November 2015 – the UK report: Author Earnings on

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Up until now, Author Earnings has focused on the US ebook market, and mostly on, the dominant US retailer. There’s a reason for that. According to the International Publishers Association, the United States makes up 30% of the global book publishing market. In other words, $3 out of every $10 (or perhaps more appropriately, £3 out of every £10) spent on books of any format anywhere in the world, is spent in the US. And more than half of that $3 is spent online — two thirds of it in’s US bookstore — where, notably, for the last several years, most of the books purchased have been ebooks.

But now, it’s time to broaden our horizons a bit. The barriers that once made it difficult for an author to make their books available in other countries have now fallen. It’s time for all authors to start thinking globally — there’s a whole wide world of readers out there.

According to the IPA, after the US, the next four countries — China, Germany, Japan, and the UK — in combination comprise another 30% of the global publishing market: China has 10%, Germany 9%, Japan 7%, and the UK roughly 4%. The remainder of the global publishing Top 10 — France with 4%, Italy 3%, Spain 3%, Brazil 2%, and India 2% — between them add up to another 15%. Thus 10 countries make up 75% of global sales of books of all formats, with the US alone just about equal to the the next 4 combined.

But when it comes to digital book adoption rates, most of those countries significantly lag the United States, for a variety of reasons. As a result, the US now makes up a far larger portion of the world’s digital book market than print — well over half of it, in fact. The United Kingdom is the only other country whose ebook adoption rates even come close. The ebook markets of China, Germany, Japan, where print book sales are larger than the UK’s — and of France and Italy, whose print book sales are close to the UK’s — are still relatively nascent. Those countries still sell far fewer ebooks than the UK does.

Which makes the United Kingdom currently the world’s second largest market for digital books.

With our October report, we filled in the remainder of US ebook market by looking at the top 4 non-Amazon ebook retailers — Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Google, so now it’s time to move our sights across the pond. Perhaps we should have done it sooner. Although the UK ebook market is less than a fifth of the size of the US market in unit sales or revenue terms — still sells more ebooks than any of the non-Amazon US retailers do in the US. More than the US Apple iBookstore or Barnes & Noble Nook store… and several times as many as Kobo US and GooglePlay US combined.

Simply put, is the second largest retailer of English-language ebooks in the world.

For authors of English-language books, this is exciting news, because nowadays there are no significant barriers to international ebook sales. The UK applies a 20% VAT charge to digital editions — a tax that print books are exempted from — which imposes an unfortunate additional cost upon readers and authors. But other than that, the UK ebook market works just like the US one. For authors who own the rights to their books, there are no legacy distribution bottlenecks to navigate before reaching international readers. At the click of a button, any author selling ebooks in the UK or the US can start selling their books across the pond as well. Which makes ebook sales at of interest to authors everywhere.

In this report, which is our first look at the UK ebook market, we were curious about several things:

1) Market share by publisher type. How well are self-published indie authors doing in the UK store, relative to their traditionally-published peers? Are the growing indie ebook sales and author earnings we see in the US market a phenomenon limited to that country only? Or have indie authors gained a significant foothold in the world’s second-largest ebook market as well?

2) Ebook pricing. How are ebooks priced in the UK, relative to the US? Do the pricing strategies of Big Five publishers, Small/Medium publishers, and indies vary on different sides of the Atlantic? If so, does it have a noticeable impact on their market share?

3) Ebooks without ISBNs. In the US market, over a third of all ebook purchases lack trackable ISBNs — the International Standard Book Numbers sold to US publishers by Bowker. As of September 2015, 37% of all ebook purchases each day on did not have an associated ISBN. Traditional market statistics from Nielsen, Bowker, and the AAP are completely blind to this rapidly growing non-traditionally published segment of the US market, which has led to a flurry of mistaken media coverage about “the US ebook market” flattening or shrinking. (The broader US ebook market is actually growing year on year, rather than shrinking, according to a Wall Street Journal quote from Amazon, who can measure the sales of both non-ISBN and ISBN-bearing books and thus is far better position to actually know.) But what about the UK? Do untracked ebooks without ISBNs similarly make up a significant portion of ebook sales there?Or are no-ISBN ebook sales in the UK far less prevalent than in the US?

