Happy Independents’ Day 2015!

Happy Independents’ Day 2015!

Yes, that’s spelled correctly. ūüėČ

In the USA, the Fourth of July is Independence Day (celebrating the country’s founding), but without diminishing that, I thought I’d take at look at e-books published “independently”…what are commonly called “indies”.

Obviously, before we go further, we should have some sort of agreement about what we mean by an “independently published book”…for one thing, that will help me when I look in the Kindle store.

Clearly, books published by the “Big 5” don’t count. Those are the five largest trade publishers in the USA. Trade books are the ones you would have bought in a bookstore…not textbooks and the like.

The Big 5 are:

  • Penguin Random House
  • Simon & Schuster
  • Macmillan
  • HarperCollins
  • Hachette

and all of their various imprints.

However, I would also consider a number of other publishers to be not indies…for example, Scholastic, which has some very significant bestsellers (The Hunger Games and Harry Potter in the USA), but just doesn’t publish that many titles.

What about something like Inkshares, which published one of my sibling’s recent first novel,¬†One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)?¬†It’s independent of the traditional distribution system, but they chose whether to publish the book or not…my sibling didn’t publish it on their own initiative ¬†(which is how some people would define an indie…essentially, synonymous with the generally considered to be less attractive term, “self-published”.

I’m going to go with books from publishers I don’t recognize or that don’t show a publisher at all. ūüôā

First, Amazon has their own

Kindle Indie Books from Kindle Direct Publishing (at AmazonSmile*)


It’s quite full features, with its own categories, bestseller list, and so.

Here’s the first thing to notice. There are


titles listed there at time of writing.

There are


listed for the USA Kindle store altogether.

The indies are 58% of the titles…meaning that indies are now the mainstream. ūüėČ

Next, I was curious about how they compare to tradpubs (traditionally published books) in terms of

USA Kindle Store bestsellers (at AmazonSmile*)

The top four books are the

Kindle First books (at AmazonSmile*)

That’s not a surprise: that’s clearly a very successful program for Amazon, where Amazon Prime members can buy one of a specific set of books before they are released.

While these books are not from the Big 5, I don’t consider the independents. This is Amazon doing ¬†traditional publishing.

  1. Amazon imprint
  2. Amazon imprint
  3. Amazon imprint
  4. Amazon imprint
  5. Penguin Random House
  6. Penguin Random House
  7. Amazon imprint
  8. HarperCollins
  9. Simon & Schuster
  10. Amazon imprint

That’s interesting!

When I’ve looked at bestsellers before, I think indies have had ¬†times when they’ve had more of an impact.

The highest book I can see that I would consider an indie for this purpose?

#16 The Absolute Best Dump Dinners Cookbook: 75 Amazingly Easy Recipes for Your Favorite Comfort Foods (at AmazonSmile*)

I’m sure that two years ago, there would have been indie novels higher than that!

I’ll analyze this more in depth, but I’ll put three¬†hypotheses out there.

One, and I’m quite confident in this, is that the Amazon imprints have pushed indies out of the top slots.

Two is that this is a big time for a release of books by the tradpubs…summer is hot in more ways than one.

Three is that borrows through

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

are seriously cannibalizing sales of books. That would be true for indies, and not for the Big 5 (the latter aren’t participating in KU…yet).

That’s definitely worth a deeper analysis…and trying to figure out how the new rules of “pay per page read” might be impacting the income of publishers in Amazon’s subser (subscription service…”all you can read” for a flat fee a month).

Enjoy your holiday!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

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