Saturday, 16 April 2011
eBooks now dominate the American market
The latest report from the Association of American Publishers, compiling sales data from US publishing houses, shows that total ebook sales in February were $90.3m (£55.2m). This makes digital books the largest single format in the US for the first time ever, the AAP said, overtaking paperbacks at $81.2m. In January, ebooks were the second-largest category, behind paperbacks.
America's eBooks enjoyed a 202.3% growth in sales in February compared with the same month the previous year, the book trade association revealed. Print books fared much worse by contrast, with the combined category of adult hardback and paperback books falling 34.4% to $156.8m in February. The children and young adult category of print books fell 16.1% to $58.5m.
The AAP attributed the growth in February to "a high level of strong post-holiday ebook buying" from readers given ereader devices for Christmas, with the greater selection of devices and the broader range of ebooks now available also playing a part in the increase.
"Additionally, trade publishing houses cite ebooks as generating fresh consumer interest in – and new revenue streams for – 'backlist' titles, books that have been in print for at least a year," said the AAP. "Many publishers report that eBook readers who enjoy a newly-released book will frequently buy an author's full backlist."
Philip Jones, deputy editor of the Bookseller, called the US eBook sales growth a "significant milestone amongst digital milestones which are coming thick and fast", but pointed out that "the eBook figure includes children's, so overall the trade print book market is still bigger than the ebook market".
"Ebooks have grown massively, but they do not yet match overall print books and nor is it predicted that they will," said Jones. "The most bullish predictions suggest that ebooks will account for 50% of the US market by 2014 or 2015, and then will probably plateau."
In the UK, "we are one year behind now and catching up quite fast", said Jones. He pointed to small UK press Quercus, which publishes the Stieg Larsson trilogy and which announced earlier this month that its eBook sales increased 16-fold in 2010, representing 3% of revenues. Quercus has predicted that its digital revenues could "realistically reach 10% of our total revenues over the course of the current year".
"The February results reflect two core facts: people love books and publishers actively serve readers wherever they are," said Tom Allen, president of the AAP. "The public is embracing the breadth and variety of reading choices available to them. They have made eBooks permanent additions to their lifestyle while maintaining interest in print format books.