Monday, October 18, 2010

August Ebook Sales

My conclusions on the August ebook sales numbers are very different than before I looked into the data. Basically, we see the normal July to August dip in ebook sales (gee... even readers will enjoy the outside...). I also do not see why the drama with trade book sales. We're within the noise of normal seasonal sales.

First August ebook sales. We have a small dip versus July. If you jump ahead to the last graph, it is visually obvious that this is just a seasonal dip.

Notice how available ebooks have broken away from the previous trend? I think we will have a positive feedback loop! More readers will help ebook sales. Having more books available will persuade more readers to go to ebooks.

I've plotted ebook sales versus my calculation of trade pbook sales. Note: my numbers are off by 1% by the published aap numbers for year to date. I suspect they 'correct' numbers after the fact and do not update the previously posted numbers.

Notice how noisy the pbook sales data is? The Christmas spike is huge! Since there is so much noise in the data, I wouldn't make much out of August 2010 sales being below August 2009. Ok, the drop could be explained by ebook sales; but notice that if the monthly sales volume (in $) is plotted on the same axis that ebook are obviously a market just starting to grow.

Market share tells a slightly different story. Ebook market share grew very quickly at the start of 2010. Then we had the whole 'publishers vs. Amazon' tiff. That tiff blunted ebook growth. Now we have ebooks growing again. I suspect Indie authors are helping the trend. Recall, we're talking market share in $.

My numbers are again a little off of the AAP's numbers. It looks like the 'corrections' on ebook sales might be a bit more important than those on pbook sales. Since I do not have access to the corrected data, I will post graphs on the released data and accept there is some error.

If we extrapolate this graph and do some averaging, we see that 2010 is on track for ebook market to be 10% to 12% of 'trade books'. But the share will grow quickly. Doing a 4th order polynomial fit on market share, I see 2011 market share ending in the 20% to 25% range.

Note: I did my 'market share' as ebooks/trade books and not =ebooks/(tradebooks+ebooks) as the AAP publishes. This is not a proper way to do market share. I will correct in the future as ebook market share is becoming large enough that the difference in calculation will be meaningfull.

Oh well... in 2012 ebooks will end at a third of the trade market. Sometime in 2013, we're on track to see ebooks half of the market.

My last chart is a reprint where I do each year's monthly ebook sales by month to show the seasonal trends. I switched to the above formats as an experiment. But I will post the alternate formats for those readers who were visually 'tuned in' to the older formats. I personally do not like a transition without some previous style graphs as how one graphs the data impacts the conclusions.

Since I analyze data for a living... I know a dozen plus ways to chart it. ;)

I use the AAP press releases for monthly book sales to create these graphs. I couldn't find a single source on the web of anyone plotting the data, so that inspired me to do so.

Comment on Indie authors:
I do not have any links to quantitative market share of indie authors on ebooks. I know before 2007 that going indie for an author was the end of a carrier unless they were big enough to launch their own publisher. Now one can look at most generas and see 25% to 35% of the authors are indie in the top 100. So I speculate that some of the ebook recovery is due to indie authors.

But how much is it do to customers accepting high ebook pricing?

Ebooks are back to gaining market share. The publisher/Amazon tiff did its damage but now ebook growth is back on track. I wonder if some of the ebook gains in dollar market share are due to readers accepting high ebook prices? Or is it do to Indie authors taking off? Either way, by mid-2013 we should expect ebooks to be half the book market.

For this reader, that means more variety. I also expect by mid-2013 that ebooks will be far enough along that I'll start a new blog on a new topic. Until then... we'll have fun tracking ebook growth.

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