May 2010 E-Book Sales: $29.3M

 Posted by at 5:47 PM  Tagged with: ,
Jul 162010

May 2010 e-book sales: $29.3M

May 2010 e-book sales data is in from the Association of American Publishers, and they are up 162.8% over last May, totaling $29,300,000 for May 2010. Year-to-date, e-book sales are up 207.4% from Jan – May 2009.

The most interesting tidbit is that, at this time last year, e-books comprised 2.89% of all trade book sales. This year so far, they’ve almost tripled, up to 8.48%. That’s not only a huge jump, but we’re really starting to approach very significant percentages (to put that in perspective, New York & Massachusetts combined account for 8.42% of the U.S. population). Some popular books are seeing even higher numbers — e-books accounted for almost 30% of the first-week sales of the #1 NYT Bestseller The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider they’re measuring dollar figures, and e-books generally cost less than paper books, so e-books’ percentage of total copies sold would be even higher.

The monthly e-book sales numbers so far this year:

  • Jan 2010: $31.9 M
  • Feb 2010: $28.9 M
  • Mar 2010: $28.5 M
  • Apr 2010: $27.4 M
  • May 2010: $29.3 M

I was surprised to see even the small dips in March and April, but May appears to be back on the upswing. Perhaps e-book sales are stronger over the winter when people would rather curl up with a good e-book than brave the snow to head to a bookstore. But, for comparison, the first 5 months of 2010 total $146M, whereas the total for all 12 months of 2008 was only $56.5M.

Please see this older post for earlier numbers and a more detailed breakdown on e-book sales vs. hardcover, trade paperback, and mass market paperbacks.

  5 Responses to “May 2010 E-Book Sales: $29.3M”

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  1. the Digital Reader has a rather more pessimistic take on these figures:

    • That was a very interesting take on the numbers. It’s interesting to see people look at the same numbers and find different interpretations. Here is a much more positive take on the numbers, for example.

      Either way, it’s clear the year-over-year numbers are trending dramatically upward for e-books. However, the first 5 months of the year have been flat at best. An interesting point the Digital Reader post pointed out was that total book (p- and e-) sales were abnormally high in January, almost double the February and March numbers. So perhaps that high point was just an aberration, not the start of a decline.

      Second, as the article I linked pointed out, the agency model (along with higher prices and consumer backlash) came into effect in April, and that could explain the large dip in April. (Do you think publishers will re-think their choice to raise e-book prices?) Also, Penguin e-books weren’t available on Amazon all month. Factor out April and the huge numbers in January, and the trend would be upward.

      I think it’s still too early to tell if e-books have flatlined or just hit a rough patch and will soon continue their upward trend — May’s numbers definitely help suggest it might be the latter. But it DOES seem clear that, even with all of Apple’s talk of 5M e-book downloads, Apple hasn’t moved the needle on total e-book sales. At BEST, they’ve taken market share from Amazon and the other retailers and maybe the iPad 3G helped contribute to May’s upswing. But the fact remains that the worst month this year coincided with the release of the iPad (on April 3).

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