Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

2010 Trend Analysis from All Romance eBooks

ARELori James, co owner of All Romance eBooks and its sister site, Omni Lit, share a 2010 trend analysis that she said I could share with all of you. I think that there are some really interesting data points.   (Here’s an interview Kassia Kroszer did with Lori James and one between Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches and Lori on the importance of metadata).

Every January, ARe completes a trend analysis based on our prior years sales experience. 2010 was a very successful year for eBooks in general and for and specifically. Although both websites realized an increase in traffic rank, we're proud to announce broke Alexa's top 10,000 website barrier in the U.S.

I asked Lori to explain the rebate system because I recommend EC books from time to time and I hate buying at EC direct. The website and interface is just terrible but outside EC, the prices are exorbitant.   ARE, however, sells them near EC’s price.   Here is how it is done:

The customer pays the suggested retail price of the title. Then we give them a percentage back in eBook Bucks, our in-store currency. They have the option to assign those bucks to their own account for use, or to gift them to another user. They essentially work like cash. There is no expiration. As long as the book they want costs less than their remaining balance, they can click on our “Buy Now” button and with one click the cost is deducted from their available balance and the book appears in their library. People can also purchase bucks and many do – it’s a nice way of staying within budget, shopping on the go, or making sure that you have just a couple charges from All Romance appear on your card each month instead of dozen smaller ones.

Some general highlights

  • # Total publishers in 2009 = Approx 3000
  • # Total publishers in 2010 = Approx 4700
  • # Romance titles in inventory 2009 = over 30,000
  • # Romance titles in inventory 2010 = over 52,000
  • # Total titles in inventory 2009 = over 250,000
  • # Total titles in inventory 2010 = 315,053
  • # of staff in 2009 = 5
  • # of staff in 2010 = 12

Growth in customer base 2008 to 2009 = 250%
Growth in customer base 2009 to 2010 = 215%

Some enhancement highlights

  • website re-design
  • Revival of the ARe Bookclub
  • Initiation of a tagging feature
  • Credit card profile storage
  • Launch of customized advanced search engine
  • Creation of a tutorial-based customer support system
  • iBookstore distribution
  • Completion of server move
  • Expansion of individual author pages
  • Addition of social share features for each book

Some buyer highlights

We're continuing to experience triple digit growth in the U.S. and the bulk of our sales are to U.S. customers. We are currently selling in 214 countries.

Top ten markets: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, India, New Zealand, France, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Top ten U.S. markets: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and Ohio

  • Female = 90%
  • Male = 10%

Some bookish highlights

Heat Rating = over 97% of sales are on books rated 3 or higher, of significance is that the 5 flame sales have dropped almost 15% over last year with most of the difference shifting to the 4 flame rating.

DRM v Non DRM = 96% of sales are on Non DRM titles.

File formats = PDF and ePub account for 86% of files downloaded. Next is PRC at 7%, then LIT at 5% and HTML at 2%.

NOTE: We've heard from several publishers that they are discontinuing production on some file. We believe PDF, ePub, and PRC are the "must have" formats. If you want titles to be readable on the Kindle via our Wireless Transfer program – we recommend you create PRC's. PDF's do not lend themselves to reflow on that device. Due to numerous requests, we will be adding the Mobi format in 2011.
Romance remains, by far, our biggest seller. Although still popular, the overall market shares for gay fiction, multiple partners, BDSM, interracial and contemporary were all down 43 – 55% from 2009. The overall market share for erotica almost doubled during 2010 and sales increased significantly for all of speculative fiction sub-genres. In rank order we saw growth in sales of Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Vampire/Werewolves, and Shapeshifter books.

In terms of which romance sub-genres owned the biggest piece of the pie in 2010, the top 10 are = Erotica, Gay Fiction, Vampires/Werewolves, Paranormal, Contemporary, Shapeshifter, Sci-fi/Fantasy, BDSM, Multiple Partners, and Interracial.

The most popular non-romance categories include General Fiction, Family and Relationships, Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Thriller, Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Historical, and Non-Fiction.

NOTE: We realize that many books cross multiple sub-genres. We base our statistics on the category the reader selected prior to the purchase point. If it's a M/M, Contemporary, Paranormal and they clicked on Contemporary prior to the purchase, then the sale goes to Contemporary.

A special note about the impact of and plans for agency = Tens of thousands of DRM titles were removed by what has commonly been referred to as "Agency" publishers in April of 2010. Q1 data seems to indicate DRM might have ended up being approximately 12% or more of sales in 2010, as opposed to the 4% that resulted. Although we've certainly realized some lost sales due to the decrease in that inventory, data supports the fact that many readers simply found alternate content to interest them and accordingly shifted those purchasing dollars to non-Agency publishers. (jane added emphasis).

Our customers have continued to express the desire to purchase Agency titles through us and we want to accommodate. We are in the process of working to re-stock that inventory.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


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    Jan 03, 2011 @ 10:17:26

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  2. Brian
    Jan 03, 2011 @ 10:53:04

    Glad to hear they’re doing well.

    One thing I’d like to see them do for non-DRM titles is not lock you into a specific format. For example if I buy a Samhain title from Samhain (My Bookstore…) or Fictionwise I can re-download later in another format. This is useful not only for the obvious reason, but also because sometimes one format is done poorly (I’ve got some Samhain mobi/prc files missing the section breaks their ePub and PDF counterparts have) and I can then grab a different format and convert it. ARe makes you choose one format and then you’re locked into that format for any re-downloads.

