Wednesday, November 20, 2013

eBook Sales Are In Decline (For Now), As August Marks Turnaround for Trade in US

Publishers Lunch

With two new months of trade sales data from the AAP released today, one recent trend is ratified: ebook sales by established trade publishers are in decline. For the approximately 1,200 publishers that report to the AAP, ebook sales have declined for 5 months in a row on a year-over-year basis. Adult ebook sales have declined for 4 months in a row. And for the first 8 months of the year, total ebook sales stand at $982 million -- down from $1.04 billion a year ago.

These numbers are all remarkable for a format that has experienced nothing but continuous growth up until now. And they are a little bit more remarkable still when you consider that sales have fallen in the same period in which retailers have gained back the ability to discount ebooks from all of the big agency lite publishers (who were always told that discounting would drive their sales volume).

But that does not mean ebooks have declined in significance to the trade. In that respect, actually, ebooks continue to gain -- albeit slightly. Part of that is because all trade sales have declined so far this year. 2013 has been all about comparisons to the market-moving hits from a year ago, when first Hunger Games and then Fifty Shades had outsized impact on industry numbers. 
For the first 8 months of the year, AAP stats have trade publishing taking $201.5 million less than in 2012, down 5 percent, at $3.909 billion -- but those sales are more evenly spread around, which is why many individual companies are reporting reasonable results

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