For the first time, sales of e-books appeared on my royalty statement from WotC. The statement does not break them down by format, but I presume the bulk of e-book sales are in Kindle format.
So, e-book sales of the individual titles of The Erevis Cale Trilogy made up 37% of all sales. On the other hand, e-book sales of the individual titles of The Twilight War made up only 8% of all sales. Why the difference? Can’t say for certain, but I presume it’s due to the fact that The Erevis Cale Trilogy is the older (but still in print, by God!) series and therefore has much less shelf space in brick and mortar stores. In other words, the books of The Erevis Cale Trilogy are probably just hard to find in hard copy sometimes. It seems that e-books are acting as a substitute good, and that’s awesome, because in the absence of an available e-book alternative, a reader looking for but unable to find The Erevis Cale Trilogy would probably just find something else to read and that would end up as a lost sale.
Of course, this is just one quarter (really it’s just two-thirds of a quarter, since my books weren’t available as e-books until late April) so I don’t want to conclude too much. Still, I find the numbers interesting.
E-books are great for authors in that the publisher doesn’t ordinarily take a return reserve (anywhere from 20-30% of sales held against future returns) and the e-books will be available long, long after the paper versions go out of print. The long tail is very long indeed in the digital world. Of course, the digital marketplace of backlist titles will get much more crowded than the print marketplace of backlist titles ever was (because the threshold level of sales needed to profitably keep something in print is much higher than the sales threshold needed to make the same book available as an e-book). In this new backlist jungle, I can imagine it becoming even more difficult than it already is for an author to make him/herself heard above the general hubbub of the marketplace. Given that, let me thank you all once more for being vocal advocates of my work. It’s huge for me and I consider it an honor when someone recommends my work to friends/family/co-workers, et al. Uh, please don’t stop. 🙂