There’s still no more relevant topic of debate in the publishing industry than the future of the physical book versus the exponentially growing influence of electronic publishing. So, after compiling the list of bestselling print books of the year through June 30, according to Nielsen BookScan, PW set out to discover just how well those titles performed as e-books. Based on breakdowns provided by individual publishers, there is yet more evidence that fiction sales lean more toward digital than their nonfiction counterparts.
For fiction, the digital-print split hovered consistently around the 50/50 mark. With excitement over the film adaptation prompting renewed interest in the title, 48% of sales of The Great Gatsby went to e-books in the first six months of 2013. The digital-to-print breakdowns for The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks and The Innocent by David Baldacci were right down the middle, with 50% of sales of each title coming from e-books. The Third Wheel, the seventh in Jeff Kinney’s illustration-heavy Diary of a Wimpy Kid storybook series, presents a notable exception to the pattern, with sales skewing toward physical books. Two Dr. Seuss books—Oh, The Places You’ll Go and Green Eggs and Ham—were among the top 20 bestselling print books through June, but those titles are available in digital form only as apps, not as e-books.
By and large, about 25% of total sales for nonfiction titles on the bestselling print list came from e-books. For both Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven and Shred: The Revolutionary Diet by Ian K. Smith, 25% of sales were digital in the first half of the year. In the Duck Dynasty camp, 18% of sales went to e-books for Happy, Happy, Happy by Phil Robertson, one of the show’s stars, and e-books accounted for 21% of total sales for The Duck Commander Family by costars Willie and Korie Robertson. Although Thomas Nelson didn’t make exact percentages available, the publisher did report that sales for Jesus Calling by Sarah Young were predominantly print. Penguin, Random House, and Tor declined to provide breakdowns.
|Top-Selling Print Books of the Year Through June 30, 2013||E-book Sales (as % of Total Sales)|
|1.||Inferno by Dan Brown (Doubleday)||Unavailable|
|2.||Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander (Simon & Schuster)||25%|
|3.||The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney (Abrams/Amulet)||20%|
|4.||Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (Knopf)||Unavailable|
|5.||Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson)||Unavailable*|
|6.||The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Scribner)||48%|
|7.||Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss (Random House)||0%**|
|8.||Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James (Vintage)||Unavailable|
|9.||And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead)||Unavailable|
|10.||Happy, Happy, Happy by Phil Robertson (Howard Books)||18%|
|11.||A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan (Tor)||Unavailable|
|12.||Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (Random House)||0%**|
|13.||Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Crown)||Unavailable|
|14.||American Sniper by Chris Kyle (Harper)||22%|
|15.||Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath (Gallup Press)||5%|
|16.||World War Z by Max Brooks (Three Rivers)||Unavailable|
|17.||The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central)||50%|
|18.||Shred: The Revolutionary Diet by Ian K. Smith (St. Martin’s)||25%|
|19.||The Innocent by David Baldacci (Vision)||50%|
|20.||The Duck Commander Family by Willie & Korie Robertson (Howard Books)||21%|
* No exact percentage was made available, but the majority of sales were reported as print.
** There are no E-BOOK versions of this title.