First published on http://www.publishersweekly.com/
E-book sales of trade titles rose 44% in 2012 and have skyrocketed an astounding 4,660% since the format first began to gain traction in 2008, according to BookStats, the book industry statistical program overseen by the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group. The increase in units tracked not too far behind, rising 43% in 2012 to 457 million units sold, and jumping 4,456% since 2008.
As with any new product category, e-books enjoyed their strongest gains, at least in terms of percentage increase, in the first few years following their introduction. In 2008 and 2009, driven by the launch of the Kindle and later the Nook, e-book sales rose 354% and 198%, respectively. As publishers began to make more print books available in digital formats, e-book sales surged from under $900 million in 2010 to over $2 billion the following year, adding $1.24 billion in sales in 2011. The slowdown in growth in 2012 was not unexpected as e-books have become a billion-dollar business, making triple-digit gains a thing of the past. What’s more interesting than the 44% increase in sales in 2012 is that in terms of dollars, e-books also grew at a slower rate in 2012 than in 2011, partly due to lower prices as well as lower unit sales, adding about $933 million in new sales in the most recent year. The increase in 2012 was still good enough to increase the format’s share of the book market to 20% in the year, up from 16% in 2011, according to the BookStats data.