If you have been following me for any length of time, you probably notice that I try to advertise my e-books from time to time. I have been writing books about macOS and iOS since 2012. My first book was OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Server Review, which coincidentally is my overall best selling book. However, it is not the one that has sold the most during its release year, but more on that later.
I do no often post about how well my books are selling. This is not necessarily because I do not want people to know how well they are doing (not as well as one might think), nor is it because I care if people know how much I make from them (again is not nearly as much as one might guess). The reason I do not post more about them is because it may not be that interesting to many individuals. The last time I shared my e-book sales it was in 2014, when I released my iOS 8 e-books, and that was only because it was anomalous.
I thought I would look back at my entire sales history of all of my e-books. Part of the impetus for doing so is to determine where I should focus my attention for my books. Should I focus more on iOS or more on macOS? I tend to try and release my e-books on the day that the new version of iOS or macOS is released. This is likely due to the highest amount of interest being near the release of the operating system.
The first thing I had to do, in order to be able to gleam any information about my e-book sales, was to create a database of all of my books and then I needed to pull all of the sales information from both Apple and Amazon. Thankfully, being the data driven companies that they are, I was able to pull in the information, after a bit of tweaking.
There are still some issues with the way that I have it all setup and some aspects require manually adding some records to get the correct information, but given that my sales are not as large as you might assume, it is not a big deal. I will eventually fix it, but for now it is not an issue.
There were a few specific areas that I wanted to look at. The first was I wanted to compare release year totals, to "all-time" totals. The second was which country sold the most, after the U.S. To answer each of these required a different report to be created. Because I can program webpages for my day job, and because web programming has been a hobby for much longer, it was not a difficult task to accomplish. What I found was interesting.
macOS vs. iOS
The first thing that I found was the breakdown of macOS vs. iOS e-books. For just sales during the release year, which for most books is three to three and half months. Apple is 59.54% macOS vs. 40.46% iOS. Amazon is 69.40% macOS vs. 30.60% iOS. Overall the breakdown is 63.99% macOS vs. 36.01% iOS. This tells me that I need to focus on the macOS release more than the iOS release; which is the exact opposite of the amount of time I spent on each of the latest versions of my e-books.
Now if we look at all-time sales, this is where it really becomes interesting. For Apple sales, the macOS vs. iOS breakdown is 72.44% vs. 27.56%. For Amazon it is similar, 75.57% vs. 24.43%. The overall percentages are 73.71% vs. 26.29%. What this tells me is that the long tail for macOS e-books sales is much longer than for iOS. This is borne out with the next group of statistics.
The next group we will look at is the percentage of sales that are release year sales. As mentioned above, I suspected that most of the sales were near the time when the new version of each operating system is released. From Apple, for macOS the percentage of sales that are from the release year only is 53.36% for macOS versus 95.30% for iOS. If I look at Amazon, it is even higher at 71.27% for macOS and 97.22% for iOS. The total for each is 60.88% and 96.01% respectively for macOS and iOS.
This statistic is the one that surprised me the most. This ultimately lets me know that once I am done with my iOS books, I am effectively truly done with them. Not many people end up buying iOS books beyond the initial release year. While I did not look into this specifically, it would not surprise me if the iOS books did not really sell beyond the first 60 days and possibly even the first 30 days. I could create a report to look at this, and I might at some point in the future.
Similarly, it might be a good idea for me to update the macOS books as new features, if any, are added. With the annual release of macOS, it may not be worth the effort to do this, but I will think about that in the future. Along side this, the Mac is a very mature operating system and the number of new features in each release is minimal.
After some thinking, it does not surprise me as much that macOS has a longer selling life than iOS. This is because many users upgrade their iPhones every year or two, so they may only be looking for a book about the version of iOS that comes with their upgraded phone. Conversely, users likely upgrade their Macs every three to four years, if not longer. So it would make a lot more sense that users may be looking for information about the latest version of macOS. At the same time though, it is also possible that users wait much longer to upgrade their Macs and want information about the latest version before upgrading. Next, let us look at the breakdown of sales by country.
Sales by Country
The last statistic we will look at is which countries, besides the U.S., do my books sell the best? One might suspect that the United Kingdom or even Australia as the second best selling market, after the United States, due to the language being the same. However, for whatever reason, this is not the case. In fact it is Germany that is the second best selling market, followed by the United Kingdom, France, and then closely by Canada.
In 2017, I decided to add physical books as an option. This was done as a means to increase sales and as another option for those who prefer physical books instead of e-books. For each book there is a color and a black and white version. I opted to provide both as a means to see how well each would see. Naturally, as one might suspect, the color version is a bit more expensive than the black and white version.
Given that this is the first year for physical book sales, I do not have any historical data for comparison. I published these through Amazon's CreateSpace platform. It is possible to publish a physical book alongside a Kindle e-book, but CreateSpace offers a couple of additional features beyond the Kindle Direct Publishing platform.
I opted to go through CreateSpace because it allows distribution by more than just Amazon, but also through third-party resellers, like your favorite book store. This also allows libraries to purchase copies as well. A vast majority of sales have come through
With that in mind, for sales through the end of December are as follows. The macOS versus iOS sales percentages are 82.69% for macOS and 17.31% for iOS. The breakdown of black and white versus color is 65.38% black and white and 34.62% color copies.
There was one statistic that I intuitively knew, but did not have quantitative information for. That statistic was that 2014 was an anomalous year for my e-book sales. This happens to coincide with an anonymous year for iPhone sales too. I do not know if there is any causation, but there is a correlation. In 2014, 41.10% of my "all-time" sales of my iOS e-books, were for my iOS 8 book.
The overall sales of my e-books have not been too bad. Not nearly as many as I would like, but I cannot complain too much. They will not allow me to quit my job and become independent wealthy, that is for sure. I do not know if any of the advertising nor any of the sales that I have done over the years have helped or not. If you would like to support the website, you can always purchase an e-book or two, or even a physical copy.