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Read it here:  http://authorearnings.com/report/january-2015-author-earnings-report/

It starts with a nice, neat “executive summary.”

Nice charts with the black section for the shadow industry (love dat).

Oh, and you don’t need ISBNs. Save yer moolah:

Wait! Aren’t ISBNs Necessary To Sell Ebooks Thru Retailers Other Than Amazon.com?

No. They aren’t.

Despite Bowker’s misleading FAQ claims that “most vendors” require an ISBN to sell your book, none of the major ebook vendors actually do. ISBN-less ebooks can be sold on Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and most other places where ebooks are sold.

Still, Doesn’t Buying An ISBN Confer Some Advantage In The Crowded Ebook Marketplace?

In other words, do books with ISBNs noticeably outperform their ISBN-less peers in unit and/or dollar sales?

From the data, the opposite seems to be true.

But the Bombshell is at the end–the discrediting of the accepted Nielsen numbers. The shadow, non-ISBN indie industry is large, folks.


These “Nielsen numbers” for ebook and print sales get presented to the industry at “Publishers Launch” conferences and are cited in Publisher’s Lunch articles titled “Real Data on Print Sales In The eBook Era — And the eBook Plateau.”

Using these “Nielsen numbers” we too can calculate the ratio of ebooks to print books the exact same way the pundits do:

205 million ebooks / (620 million print books + 205 million ebooks) = 25% of U.S. book sales are ebooks

Or, accounting for the 20% of all print book sales that Nielsen says they miss:

205 million ebooks / (775 million print books + 205 million ebooks) = 21% of U.S. book sales are ebooks

The problem with the above “Nielsen numbers” is this:

Amazon.com alone visibly sells over 560 million ebooks and 420 million print books a year in the U.S. When you include the 70 million audiobooks Amazon.com sells annually (split 60/40 between digital downloads and CD format), you get roughly a billion books of all formats that are being sold by Amazon.com each year — a number that is very much in line with the reported 41% share Amazon holds of all new-book sales of all formats in the U.S. and their 64% share of all online print book sales.

Which means that neither the “Nielsen numbers” for the overall size of the print market, nor those for the ebook market, make any sense at all. At best, Nielsen is capturing data on a far smaller subset of both markets than it claims. Or alternately, the AAP/BISG is vastly overstating their estimate of U.S. print sales, which is more than two and a half times as large as Nielsen BookScan’s.

Or, most likely of all, both sets of officially-cited industry data on overall print sales — from Nielsen BookScan and from the AAP/BISG BookStats — are wrong… but in opposite directions.