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Weekly Write-Up: 3rd July 2019

by Tom Ashford

Welcome to the SPF Weekly Write-Up, where each Wednesday we collect together the self-publishing news of the week so you don’t have to.

This week: book sales aren’t falling (they’re just changing), and sales of audiobooks are on the rise (see?).

Are We Seeing the Death of the Novel?

No, of course we’re not. There are plenty of publications claiming that the novel is on the way out, that people simply don’t want to read books anymore. These claims make the rounds a couple of times a year, throwing about the latest statistics but always making the same mistake.

Physical sales of books might be on the decrease (down 7% to £359m) and ebook sales might not make up the difference (4% rise to £229m), but that’s not the full picture. What few publications take into account is the changing literary market, which in the past six or seven years has seen a shift from an almost exclusively traditionally published market to one populated with successful indie authors (and in the eyes of readers, this change is often invisible).

And a lot of these indie authors publish ebooks without ISBNs (ebooks don’t require them), meaning that their sales numbers (and profit) aren’t counted. So what we’re likely seeing in the book business is not a decrease in overall book sales, but a decrease in traditionally published books in favour of those published by indie authors.

Here’s an article in the Guardian, which mentions the latest round of doom-and-gloom figures but thankfully focusses on how television is influenced by books and helps drive sales of them, rather than stealing potential readers away.

What’s More, Audiobooks are Booming

See? Audiobooks are apparently up by 43% on the previous year (that’s £69m in just the UK). One of those popular audiobooks was Becoming by Michelle Obama; others included those by Adam Kay, Heather Morris, Anna Burns and Lily Allen.

More proof (if any were needed) that adapting to the changing tastes and needs of the reading market is the best way to maintain success as an indie author. You can read the BBC’s article here.

Tom Ashford

Tom Ashford

Tom Ashford is a professional copywriter, author of numerous dark fantasy and sci-fi novels, and the Head of Content at the Self Publishing Formula Blog. His books include the Blackwater trilogy and the Checking Out series.

He lives in London with his wife, in an apartment that doesn’t allow pets. Find out more about Tom here.