Publishing Success in a Digital World

For millions of people around the world, the emergence of e-book technology is all the rage. Publications by any author of any genre are instantly accessible with the touch of a button.

The portability and convenience of these devices make it easy for consumers to enjoy literature wherever they go. Consumers are not the only ones reaping the benefits of mobile e-book devices such as Kindle and Nook; many authors are turning to websites such as Amazon to sell their wildly popular novels to die-hard fans. However, some authors feel that e-books decrease their earnings and are more comfortable selling their novels the old-fashioned way.

Three of the world’s bestselling young adult novelists have earned stunning profits from the sales of their works through e-book technology. J.K. Rowling, author of the “Harry Potter” series; Stephenie Meyer, author of the “Twilight” saga; and Suzanne Collins, author of “Hunger Games,” have increased their incomes immensely by making their books available on the web for download through stores like Amazon.

Though many teens and those in their 20s read this particular genre in droves, surprisingly, older adults enjoy the fantasy and mysticism that these stories evoke as well. This can largely impact the percentage of revenue that each author draws in. Wall Street Daily has found that the adult interest these novels attract have increased e-book sales from the young adult fiction genre up to 12 percent in 2011.  

Amazon has teamed up with a new virtual world called Pottermore. Pottermore, created in March 2012, enables consumers to buy “Harry Potter” novels through another avenue, while Amazon still receives a cut of the profits. Consumers can download books on up to eight devices and even download free books from the library. Since the birth of Pottermore, “Harry Potter” has sold an additional 525,000 copies.

Suzanne Collins of “Hunger Games” has become the sixth author inducted into Amazon’s Kindle Million Club. From 2008 to 2012, one million copies have been sold to Kindle users, outselling the “Harry Potter” series. In March 2012, Amazon named Collins the bestselling Kindle book author. Meyer’s “Twilight” saga is not far behind “Harry Potter” in e-book sales. The vampire love story has sold over 500,000 e-book copies.

E-book sales and availability may be the new widespread trend, but according to UTSA English professor Steven Kellman, “Few respectable authors will publish their works initially or exclusively in e-book format.” All three authors mentioned have started their careers through traditional publishing companies.

Collins, Rowling and Meyer have acquired most of their sales through hardback and paperback novels worldwide. Collins has earned over 23.5 million in sales with “Hunger Games.” Meyer has sold more than 25 million copies of “Twilight,” and Rowling has come out on top with her “Harry Potter” series, which has sold over 450 million copies worldwide.

Though e-book sales have reached great heights in recent years, many authors still look to publishing companies to make higher profits. While it is without question that e-book sales return amazing profits, some e-books are available at reduced prices, making it easier for readers to obtain copies.

 “In order to entice consumers into the e-book market, some publishers have lowered their prices or even distributed titles for free. I think that most authors still prefer to be published in bound books and that they probably receive higher percentages of royalties from that format,” Kellman says.

As for now, there is no definite answer as to which format is better. The question of sales, consumer availability and enjoyment is sure to be a hot debate for years to come. The only thing that is certain is that authors and publishers will use the most profitable avenues possible. Consumers will buy the format that fits their needs, and either way, sales will be made and profits will be gained.