AAP’s book sales figures for November 2010
The Association of American Publishers regularly reports publishing sales figures. They’ve recently released the figures for November of 2010:
As usual, I’m going to recommend you read the whole release.
I do want to hit a few of the main points.
First, do you think people are buying more books overall? Well, it certainly looks that way. 2010 through November compared to 2009 through November was up 3.5%. That’s unlikely to have been caused just by prices going up, since digital media (e-books and downloadable audiobooks) have been increasing their market share…and they tend to be less expensive than their physical counterparts.
How much are e-books up? For the year-to-date to year-to-date period, how about up 165.6 percent?! Keeping it in perspective, though, the sales were $46.6 million compared to adult hardbacks at $219.9 million. My guess, though, is that many more e-books are sold from independent publishers (who wouldn’t be part of the AAP) than p-books. That might skew these numbers a bit.
Adult mass market books continue to be in freefall…down 14 percent on the year-to-year. Mass markets were positioned as the cheap, convenient alternative, and e-books have it all over them for that. I think the time will come when the only mass market paperbacks you see for sale new are really, really cheap quality. I think for major works, we may see that segment of publishing largely evaporate.
When the AAP releases their figures for December, I fully expect that e-books will have overtaken mass market paperbacks in dollars.
Does that matter for e-book readers?
Sure. When the mass market paperback is released, we have typically been seeing the e-book price drop. If there is no paperback release, I don’t think we’ll automatically see a price drop. That doesn’t mean I think a book will be released at $9.99 and just stay there forever. When sales wane, we’ll see a decrease in price (if the people setting the prices are smart about it). E-book prices can be much more volatile than p-book prices…since the prices aren’t printed on the book.
Since the e-book market is still expanding rapidly, we may not see those prices move down that much. Let’s say interest in a book decreases 25%…but the number of people buying e-books increases 50%. That could mask that interest drop.
It’s interesting stuff. It will still take e-books a while to catch hardbacks in terms of dollars, but they will pass mass market paperbacks soon. We should see mass market paperbacks rise in price. Trade paperbacks aren’t as affected by e-book sales, but I think e-books might catch them in dollars in another two years, maybe shorter.
Hardbacks are safe for a while yet…but they will lose market share to e-books. I would also guess we’ll see hardback prices rise. I’ve been saying we could see fifty dollar list price new popular hardbacks within five years or so. Seem crazy? Some New York Times bestselling hardback novels are already close to thirty dollars. As hardbacks become a luxury item, I think we’ll see more deluxe editions at those higher prices.
What do you think? Is the time of mass market paperbacks coming to an end? When will e-books outsell (in terms of dollars) hardbacks…or will they? Feel free to let me know.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.