e-books

The year-end totals for 2012 e-book sales are in the books (har, har), and the results are net revenues of $1.54 billion ($1,540M), an increase of 41% over 2011 figures. (Note that means that 2011 figures actually surpassed $1 billion, even though they were reported just under that figure a year ago. The AAP figures always seem to be adjusted upwards over time, presumably adding late-reporting sales.) While a 41% increase is nothing to sneeze at, it is a marked slowdown compared to the triple-digit growth rates of the previous three years:

  • 2002:   $2.1M
  • 2003:   $6.0M   (185.7% increase)
  • 2004:   $9.3M   (55.0% increase)
  • 2005:   $16.0M   (72.0% increase)
  • 2006:   $25.2M   (57.5% increase)
  • 2007:   $31.7M   (25.8% increase)
  • 2008:   $61.3M   (93.4% increase)
  • 2009:   $169.5M   (176.5% increase)
  • 2010:   $441.3M   (160.4% increase)
  • 2011:   $1,092.2M   (147.5% increase)
  • 2012:   $1,540.0M   (41.0% increase)

Print books did better than expected, but still declined slightly, from about $5,338M to about $5,289M. Buoyed by the growth in e-books, overall publisher revenues increased 6.2%, from about $6,431M to $6,829M.

E-books accounted for 22.55% of publisher revenue in 2012, a moderate increase from 16.98% in 2011. For comparison, e-book revenue as a percentage of the total was only 0.05% in 2002, increasing as a percentage by almost 500x in a decade:

  • 2002:   0.05%
  • 2003:   ???
  • 2004:   ???
  • 2005:   ???
  • 2006:   0.50%
  • 2007:   ???
  • 2008:   1.18%
  • 2009:   3.17%
  • 2010:   8.32%
  • 2011:   16.98%
  • 2012:   22.55%

It seems clear that the days of e-book sales doubling and tripling are over, based on these 2012 figures, the fact that December sales grew even slower than overall 2012 sales (up only 20% from Dec 2011), and the fact that nothing can double or triple forever, especially as a percentage of overall sales.

So, how did I do on my predictions from a year ago? Back then (when 2011 sales figures came in), I predicted that:

Of course, nothing can double forever, and my early prediction is that 2012 e-book sales will fail to double from this year’s numbers — maybe up 50% or so to about $1,500M (one and a half billion).

With the actual figure coming in at $1,540M, that means my prediction was within 3% of the actual number … just like my prediction for 2011 sales made two years ago. =)

Note: between an all-encompassing “day job” and the arrival of our first child last month, I haven’t had nearly enough time to keep up with publishing industry trends or e-book sales stats as I used to — let alone having time to then blog about those things. But I’ll go ahead and keep up the tradition and make a prediction for 2013 e-book sales anyway: based on the lack of innovation in e-readers (yes, we have lighted e-readers, but no color or flexible screens yet) and the saturation of the market, I predict that e-book sales will continue to slow their rate of increase, perhaps increasing another 20-25% over this year’s sales figures, which would put 2013 e-book sales between $1.75 and $2 billion.

February 2012 E-Book Sales $114.9M

Posted by Always Write at 10:11 PM Tagged with: ,
May 052012

E-Book sales for Feb 2012 cooled a bit from the record-breaking January pace, totaling $114.9M for the month. (See the note last month regarding the new methodology used to calculate these sales figures.)

Feb 2012 e-book sales: $114.9M

While impressive, these numbers are only a small increase from Feb 2011’s then-record-breaking $90.3M. According to the AAP, last February’s figure was artificially inflated due to a “one-off retail revenue transaction report” that “now makes that figure abnormally high.”

It appears print books had a banner month, pushing total sales to $578.3M, the second-highest month I’ve seen since I’ve been tracking these figures (Oct 2010 clocked in at $609.7M).

Adult Book Sales:

  • Adult Hardcover: $134.5M
  • Adult Trade Paper: $125.0M
  • Adult Mass-Market Paper: $64.6M
  • Adult E-Book: $92.5M

Young Adult Book Sales:

  • YA Hardcover: $82.9M
  • YA Trade Paper: $56.4M
  • YA E-Book: $22.4M

If those numbers are accurate, it’s the best month for mass-market paperbacks since Sep 2010, which had been in a steady decline. E-Books accounted for 19.9% of the total sales reported above, a decrease from last month, but a little above last year’s average of 19.1%.

