Unit sales of traditionally published e-books fell 10% in 2017, compared to 2016, according to figures released by PubTrack Digital, part of the NPD book group. The service, which tracks sales from about 450 publishers, said e-book unit sales hit 162 million last year, down from 180 million units in 2016.
NPD reported that combining print sales from its BookScan service with PubTrack digital sales, e-books accounted for 19% of total units (both print and digital) last year, down from 21% in 2016. The top selling e-book among the trade publishers, it reported, was The Handmaid's Tale published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Adult fiction remained the most popular e-book category–44% of sales in the category were in the digital format–but e-book sales in the segment dropped 14% from 2016, to 108 million units.
E-books have a much smaller share of the adult nonfiction market, 12%, but sales in the segment rose 3% last year, to 38 million units, NPD reported.
The steepest decline in e-book sales last year was in the children's category, where sales fell 22%. In children's, the digital format accounted for only 5% of all sales last year. E-book sales were down 8% in the young adult category, falling to 4 million units sold. The format comprised 18% of all young adult unit sales last year.
All the major trade houses, including the Big Five, report sales to PubTrack. The service, however, does not track e-book sales from Amazon's independent authors. In his letter to shareholders earlier this month , Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said that more than 1,000 authors using Amazon's KDP platform had royalties of over $100,000. A company spokesperson said e-book sales at the company have continued to grow globally through traditional outlets and subscription services, specifically Kindle Unlimited.
Top-Selling Traditionally Published E-books, 2017
|1||The Handmaid’s Tale||Margaret Atwood||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|
|2||Origin||Dan Brown||Random House|
|3||Camino Island||John Grisham||Random House|
|4||Hillbilly Elegy||J.D. Vance||HarperCollins|
|5||The Fix||David Baldacci||Hachette|
|6||Before We Were Yours||Lisa Wingate||Random House|
|7||A Gentleman in Moscow||Amor Towles||Penguin Group|
|8||The Rooster Bar||John Grisham||Random House|
|9||Big Little Lies||Liane Moriarty||Penguin Group|
|10||Two Kinds of Truth||Michael Connelly||Hachette|
|11||1984||George Orwell||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|
|12||The Shack||William P. Young||Hachette|
|13||The Late Show||Michael Connelly||Hachette|
|14||A Man Called Ove||Fredrik Backman||Simon & Schuster|
|15||End Game||David Baldacci||Hachette|
|16||16th Seduction||James Patterson||Hachette|
|17||A Column of Fire||Ken Follett||Penguin|
|18||Come Sundown||Nora Roberts||Macmillan|
|19||Small Great Things||Jodi Picoult||Random House|
|20||The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck||Mark Manson||HarperCollins|