-books are gradually ﬁnd-ing customers in a greaternumber of countriesacross the globe, but thereis no argument thate-books have had their greatestsuccess in the U.S. The Associa-tion of American Publishers’monthly StatShot programreported that sales of adult tradee-books were up 34.5% in theﬁrst 11 months of last year com-pared to same period in 2011, hit-ting $1.5 billion at the companiesthat supply ﬁgures to the associa-tion. While the rate of growthslowed in 2012, e-books firmlytook hold as the third-largest for-mat in the year, moving ahead of mass market paperback.The rate of change in e-booksales vis-à-vis the other formats hasbeen documented by Bowker Mar-ket Research, whose PubTrackConsumer service has been follow-ing book-buying trends for morethan five years. The portion of book buyers who bought at leastone e-book in January 2011 wasabout 13%—a ﬁgure that grew to25% in January 2013. Thatincrease in e-book adoption haschanged the publishing landscape.In the ﬁrst quarter of 2010, digi-tal accounted for 4% of unit pur-chases of American books, withhardcover representing 36% of units and trade paperback 34%.The mass market paperback seg-ment had a 15% share during thatperiod. By the final quarter of 2012 much had changed; e-booksaccounted for 27% of unit sales in the period, while hardcov-ers and trade paperbacks each accounted for 28%, and themass market paperback format share dropped to 8%. TheBowker data do, however, reﬂect the slowing growth shownby the AAP numbers. Between the fourth quarter of 2010 and2011, e-books’ share of units rose by 13 percentage points, butslowed to a seven-percentage-point gain year over year in theﬁnal quarter of 2012.What the data in the U.S. show is that digital and printbooks can coexist, but over the next few years everyoneinvolved with book publishing will be intently examining howthat relationship plays out.
Growth Sets the Stage
E-book sales exploded in the U.S. in 2012, but what comes next?
The DIGITAL SPOTLIGHT
SOURCE: BOWKER MARKET RESEARCH
E-book Trends in the U.S.
Showing % of book buyers who bought at least one e-book that month(blue) and the % who say they read e-books daily/weekly (orange).
Change in Book Formats, 2010-2012
% read e-books (daily/weekly)% book buyers who purchased an e-book (US)