E-book sales in the first six months of the year rose 30% over the same period in 2002 with unit sales up 40%, according to a survey sponsored by the Open eBook Forum, an e-publishing trade association. The survey was released barely a week after online retailer B&N.com decided to bow out of e-book retail because of inadequate sales.
Pointing to growing sales from libraries and school systems as well as the impact of new e-reading devices, Nick Bogaty, executive director of the OeBF, told PW that the industry "has been seeing real signs of growth from every direction. But until now all the evidence has been anecdotal. The goal of this program is to put some concrete numbers behind the successes we're seeing in this maturing industry."
The report, E-book and E-Document Publishing and Retail Statistics, was compiled from data submitted by 34 publishers and retailers. Participants in the survey submitted their information through a password-protected Web site maintained by OeBF. The numbers in the OeBF survey roughly correlate with the Association of American Publishers' sales reports for the first seven months of 2003. The AAP cites e-book sales of about $2.9 million for the year to date from eight prominent trade publishers, among them Random House, HarperCollins, S&S, FSG and St. Martin's.
According to the OeBF report, a total of 660,991 e-books were sold industry-wide in the first half of 2003, a 40% increase over the same period in 2002. There were a total of 938,469 e-books sold in all of 2002. E-book revenue for the first half of 2003 is reported to be nearly $5 million, a 30% increase over the same period in 2002. Total e-book sales for all of 2002 were more than $7.8 million, and the OeBF projects sales of more than $10 million for the full year 2003.
The report noted that the three top-selling genres were science fiction/fantasy, reference and general fiction; they are followed by mystery and suspense, romance, business, religion, the classics and erotic material. Publishers reporting to the OeBF survey include most of those in the AAP report in addition to Palm Digital Media, AOL Time Warner, McGraw-Hill and Zondervan, as well as such retailers as Amazon.com, Powells.com and Fictionwise.com.
The full report is available to OeBF members only, but excerpts are posted on the OeBF Web site (www.openebook.org).