Flash! E-books more than double market share in 2010

Flash! E-books more than double market share in 2010

The Association of American Publishers has released their numbers for December 2010, which also means the year-to-year figures are out for 2010 versus 2009:

AAP Press Release

As always, I recommend you read the original release to get the full picture.

I do want to hit just a few highlights, though.

“E-book sales represented 8.32 percent of the trade book market in 2010 vs 3.20 percent the previous year…”

You might expect it to be even higher than that, but remember this is for trade books overall in the US.  That includes books bought in a grocery store, a Costco, a gas station, and so on.  I think serious readers, the high volume buyers, are embracing e-books and EBRs (E-Book Readers) much faster than casual readers, and that makes sense.  The values of an EBR are vastly multiplied if you buy many books versus a few.  If you don’t have a room dedicated in your house for books, or more than twenty boxes in the garage, it just isn’t as valuable.  If you typically didn’t take a book with you when you ran errands (or more than one book), it doesn’t make as much of a difference.

While sales overall for the year were up, adult mass market paperbacks show a steep decline (down 6.3%), as do adult hardbacks (down 5.1%). 

I put together a look at a few of the categories:

  2009 2010 Change 2009 Share 2010 Share
Hardback  $  1,650,000,000  $  1,570,000,000 -5% 14.7% 13.5%
Trade  $  1,410,000,000  $  1,380,000,000 -2% 12.5% 11.8%
MMP  $     718,900,000  $     673,500,000 -6% 6.4% 5.8%
EB  $     166,900,000  $     441,300,000 164% 1.5% 3.8%
Total  $11,250,000,000  $11,670,000,000 4%    

You may be wondering right away while these figures don’t match the percentages above.  It’s because the totals listed here include other things, like audiobooks and children’s books.

I think this tends to support one scenario I’ve suggested.

We may see publishers abandoning mass market paperbacks, for the most part.

We could see something like this:

Hardback ($40) and e-book ($10) released simultaneously.

Trade paperback released six months or so later at $15.

No mass market release, no scheduled reduction in the e-book price.

People would be paying a premium for a high quality hardback (which I think will eventually get to $50 for a new novel).  Trade paperbacks would be seen as a cheaper paper version…the per unit cost for a trade paperback would be higher than the per unit cost for an e-book, but without the initial investment.  That might be more attractive to casual readers.

However, that also depends in part on how much e-web-books (which you don’t download, but read on the web) become popular. 

It might make sense to the publishers to keep the e-book price down around ten dollars initially…since they wouldn’t have to lower it later.

That’s just one possible scenario, not a prediction.  😉

It’s seems clear that e-books should pass mass market paperbacks this year, though. 

Thanks to the AAP for making these figures public.  Again, I strongly recommend you read their press release for the full picture.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog


2 Responses to “Flash! E-books more than double market share in 2010”

  1. karin Says:

    I just wanted to thank you for this information. It is very interesting.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, karin!

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s a very rapidly evolving world…not something for which publishing is generally known. 😉 E-books should pass mass market paperbacks this year, in terms of dollars and market share. Trade paperbacks and hardbacks? I would think not this year…

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