13 Crucial Amazon Book Sales Statistics in 2024 (U.S. & World)

Amazon Started By Selling Books – And Still Dominates Today

When Jeff Bezos founded Amazon in 1994, he was clear that books would be the company‘s first product. Coming from a Wall Street background, Bezos chose books deliberately – they were universal, allowed for easy storage and shipping, and had existing supply chains.

Within its first month selling books online, Amazon had sold to customers in all 50 states and 45 countries. Books fuelled Amazon‘s early growth into the behemoth it is today, with current annual revenue topping $280 billion.

And despite spreading into everything from cloud computing services to online streaming, books remain core to Amazon’s business. By the numbers, Amazon completely dominates book sales both online and off. This article dives into the key statistics that showcase Amazon‘s book-selling juggernaut.

Steadily Increasing Market Share

Early on, Amazon understood the strategic importance of owning market share before profits. And it has paid off when it comes to book sales.

After capturing 26% of the US self-publishing market in 2009, Amazon now enjoys over 90% market share. That type of growth is astounding for any category.

Amazon book sales market share over time

Amazon‘s book sales market share, data from The Guardian

When combining print book sales, ebook sales and its Audible platform, one report estimates Amazon now accounts for over 80% of the overall US book market.

Globally, Amazon is also making strides by capturing large portions of major book markets like the UK (over 50% print book market share) and making inroads in markets like Japan, China and India.

Breakdown of Amazon’s Book Sales Velocity

Let’s analyze Amazon’s sales volumes across print books, ebooks and audiobooks:

Amazon print book sales vs ebooks vs audiobooks 2022

Data from Statista and WordsRated

A few interesting things stand out:

  • Amazon moves a massive volume of print books, over 3x ebooks annually
  • Audiobook adoption is accelerating with almost 200% growth since 2019
  • Self-published ebooks make up over 30% of Amazon‘s annual ebook sales

The continued strength of print sales must be reassuring for publishers, bookstores and authors who worried ebooks would dominate. Audiobooks present an exciting growth channel to add on.

Driving the Self-Publishing Explosion

As mentioned above, beyond just selling self-published books Amazon has fueled massive growth in the market itself. The chart below shows US self-published title production over time.

US self-published title production 2007-2018

Data from IBPA
and Publishers Weekly

A few key takeaways on the self-publishing explosion:

  • After years of slow early growth, self-publishing absolutely exploded starting around 2007
  • Over 1 million self-published books were released in 2018 – a 10x increase in a decade
  • Romance writers in particular have embraced self-publishing formats
  • 31%+ of Amazon‘s current ebook catalogue is self-published content

This revolution has allowed more authors than ever to find readers and build writing careers by cutting out traditional gatekeepers.

The Fall of Physical Bookstores

With surging book sales year after year, Amazon has not surprisingly put immense pressure on physical bookstores over the past two decades. US Census Bureau data shows the impact.

In 2004, physical bookstores numbered close to 12,000 locations. Despite increasing overall US population and book sales, physical store count started rapidly declining in 2007. Over 75% – more than 9,000 locations – have evaporated in about 15 years.

US physical bookstore count 2004-2019

US Census Bureau data, visualized by Forbes

Many beloved independents were early casualties, with ABA membership dropping 40% between 2009 and 2019. Regional chains like Borders fared little better, closing their over 500 locations by 2011. Industry giant Barnes & Noble now runs just over 600 stores, closing 150+ locations since 2018.

The pandemic heaped on additional damage. Nearly 20% of independent bookstores in the US closed for good in 2020. Iconic shops like Denver’s Tattered Cover fought through months-long shutdowns and capacity restrictions.

Selection Size Setting Amazon Apart

A key advantage fueling Amazon‘s dominance is its absolutely massive book selection – the largest in human history. Compare its 40+ million available titles to the catalog sizes major publishers can offer physical retailers:

Publisher catalog sizes vs Amazon book selection

Data from Forbes and Amazon

Even the two largest publishers combined cannot match Amazon‘s virtual selection. And no brick-and-mortar store could ever stock even a hundredth of Amazon‘s range of titles.

This allows any Amazon shopper to browse an incredible spectrum of books – from the obscure to the wildly popular. Authors also benefit from instant access to these millions of buyers.

Advice For Prospective Authors

For authors considering self-publishing on Amazon or querying publishers, here are key questions to dive into:

Are you exclusively tied to Amazon?

No requirement exists to be Amazon-exclusive as an author. You can choose whether to publish exclusively there or distribute more widely.

That said, Amazon offers higher royalty rates (40-70% of list price) when authors opt for exclusivity. For new authors, that trade-off can make sense to test the Amazon waters – over 80% of the ebook market awaits!

What are the costs to publish on Amazon?

The base act of publishing ebooks or print books on Amazon is free. No charge exists for setting up an author account, entering book information, uploading manuscripts and cover art. Amazon prints and ships print-on-demand books only when purchased.

Royalty fees are deducted only once your books sell. These account for printing/distribution costs for physical books. So, authors avoid upfront costs and risks. Amazon collects its platform fee from your sales royalties.

How difficult is publishing on Amazon and marketing books effectively?

The publishing process itself is straightforward for both ebooks and print given Amazon’s robust platform and templates. Getting a book "out there" takes more persistence than technical skill.

The bigger challenges come after publishing: standing out among 6 million other titles and persuading readers to take a chance on your book. Effectively marketing on Amazon demands research into successful genres, an eye for hot trends, and understanding Amazon‘s advertising options.

Success ultimately requires the same fundamental abilities as traditional publishing: strong writing, storytelling, and marketing skills. But used effectively, Amazon puts authors closer than ever to readers.

The Bottom Line

Book lovers today overwhelmingly start their search on Amazon whenever looking to purchase books online or order print copies. Avid readers browse from over 30 million titles made available by Amazon’s publishing services and ever-growing catalogue.

For authors, Amazon allows unprecedented direct access to this vast market of book buyers and freedom in publishing choices. But competition is intense on the platform, and solid writing combined with promotional savvy remain vital to sales success.

One thing is for sure – by removing gatekeepers and empowering author entrepreneurs, Amazon has sparked a golden age for writers determined to perfect their craft and find their readers.

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