As e-books become a bigger part of the publishing sales mix, the key question for the book industry is whether the entire revenue pie will grow or shrink. If e-book sales merely displace sales of print books, total revenue will likely decline because of the generally lower prices of e-books. If e-books increase unit sales, however, revenue could grow.
At the moment, the only place where aggregated industry data can be found is the monthly sales estimates from the Association of American Publishers, and although the figures record actual sales from reporting companies, the number of participating publishers is limited. Keeping that in mind, print sales in the five major trade segments from reporting companies fell 7.5% in the January through September period, while e-book sales rose 188.4%. When e-book and print sales are combined, sales from the companies still fell, but only 2.0%.
Although there are numerous reasons besides a switch to e-books for why print book sales fell in the current nine months (like no new Twilight books), the early results show that higher sales of e-books may not be enough to lift revenue for the trade industry.
AAP September Sales Report
|CATEGORY||% CHANGE Sept.||% CHANGE YTD|
|Adult Hard (17)*||-40.4%||-8.1%|
|Adult Paper (19)||-15.8||1.5|
|Mass Market (9)||-23.6||-15.7|
|Juvenile Hard (14)||-17.4||-15.1|
|Juvenile Paper (14)||-1.6||-6.8|
|Aud. Download (7)||73.7||34.1|
|Higher Ed. (10)||2.2||10.6|
|Univ. Pr. Hard (34)||-4.8||4.1|
|Univ. Pr. Paper (34)||10.6||5.5|
(Measured in $ sales against same time periods, 2009) * Number of reporting companies
AAP Monthly Trade Sales Estimates, Nine Months (in millions)
|Mass Market Paperback||603.1||508.6||-15.7|
In the November 1 issue of PW, in the story "How E-book Sales Compare to Print... So Far," the numbers on Michael Connelly's The Reversal were incorrect. The title sold 74% in print and 26% in digital (not 68%/32%).