Indie Authors – What Is The Future of The E-reader?

indie author handbook

Indie Author Handbook

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

Another bad sign for the Nook is the sheer amount of visitors that Amazon gets over Barnes & Noble imageBarnes & Noble.  According to the article:

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?

horror book Nephilim Genesis of EvilBut things don’t look bright for the Kindle either.  Even though Amazon’s Kindle outsells the Nook, both took a huge hit when Apple introduced the iPad.

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?

About Renée Pawlish

Award-winning author Renée Pawlish writes the bestselling horror book, Nephilim Genesis of Evil, the Reed Ferguson mystery series, short stories and non-fiction ghost stories.
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8 Responses to Indie Authors – What Is The Future of The E-reader?

  1. Mark says:

    I’ve read opinions elsewhere that Amazon might charge writers to publish their work on the Kindle. As long as this fee isn’t outrageous, I think it would be a good idea. Want an advertising page on Amazon? Fork over $25. Or whatever fee would cover expenses. A reasonable fee.

    If the fee actually brought a large profit to Amazon, say $500, it would mean all kinds of bad things to authors. I really hope they don’t adopt that mentality.

    As far as Nook, it may not exist forever, but there are still enough people who support it that it may stick around for a while. Tough call.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      I hadn’t heard that about Amazon – it would be interesting. It might get authors to pause a bit and think if they’re book(s) are really “publishable” then, if there’s some up-front cost.
      And I agree on the Nook – a big piece is seeing what Barnes & Noble does, how much they push it and so on.
      Thanks for your comment.

  2. Interesting article, thanks Renée. I’ve also heard about Amazon charging authors but as far as I’m concerned that would be fine if it came along with some sort of quality control too. So many self-published books are dreadful in terms of typos and structure, you can tell right off the bat that this is not the work of professional writers. Amazon has just made it too easy to self-publish…Quality control would ensure that self-published books are at the same level as traditionally published books, a most welcome improvement that would help defend the reputation of self-published authors.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      Some quality control would be nice, but I don’t know how Amazon would do it. I could see them doing what they do now with reviews, having some idiot who has no idea what’s going on doing “quality control” and they would screw a bunch of authors. I suspect they’ll just start charging, and depending on how much they charge, the cost will weed out all but the serious writer…
      Thanks for the comment.

  3. I hope they don’t do away with either. I recently purchased a Kindle and I’m loving the cost of the books and the convenience of buying them.

  4. Aileen Fish says:

    I keep hearing gloom and doom predictions for Nook and that worries me. I’m one of the few people making a lot more money from B&N than Amazon, since Amazon messed with their algorithms and my books lost their visibility. By iBooks sales are growing, which helps, but if I love B&N at this point, I’m sunk.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      It will be interesting to see what happens – I guess you can just hope that people who are talking about your books will continue to do so, and that they’ll transfer to Amazon…but we can hope that B&N will get their stuff together and remain in competition.
      Thanks for your comment and good luck to you.

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