I came across an interesting article the other day, one that has some bearing on us indie authors. The article is about brands that will disappear in 2014, and one of them is the Nook e-reader. Basically, Kindle and Nook devices may be on the chopping block.
Indie Authors – Barnes & Noble’s Nook
If you read the article, as far as e-readers are concerned, it’s all about the Nook. There are some telling stats that do not bode well for Barnes & Noble. Part of the problem is that Barnes & Noble was always lagging behind Amazon…
It was launched in October 2009, roughly two years after Amazon.com’s Kindle, which was, and has remained, the market leader. Both products were hit by competition from Apple’s iPad before the e-reader business even hit its stride. Adoption of tablets is forecast to grow 69.8% in 2013, while e-readers are expected to drop 27%.
It’s really too bad, not only for competition, but because I hear a lot of folks say that the Nook is superior to the Kindle. But Barnes & Noble has just not done a decent job of marketing.
Indie Authors – Another Bad Sign For Barnes & Noble
While Amazon has more than 130 million visitors a month according to Quantcast, Barnes & Noble has just over 6 million visitors.
Sites like Amazon have more readers, and Amazon also has a far superior site for browsing. This has hurt Nook readership as well. Again, Barnes & Noble has done a poor job of marketing.
Indie Authors – But What About The Kindle?
Both products were hit by competition from Apple’s iPad before the e-reader business even hit its stride. Adoption of tablets is forecast to grow 69.8% in 2013, while e-readers are expected to drop 27%.
This is telling (many analysts say it’s actually alarming to have such a drop), as it means more than a two-thirds drop in sales. So more and more people will be using Kindle or Nook apps to read their books on iPads. Or will they? Will Apple woo authors in their direction? Can Apple grow its ebook market to make it a force to reckon with? Granted, it will take an awful lot to unseat Amazon, but if any company has the revenue to try this, it would be Apple.
It’s also important to note that declining sales numbers could be due in part to people already having an e-reader device, and they aren’t upgrading anytime soon. But since Amazon and Barnes & Noble have both introduced tablet e-readers, that assumption may not hold water.
Indie Authors – What Does This Mean?
The problem for Amazon is that they’ve been selling their Kindle devices at cost, or even a loss. The speculation is that they make their money on ebook sales. And if Amazon continues to lose money on e-reader sales, will they at some point need to make this up elsewhere? That’s the concern for me. I would give it less thought but I just read an article about Amazon getting into the grocery business, which is a notoriously difficult biz to make money in (if Amazon takes a bath in this area, how might this affect what they do elsewhere to make up the difference?).
Right now, we indie authors have it great – we publish our books, for free, on Amazon, and we get a nice page that advertizes our book(s). But for every author who sells well, how many don’t? And what is this costing Amazon (don’t kid yourself, it costs money for the servers, the web development, the employees, etc. etc.). Furthermore, what if a competitor finally takes some of the market away from Amazon, in terms of ebook sales? Then what happens?
Don’t get me wrong – I doubt any doom and gloom scenario will happen anytime soon (although if I have a prediction, it would be that the Nook goes by the wayside). But let’s not kid ourselves either. Amazon is about making money, no doubt, and that’s their business. They don’t care about us little indie authors. But as e-readers sales continue to decline, it bears watching.
It also brings up the question about what to do with Barnes & Noble? Do you sell books there? How many? How much do you push sales there versus Amazon? That’s a tough question as well. I know most indie authors say they sell much better on Amazon – but that might be a window for others to sell better on Barnes & Noble, or Kobo. It might not be worth it to put all your eggs in the Amazon basket.
What do you think?