Saturday, October 15, 2011

July 2011 E-book Sales

July ebook figures are finally out. We can now see that the K3/Nook Color launch put a stake in the heart of Adult paperbacks. The K2 started that job with MMPB. What will the new Kindles do? We've been waiting for sub-$100 ereaders from a big name to accelerate ebook sales...

Everyone has already told you ebooks continue to show good growth. Paper trade sales were weak, but not as weak as they were earlier in 2011. If I estimate children's sales, which weren't disclosed, trade sales were 84% of 2010. Much noise has been made of the Hardcover sales. They weren't bad. But if just some of August's hardcover sales were moved to July by 'stuffing the channel,' we could be seeing noise.

YTD sales
July Sales

David has already posted, but I do the graphs. ;)

Or could it be due to the big6 favoring Hardcover sales at the expense of everything else, including overall profit. I can only speculate on this. But look at it this way, two of my favorite sci-fi authors just released new books. Eric Flint's is only in Hardcover and David Weber is charging $12.99 for the ebook. Oh well, I'll wait and buy other books that interest me.

To the graphs!

Ebook sales remain at a pace faster than an extrapolation of the 2010 sales. I keep noting that that means we have not yet hit the point where ebooks are at half the market penetration they will achieve. Hold that thought for the next graph:

Since e-books are less than half the market, approaching 29% with my estimate of Indie sales, we should expect ebooks sales to one day be over double today's market share. When we pass the mid-point, we'll see sales below the prior year's trend line (see the first chart). We are not there yet!

Print Trade is not doing well. It is below trend for July. Now, with my estimate of Children't books, it is at 84% of 2010. I suspect my estimate of Children's book sales will prove to be too optimistic.

Am I the only one who sees a downward trend for MMPB? If one eyeballs a trendline since the K3/Nook Color launch, it looks like the end of MMPB will be in 2013. :( If one does the trendline from the K2 launch, the end of MMPB would be in 2014. MMPB was my prior favorite book form factor. The form factor has plummeted below viable economics. I suspect the espresso machines will fill the market for what MMPB customers who insist on paper.

Hardcover books had a good month. Better than prior years trends. My question, is the channel getting stuffed? I hope I'm being a nay-sayer... So we'll have to wait and see.

Paperback is weak too. Again, I see a trendline. From the K3's/Nook Color's launch, Paperback's have been on a declining trend. Again, a trend that shows an end to the form factor in 2013.

There is no data on Children's books for this month. Since Childrens books have been trending at 77% of 2010 sales, I took that number. My rational is that if the numbers were any better, we would have heard them. I suspect the Sales of children's books could have been worse. :(

I assume you've seen the Youtube of the 1 year old who doesn't get magazines. My two very young daughters love touchscreen. Their Grandma is now buying them electronic book gift cards instead of print books. Good, bad, or indifferent, that is where the market will go. I've seen it with Mom's with the Nook and the iPad and the Kindle Fire will kick that trend into high gear.

Seasonal Graphs

I do different graphs to show the trends in different ways. The bar chart shows ebook growth was spectacular in July, just not as spectacular as prior months in 2011. I read discussions of a 'lull' this summer in ebook blog comment sections. I suspect August numbers will reflect the same trend.

The seasonal graph for Hardcovers in July helps show that July was a great July for Hardcovers, but it is September through December where the money is made. Let's see how hardcovers do during the ramp up to holiday shopping:

The seasonal graph on paperbacks shows more of what I was discussing earlier: The K3 stared this form factor's slow death.

MMPB has been on a downward trend since the K2 launch. The K3/Nook Color launch accelerated that trend. Anyone want to bet against the K4/Kindle Fire/Nook Color 2/iPad2/Android tablet assault?

I had to estimate Children's sales for July. The trend for 2011 is 77% of 2010. If that was the July sales, we could have our next category breaking down. If Children's sales are going down, I wouldn't look at the prior B&W Kindles. As I noted, kids today expect touchscreen. Between the Kindle Fire/Nook Color (2?)/Android tablets and a horde of smartphones, I'm betting on touchscreen for 2012.

I save the ebook seasonal graph for last as... ebook sales are only seasonal in two ways. First, the 2nd half sales see a jump. Usually that jump is in July, but could the excellent weather have delayed the spike up? The other 'seasonality' is that there is also a beginning of the year spike as those Christmas ereaders are loaded up. :) Otherwise, note the nice year on year growth the last few years?

Predictions and comparison vs. Prior years

I introduced the last chart just over a month ago. I show:
1. Nominal sales from prior years (pre-2010)
2. 2010 sales for that category
3. How the sales should be following the 2011 YTD trend tweaked to be a prediction (oops, I shouldn't have tweaked children's expected sales).
4. Actual sales.

Overall trade was weak, but not as bad as it was. The big boost was Hardcover, which is doing better than pre-Kindle trends! MMPB and adult paperback are in an rapid decline with paperback's decline possibly accelerating.

Each succeeding generation of ereaders is taking down one more category of books. The K2/Nook/Sony ereaders/Kobo started the MMPB decline. The K3/Nook Color initiated the drop in adult paperbacks. I suspect we're about to see touchscreens hitting children's sales. That leaves the question, will hardcover somehow survive the onslaught of the K4/Nook color 2/iPad2? I suspect that in 7 or 8 months, we'll have the data to say hardcover sales went digital with the emerging generation of ereaders and tablets.



  1. Dust off those graphs, Neil, looks like the AAP are playing catch-up and the August figures are out:

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