  3. Elise Logan
    Jan 03, 2011 @ 13:00:41

    Interesting stuff, Jane. Thanks for sharing.

    I can’t wait to see what happens this year, since they are opening up ARe to accommodate smaller pubs and self-publishing authors.

    The info on formats is particularly interesting and helpful.

  4. Lori James
    Jan 03, 2011 @ 13:17:34

    Brian –

    We’ve always accommodated exchanges whenever possible and will soon be automating that process to make it even easier. Thanks for weighing in with feedback!

  5. Joy B
    Jan 03, 2011 @ 14:17:20

    I had no idea the staff was so small! That explains the excellent help I got directly from Lori when the Agency pricing model made my purchased books un-downloadable. Thanks again Lori! You helped make ARe the first place I check for books.

    I’m also glad to know I can request a non-DRM format exchange. I’ve had a few books in ePub that were supersmall font and I think PDF may be better.

  6. Anne Douglas
    Jan 03, 2011 @ 15:26:17

    The ladies and owners of ARe are a class act, that I’ve seen thus far.

    I might be a bit biased, since I have an ARe Best Of award sitting on the shelf, but I’ve never heard of them being anything more than force for good for both readers AND authors.

    I hope they only get bigger and better. And I do rather appreciate their willingness to share data :)

  7. library addict
    Jan 03, 2011 @ 17:03:12

    One thing I will say about ARe, is that of all the places I purchase ebooks, they have the best customer service by far. They are always prompt to reply to emails.

    When I bought my Sony 650 and realized the PDFs didn’t look as good as I hoped when you increase the size of the font, they let me redownload the applicable books in ePub format. Glad to know that will soon be automated.

    I do wish you didn’t get an error message saying the webpage has expired if you try to backpage, but I’ve learned to open book descriptions in a new window so as not to lose my search page.

  8. DS
    Jan 03, 2011 @ 17:47:10

    I think I saw somewhere that ARe was allowing people who had self published– maybe in the near future, may be now? Is that correct or did I get ARe mixed up with another site?

  9. Lori James
    Jan 03, 2011 @ 19:16:03

    That was ARe. We have eliminated our title minimum. Small presses and indie authors can click on the “Publisher” link on the home page of our website and now register for an account. There’s an FAQ link there as well.

  10. DS
    Jan 03, 2011 @ 20:08:35

    @Lori James: Thanks, I am becoming a connoisseur of self published work– some of it anyway. If I’m careful about what I choose it’s not much worse in terms of editing than the average mmpb, and better than a lot I have read. Funny how quickly I dropped the self published stigma when faced with books I enjoy.

  11. ShellBell
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 00:44:18

    Thank goodness for ARe. Geographical restrictions by the main NY publishers has resulted in me discovering ARe and finding new favourite authors. Having had my credit card canceled twice after shopping at Loose ID I much prefer being able to shop for my them in one place. It is much better to have one larger transaction rather than many small transactions here, there and everywhere. My only wish is that some of the publishers would release their eBooks to ARe a little sooner than they do now.

  12. Mikaela Lind
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 05:44:49

    @Lori: Thank you for the information that you are automating the format changing process! I have a bunch of Samhain e-books in pdf. My Sony can read them, but I prefer epub.

    Oh, and I hadn’t considered buying e-bucks to manage my e-books. So thank you for that as well !

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    Jan 04, 2011 @ 08:45:39

    […] That post appears a day after Dear Author ran this one: 2010 Trend Analysis from All Romance eBooks. […]

  14. Chris
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 21:34:55

    One thing I’ve been sad about since the new site design is that if I’m poking around and find a book I’d like to buy, then click sign in from that page, it doesn’t return me to that page. :(

    Also, I’d love to be able to use eBook Bucks to partially pay for an order. For example, if I have $2.51 in eBook Bucks left, I’d love to able to apply that to my $10.25 order, then pay the balance with a card or PayPal. I’m not sure it’s ever possible to spend down your eBook Bucks at present. :(

  15. MaryK
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 14:20:01

    EC titles are actually cheaper than on the EC site right now with the rebate special. Darn it. I’m supposed to be practicing frugality in the new year.

  16. MaryK
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 14:43:12

    Okay, I have one complaint about how the ARe website works. You have to search using an exact author name; you can’t search for a partial author name like “Hill” or “McCarty.” I was typing in “Joey” and happened to notice that she has two listings in the pop-up box, one for “Joey Hill” and one for “Joey W. Hill” so I had to run a search on each name separately to see all the titles ARe carries. Searching just for “Hill” turns up nothing.

    I haven’t tried searching by title so I don’t know how that works. I hope it doesn’t require an exact title because I don’t always remember full titles.

    But, hey, the rebate is pretty awesome. :)

  17. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Linkity, plus 2010 Reading Year in Review
    Jan 13, 2011 @ 19:15:58

    […] At Dear Author, All Romance eBooks reports on trends they’ve noticed. […]

  18. The value of ownership and ebooks | Dear Author
    Jan 23, 2011 @ 04:02:04

    […] are a growing number of authors self publishing DRM free books at prices around $2.99 and $3.99. Lori James of All Romance eBooks stated the following: Although we've certainly realized some lost sales due to the decrease in that […]

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