First published on www.publishersweekly.com.
The best snapshot of the impact of e-books and other digital content on the industry came from Bowker Market Research’s presentation on trends. Through its PubTrack Consumer service, Bowker has been following changes in consumer book-buying behavior since 2009, and those changes are especially evident in the formats in which consumers now buy books. Bowker’s consumer survey for July through December 2009, the period when e-books were just taking off, found that e-books had a 2% share of unit sales. In the third quarter of 2012, that jumped to 23%. According to Bowker, e-books took the most market share from hardcovers, whose slice of the book-sales pie fell to 25% of units in the most recent period, from 35% in the last half of 2009. The Bowker data shows the gradual increase in e-books’ penetration of the overall book market: 5% of units at the end of 2010 and 15% in the same period in 2011. While the number of e-books sold has steadily increased, the average price of e-books has declined. From an average purchase price of a little over $10 in 2009, that price was just under $6 last year. During the same period, the average price for print books held relatively steady, rising from $12 in 2009 to about $12.40 in 2012.