UPDATE: Religious e-books accounted for $7,600,000, bringing the total to $122.5M for the month.

May 052012

Looks like a big month for e-books in January 2012, although the Association of American Publishers went and changed up their system on us, growing from collecting data from 90 publishers up to 1,150. While this should give a more comprehensive and accurate picture of sales, it also makes comparisons with prior data more difficult.

On the plus side, they released a good amount of granular detail for both January 2011 and January 2012. The summary: e-book sales for January 2012 total a whopping $128.8M, shattering the old record of $90.3M from Feb 2011 (more on that next month). This compares to (revised, apples-to-apples) sales from January 2011 of $73.2M, or a 56.8% increase. Perhaps most impressively, e-books totaled 26.7% of all book sales (print, e-book, and audiobooks) for the month.

The details from Jan 2012:

JAN 2012

Adult

YA

Religious

TOTAL

Hardcover

$69.8M

$57.4M

$39.6M

$166.8M

Tr. Paper

$105.1M

$38.0M

$5.3M

$148.4M

MM Paper

$30.4M

$30.4M

Audio

$8.4M

$8.4M

E-Book

$99.5M

$22.6M

$6.7M

$128.8M

TOTAL

$313.2M

$118.0M

$51.6M

$482.8M

Compare to Jan 2011:

JAN 2011

Adult

YA

Religious

TOTAL

Hardcover

$57.4M

$34.0M

$38.4M

$129.8M

Tr. Paper

$99.1M

$23.5M

$5.9

$128.5M

MM Paper

$39.3M

$39.3M

Audio

$6.5M

$6.5M

E-Book

$66.6M

$3.9M

$2.7M

$73.2M

TOTAL

$268.9M

$61.4M

$47.0M

$336.9M

The AAP must have some other figures they don’t include in the numbers above, because they list total Jan 2012 sales at $503.5M and Jan 2011 at $396.0M, a healthy 27.1% increase from last year.

Some highlights that jump out:

  1. Mass-market paperback sales continue their decline (now down below 1/3rd that of e-books — it wasn’t that long ago that e-books passing MM paperbacks seemed like a big deal).
  2. Adult e-book sales are up almost 50% from last year, and young adult e-book sales are up nearly six times last year’s figures, due no doubt to the increasing popularity of color tablets (like the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet) that allow for interactive children’s e-books.
  3. Young adult sales in general did very well — I wonder if much of the difference can be attributed to the mega-popular Hunger Games books.

January 2012 e-book sales: $128.8M

As explained above, don’t look at this chart and take the comparisons to earlier months as gospel, as the AAP’s new methodology makes month-to-month comparisons inexact. Last year, Jan 2011 sales were reported as $69.9M; this month (retroactively using the new methodology), they were adjusted upward to $73.2M. But a total of $128.8M in e-book sales is still a significant increase from any previous months, putting e-books on pace for $1.5 billion in sales for the year.

Mar 272012

Book 7 of the Harry Potter Series

Pretty big news in the e-book world today, as J.K. Rowling’s hit (super-mega-hit is more like it) series Harry Potter is finally available as e-books. Grab them on Amazon here:

Harry Potter Kindle E-Books

The good news is that the prices are fairly reasonable, ranging from $7.99 (for each of the first three books) to $9.99 (for each of the remaining four).

This fills an important gap in the e-book world, and was probably the reason that a sizable chunk of people was holding off on buying Kindles or other e-readers. I have no doubt that this announcement alone will result in a noticeable bump in Kindle device sales. I would expect it to especially impact younger readers, who are now more likely than ever to start reading e-books.

The full series list:

  1. Book 1: Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone ($7.99)
  2. Book 2: Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets ($7.99)
  3. Book 3: Harry Potter & the Prizoner of Azkaban ($7.99)
  4. Book 4: Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire ($9.99)
  5. Book 5: Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix ($9.99)
  6. Book 6: Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince ($9.99)
  7. Book 7: Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows ($9.99)

The reason these books have taken so long to finally become available on the Kindle (and other e-readers) was a simple one: the author didn’t want her works read as e-books; she preferred everyone to have the “paper & ink” experience. With all due respect to how Ms. Rowling prefers to read for herself, many millions of readers have already decided that we prefer the convenience, portability, and other features of e-books. (As an author, I’m always grateful for anyone to want to buy and enjoy my work, whether it’s on paper, on a Kindle, iPad, or inscribed on parchment scrolls. But she’s sold a few more books than I have, so I guess she wasn’t concerned about missing out on a few million sales here and there.)

