CreateSpace Dominating Self-Published Book Releases at the Expense of Incumbents (but Ignore the eBook Stats)


CreateSpace Dominating Self-Published Book Releases at the Expense of Incumbents (but Ignore the eBook Stats)

CreateSpace Dominating Self-Published Book Releases at the Expense of Incumbents but Ignore the eBook StatsA couple months ago Bowker, the company that has an exclusive contract to sell ISBN numbers in the U.S., reported sales figures for 2007 to 2012. These are ISBN numbers purchased for self-published book and eBook titles. Unfortunately they do not define a self-publisher nor do they share what percent of books are published by self-publishers. (I've heard that self-published books account for about 15% of the market but I can't cite the source. If you know, please add it in the comments.)

Ignore Bowker's ISBN-for-eBook stats

The first thing to get out of the way is that you should ignore their stats on eBooks. Why? Because Amazon, B&N, Kobo and Apple do not require ISBN numbers for eBooks so a vast number of titles are published without one and not included in the Bowker figures. Any stats that try to claim market share, or industry growth using Bowker's ISBN reporting for eBook numbers, are meaningless.

Amazon CreateSpace and self-publishers are crushing it

  • CreateSpace issued 123% more ISBN numbers in 2012 than they issued in 2011.
  • Self-published titles—ISBN numbers bought by authors and publishers direct from Bowker—increased 22% between 2011 and 2012. This tells me that self-publishers have an interest in maintaining control over their branding.
  • Author Solutions*, acquired by Penguin in 2012, shrank by 4% during the same period. Looks like Penguin's timing might have been off.
  • CreateSpace issued 56% of all self-published print books in 2012

Why is this important to self-publishers? As I've said before, the key for self-publishers is maintaining direct control over the metatdata that describes their title. Fields and formatting of information like description, categories and keywords. For very small publishers Amazon provides the best means of controlling and maximizing the display of this information, not an intermediary.

Note: AuthorImprints is a publishing services company that uses CreateSpace and IngramSpark to provide print-on-demand services to publishers and authors. More information.

Print ISBN Output20122011Change
CreateSpace 131,456 58,857123%
Author Solutions* 32,776 34,064-4%
Lulu 27,470 25,4618%
PublishAmerica 3,692 5,350-31%
Independent Publisher 2,566 3,272-22%
Outskirts Press 1,824 1,48922%
Top 10 Sub Total 199,784 128,49355%
Small Publishers 29,755 24,36622%
All Others 5,392 5,815-7%
Total 234,931 158,67448%
Percent of Total ISBN Output
Author Solutions*14%21%-35%
Small Publishers13%15%-18%
All Others6%10%-43%

* Author Solutions has 8 brands that market author services either directly or as a white label service for another publisher. The first five listed below are in the top 10 of Bowker's report along with those listed above.

  1. Xlibris
  2. AuthorHouse
  3. iUniverse
  4. Trafford
  5. WestBow Press
  6. Palibrio
  7. Balboa Press (on behalf of Hay House)
  8. Abbott Press

photo credit: jrsachs via photopin cc

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