Self-Publishing Movement Continues Strong Growth in U.S.

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2012 ISBNs show nearly 60% more self-published works than in 2011

PR Newswire

NEW PROVIDENCE, N.J., Oct. 9, 2013

NEW PROVIDENCE, N.J., Oct. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — A new analysis of U.S. ISBN data by ProQuest affiliate Bowker reveals that the number of self-published titles in 2012 jumped to more than 391,000, up 59 percent over 2011 and 422 percent over 2007. Ebooks continue to gain on print, comprising 40 percent of the ISBNs that were self-published in 2012, up from just 11 percent in 2007.

“The most successful self-publishers don’t view themselves as writers only, but as business owners,” said Beat Barblan, Bowker Director of Identifier Services. “They invest in their businesses, hiring experts to fill skill gaps and that’s building a thriving new service infrastructure in publishing.”

The analysis shows the growing prominence of a handful of companies that offer publishing services to individual authors.  More than 80 percent of self-published titles came to market with support from just eight companies, including Smashwords and CreateSpace.

Bowker’s research on self-publishing includes surveys of authors that provide insight into where the market is going and services required by these writers. Those who intend to self-publish most often plan to bring fiction to market, followed by inspirational or spiritual works, books for children and biographies. The majority cite finding a traditional publisher as an obstacle. They also feel challenged bymarketing – a hurdle that becomes bigger with increasing numbers of books in the market.

Bowker provides a spectrum of services for small publishers through resources such as, and To view Bowker’s 2012 report on self-publishing visit

About Bowker® (
Bowker is the world’s leading provider of bibliographic information and management solutions designed to help publishers, booksellers, and libraries better serve their customers. Creators of products and services that make books easier for people to discover, evaluate, order, and experience, the company also generates research and resources for publishers, helping them understand and meet the interests of readers worldwide. Bowker, a ProQuest affiliate, is the official ISBN Agency for the United States and its territories. The company is headquartered in New Providence, New Jersey, with additional operations in England and Australia.


Reposted from: Self-Publishing Movement Continues Strong Growth in U.S. 

When the Self-Published Authors Take Over, What Will Publishers Do?

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Reposted in part from: When the Self-Published Authors Take Over, What Will Publishers Do?
On – Jeremy Greenfield, Contributor

April 30, 2013

In 2011, of the $14 billion trade publishing industry, roughly $100 million of it was self-published books, according to data presented at Digital Book World 2012. Less than 1%. A drop in the bucket.

In 2013, the numbers should look quite different.

In the first four months of the year, we’ve had four weeks where a self-published title was a No. 1 ebook best-seller. Last week, both the Nos. 1 and 2 spots were self-published ebooksThis week’s best-seller list brings fresh challenges to the dominance of traditional publishers.

When the top-two ebooks were self-published last week, publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin said, “This is another benchmark moment. The number of small- and self-published books achieving real commercial success will continue to rise; the gatekeeping role of established publishers will continue — gradually and then, sooner or later, suddenly — to fade to relative irrelevance.”

Perhaps the question is, are we in the “gradual” phase or the “sudden” phase in this transition? And what does this mean for publishers?

Some of the larger publishers are making moves to get involved in the self-publishing revenue streams:

– Offering their own self-publishing services (Simon & SchusterPenguin, F+W Media [my employer], to name three).
– Buying books by self-published authors that have already shown strong sales in an attempt to boost them to even higher sales (See Hugh Howey’sWoolJennifer L. Armentrout’s Wait for You).
– Offering new business models for authors (Random House’s new suite of imprints, including the controversial Hydra, show that publishers are still figuring this out).

But when it comes to capturing these new revenue streams, it might be like trying to use a mop bucket to catch a breaking wave.

The top-five ebook best-sellers from this week might tell the story better than I can:

1. The Hit by David Baldacci (Hachette)
2. Damaged by H.M. Ward (Self-published)
3. The Bet by Rachel Van Dyken (Self-published)
4. Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts (Penguin)
5. Twisted Perfection by Abbi Glines (Self-published)

See the rest of the top-25 ebook best-sellers this week.


One other wrinkle in this precipitous rise of self-publishing is pricing. The average price of an ebook best-seller is lower now than it has ever been: $6.58. Part of the reason is that the six self-published titles on the list are each being sold for $0.99 or $3.99. If those six titles were taken off the list, the average would be about $8. Read more.

Getting Authors Noticed is Job #1 for New Publishers

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Every aspiring author, in their heart of hearts believes: “If I can just get my book published and into mainstream bookstores, I’ll be on my way to fame and fortune!”


Ever notice how people shop for a book in a bookstore? Generally, they don’t start at one end and work their way around, title by title.

More usually, they already know what they’re looking for and head right to a section for the genre they like and find the authors they know, or titles they’ve heard about.

Everything else around the bookstore is practically invisible.

Indie Bookstore

That’s pretty much the way buyers shop online too. They just don’t have to walk around the store anymore. But, rather than passing by thousands of other titles and authors, these now total in the millions.

In fact, according to Bowker, the official US agency responsible for assigning ISBN numbers to new titles, the numbers are growing to be rather staggering:

  • 296,352 books were published in the U.S. 2006
  • 561,580 books were published in the U.S. in 2008
  • 4,134,519 books were published in the U.S. 2010

Data cited from Bowker data as of 2011

upward-graphAnd Bowker estimates that they will have issued 15,000,000 ISBN numbers for new books by 2012. Why the big jumps in new published titles? Again, according to Bowker:

“Transformation of our industry has brought on a time of rich innovation in the publishing models we now have today. What was once relegated to the outskirts of our industry—and even took on demeaning names like ‘vanity press’ is now not only a viable alternative but what is driving the title growth of our industry today,” said Kelly Gallagher, Vice-President, Bowker Market Research. “From that standpoint, self-publishing is a true legitimate power to be reckoned with. Coupled with the explosive growth of e-books and digital content – these two forces are moving the industry in dramatic ways.”

That’s right. Self-publishing through digitally delivered content is driving these huge numbers of new books to the market. But is there a market for all these new titles?

According to Publisher’s Weekly, 2011 The Global eBook Market: Current and Future Projections:

“Consumers’ attitudes as recently reported by BISG (Book Industry Study Group) reflect the deep and rapid change in the industry, particularly the revenue losses of hardcover and paperback sales. About 67 percent of ebook buyers said they increased their spending on ebooks…”

What does this mean to you as a new author? We sum it up in this simple equation:

eBooks + Visibility = Sales!

advertising-ebooks-authorsPublishing books is now the easiest and cheapest part of the problem to solve. Providing visibility to new authors and their titles, enabling them to rise above the masses for customer awareness, is the real kicker.

Thus, the traditional role of the book publisher in today’s market, has transitioned from getting author’s books to print and then into stores, to promoting and marketing their authors after they are already listed through digital retailers.  Read on…in Getting Noticed.