Bowker Market Research reports that self-published e-books account for 12% of the entire digital publishing market.

Not only that, but the staple diet of crime, science fiction and fantasy, romance and humour, consumed by many screen-readers rises to 20%. Though the literati often dismiss genre titles as a guilty pleasure, they’re being downloaded in droves.

While genre surges, self-published authors are ‘struggling with graphic novels, food and drink, and children’s non-fiction eBooks’, according to GoodReader, who reports that these three segments combined account for a paltry 5% of sales volume.

‘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,’ UK research director at Bowker Steve Bohme said last week at the Literary Consultancy Conference.

Bowker’s figures also demonstrate how self-published authors owe some of their success to voracious readers. Those that gorge on e-books are more inclined to take self-published books for a spin, with 61% of people who buy indie authors likely to read every day. In comparison, of all book buyers, only 37% read every day.

Female readers are also enjoying a big slice of the self-publishing pie, with 36% of self-published book buyers women over 45, a demographic that overall accounts for 24% of all book buyers.

However GoodReader notes that Bowker reports ‘are not indicative’ of ‘the entire eBook industry’.

‘They tend to only talk to 3,000 companies and authors for their research and many of the leading eBook sellers do not publicly divulge their eBook sales,’ writes Michael Kozlowski. ‘So reports like this aren’t the snapshot of the industry that everyone hopes they are. Barnes and Noble continuously hypes that their self-published titles via Nook Press account for 25% of their overall digital sales, while Amazon is thought to be around 15-30% and finally, Kobo Writing Life titles account for 10%.’

Bowker also only conducts research in the UK.

One finding of the report that is pertinent is how readers discover self-published ebooks. Just because they’re ebooks doesn’t mean that they’re unearthed in the same way. Having previously read an author or a book in a series are the two most cited ways readers find print and e-books from traditional publishers.

For self-published e-books, browsing online is the biggest driver, with online offers and recommendation sections of sites like Amazon and Goodreads also valuable contributors.

As yet no data is available on the self-publishing e-book market in Australia.

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