Ebook Numbers Exceeding Expectations Wherever You Look
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  • February 25, 2011
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I know I’m a bit of an ebook fanboy, and as such not the most impartial conveyer of news, but there’s no mistaking the constant stream of numbers coming out of ever sector of the book market:

Ebook sales are growing faster than anyone thought, and keep smashing the latest adjusted predictions that those in the biz are making.

And it’s not all gloom and doom for the paper book, either. It’s becoming apparent that ebooks are slowing sales of paper books, but less than people expected, and the sumtotal of books sold is growing healthily.

That has to be good news for everyone (with the possible exception of large bookseller chains with poorly run businesses – but who cares about them.)

Here’s a round-up of some of the good news:

Via TeleRead and O’Reilly’s 2010 State of the Computer Book Market:

This shows the percentage of sales on during 2010 for Books, Ebooks, and Video. These are big three content types with much of the same content. The ebooks are just digital versions of our print products. So the big, and more likely HUGE, news is that ebooks represent about 88% of our unit sales, and 79% of our dollar sales on What is really impressive is that the growth of our digital products is moving faster than the decline of our print products. This suggests to me that we are not seeing one product type cannibalizing another — rather they are supplementing each other.

Also via TeleRead:

The Bookseller reports that a Nielsen Book study shows that the number of new books being published every year is steadily rising, due largely to the influence of digital and print-on-demand publishing. Of course, this figure comes from the ISBNs that Nielsen issues; if the number of books published without ISBNs (offered for sale directly via websites, local stores, or other means) has also increased, that might make it even greater.

Via eBookNewser:

Barnes & Noble third quarter sales were $2.3 billion, for the fiscal 2011 third quarter, which ended January 29, 2011, a 7% increase from the same period last year.

Barnes & comparable sales increased 64% as compared to a year ago. Barnes & Noble comparable store sales increased 7.3%, which was slightly higher than the company’s forecast for an increase of 5% to 7%.

William Lynch, CEO of Barnes & Noble said that eBook sales helped drive this:  “In the digital area, our eContent business continues to scale quickly such that we now sell twice as many eBooks as we do physical books at  NOOK Color, launched in the third quarter, was named the best dedicated eReader by the Associated Press.   We’re very encouraged by the sell-through of that break-through device, as well as the newly launched NOOK Newsstand subscription service and NOOK Kids children’s digital library.”

Via Jane at the popular, romance-centric Dear Author blog:

Many authors are looking at the growth in digital, the decline in mass market sales, the reduction of Borders’ footprint, the decreased orders from Wal-mart and thinking, hey, this digital thing might not be so bad after all.  I think with the inclusion of digital book sales by the NYTimes and USA Today, digital books are finally gaining an imprimatur of respectability.  For the record, while at TOC, a bunch of us made predictions about what the digital book market would be like at the end of 2011. I said it would represent 60% of trade publishing revenue.  A year ago, I probably predicted that 30% wouldn’t be achieved for five years.*

Also via Fairfax newspapers The Age And SMH, comes a brilliant yarn (not least of which because I’m quoted in it! – head-waggle) about the rise of ebook lending sites and how (shock, horror) they actually boost book sales, rather than squash them:

Catherine MacDonald admits consumer demand drove her initiative… ”Consumers tend to be leveraging social media to create communities around collaborative consumption and we’re a great example,” she says. ”The power of the internet to connect so many people means that it’s possible for one of our users to pop on to our Facebook Wall and ask, ‘Hey, I’m thinking about reading this book; what did you think of it?’ And within seconds, people are commenting with their opinions.”

By mid-February, the digital book club had more than 8000 books up for loan, facilitating between 300 and 450 loan matches every day for up to 12,000 members. Most of them are women aged between 35 and 55, the most enthusiastic Kindle adopters to date.





About Autor:

2011-02-26 16:26:19 Reply

I’d be curious to see whether Nielsen takes into account the fact that most publishers issue separate ISBNs for different formats of the exact same ebook – so there’s an ISBN for Mobi, ePub, PDF and even for Microsoft Reader in some cases. It’s not a very accurate way to judge number of books published.


    2011-02-27 12:40:13 Reply

    Very true, Joel – more accurate data can only help all kinds of publishing platforms better serve their customers. And, in the the end, that’s what this biz has to be about.

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