Electronic publishing is taking the world by storm. For the first time ever, eBooks outsold paper ones sometime around the middle of 2019. According to most reliable estimates, the next decade will see the full-scale collapse of the paper book industry. Something like 86 percent of all adults have already purchased at least one eBook and expect to buy many more.
What are the inside trends in the eBook publishing industry that will make a difference in 2020? Whether you’re an investor in search of hot new sectors or a prospective author looking to stay abreast of market news, you need to know about the five major e-publishing trends that will gain critical mass before 2020 is over.
Short Books are Kings of Profit
On the website of the world’s largest bookseller, Amazon, the best-selling books tend to be shorter than 100 standard pages in length. Only a decade ago, online and other book sellers sold tomes that averaged 226 pages. Why the shortening? Some market analysts say it’s because the human attention span is not what it used to be. A more optimistic answer is that people are actually reading more books and don’t have time to devote to long ones. In other words, we’re still reading as much or more than we were before, but in smaller chunks.
Niche Topics are Getting Narrower
General topic book sales have dwindled in the past decade. Sociologists have noted that our reading matter, even for leisure, is becoming quite narrow in terms of subject matter. It’s hard to find books on general history anymore, for example. The same can be said for fiction books, particularly in the romance genre.
In the tech realm, for example, general guides and beginners’ texts still sell well, but microscopic sub-sub-sub-categories like SEO optimization for non-fiction, and “database performance tuning” how-to books are quite popular. Just five years ago, tiny niches within tech, self-help and other major subject areas were not lucrative for authors. Now, the narrower topics are among the best-selling eBooks of all.
Low Prices are No Longer the Exception
One of the bright spots in e-publishing is lower prices. That goes with shorter offerings, of course, but online book sales have been a boon to reading enthusiasts. For less than the price of a cup of coffee, you can find an interesting read on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, the two giants of the e-publishing industry.
Fiction is Being Edged Out of the eBook Market
The same thing that’s happening to long books is happening to fiction: it’s disappearing. There will always be romance, literature and all the novels we’ve come to love, but there are fewer of them. What’s more, profit from fiction books, as a percentage of total book profits, is now well under 20 percent. In 1995, fiction and non-fiction brought in equal amounts of profit for booksellers. Things have changed.
Social Media is the Preferred Marketing Tool
For authors, the traditional publishing company is no longer a necessity. Most indie and first-time authors are turning to social media and out-sourced micro-marketing agencies for help selling books. Amazon has an entire in-house marketing arm that does nothing but assist writers who agree to list books on the site.