4) International sales of domestic best sellers. Between the UK and US market, how much sales overlap is there for particular titles? After all, being able to make a title available for purchase in another country isn’t the same thing as being able to sell well there. Are Big Five publishers significantly better than Small or Medium publishers at marketing their books internationally? At the other extreme, how handicapped are self-published indie authors, who lack the marketing backing of a traditional publisher, when it comes to achieving visibility and making sales outside of their home country?

To find the answers, we educated our data-gathering web spider on the difference between dollars and pounds sterling. And then we sent it across the pond to take a look…

The UK report: Author Earnings on

First, a quick glance at the distribution of 115,000 of the best selling titles by publisher category, collected en masse from’s bestseller lists. As always, we started from the overall Top 100 bestsellers, and then worked our way down. We collected data from literal thousands of best seller lists, for all the various categories and subcategories of fiction and non-fiction, from titles selling many hundreds of copies a day down to titles which were selling far less than a single copy a day. We didn’t discriminate. If our spider could see it, we grabbed it. Instead of cherry-picking ebook data from a limited number of publishers only, as the most-often cited industry studies do, we picked the whole tree clean. Here’s what found:

Number of Ebooks on Best Seller Lists by Publisher Category


Compared to our recent look at in the US, the distribution of publisher types is almost identical — it’s so close that we almost couldn’t tell them apart. The breakdown of best seller slots held by every type of publisher lies within 1-2% of what we saw for that type of publisher in the US.

But the relative number of titles holding positions on best-seller lists is far less meaningful than the relative difference in unit sales by each publisher category. So let’s look at that next.

Market Share of Unit Sales by Publisher Category


Here, we see our first significant difference between the UK and the US markets. Ebooks by indie authors make up more than 26% of all ebooks sold on But even so, the indie share of all books sold on is far smaller than in the US, where indies sell well over 38% of the ebooks sold on

That discrepancy isn’t due to a difference in Kindle Unlimited participation between the US and UK, either. 66% of the best selling indie books on were KU titles, which is very close to the 68% we found in the US. But before we examine relative pricing on different sides of the Atlantic, let’s look at the other publishing categories.

Small/Medium Publishers are doing somewhat better in the UK than in the US, it seems. These smaller, non-conglomerate-owned traditional publishers make up nearly a quarter of the unit sales in the UK, compared to the 19% they command across the pond. Medium-sized imprints like Scholastic, Corvus, Bookouture, Faber & Faber, and Head of Zeus seem to be holding their own far more effectively in the UK than their equivalents in the US store. Collectively, Small/Medium Publishers aren’t selling as many books in either store as their larger Big Five brethren or their more nimble indie competition are. But in the UK, the performance gap is closer than in the US.

Amazon’s publishing imprints, despite having relatively few titles compared to the other categories of publisher, make up 15% of all unit sales. Unsurprisingly, Amazon imprints are doing roughly the same in the UK as in the US. (At least half of the difference between the 15% shown here for the UK and the 13% found in the US is attributable to the fact that we happened to take our UK sample on the first of the month, when November’s 6 heavily-Amazon-promoted Kindle First titles held all 5 of the overall Top 5 best seller slots, and 6 of the Top 7).

But how about the Big Five Publishers — Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster? Collectively, they make up significantly more of the market in the UK than the US. These five publishers still account for 31% of all ebooks sold on, compared to their 26% US market share on Which we find very interesting. These are the same publishers, after all, and their top best-sellers in each store are mostly the same books. But they seem to be achieving vastly different outcomes in the two stores, which raises the question why.

Correlation does not equal causation, but a look at average ebook prices in each market is certainly instructive. Especially when we compare the average US and UK selling prices in each country for each type of publisher.