In any event, I’m sure these e-books will do quite well (better late than never), and this announcement will make many of her fans quite happy. Welcome to 2012, J.K. Rowling!

E-Book Sales in 2011 Total $969.9M

Posted by Always Write at 1:31 AM Tagged with: ,
Mar 122012

December 2011 e-book sales were $85M

December 2011 book sales figures are in, and e-book sales clocked in at $85.0M, up 72% from last December. That figure shows some rebound from the lower-than-expected October and November sales, although it lags behind the months of February, May, and August. In fact, the monthly sales for 2011 are remarkably flat overall, with ups and downs but no clear upward trend for the first time in recent memory. In fact, sales for each of the last 3 months failed to double from the same months in 2010 for the first time all year (in other words, sales in each of the first 9 months were more than double their year-ago figures). The recap:

  • Dec 2010: $49.5M
  • Jan 2011: $69.9M
  • Feb 2011: $90.3M
  • Mar 2011: $69.0M
  • Apr 2011: $72.8M
  • May 2011: $87.7M
  • June 2011: $80.2M
  • July 2011: $82.6M
  • Aug 2011: $88.8M
  • Sep 2011: $80.3M
  • Oct 2011: $72.8M
  • Nov 2011: $77.3M
  • Dec 2011: $85.0M

Total 2011 e-book sales came in just under $1 billion

With December’s figures, the total sales for 2011 are in the books, and e-book sales increased 117% (more than double) from 2010, totaling $969.9M for the year. (As usual, note that the total figure is slightly higher than adding up the previous 12 months above, as the numbers usually are adjusted slightly upward for late-reporting sales.) This came in pretty close to, but just under, my prediction of $1 billion in e-book sales for the year (I was off by 3%). As you can see from the chart above, Q4 2011 took a surprising dip from the previous two quarters for the first time in several years.

2011 was not a great year for print book sales, with all 5 categories of print book sales down from the year before, with mass-market paperbacks predictably getting hammered the hardest, as they are the most likely to be replaced by e-book sales.

  • Adult hardcover: $1,293.2M (down 17.5%)
  • Adult trade paperback: $1,165.6M (down 15.6%)
  • Adult mass-market paper: $431.5M (down 35.9%)
  • Young adult hardcover: $661.9M (down 4.7%)
  • Young adult paperback: $477.9M (down 12.7%)

E-book sales as a percentage of total book sales

Of course, overall print book sales ($4,030.1M) were still more than 4 times the dollar value of e-book sales. And the increase in e-book sales was not enough to offset the overall decline, with combined book (print + e-book) sales for 2011 ($4,986.9M) falling slightly from 2010 ($5,293.3M). E-book sales as a percentage of total book sales more than doubled (up almost 135%) from the previous year, from 8.17% in 2010 to 19.18% of all sales in 2011. (Also keep in mind that print books are tracked more thoroughly by the AAP; e-book sales are reported only by the larger publishers, and there are millions of dollars of e-book sales that go uncounted in these figures.)

So, overall, another year of e-book sales more than doubling. However, the slowdown in the last quarter and overall leveling off of sales in 2011 might hint that we’re heading for a plateau, or at least a tapering of e-book sales growth. Of course, nothing can double forever, and my early prediction is that 2012 e-book sales will fail to double from this year’s numbers — maybe up 50% or so to about $1,500M (one and a half billion). I think we’ll see a continued decline in print books, leading to e-books garnering roughly one-third of the overall book market this year. But I think we might be a couple years away from breaching 50% — which might require a technological advance like color e-Ink or foldable screens, or a game-changing event in the publishing world, such as superstar authors going independent and straight to e-books, big publishers embracing e-books, or lowering of e-book pricing (perhaps as a result of the agency model going away). In any case, I’m sure 2012 will be another interesting year for the publishing industry in general, and for e-books in particular.

Mar 062012

You may notice that, when I discuss the e-book publishing landscape on this blog, I’ll often talk about Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and to a lesser extent Kobo, Apple, Smashwords, and even Sony. I’ve sold multiple e-books through all of those channels (in decreasing amounts in the order listed) — in quintuple digits (Amazon), quadruple digits (B&N), triple digits (Kobo), or double digits (the rest).

