2012 is the year for self-publishing ebooks

Wait a minute.  Wasn’t 2011 the year for self-publishing ebooks?  It’s true that authors chose to bypass the book publishers in amazing numbers last year, but some very significant things have happened since then.

Ebooks sales passed all print book sales at Amazon in the middle of 2011.  Amazon began lending Kindle ebooks at libraries and launched their own Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.  Apple sold over 30 million ipads.  Hundreds of millions of smartphones were sold.  Amazon sold 4-5 million Kindle Fire tablets along with millions of Kindles.  Even Barnes & Noble sold millions of Nook readers.

But the most significant development in 2011 was the launch of Amazon’s KDP Select program last month.  The program allows authors that self-publish through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform to loan their ebooks out in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.  Authors have to agree to exclusivity with Amazon and they get paid a portion of a bounty based on the number of times their ebooks are borrowed through the Lending Library.

KDP Select is massively successful with over 295,000 ebooks borrowed from participating authors in just three weeks.  The effect on author earnings has been stunning.  Self-published authors that participated saw earnings increase 449 percent from November to December.  The biggest surprise was that authors that participated saw sales of their ebooks increase as a result of loaning them out for free to members of Amazon Prime.  In other words, giving away ebooks for free through Amazon is a great marketing tool for an author.  The impact of KDP Select and Amazon’s Kindle Owners’ Lending Library will be absolutely huge on self-publishing.

There are so many compelling reasons to self-publish.  Authors that self-publish through Amazon receive 70% of the revenue from sales of their ebooks.  This compares with 10-15% that a typical book publisher would offer.  The tools available today make it much easier to self-publish.  There are a lot of companies now that provide illustrations and will help authors structure their writing so that the quality is comparable to books from publishers.

The economic incentive to authors along with the rapid growth of ereaders and ereading devices has created the ideal environment for self-publishing to flourish.  2011 saw ebook sales surpass print sales at Amazon.  2012 may be the first year where publisher sales decline but overall book sales increase.