April 15, 2013

Ebooks account for 22.55% of publishing revenue in 2012


A new survey from the Association of American Publishers (AAP) published last week revealed that ebook sales continued to rise in 2012.

Ebook sales now account for 22.55% of publishing revenue. That’s a steep climb from 0.05 percent 10 years prior, when the AAP first began keeping track of ebook sales. Per the AAP’s survey,

“In 2002, those Trade publishers reporting eBooks to AAP noted the format represented 0.05% of their total share of net revenue

By 2006, eBooks were reported as 0.50% of participating Trade publishers’ net revenue; it reached 1.18% by 2008

The following year, the digital transition was underway and percentages reported grew rapidly: from 3.17% (2009) to 16.98% (2011) and now, for 2012, 22.55%”

Ebook sales increased in all the categories that the AAP tracks, including Adult Fiction/Non-Fiction and Children’s/Young Adults, which had the largest growth. According to Laura Hazard Owen, however, at PaidContent, the ebook market seems to be plateauing.

This goes in hand with recent chatter about the declining sales of ereaders. As Greg Bensinger wrote in the Wall Street Journal back in January, “Market-researcher IDC recently estimated 2012 global e-reader shipments at 19.9 million units, down 28% from 27.7 million units in 2011.”

This is the result of a number of factors, one being that people are now just as likely to read on their tablet, rather than a dedicated ereader, especially given that tablet prices have fallen and gotten smaller and more portable. Writes Bensinger:

“People haven’t stopped reading. They are just increasingly likely to read e-books on tablets rather than e-readers, according to a recent Pew Research Center report. The polling firm found that 23% of Americans said they had read e-books in 2012, compared with 16% in 2011. And ever cheaper tablet computers can be used not just as sophisticated readers but also as Web browsers, game consoles and cameras. “For most consumers, a multi-use tablet is a better fit, particularly at the price points at which tablets can now be had,” says Tom Mainelli, IDC’s tablet research director. “E-readers will eventually become a niche product.”

The AAP’s survey also had some heartening news: trade publisher’s net revenue grew by 6.2% in 2012.


Ariel Bogle is a publicist at Melville House.