You have to be where the people are: That's the first lesson I learned from releasing my e-book.
To be sure, it's something I already knew—but the friction of any purchase is made VERY obvious when readers encounter the following barriers.
3 Barriers You Must Eliminate to Maximize E-Book Sales
- An unfamiliar site or retailer. This is especially true for sites where readers have to create a new account. Readers will abandon the process if they feel irritated, even if they really want to buy your book. Test the purchase process as a new customer to see how easy it is to buy.
- An unfamiliar format. Especially for e-books, there are a LOT of different formats, and readers are inevitably confused about what formats are available, what a particular format can do, why a particular format is best, and if that format will work on the platform they need it to. (E.g., many people may not realize that a PDF can be viewed on a Kindle, and may not know how to load a PDF on a Kindle.) You must offer straightforward and comprehensive explanations of your book's format availability—and what each format is appropriate for—whenever marketing your book.
- Loyalty to a particular retailer, device, or format. If someone is already invested in buying books for their Nook or Kindle or Sony reader, it's extremely unlikely they will buy an e-book for a different device or from a different store. As a Kindle user, this is indeed a big factor for me. If an e-book isn't available for Kindle, I'm probably not buying it. I do make an exception for PDF documents, since I can read those on my mobile device/laptop—or I can print them out.
Right now, Amazon Kindle accounts for at least 50% of e-book sales in the United States, sometimes as much as 70%+ depending on the genre/category. Nook's (Barnes & Noble's) percentage of the market is increasing considerably, and the other players share the rest of the pie (e.g., Sony, Kobo, Apple, Google eBookstore).
My recommendation? Try to distribute your work across every possible device and format, if it makes sense for your work. Start with Kindle, then possibly use a multi-channel distributor such as Smashwords, FastPencil, or BookBaby to get your work on other platforms efficiently.