Go Read This | E-books overtake US paperbacks

First off, don’t get TOO excited. The figures are very impressive, but they carry some health warnings the three biggest:

  • Ebook sales are undifferentiated whereas print sales are segmented
  • Thess are self reported and not the whole market
  • These may still be seeing post-Christmas loading by new ereading consumers

That said, the market is clearly growing VERY quickly still. Read the whole release from the AAP here.

Sales of e-books in February tripled over the previous year to $90.3m, the Association of American Publishers reported, exceeding adult paperback sales of $81.2m.

A 169 per cent surge in e-book revenues since the start of the year contrasted with a 24.8 per cent decline in print book sales to $442m over the two-month period. February figures showed steeper declines in some print categories, with adult hardcover sales falling 43 per cent to $46.2m and mass-market paperbacks down 41.5 per cent at $29.3m.

via FT.com / Media – E-books overtake US paperbacks.

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10 comments

  1. Hi Eoin,

    Your health warnings are appropriate, but could go either way. First, these figures are self-reported, yes, but the ones that don’t tend to report in time for these AAP releases are the small/micro/independent presses, and while they have a small share of the market, a lot of these guys are already 50% digital. Some reckon that when you factor this guys in, market share is probably closer to one third. Second, I am dubious about the seasonal aspect to this, or at least, how much of a factor that is. E-book sales are up 202% year on year. They are up 169% since the start of the year. This means that all these new Kindle owners bought more in February than they did in January. What reason is there to presume this is a temporary bump?

    Dave

  2. My issue with self reporting is that it’s non-verified, not so much that we are missing data, just that I’d much rather it was an independent 3rd party. Not a huge deal, but something I think should be noted.

    As for the seasonality, it’s more that I’d rather wait and see what happens later in the year. My personal experience was that December saw huge growth late in the month, January saw the same growth but February saw a drop off followed by a strong March and what looks, so far, like a good April.

    I’d love to see some segmentation in the sales data though, for instance, how is non-fiction performing in ebooks relative to fiction, YA relative to adult, trade to non-trade.

    There’s no doubting the rise, the issue is more how sustainable the pro-longed rise is and whether it will falter later in the year, it may not, but it’s wise to be cautious!

    Eoin

  3. Eoin,

    What we could also be seeing of course (and there is a lot of talk of this on the Kindle forums), is e-book owners replacing their existing collection, which will be a huge, if somewhat temporary, driver of sales.

    Dave

    1. Possibly,
      Certainly that kind of changeover drove cd sales for a very long time.
      I wonder how likely it is? I do recall hearing some publishers saying that they were seeing some of this!

  4. What I do not undertand is that February bookstore sales rose 9.3% according to the Census Bureau. From the Shelf Awareness magazine of yesterday: under Census Bureau definitions, bookstore sales are of new books and do not include “electronic home shopping, mail-order, or direct sale” or used book sales.

    This flies in the face of the heavy drops in print we are seeing. Or is there something I’m missing?

  5. Doing some more digging reveals that the Census Bureau estimates include sales of all products in these stores. Perhaps B&N sold a mountain of Nooks in that period!

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