Thursday, January 24, 2013

How ebooks could slump during Xmas

The other day, I talked about the fact that my ebook sales slumped on Barnes and Noble during the Christmas shopping season and have yet to recover. Now, this sounds odd when you look at the news that ereader sales were still strong with some outlets reporting record sales of ereaders sold (whether dedicated ereaders or other devices with ebook reading capabilities). So how could a writer's royalties slump during the Xmas shopping season?

Two things to keep in mind about my royalties for fourth quarter 2012. One, despite the slump at B&N, fourth quarter was still my best quarter ever as a writer (thanks to Apple). Two, I was not surprised by the drop in my ebook sales.

My ebook sales were normal until Thanksgiving. And Apple's expansion played a big part in fourth quarter being the best for me so far. Likewise, I did have some new erotica available under one of my other pen-names.

It is after Thanksgiving, and up to January tenth (and maybe beyond...I am waiting for the latest sales update), that my Barnes and Noble's sales slump.

There are at least three possible reasons for this slump. Two reasons tie into the fact that most of my royalties come from a single item (yes, one item is accounting for about 80% of my current income). One, I did not put out anything new for awhile under the pen-name that is credited for that item (different pen-names for different fetishes). Two, I might have hit the saturation point for that item. But I would expect to see a gradual decline in sales, not a sudden drop like my figures show.

The third possible reason, the one that I believe is the real cause, is also the reason that I was not surprised by this slump. In fact, I was expecting a slump in my royalties.

Now, bear in mind that I spent twenty years in the restaurant business (ten as a manager), plus my father owned a produce business (he started out in deliveries, and moved into sales). Restaurants, unless they are located close to shopping centers, tend to have decreased sales during the Christmas season. Why? Because people are spending money on other things, mainly Xmas shopping.

And that is the golden reason that a writer's ebook sales could slump during the Christmas shopping season, and into the post-Xmas season--people are spending money on other items.

In this case, ereaders and other associated devices.

Ebooks are not physical items. You cannot wrap an ebook. And do you really want to buy a friend or family member an erotic novel or short story?! Probably not. (Remember that most of my income comes from erotica of a particularly dubious sub-genre.)

On the other hand, ereaders and other ebook reading devices are physical items. Therefore, you can put them under the Xmas tree.

And I believe that is the real reason that my sales slumped during the Xmas shopping season. This slump is probably a pattern that I need to get used to, and budget around.

If I am right, about February, as people's wallets start to recover from Xmas shopping, I should start seeing my royalties return to normal.

(And why no corresponding drop in Apple sales? Well, it was the first quarter for many people to buy ebooks in Apple's expanding global market...this might not be the normal buying pattern for those customers.)

1 comment:

Corinna @ The Sweet Spot Blog said...

That makes sense. Thanks for the explanation. Dropping by from UBC.