Ebooks pass print in adult fiction for first time
Last year sales of books on Kindles, Nooks, iPads and smartphones passed printed book sales in the closely watched adult fiction category.
While ebooks have not yet surpassed print in total adult trade book sales, they did rule over all the other subcategories including hardcover fiction as well as the lower-priced mass market fiction and the higher-priced quality fiction known as trade paperbacks, according to the latest numbers being released today by BookStats.
The numbers are co-produced by the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group.
There were 388 million ebooks sold last year, the survey revealed. That’s a 210 percent jump from the 125 million ebooks sold in 2010. On the revenue side, ebook sales more than doubled, to $2.074 billion in 2011, from $869 million in 2010.
The AAP did not release specific titles, but the ebooks counted such hits as “Unbroken,” by Laura Hillenbrand, as the top seller.
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” by the late Stieg Larsson, was No. 2, according to some reports.
“While ebooks showed increasing strength, the combined print formats still represented the majority of publishers’ net revenues in the trade sector at $11.1 billion for 2011,” AAP spokeswoman Andi Sporkin said.
That’s because a printed book costs more than its digital cousin.
Asked when ebooks might emerge as the undisputed sales leader — with more than 50 percent of the revenue — Sporkin said, “That won’t happen for a while yet.”
In the adult fiction category, ebooks now represent 30 percent of net revenue.
When other aspects of the trade category are included, such as titles targeted at children and young adults, ebook growth is less spectacular — at just 15 percent of revenue and units sold.
The trade category is the term for books aimed at general interest consumers.
The ebook surge was not enough to offset a decline in total revenues in the overall book market, which encompasses the commercial, entertainment, educational, professional and scholarly sectors.
Overall book publishing revenue declined 2.5 percent in 2011, according to the report, to $27.2 billion.
The total number of units sold actually rose 3.4 percent to 2.77 billion books, up from 2.68 billion a year earlier.
The Borders bankruptcy in 2011, which saw more than 500 retail outlets shuttered, appears to have hurt book sales through brick-and-mortar retail outlets — where sales tumbled 12.6 percent to $8.59 billion.
Despite the decline, brick-and-mortar retail still ranked as the No. 1 sales channel in 2011.
Online retail sales grew 35 percent in 2011, to $5.04 billion, representing 18 percent of total books sold.
Bright spots — aside from the surge in ebooks, included the children’s/young adult category, which saw a 12 percent increase — to $2.78 billion, which was the largest jump of any subcategory.
In addition, the publishers’ sales picture was improved in large part by blockbusters like “The Hunger Games,” by Suzanne Collins.
Source: nypost.com By: Keith J Kelly
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