Using the November 1, 2015 exchange rate of $1.00 US = £0.65 UK, here’s that comparison shown in pounds sterling:


And for the US audience, the same comparison in US dollars:


Given the above, perhaps its not surprising that the Big Five’s share of ebooks sold in the US has plunged so much. In the UK, Big Five ebooks on average sell for prices that are only 50% more than Small/Medium publisher UK ebooks, and just slightly over double what UK indie ebooks are selling for. But in the US, under the new Agency contracts, the Big Five publishers are pricing their ebooks far higher in the US than they are actually able to sell them for in the UK — fully twice the average selling price of US Small/Medium publisher ebooks, and almost four times what US indie authors are charging.

As we’ve shown in previous reports, media stories about a “flattening US ebook market” are greatly exaggerated. They misinterpret the shrinking market share of the AAP’s 1,200 traditional publishers, 80% of whose sales are made up by the Big Five. And in the US, driven by higher agency prices, those five publishers are selling far fewer ebooks, their sales rapidly being supplanted by non-traditional publishers and indies. Today, more than half of all ebooks being purchased in the US are now non-traditionally published. And most of those sales are indie ebooks without ISBNs — a vast and growing sector of the publishing industry that remarkably remains uncounted in the industry’s official, ISBN-based statistics.

Which brings us to our second big question about the UK market: what proportion of’s ebooks sales are no-ISBN indie ebooks. So we checked.

uk-no-isbn-units us-no-isbn-units

Just over 25% of the ebooks sold each day through lack ISBN identifiers. Again, significantly less than the 37% we see in the US. But still, indicative that the number of ebooks sold in the UK is at least one-third-again larger than traditional, ISBN-based statistics are measuring.

In gross pound (or dollar) sales terms instead of unit sales terms, we see that nearly 16% of UK consumer ebook dollars are going to ebooks without ISBNs:

no-isbn-uk-gross-sales no-isbn-us-gross-sales

It turns out that one out of every 4 ebooks purchased by UK consumers is an untracked ebook without an ISBN — and nearly £1 out of every £6 spent in the UK on ebooks is currently going to untracked ebooks without ISBNs.

Surprising? Not really. Not after what we’ve already seen in the US.

But now let’s shift gears from unit sales to consumer ebook dollars. How do sales at break down by publisher type, in consumer £ spending terms?

Market Share of Gross Consumer £ Ebook Sales by Publisher Type


Just as in the US, books by the Big Five capture around 45% of consumer ebook spending. But in addition to representing far more book sales at reasonable prices, the UK share also means proportionately more revenue for the Big Five publishers than the same percentage does in the US. Why? Because of the terms of the Big Five’s new agency agreements with Amazon. In the US, must sell ebooks for exactly the Big Five-set list price, and Amazon is prohibited from discounting Big Five US ebooks at Amazon’s own expense. In the US, prior to the new agency contracts, Amazon discounting on Big Five books averaged very close to the full 30%. Therefore, in the UK the Big Five and their authors might well be getting close to 100% of that purple wedge, rather than the 70% of it that they currently get in the US.

So let’s move on to the most important chart of all, where authors are concerned — a breakdown of actual ebook author earnings from

Market Share of Ebook £ Author Earnings by Publisher Type


Unlike the US, where collective indie ebook earnings long ago surpassed that of all Big Five authors combined, in the UK indie-published authors and Big Five published authors are still earning neck to neck. As this is our first look at the UK market, it remains to be seen which direction this is trending over time. But even today, it’s easy to see that indie sales on are healthy indeed, which leads us to the final question we were wondering about: How much overlap is there between the best-selling titles in each market? And how much does it vary by publisher type?

A common argument for choosing the traditional publishing route is that it give an author greater access to international sales. We were curious to see how much of a visibility advantage traditional publishers were able to provide to their authors, when it comes to reaching audiences outside their home country. So we dug deep into the data to find out.

