Digital Book Trends

By Stanislav Fritz (2013)

We’ve all heard it. Many of us hate it. Some of us even ignore it. The trend toward digital books. Whether you are published or want to be published, if you ignore the digital trend you will soon be ignoring 50% of your audience, or more. Think of it this way: how many of you still listen to music exclusively on vinyl records and watch TV on an analog TV with VHS as your recorded medium?

Wait, you cry, books are different! Not from classic technology adoption curves they are not. The impact on authors and publishers is (and will be) different than it was for musicians, or for the movie industry, but the consumer still rules. They always do, in the end. Here are the trends:

  • North America is the leader. The average annual growth rate after 2012 is expected to be 13%. This is as it “matures.” Yes, the eBook market in the U.S. is already hitting the “mature” stage. By the end of 2012, eBooks in the U.S. could account for 30% of books sold. [Note that statistics are hard to come by as the market is changing so rapidly. Also, % of books sold, versus % of revenue are two different things as the price point of eBooks is generally lower, but the profit margin tends to be higher.]
  • In 5 years, if the trend holds, this means over 50% of all books sold will be eBooks. Fiction is at a much higher starting point and will be over the 50% mark much faster. Textbooks are the big trend for 2012.
  • The pie (total books sold) in the U.S. is not growing (at best it is stable with population).
  • eBooks, like any technology, is influenced by “Big Player” retailers. Some projections have Amazon controlling 70% of all book sales in the next year. Amazon is strongly pushing eBook sales and technology. With one program, they are giving away books to prime customers with a Kindle. This sets a price point somewhere near zero for an eBook!
  • 99% of the eBook market is controlled between Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Apple, and Kobo.
  • I leave you with one visual. To read an eBook, you need the right device. Technology trends for CDs, DVDs, and other media follow the trend of the devices. This is the “Tie In” factor. EBook trends almost exactly mirror Digital Camera and DVD trends. The inflection point (where they dominate) is approximately 7 years. If the trends hold, the inflection point is 2014.

Ebook Readers Unit Sales Forecast

A good discussion on this can be found at the blogspot, Marketing, A Strategic View from which Rohan Hubli’s excellent graphic depiction was taken (with his permission).


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