Jane kindly invited me to share a bit of what we at AllRomance.com learned about reader preferences in 2012. For those of you who aren’t familiar with All Romance (also known as ARe), we are a niche on-line bookstore that specializes in the sale of…. Yes, you’ve guessed it, Romance eBooks
This past fall we completed a survey of close to 6000 digital romance readers that dealt with the subjects of piracy, file sharing, and DRM stripping. So, I thought I’d hit some of the highlights based on our initial analysis of that as well as our 2012 sales experience in general
So, here’s our top 10!
- Inventory grew 40% in 2012 to just under 100,000 titles.
- According to Bowker® Market Research, Q2 2012, New Books Purchased and RWA’s 2012 Romance Book Consumer survey, the U.S. romance book buyer is most likely to be between 30 and 54 years of age.
Most of the digital romance readers who took our survey reported being between 40 and 49 years of age. We’ve also seen a significant increase in our over-50 readers, who were responsible for 26.3% of our survey population.
- Male readership increased 18% in 2012.
- The infographic below based on ARe’s 2012 sales shows the Top 10 bestselling romance genres, which included some interesting take-aways about buying trends for BDSM, Multiple Partners, and Male/Male Romance.
- 97% of sales are on eBooks rated 3 flames or higher. Of significance is that the 5 flame sales have seen a drop of 10% over last year with most of the difference shifting to the 3 and 4 flame rating.
- Problems with downloading and accessing DRM files are responsible for more than half of our customer service complaints. Since DRM products represent less than 8% of our sales, this is quite disproportionate. Customers who download a DRM file were almost 12 times as likely to require customer support than customers who download a non-DRM or open format book.
- The second most frequently received customer complaint was around territory rights issues. Readers feel strongly that eBooks should be available worldwide. Many self-disclosed that the inability to purchase certain titles has driven them to piracy.
- 5.5% of our respondents reported they discover books through unauthorized file sharing sites, boards, forums, etc., commonly referred to as “pirate sites”.
But approximately 19.3% of those respondents, or about 1% of the total survey population, don’t download books from those sites.
All of the respondents who reported posting to and the majority of the respondents who reported downloading from unauthorized sharing sites also expressed intent to strip DRM.
The number of non-pirating respondents who reported they would strip DRM was approximately 5 TIMES the number of pirating respondents who reported they would strip DRM.
Our findings indicate that it’s the intent of most users who strip DRM to do it after purchasing.
Does DRM deter piracy? Since such a large number of those who strip don’t pirate AND almost all of those who pirate do strip, our conclusion is NO.
- Since 2010, we’ve seen a steady trend toward a decrease in the average retail price of eBooks, from $4.66 in 2010 down to $4.13 in 2012.
Has the lowering of the price point sparked a significant increase in unit sales and therefore a reader’s overall spending?.
Not according to our analysis. Although there are certainly exceptions to every rule, the 11.6% drop in price from 2010 to 2012 didn’t result in an overall increase. Rather, there has been a resulting 8% decline in terms of revenue and unit sales per purchase.
Since the number of potential new eBook customers is beginning to shrink and the number of books a reader can realistically purchase and consume are both relatively finite—publishers cannot continue to rely on burgeoning unit sales.
In the past year we’ve seen an increase in refund requests for short stories priced at $2.99 due to customer complaints around poor formatting, insufficient editing, and inadequate word count. Many of these books were in the 2000 – 5000 word length AND reported as such. We’re also getting more questions from readers about full-length novels that are priced at $2.99 or lower (excluding discounts and promotions) indicating they believe the quality to be suspect. In 2013 we believe publishers and self-publishing authors will begin to see significant backlash from undervaluing quality books and overvaluing short stories of poor-to-mediocre quality.
- What are we seeing in terms of best-practice (read “best-selling”) pricing?
- Short Stories: $0.00 – $2.99 per book
- Novellas: $3.00 – $4.99 per book
- Novels: $5.00 – $6.99 per book
- Long Novels: $7.00 – $9.99 per book
1% of sales were of books priced over $9.99.
Does any of this data surprise you?
Chief Operating Officer
All Romance eBooks, LLC