.3bn. That’s an awful lot of our quaint British pounds!
The 2012 figures, much healthier than the previous year, were boosted by huge leaps in digital formats, with more and more readers choosing the ebook option. Total digital sales were up an astonishing 66%, worth £411m. Consumer e-book sales grew by 134%. And fiction digital sales rose 149%.
Fiction print sales increased 3% overall, worth an extra £502m, and combined with digital publishing total fiction sales rocketed 21% to an enormous and mouthwatering £674m. At the same time non-fiction print sales fell a little, by 2%, and sales of printed reference books dropped by 8%. All of which means the overall value of the print market dropped 1% compared to last year.
It looks as though the writing is on the wall. If you’re an author and you fancy a slice of the pie, it’s clear you need to embrace the digital publishing revolution and welcome in the new era with open arms. So what does it entail?
Don’t panic, Mr Mannering…
First, a spot of common sense. Print sales are falling but any marketer worth their salt is on familiar ground. Go back a few decades and despite the doom-mongers’ predictions telly didn’t kill radio. Video didn’t kill TV. The internet didn’t kill the high street, although the recession is giving it a damn good pasting. And the digital book revolution won’t kill print. In the same way TV and radio exist in harmony, books and ebooks will probably co-exist happily too. We’re not losing a medium, just gaining an extra one.
Having said all that, writers who don’t hang their hats on the digital publishing star will soon be at a serious disadvantage. What do you need to do to survive and thrive in this thrilling new landscape? If you’re not ready yet, how can you cash into a trend that’s certain to continue?
How to get your digital publishing act together
If you wouldn’t know digital marketing from a hole in the ground, you face a pretty steep learning curve. You need to set up a website bearing best SEO practice in mind. Fill it with fantastic content designed to delight human visitors and keep search engines happy. And you need to stick at it, adding more and more to feed the online beast and stay ahead of the game.
Then you need to promote your site, and your work. Social media comes to the fore here, helping drive visitors, spread the good word and grow your brand. Creating ebooks in the right format for digital readers is an art in itself, fraught with danger when you don’t know what you’re doing. And what about payment gateways, statistical analysis, inbound marketing…?
It might seem like a ridiculously high marketing mountain to climb. After all, you’re in the business of writing books and marketing the buggers takes an awful lot of time, dedication, effort and marketing nous. Luckily there are plenty of trustworthy, experienced and hard-working people out there ready to help.
That’s exactly what we do. At PML we have the full suite of savvy individuals on hand, covering everything from web design, keyword research, on-site search engine optimization, copywriting and project management to site migration, social media marketing, inbound marketing and more.
If you want to take the digital future as seriously as it obviously deserves, we’d love to help you get where you want to be: the proud owner of a fair chunk of that lovely £411 million… and counting.
Want to find out more?
Give me a call to chat about the possibilities. No strings attached – just sensible advice and feedback about how to move your writing career to the next level.
Image source: m_bartosch
Mike is CEO of PML Media Limited, a virtual agency staffed by 14 independent marketing professionals, copywriters and technical geniuses.
PML helps authors build and manage their Author Platforms, social media channels, build email lists and create ongoing strategies to help boost their brand, get noticed and sell more books.