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You may remember the Guardian from my recent Self-publishing: Revolutionary or Reactionary? post. On Friday, the newspaper posted a new post, titled Self-publishing boom lifts sales by 79% in a year.  Subtitled “18m titles bought by readers in 2013, to a value of £300m, as print sales’ decline continues”, the post goes on to say the following:

“With print sales falling by 10% last year, and book purchasing as a whole down 4%, ebook sales continue to grow, according to Nielsen’s comprehensive tracking of book purchases, up 20% in the UK in 2013, with 80m ebooks bought by UK consumers, to a value of £300m. But it is the DIY market which is showing the most eye-watering growth, up 79% to 18m self-published titles purchased, worth £59m, according to the statistics released on Friday.

Self-published books still account for a tiny proportion of the overall market – 5% of the 323m total books bought, and 3% of the £2185m spent on books last year. But, presenting his figures at a conference this morning, Steve Bohme, research director at Nielsen Book, predicted the figure was only going to rise.

“Self-publishing is absolutely still booming,” he said. “You can see print books down, and ebooks as a whole up – but a lot of that is driven by self-publishing, which has a much higher growth rate.”

Bohme said that the more successful self-publishing is, the “more authors will look at it” as an option. “It’s a growth market in the industry. Publishers as well will be looking at it to see how they can harness that.”

“As authors are becoming more established, they get followings, just like mainstream authors, so the self-published market is becoming more like the traditionally published market,” he said. “Self-published ebooks tend to be impulse buys, discovered by browsing in genre, or in the recommendation or offer sections. However, they are increasingly planned, via author. [So] price and blurb are the top prompts to buy self-published ebooks, but series and characters are increasingly important.”

Looking at the overall ebook sector, Bohme expressed skepticism at the claim earlier this week from accountants PriceWaterhouseCoopers that the ebook would overtake the physical book by 2018. PwC predicted that the consumer market for digital books would almost triple from £380m to £1bn over the next four years.”

This article is notable for two reasons:

  • One, the fear and wonder in the reporter’s mind is obvious, as evident in their effort to discredit PWC’s report.
  • Two, the numbers are way off.  As people point out in the Passive Guy’s comments area, Nielsen only tracks ISBNs, which Kindle Direct Publishing doesn’t require.  In other words, they have only counted books that are released in both print and digital format, but not those that are only released in digital. Which means this 79% is most likely way underestimating.  Indeed, someone then calculates the real market share as 22.5% of the U.K. market, instead of the reported 5% one, based on the number of ebooks sold.

Once again, the Guardian’s baffled reporters obviously have trouble understanding the Indie market and are busy burying their heads in the sand…

Thanks to The Passive Guy for bringing this to my attention!