Ebook sales rising, as traditional books falter

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The Association of American Publishers reported that ebook sales have risen by 116% over the course of the past year, while hardcovers and paperback sales dropped 11.3% and 19.7% respectively during the same period. Those are some impressive numbers when you look at them, and with more quality ebook readers coming to market, it seems like a no brainer. Of course, ebooks sales really had nowhere to go but up. These devices have only really started to reach mass market in the last 2 years, and we have Amazon and Barnes & Noble to thank for that more than anyone. The bigger numbers to focus on are the decline of traditional book sales. It seems like those things are all downhill from here, and that’s a good thing. Hit the jump for the press release from the AAP.

March 17, 2011, New York, NY– E-books and downloadable audio books continue to grow in popularity according to the January 2011 sales report of the Association of American Publishers.

Figures for the first month of the new year show that E-book net sales increased by 115.8% vs January 2010 (from $32.4 Million to $69.9M). Sales of Downloadable Audio Books also rose by 8.8% vs the previous year ($6.0M to $6.5M). As AAP reported last month in its December 2010 monthly report and full 2010 analysis, E-book sales have increased annually and significantly in all nine years of tracking the category.

Among the other highlights of the January 2011 report:

  • Total books sales on all platforms, in all categories, hit $805.7 Million for January. This was a slight drop from January 2010’s $821.5M sales (-1.9%).
  • Adult Hardcover category fell from $55.4M to $49.1M (-11.3%), Adult Paperback dropped from $104.2M to $83.6 (-19.7%) and Adult Mass Market declined from $56.4M to $39.0 (-30.9%)
  • In the Children’s/Young Adult category, Hardcover sales were $31.2M in January 2011 vs $31.8M in January 2010 (-1.9%) while Paperbacks were $25.4M, down 17.7% from $30.9M in January 2010.
  • Physical Audio Books sales were $7.3M vs $7.9M the previous year (-6.7%).
  • Sales of Religious Books grew by 5.6%, from $49.8M to $52.6M.
  • Sales in the Higher Education category were $382.0M for January 2011, a slight drop (-1.4%) from $387.6M the previous year. K-12 sales hit $82.6M for the month vs $97.0M for the previous year (-14.9%).
  • In Professional and Scholarly Books, sales grew 1.3%, from $51.2M to $51.8M. Sales of University Press Hardcovers were $3.9M in January 2011 vs $4.5M the previous year (-14.0%) while University Press Paperbacks were $6.2M vs $6.7M (-7.8%).

All figures cited represent domestic net sales for U.S. book publishers.

About AAP
The Association of American Publishers is the national trade association of the U.S. book publishing industry. Its 300 members include most of the major commercial, education and professional publishers as well as smaller and non-profit publishers, university presses and scholarly societies. They publish content on every platform for a global audience.

Andi Sporkin – [email protected] – (202) 220-4554
Tina Jordan – [email protected] – (212) 255-0275

source: AAP

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Allen Schmidt

Allen is a former contributing editor at Nothing But Tablets, which was merged with Pocketables in 2012.

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7 thoughts on “Ebook sales rising, as traditional books falter

  • Our homes will look really weird when (edit: if) all these e-devices fully replace their physical counterparts. Imagine just having an e-reader instead of a bookshelf. :)

  • I still love the physical book – sort of like how I love me some CD’s – nothing beats the physical copy (apart from price). So I hope that publishers will (when you purchase a book) give a digital download of it as well. Some DVDs/Blu-Rays have this, so why not books?

  • I agree ebooks are here to stay. I was given a list of books and some spending cash for a workshop and I went and got ebooks from amazon only (only 1 was not available). I wouldnt normally underline a book, but with ebooks…well that is just something that I do all the time. Long live the ebooks :-)

    • I don’t even dare to ask what are some of your thoughts on keys, then :D

  • These numbers do not seem to add up.
    I get a total of $821m whereas the American Publishers say $806m. Can you help me out ?

  • Avatar of Ramifications...

    I wonder how many of those hoping ebooks completely replace paper books (and I rather disagree. I despise ebooks with a passion, and I tend to love technology. Nothing will replace the awesome feeling of holding and reading paper books. And I speak from experience: I’ve read quite a few free ebooks (many of my favourite print books, no less) to see how they are. Guess what happened? I bought the print versions because I couldn’t stand to reread the ebook forms.) are even considering the possible ramifications to the paper industry. Take out books, and all other paper products would skyrocket. You want to complain about paying $3.00 to $7.00 a gallon for gas? How about paying that much for ONE ROLL OF TOILET PAPER? And $10 for one roll of napkins, $20 for a stack of paper plates…..

    If the paper book industry goes under, we’re all going to be in even more dire straits than we already are: After all, how many can easily blow $21 for 3 rolls of toilet paper? I know I can’t, nor can most of the people I know.


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