E-retailers like Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) are still the primary places that people buy e-books. But publishers and authors can achieve success selling e-books directly. That’s one thing science fiction/fantasy author Stephen Hunt learned when he recently undertook his own survey on e-book reading habits.
Hunt polled readers on his website, Facebook and Twitter pages. 71 percent of the respondents were reading e-books–mostly on their Kindles and laptops. Not surprisingly, the most common place for buying e-books was the Kindle store (54 percent)–but 39 percent of respondents buy e-books directly from the publisher, and 25 percent buy them directly from the author. (Respondents could select more than one response.)
Nineteen percent of respondents were reading e-books illegally by downloading them from BitTorrent or other file-sharing services.
Keep in mind that most of the 833 respondents to this survey were Stephen Hunt fans–sci-fi/fantasy readers, a tech-savvy bunch. Science fiction is one of the most popular e-book genres. But the fact that many of these readers are buying e-books directly from publishers and authors is good news. We asked Hunt which sites respondents were buying from directly, and he mentioned Baen, a small independent sci-fi/fantasy publisher located in Riverdale, New York. “Baen really led the way on this back when e-books meant web browsers and the Rocket Reader,” he said, “so hats off to them.” One of Baen’s creative selling tactics has been to serialize e-books, releasing them to subscribers in segments prior to their official publication.
Some larger sci-fi publishers are taking cues from publishers like Baen. Tor/Forge, an imprint of Macmillan, recently launched the Tor Store on iBooks, and it publishes short fiction for free on its website.