But, even though I’ve listed my books with Google (confusingly named Google Books, the Google Partner Program, Google Editions, and Google E-Books at various times) since they began back in 2010, I had yet to see one single, solitary e-book sale from them. As I predicted back then, it didn’t seem like Google had its act together in the e-book selling game (step one: pick a name) and they were pretty late out of the gate, compared to Amazon (which launched the Kindle Store in 2007) or Sony before that.

Well, I can admit when I’m wrong, and I’m pleased to announce that I just learned that I sold my first-ever e-book on Google. While it has a long way to go to catch some of the other sales channels, maybe it’s the start of something big.

So I’d like to offer a hearty thank-you to my first Google E-Book reader — if you’re from Australia, and bought Declination through Google on February 9, step forward and claim your prize! Of course, I had stopped checking sales through Google (fellow authors will understand the urge to check book sales on an hourly or even by-the-minute basis and understand what it means to not check for months), and only learned of last month’s sale by seeing the payment when I checked my bank statement.

Anyway, there you have it, Google is officially selling e-books (or should I say “e-book”?) and even paying royalties. My questions to my readers are: Have any of you bought any e-books from Google? Have any authors reading this sold any e-books through Google? And a final question: How can Google be so good at search and maps and VOIP phone service, and so terrible at other things?

November 2011 E-Book Sales at $77.3M

Posted by Always Write at 4:36 PM Tagged with: ,
Feb 082012

November e-book sales increased slightly from October, to $77.3M, but continued the meandering range that may signal a plateau, or at least a noticeable slowing, of the heretofore-explosive growth of e-book sales. While sales were still up 65.9% from November 2010, that rate marks the slowest increase of the year (and last month’s 81.2% growth rate clocks in as the second-slowest of 2011).

November 2011 e-book sales at $77.3M

Various observers have attributed the slowdown in e-book sales growth to customers waiting until the holiday season to buy new e-readers (note that the Kindle 4 and Kindle Fire were announced September 28, 2011 but didn’t ship until November 21), or to Amazon’s inclusion of Kindle e-books in library lending programs, which began in late September.

At an 11-month total of $871.7M (or $885M or so with the more recent, slightly upwardly revised numbers), it would take a great December to hit the $1 billion mark for e-books that I predicted at the start of the year — but they will probably get pretty darn close.

The recap of the past 13 months of e-book sales:

  • Nov 2010: $46.6 M
  • Dec 2010: $49.5 M
  • Jan 2011: $69.9 M
  • Feb 2011: $90.3 M
  • Mar 2011: $69.0 M
  • Apr 2011: $72.8 M
  • May 2011: $87.7 M
  • June 2011: $80.2 M
  • July 2011: $82.6M
  • Aug 2011: $88.8M
  • Sep 2011: $80.3M
  • Oct 2011: $72.8M
  • Nov 2011: $77.3M
  • One other interesting note: the Publisher’s Weekly press release noted that sales of adult mass-market paperbacks “all but died,” coming in at only $20.8M, less than half the figure from the previous year. This is not too surprising, since the growth of e-books is most likely to impact sales of mass-market paperbacks, as MMPs are the least expensive print offering, their release is delayed after hardcovers (as some publishers do with e-books), and most closely filled the role that e-books are starting to fill for people: day-to-day fiction reading, as opposed to hardcover cookbooks, graphic books, or bookshelf display items.

    Feb 082012

    While up 81.2% over October 2010, e-book sales came in at a slightly disappointing $72.8M in October 2011. Publisher’s Weekly reports the total for the first 10 months of 2011 at $807.7M, up 131.1% from the same months in 2010. However, they do point out that October is the first month in 2011 that e-book sales (up only 81.2%) did not double from the previous year.

    October 2011 E-Book Sales are $72.8M

    This is the second month in a row that e-books have slowed their pace. In fact, the entire year of 2011 has been fairly steady (compare January 2011’s $69.9M with October’s $72.8M). In fact, the average monthly sales so far in 2010 were $79.4M ($80.8M if you use PW’s updated totals), so October is a below-average month for the year. We’ll see if the holiday shopping season (which has traditionally caused a nice surge as people get e-readers for Xmas) bumps those figures up in December 2011 and January 2012.

