In this guide, we look at company ethics in each of the key publishing markets (print, eBook and audiobooks), highlight the brands seeking to consolidate and survive, and make the case for including authors in our ethics.
After years of fluctuations, the market for books seems to have found a new equilibrium. The book trade is managing to (just about) hold on in the face of Amazon, eBooks are losing their shine and the demise of independent bookshops may have been halted.
Print still dominates the books market (over 80% share) but its growth from year to year isn’t steady. After booming in 2015 and 2016, sales of print books flattened out in 2017, growing by only 0.1%. Despite appearances this could actually be positive news. In 2017, there were no smash hits (‘Go Set A Watchman’, ‘The Girl on the Train’, yet another ‘Fifty Shades’ instalment ...) as there had been in the previous two years. Nevertheless, print books still managed to register growth, which market researchers Mintel interpret as a sign that the print revival is a long-term trend. Amazon continues to dominate the market in print books, with over half of people buying them doing so through the retail giant.
Even if you explicitly choose to avoid Amazon and use a different seller, you may be wise to check the seller's feedback or reviews if you don't want to to find them buying the item from Amazon on your behalf. Sellers may use their own Amazon Prime account to get free shipping, but still charge you for the delivery. This is known as dropshipping, and is quite common even if it is against the rules.