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:
Compare to Jan 2011:
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:
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
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.