International Best Sellers: Comparing same-title sales in the US and UK

Roughly 27,750 of the 115,000 ebooks appearing on the UK best seller lists also appeared on the US best seller lists, and vice versa — for a nearly 25% overlap between all category/subcategory best sellers in the two stores. The best selling books in each country also tend to have better visibility outside that country and more international sales than their lower-selling peers:

All Listed Best Sellers: 24% also appeared in’s US Best Seller Lists
Overall Top 100,000 in the UK: 29% also appeared in’s US Best Seller Lists
Overall Top 10,000 in the UK: 36% also appeared in’s US Best Seller Lists
Overall Top 1,000 in the UK: 42% also appeared in’s US Best Seller Lists
Overall Top 100 in the UK: 43% also appeared in’s US Best Seller Lists

Nothing terribly surprising here — a high-selling book is likelier to be an international best seller.

But what is truly surprising is what we found when we looked at how differently that international best seller reach breaks down by publisher type.

First, a look at Amazon’s own publishing imprints: Montlake, Thomas & Mercer, Skyscape, etc. It’s no coincidence that the better-selling Amazon-published titles in the UK also sell well in Amazon’s US ebook store — after all, Amazon is in an ideal position to market their own imprints to overseas customers, too. Consequently, we see much greater consistency between the US and UK sales of Amazon-published best sellers than for other types of publishers — roughly twice as much overlap between bestselling US and UK Amazon-imprint books, on average, than for traditionally-published ones.

But we expected to see that. The far more interesting finding is what we see when we compare the other categories of publishers.

With nearly every report, we discover something new, unexpected, and fascinating about the ebook market… and this report is no exception.

The below graph shows, for each type of publisher, the percentage of Top 100,000 UK ebook best sellers that also were international best sellers that appeared on the best seller lists at as well:


What the above chart shows, we found so counter-intuitive that our first reaction was to disbelieve our data. We had to double check our numbers, and then re-check them, and even visually scan the best seller lists in both countries to confirm, before we were ready to believe what we were seeing.

The height of each bar tells the whole story.

An indie ebook best seller in the UK is almost twice as likely to also be a US best seller than its UK-best-selling traditionally published peers. Even more surprising, the Big Five’s UK ebook best sellers — other than a handful of mega-selling titles by their most recognizable authors — are less likely to sell well internationally as are best sellers by Small/Medium publishers, and only half as likely to sell well internationally as best sellers by self-published indie authors.

Figuring it was a fluke of the UK market, we checked international sales going in the other direction as well. We found the same thing. Indie US best sellers were far more likely to also be UK best sellers as their traditionally-published counterparts, and nearly twice as likely as their best selling Big Five-published ebook peers.

So we took a step back. Perhaps we were casting too wide a net in our comparison — after all, many of those subcategory “best sellers” we were including, particularly the ones from obscure nonfiction categories, were selling less than a book a day in the UK. Perhaps traditional publishers are better at gaining international visibility for their ebooks with a significant number of daily sales. So we looked only at books ranked in the overall UK Top 10,000, which are books selling at least 2 or 3 copies a day:


If anything, for books with significant sales, the gap in international reach widens. It seems that the vast majority of Big Five ebooks that sell reasonably well only do so in their home market. Fewer than 25% of them also sell well internationally. By contrast, more than 50% of the indies that sell decently in the UK also sell comparably well in the US, and vice versa.

Let’s limit our scope further, to only the overall UK Top 1,000 — or ebooks that are selling at least 15-20 copies a day in the UK alone.


The international performance gap is even more extreme at these elevated sales levels. More than 75% of indies selling in the overall UK Top 1,000 also appear in the US Top 1,000, compared to fewer than 25% of the Top 1,000 Big Five titles.

Finally, let’s look at just the Top 100 UK best sellers — or ebooks that are selling 150-200 copies each day just in the UK.


More than two thirds of the indie ebooks appearing in the UK’s overall Top 100 are also US best sellers. A third of them hold equivalent or higher US sales ranks than their UK rankings — which means that they are selling more than 5 times as many books in the US as they are in the UK. By contrast, fewer than one in three Big Five UK ebook best sellers were making significant sales in the US market. The small handful of Big Five authors with Top-100 UK ebooks who were also selling well in the US were names that would surprise no one: Robert Galbraith,  Lee Child, E L James, Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben, Andy Weir, Jojo Moyes, and Paula Hawkins. But other than those few megastars, the majority of the Big Five’s Top-100 UK ebook best sellers were all but invisible overseas.

