January sales are in. Ebooks surpassed the sale of all paper - hardback, trade and mass paperbacks. Wow.
The huge surge, of course, was due to the large gift-giving impact of December's ereader sales. Mass paperbacks down 30.9%. Hardcover sales down 11.3%. Trade paperbacks fell 19.7%, though when looking at dollars, the total still beat ebook revenue.
Something equally intriguing to me was the sale of audio books - not the physical ones, but the downloadable ones. Physical dropped 6.7%. Downloadable ones increased 8.8%.
Yes, electronic reading is here to stay. It's growing in leaps and bounds. We are an electronic population now. Face it. Even if you were one of those people who "will only read books because I like the feel and smell of paper", you've shifted a bit. E-readers are as tempting as chocolate fudge cake . . . with whipped chocolate frosting.
But the big point I noticed was the timing. If you had a new ebook, you were wise to market it for the holidays, or at least in January for those who were still sorting out how to use their e-readers. Publishers target book sales around holidays - why not ebooks?
So what, you say? Well, ebooks are instant. If you advertise your ebook for Mother's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving or back to school, you'll target a niche group. And the quick click purchase ability of ebooks means sales. A lot of ebook writers think that putting their books on Amazon or B&N or Smashwords for a cheap price is all they need to do to make sales. Maybe they mention the release on their blog.
But ebooks have grown up. They have to be marketed like publishers market print books. The triggers, however, are different. Since ebooks are quick pick purchases, your timing needs to be better.
Determine your window of opportunity.
Readers will see an ad and buy - in seconds. So advertising for Mother's Day in March is too soon. Your window, IMO, is the week before and two-three weeks after Mother's Day. For print books, people have to plan for either mailing time or a physical trip to the bookstore. Either way, the attention is on the weeks BEFORE the holiday. For ebooks, people are given e-readers or gift cards ON the holiday, with purchases for ebooks being made AFTER the holiday.
Notice that those huge sales numbers mentioned earlier were in January, not December. It's a new day for ebooks, but that also means you have to think electronic. You may plan way ahead to set up where your ebook makes its appearance, but the actual results will take place after your targeted dates.
It's a new day, people. Market accordingly.