Bowker: self-published e-books 12% of sales

Self-published titles make up 12% of all e-book sales, according to new findings from Bowker Market Research.

The popularity of self-published titles rises when looking at certain categories, with the self-published share of e-book volume sales more than 20% in areas such as crime, science fiction and fantasy, romance and humour.

The research is based on Bowker's regular Books & Consumers survey, which holds monthly interviews with book buyers, questioning around 3,000 consumers each month. The findings were unveiled today (June 7th) at The Literary Consultancy Conference by Steve Bohme, UK research director at Bowker.

He said: "It's one of the first times we have looked at self-publishing in this depth to find out what part it plays. It's interesting to have this data, as it allows self-published writers to understand more about the market they are operating in."

Overall, e-books made up 13% of consumer book purchases in the first quarter of 2013, the highest level it has reached since figures were first recorded in 2010. In volume terms, e-books make up more than 20% of sales in genres such as crime fiction, romance and classic fiction, and between 16-20% for popular fiction, erotic fiction and sci-fi and fantasy.

However, for many genres, including graphic novels, food and drink, and children's non-fiction, e-books make up no more than 5% of volume sales.

The pattern of discovery for self-published books is different from both print books and other e-books. Whereas having previously read the author or the series is the most cited cause for discovery for print and e-books, it is browsing online that is the biggest driver for self-published books. The findings also show that self-published books are more likely to be discovered online through offers and recommendation sections than traditionally published books.

Price is also a key factor, with consumers citing it as their key reason for choosing to buy a self-published book. Price is only the third most common reason for buying other e-books and books as a whole. However, this only holds true where the price is particularly low ­ less than £2.

The figures also show that heavy readers are more likely to buy self-published books, with 61% of people who buy self-published books likley to read every day compared to 37% of all book buyers. 36% of self-published book buyers are females over 45, who make up 24% of all book buyers.