We’re not quite sure what to make of this — it seems to fly in the face of one oft-repeated argument for going with a traditional publisher: that publishing traditionally gives an author better access to international sales.

When it comes to ebooks, at least, the exact opposite seems to be true.

Other than a handful of megabestselling author names, the vast majority of traditionally-published ebook best sellers are regionally limited in their success, and only achieve significant sales in their home country. This is in marked contrast to the performance of their indie and Amazon-published peers, who are selling far better internationally, as well.

Which is certainly not at all what we expected to find. We can’t explain it — but nonetheless, there it is.


In this first Author Earnings report on the UK ebook market, we’ve seen that sweeping change in the publishing industry extends across international borders — it’s a global phenomenon, rather than one limited to the US market. Previously unquestioned truisms, about the best way for an author to publish their work and reach readers all around the world, now bear careful re-examination in that light.

What once might have been true about publishing, no longer is.

While no one knows what tomorrow will bring, we believe that for authors the current trends are extremely positive. We think the future of global literature is very bright. Despite the doom and gloom pronouncements from legacy publishing organizations who are having difficulty navigating these changes, the broader picture is this: today more authors are able to reach readers and earn a living selling their art than ever before.

It’s hard to see much downside in that.


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21 Responses to “November 2015 – the UK report: Author Earnings on”

  1. Maru Kun says:

    I’d be willing to bet that the big five publishers discriminate in pricing when they make sales overseas.

    My evidence for this is anecdotal but maybe you guys can look into whether this another issue holding back big publishers sales, as I doubt that self publishers or indies are trying to gouge their overseas customers in quite the same way!

    I live in Japan. I wanted to by a copy of the acclaimed “Napoleon: A Life” by Andrew Roberts. When I first clicked on the page the price for a kindle edition was displayed at around USD25, but when I clicked through to buy the book the price offered was USD45,

    I actually phoned Amazon and asked them about why their opening screen showed a lower price and then a higher price when I tried to buy the book. While we were on the line I even experimentally purchased the book to see what price I was charged as their representative said they would refund the price if I was charged USD45 – which I was, so they refunded me the money and cancelled the sale (the hardcover was much cheaper than USD45!).

    After a little too and fro behind the scenes with the Amazon staff, who were also confused, they came back and said that publishers can charge different prices to different countries. It looked like Amazon’s own display web page hadn’t quite kept up with the different pricing.

    I am sure that Amazon sold precisely zero copies of this book in Japan at USD45. Needless to say USD45 was (if my memory is correct) close to double the cost of ordering the hardcover from the US.

    From time to time I checked the price of the book to see if it would come done and it remained at USD45 until my checking again before making this comment. I see now about six months later the price has gone down to, as of today, kindle: USD21.61; hardcover: USD24.75; paperback: USD12.58,

    Well, at least the kindle version now costs less than the hardcover, which is proving ever more rare these days.

    The only good thing about the big five publishers trying to gouge their customers on e-book pricing is that my eyes have been opened to the excellent quality of second hand books for sale on

    Until the big five either lower their e-book prices or go bankrupt because of competition from self publishers and indies, whichever comes first, I’ll be buying a lot more second hand books…

  2. Fascinating data!
    The only slight counter I would make to the argument about gaining international reach through a Big 5 publisher is this: for the author, international deals are more about collecting another advance – or ideally, many of them. Although their residual ebook sales may not hold up in foreign markets compared to indies, what the traditionally published author is really looking for is their publisher and/or agent to strike deals in multiple foreign markets, most of which are unlikely to earn out significantly at the reduced royalty rates on offer, but the advances for 10 or 20 different countries stack up quite nicely! Or so I’m led to believe… 🙂

    • Data Guy says:

      Hi, Tony,

      Many decent-selling indie authors also deal directly with foreign publishers and are able to negotiate themselves significant advances for term-limited publication rights in foreign markets. It’s a strategy that makes sense particularly for non-English-language markets, where digital doesn’t yet comprise the majority share of all adult fiction sales as it does here in the US.