    The last 13 months of sales figures:

  • Oct 2010: $40.7 M
  • Nov 2010: $46.6 M
  • Dec 2010: $49.5 M
  • Jan 2011: $69.9 M
  • Feb 2011: $90.3 M
  • Mar 2011: $69.0 M
  • Apr 2011: $72.8 M
  • May 2011: $87.7 M
  • June 2011: $80.2 M
  • July 2011: $82.6M
  • Aug 2011: $88.8M
  • Sep 2011: $80.3M
  • Oct 2011: $72.8M
  • On a personal note, I apologize for the lack of regular posts — my job has been taking up all of my time, and I just haven’t had the time I’d like to devote to blogging (let alone novel-writing!).

    Dec 012011

    September 2011 e-book sales: $80.3M

    E-Book sales dipped a bit in September 2011, to $80.3M, but were more than double last year’s results, and were strong enough to carry e-books to a new record quarter of $251.7M in Q3, 2011. For the past 13 months:

    • Sep 2010: $39.9 M
    • Oct 2010: $40.7 M
    • Nov 2010: $46.6 M
    • Dec 2010: $49.5 M
    • Jan 2011: $69.9 M
    • Feb 2011: $90.3 M
    • Mar 2011: $69.0 M
    • Apr 2011: $72.8 M
    • May 2011: $87.7 M
    • June 2011: $80.2 M
    • July 2011: $82.6M
    • Aug 2011: $88.8M
    • Sep 2011: $80.3M

    Q3 2011 e-book sales: $251.7M

    The quarterly sales of just over a quarter of a billion dollars help push e-books to $727.7M for the first 9 months of the year, an increase of 137.9% over last year, and close enough that a strong holiday push could put e-book sales at a billion dollars for the year, as I predicted after February’s sales.

    While the AAP frustratingly has become more stingy with its print book sales figures, they did provide percentages that I used to estimate print book sales for the month (fortunately, I keep a spreadsheet with each month’s figures going back to last year). The percentage changes for print books, and my estimates for Sep 2011 sales:

    • Adult hardcover: down 18.1%, est. $147.7M
    • Adult trade paperback: flat, est. $111.5M
    • Adult mass-market paper: down 54.3%, est. $31.0M
    • Young adult hardcover: up 2.1%, est. $78.2M
    • Young adult paperback: down 14.6%, est. $41.5M

    Fairly brutal numbers across the board, with only a slight (2.1%) increase in young adult hardcover, flat adult trade paper sales, and decreases in the other categories, including a dramatic 54.3% decrease in mass-market paperback sales. People have said that mass-market paperback sales are the most susceptible to being replaced by e-book sales, since they are generally fiction novels that people read once and then discard or donate — as opposed to hardcovers that people like to display on their bookshelves. The numbers are bearing that out, as e-book sales, which just last year were below mass-market paperback, are now nearly triple. The AAP also pointed out that sales in all print trade segments were down for the 9-month period so far this year.

    Based on those estimations, e-book sales accounted for 16.25% of combined print/e-book sales for the month, roughly double the 8.17% overall figure from 2010.

    Oct 292011

    Aug 2011 e-book sales rise to $88.8M

    Clocking in with what many cultures will consider an auspicious number, August 2011 e-book sales increased to $88.8M, the second-highest month on record (behind only February 2011’s $90.3M). That marks an increase of 116.5% over last year. Meanwhile, according to the Association of American Publishers:

    All trade print segments had a decline in August sales with the largest coming in mass market paperback where sales from reporting companies fell 36.4%. … Sales were off by double digits in all trade print segments in the January-August period.

    Ouch. For those of you keeping score, e-book sales in the first 8 months of 2011 are up to $649.2M (an increase of 116.5% over last year, more than double). The AAP now only sporadicly reports print book sales figures, but based on percentages, mass-market paperback sales in August were about $34.9M, well under half of e-book sales.

    For the past 13 months:

    • Aug 2010: $39.0 M
    • Sep 2010: $39.9 M
    • Oct 2010: $40.7 M
    • Nov 2010: $46.6 M
    • Dec 2010: $49.5 M
    • Jan 2011: $69.9 M
    • Feb 2011: $90.3 M
    • Mar 2011: $69.0 M
    • Apr 2011: $72.8 M
    • May 2011: $87.7 M
    • June 2011: $80.2 M
    • July 2011: $82.6M
    • Aug 2011: $88.8M
    © 2010 David Derrico