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Not every experiment that Amazon has undertaken has resulted in success. The bookselling invention has profoundly disrupted the entire publishing industry in the whole world from the writer to the editor, and to the publisher. This article will cover important Amazon book sale statistics that any publisher, writer, author, or reader needs to know.

Editor’s Choice

  • According to One Click Retail, sold $4.3 billion more in hard copy books compared to e-books in 2016
  • As of 2016, it is estimated that self-published books make up around 60% of the ebooks offered on Kindle Unlimited by
  • When it comes to print book sales for the major publishers, Amazon represents roughly 50% of the pie
  • In the first half of 2017, book sales on Amazon grew by 46% to $3bn compared to $2bn in the same period in 2016.
  •  In 2017 the sale of e-book increased by 6% to $750m
  • made a net profit of $136bn from sales across all categories in 2016.
  • Of the net sales that Amazon made in 2016, print book sales accounted for $4.7bn and e-book sales $1.4bn in 2016.

1.  The children’s books category attained a 45% year-on-year growth up from $320m to $460m in 2017

Source: Statista

The children’s e-book category was the most remarkable in growth in both the first halves of 2016 and 2017. J K Rowling’s book Harry Potter and the Cursed Child could be attributed to this success.

2.  Religion and spirituality book category attained a year-on-year growth rate of 55% from $200m sales in the first half of 2016 to $315m in 2017

Source: Statista

The religion and spirituality book category was the runners up in the print book category with a growth rate that exceeded 50% between 2016 and 2017.

3.  In 2016 the best selling title was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child followed by the Harry Potter complete paperback

Source: Statista

Other titles that did well during this period were StrengthsFinder by Tom Ruth at third position followed by Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter at the fourth position.  

4.  Amazon’s print book sales grossed £360m in the UK in the first half of 2017 

Source: Statista

In the UK, the leading print booksellers were Mary Berry Everyday (BBC Books), Tom Kerridge’s Dopamine Diet (Bloomsbury), Lean in 15: The Shift Plan by Joe Wicks (Bluebird). This shows that non-fiction lifestyle titles are popular on Amazon.

5.  In the UK, e-books earned a gross total of £100m  during the first half of 2017

Source: Statista

E-book bestsellers included Lion: A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley (Penguin), Night School by Lee Child (Bantam), The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (Doubleday), Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty (Faber),  and The Gift by Louise Jensen (Bookouture. Crime, thrillers, and mystery were the most popular category for e-books.

6.  Print book sales amounted to 650 million in 2020

Source: Statista

Print book sales have improved drastically over the last five years. In the US, books remain an important part of consumers’ daily lives.  Print continues to be the most popular book format among U.S. consumers. in 2020, above 65% of adults read a print book.

7.  The revenue generated by audiobook sales in 2019 was over one billion U.S. dollars.

Source: Statista

The number of audiobook titles also continued to grow year on year.

8.  The revenue that Amazon makes from book sales is less than 10% of the total of its revenue.  

Source: Search AWS

This percentage may sound negligible but 10% of a massive annual income of $280 billion and climbing is a lot in the end.

9.  Almost 20% of people in the U.S. had listened to an audiobook between 2018 and 2019.

Source: Pew Research

Amazon bought Audible in 2008.  Audible is a recorded book startup that took advantage of the growing capacities of smartphones to download and store data. This made it possible for people to listen to book recordings anywhere and hence the increase in audiobooks listened to over the years.

10.  In 2019, the number of self-published titles reached 1.7 million

Source: Search AWS

This accounts for nearly half of the more than 4 million titles published. Amazon has greatly contributed to the growth of self-publishers.

11.  The average title sells 200 copies in a year and 1,000 over its lifetime on amazon.

Source: Search AWS

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing has made it possible for self-publishers to publish books easily. This has led to a completely new publishing industry with a few hits and millions of titles. It has also made it difficult for books to attract attention.

12.  The Kindle Unlimited platform has approximately 3 million subscribers

Source: Search AWS

The structural problems in the market may have curtailed its growth. One reason that has affected Kindle growth is that self-published book rights are typically held by the individual writer, which makes negotiations difficult.

13.  72% of the US adults said that they had read a book between 2018 and 2019.

Source: Pew Research

Almost seven-in-ten U.S. adults had read a book in 2018. This figure has remained unchanged since 2012.

14.  65% of the US adults read a print book in 2018.

Source: Pew Research

This pew research survey showed that Print books remain the most popular format for reading among US adults.

15.  A Center survey conducted in 2016, revealed an increase in the share of Americans who report listening to audiobooks, from 14% to 20%.

Source: Pew Research

Americans read an average of 12 books annually. The typical median American had read four books in the past 12 months by 2019. These figures have remained unchanged since 2011 when the Center first began conducting surveys of Americans’ book-reading habits.

16.  37% of Americans read only print books compared to 28% who read both print books and digital formats and 7% who read books in digital formats only.

Source: Pew Research

Although there is some growth in certain digital formats, very few Americans consume digital books only such as audiobooks and e-books to the exclusion of print. It is also important to note that about a quarter of Americans did read a book in any format during the surveyed period.

17.  Adults aged between 18 and 29 years are more likely to read books than those who are 65 years and above.

Source: Pew Research

Book reading differences among different Demographic in 2019 show similar patterns revealed in past Center surveys. Adults with a bachelor’s or advanced degree are more likely to be book readers than those who have only attended some college, high school graduates, and those with less than high school education.

18.  34%of college graduates listened to audiobooks in 2019 compared with 27% in 2018.

Source: Pew Research

About one-third of college graduates listened to audiobooks in 2019. This shows an increase of 7% from 2018.

19.  In 2019, 30% of Americans earning an annual household income of $75,000 or more had listened to an audiobook compared to 23% in 2018.

Source: Pew Research

The percentage of affluent adults who listened to audiobooks increased by seven percent in 2019. These affluent individuals consist of people in families that earn $75,000 or more annually.

20.  The 2019 survey showed that 67% of men had read a book in the past year, compared with 73% in 2018.

Source: Pew Research

While book reading among other demographic groups increased since 2018, book reading among men decreased by 6 percent in 2019.  

Final Thought

Since Jeff Bezos founded Amazon 27 years ago as an online bookseller in his parents’ garage, the company has used its enormous power to change not just how customers buy and read books, but also how books are published. One of the most significant shifts is the rise of Print-on-Demand publishing. Print-on-Demand books can be bought in any country where Amazon operates, without taking on the inventory risk that traditional publishers face.

In the U.S, bookstores continue to earn over $10 billion annually, but online retailers such as Amazon continue to restrict the ability of large physical retail chains to compete. Online booksellers offer prices and selections that physical retailers simply cannot match. Sales from retail bookstores also depend largely on August and December to account for shortcomings elsewhere.

It is also evident from the statistics in this article that some demographic groups have become more or less likely to read books in certain formats than was the case in 2018.



Pew Research

 Search AWS

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