  3. Kay Franklin says:

    It will be interesting to see how the next set of data compares. Are you able to give a rough estimate of where UK is today compared to USA? For example, UK sales are the same as US sales were 3 years ago? It would enable us to create a predictive graph of UK sales growth and then see how close we were. ?

    Great analysis as always.

    • Data Guy says:

      Hi, Kay,

      Our Author Earnings data on the US ebook market only goes back to February 2014.
      But we do know that back in early 2013 both Amazon and Barnes & Noble separately issued press releases announcing that self-published indie ebooks made up more than 25% of units sold.

      So that would loosely place the current UK ebook market share about where the US ebook market was 3 years ago.

      It’ll be interesting to see if the UK market continues to evolve in the same manner as the US market has.

  4. I have a theory on the difference between indies and Big 5 in international success.

    If you’re an indie putting a book up on KDP, you just select “Worldwide distribution” and the job is done.

    In contrast, in traditional publishing authors usually have separate contracts for US and UK rights, and sometimes they’re with different publishers, who may promote the book to different degrees. At the least, they’ll be with different branches of the same publisher, run by different staff with different promotion priorities. The book will probably be adapted into the English of the other market, which takes time and work, and overall there’s a lot more friction to slow down sales.

    It’s a big effect to be accounted for by that difference, so there may be something else going on as well, but I’d bet that what I’ve suggested is part of it.

    (I used to work in the New Zealand branch of Hodders, now part of Hachette.)

  5. Orna Ross says:

    Thank you, as ever, for a fascinating and illuminating report.

  6. Ady says:

    A question – you stated:

    “Roughly 27,750 of the 115,000 ebooks appearing on the UK best seller lists also appeared on the US best seller lists, and vice versa — for a nearly 25% overlap between all category/subcategory best sellers in the two stores.”

    Are the US and UK Amazon rankings based on aggregated world sales or is it individual to each country? (Are figures different if I look at or If sales are likely to be good overseas because it climbs the rankings in one country this could mean having both UK and US versions produced by default before publishing is a wise move?

  7. Jack Lear says:

    It’s been said before but I think it goes without saying that what you guys are doing at AE is really amazing. I’ve previously read some negative comments about your methods of interpretation. Whatever the method, I think the nay-sayers miss the all-important and consistent indie trend that you’ve uncovered since you started AE. Through AE, you’ve given me the much-needed info to publish my first e-book on Amazon, Starspire Hemisphere. A very big and heartfelt thank you both!

    On November’s report, the expansion of your analysis to markets outside of the US only provides further encouragement for us indie authors. Is it possible that the way and share customer reviews is causing the correlation you’re finding? I haven’t had reviews yet from non-English-speaking countries, but would the correlation hold with any of the other countries you noted in your intro? Admittedly, this question is more out of curiosity than anything else given the combined US-UK market share.

    • Data Guy says:

      Hi, Jack,

      Not sure what review sharing you mean. With my own books, at least, the UK Kindle product pages show only the reviews specifically from UK purchasers. My US reviews are all but hidden if you’re on the UK Amazon site, so I don’t think they have any influence on UK purchasing decisions.

      Way down at the bottom of the UK product page, which pretty much no one scrolls down to, there’s one tiny, easy-to-miss link that says:

      “Would you like to see more reviews about this item?”
      › Go to to see all 512 reviews

      Is that what you mean?

  8. Alan Spade says:

    Glad you heard my advice, Data Guy, and also scanned the top 100 (even if it’s on

    For the record, I never suggested to scan only the top 100, but the reports are more precise with the top 100 included.

    • Data Guy says:

      Hi, Alan,

      We’ve always included the Top 100 books in our data sets, even if we haven’t broken them out to look at their composition separately in each report. Anyone who is curious about the Top 100 specifically can delete all but the top 100 lines of the spreadsheet we publish with every report). Author Earnings doesn’t tend to give the Top 100 ebooks disproportionate attention because in total, they represent a relatively small fraction (between 13% and 14%) of Amazon’s overall daily ebooks sales. We’re generally interested in the bigger picture, and what it means for all authors.

