Despite the contention by the Department of Justice that collusion between five major publishers and Apple led to higher e-book prices, a new report from Bowker shows that e-book prices fell across all major categories between 2010 and 2011. The average price of a fiction e-book in 2011 was $5.24, down from $5.69 in 2010. In nonfiction, the decline was more dramatic, with the average price falling from $9.04 to $6.47. In the juvenile segment, the average e-book price dropped to $4.47 in 2011 from $4.88, the report found.
With the downward pressure applied by e-books, the average purchase price of all books fell in 2011. In the year, the average purchase price fell in three of the four quarters, compared to 2010, with the steepest decline occurring in the third quarter, when the average purchase price fell 43 cents to $12.62. In the first quarter, the average purchase price was down to $11.76 from $12.20. There were small shifts in the second and fourth quarters, with prices up 3 cents in the second quarter and down 2 cents in the final period, compared to the fourth quarter of 2010.
While the report, the “2012 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics & Buying Behaviors Annual Review,” documents the changes in such high-profile industry areas as format and channel, a significant shift that has been a bit under the radar unearthed by the study is the change in who buys books. With Baby Boomers accounting for the highest percentage of the general population, that age group has historically spent the most on books. In 2011, however, that changed, when Generation Y, those born between 1979 and 1989, took over the book-buying leadership from Baby Boomers, accounting for 30% of book expenditures in the year, up from 24% in 2010, while Baby Boomers’ share of spending fell from 30% to 25%.
The report is based on results of a Bowker Market Research consumer panel of 70,000 Americans who bought books in all formats in 2011. Through August, the report can be purchased for $799; after August the price rises to $999. More information about the report is available at MarketResearch@bowker.com and it is available for purchase at www.bookconsumer.com.