  9. As ever, a really terrific job. Very interesting.

    I don’t, though, think that the puzzle of why Big 5 writers “underperform” in the US is all that hard. Consider the following:

    1) Writers will be published by different publishers in either territory.(or, even if part of the same corporate machine, one that operates with effective independence from its sister companies.)

    2) In both cases, sales strategies will be print-led in the first instance, and most examples of Big 5 e-successes will be very largely reflecting an original success in print (and the media opportunities which are so often exclusive to print successes.)

    3) Publishers fail to meet budgetary expectations with most trade fiction – let’s say, 7 in 10. They only have a real success with maybe 1 in 10.

    4) Those things can’t be – and aren’t – predictable in advance. They may be dependent on such things as cover design, the choices made by key retail buyers (who won’t in most cases have read the book in question, &c). In other words, there’s a high degree of chance – as well as author quality – in what determines a print success. Given that print-retail slots are scarce and book shelf lives are small, you just can’t rely on quality alone to get you through.

    5) So what your data shows is exactly what we’d expect. Publishers spin the wheel in both territories. If they get lucky in one territory, that luck doesn’t translate particularly well to others. So you’re seeing a reversion to the mean effect – a print success (and hence e-success) in the UK just doesn’t affect the US odds very much and vice versa.

    6) Indie-authors aren’t ruled by the gods of the print world, so there’s less random chance involved The bookshelves are infinite, books are forever, quality (in design, marketing as well as writing) had a much higher chance of determining outcomes.

    Voila! Can I have a prize, please? Oh, and I’m both indie (in the US) and Big 5 published in the UK, so I don’t have a “side” here. I just like truth.

    • Data Guy says:

      Hi, Harry,

      Your explanation, anticipated above by Mike, is very welcome and much appreciated! And a bit of a head-slap moment for me — when you laid out how the success of a traditionally-published book must depend upon multiple uncoordinated publishers and divisions who are each separately pursuing their own distinct print-first marketing strategy in each territory, the rarity of traditionally-published international bestsellers makes perfect sense.

      As always, what seemed mysterious and counterintuitive at first, in retrospect begins to look obvious once one understands the reasons.

      It does make me wonder how well the interests of traditionally-published authors are served, though, by that uncoordinated and territorial print-first approach — especially now that the majority of adult fiction books purchased today are digital editions (ebooks and audiobooks).

      As for the prize, you’ll have to share it with Mike. Or perhaps we need two: one for each of you. 🙂

      When it comes to choosing “sides” in publishing, we find the concept as silly as you do. Author Earnings is and has always been squarely on the side of authors — all authors, no matter what publishing route they happen to choose. Like you, we just want to have a clearer picture of our industry so that all authors can benefit from it.

      Data Guy

  10. I want a prize too!
    There is something no one yet mentioned. Indies are international by nature. I live in Poland, my books generated sales in 12 countires in the world, I have 2 books translated into German and one into Spanish.
    I don’t care where my readers are based. I communicate with them via the Internet, wherever they are.
    Traditional publisher acts like a firewall between author and the reader even if they all (reader, publisher and author) are in the same country.
    Indies connect effortlessly with their audience via digital means no matter where they are. On my email list I have readers in every continent of the world.
    I think it’s that easy. Connection means a lot more in publishing business than corporations care to admit.

    PS. Thanks for the superb job!

  11. Robert Stultus says:

    According to the IPA, after the US, the next four countries — China, Germany, Japan, and the UK — in combination comprise another 30% of the global publishing market: China has 10%, Germany 9%, Japan 7%, and the UK roughly 4%.

    The ebook markets of China, Germany, Japan, where print book sales are larger than the UK’s — and of France and Italy, whose print book sales are close to the UK’s — are still relatively nascent. Those countries still sell far fewer ebooks than the UK does

    Are these English language? Is the IPA the source of the ebook numbers?

    Are websites like shushu, 17k, and qidian listed as ebook distributors in the data used to calculate that? Or authors like Er Gen and I Eat Tomatos? The wording causes me to presume you are trying to count the Chinese language ebook market.

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