Saturday, March 10, 2012

2011 Ebook Sales Summary

Ok, I've been a bit tardy in my posts. But now that December book sales are out (in their normal obscure form), we can look back in graphical form at all the changes in the industry. There is one flaw in the data; as I peruse the charts one thing screams out; all indications are there are sales not being reported. In other words, I suspect indie ebook sales are a faster growing section of the book market. How I pine for Amazon figures... To the graphs. The first observation is that AAP ebook sales have flat-lined. They are going neither up nor down for the publishers (the few that report). Does this pass a test on empirical observations on the growth of the market? Nope. I travel for work and I meet too many individuals who recently purchased a Kindle. This implies the ebook market is shifting away from the reporting AAP publishers... Good for Indie authors! :)
I've often plotted e-book growth on a year over year basis to help show the growth. Since this is AAP data, could it be that they've priced their ebooks above the volume of the market?
Ebook sales are flat for the AAP. Have enough readers discovered indie authors?
Overall trade paper is overall weak, but not horrid for December. But recall, overall it was a weak year. Note, the AAP lumps religion (all formats) and ebooks as part of trade. I specifically break out paper sales.
Hardcover is overall doing ok. But wait for the seasonal graph... It was a weak year overall.
Paperback seems to have returned to a normal year post the mid-year Borders related trama to this format's sales. This is a pleasant surprise!
Overall children's book sales have held up. This has to warm and readers heart. I personally expected iPad apps to have cut more into this category. Overall I'm happy to see these results.
MMPB continues along the same trend-line to its death. We are within 30 months of the end of the format. :( This has me sad as once this was once what I read more of than anything else. But then again, every mmpb reader that I know has an ereader (or two, if one counts tablets). Perhaps the format will survive at airports and drugstores in the spinning racks? Seasonal Graphs Time to look at how each format is selling seasonally. I don not like comparing to just one month as often sales shift from a month to another as downstream customer buying patterns change. I like using bar charts when there is fast growth. Thus, the only format worth plotting in bar chart form is ebooks. E-books have not shown the mid to late year growth of prior years for AAP ebooks despite showing tremendous year over year growth. I wonder if enough authors have defected to self-publishing? (I can only speculate.) It seems like every author I buy has self-published or will as soon as they can put their 'ducks in a row.'
Since I've already commented on other seasonal graphs, I'll end typing here and just note that the ebook revolution did another leg up in 2011. While growth was faster than 2010, it seems to be slowing for the AAP. There are two possible conclusions from this: 1) Ebooks are approaching the half way point for adoption (unlikely this early) or 2) Self-published ebooks have grown far faster than I have predicted.


  1. If by AAP publishers you mean the big old publishers, yah their eBook prices are *way* too high. Even some younger publishers. No printing costs, no warehousing costs, no shipping costs, no damaged or unsold book returns to absorb, much less up-front capital outlay and often they are selling directly to us the customer without the 40-50% cut the retail store would take, and we all know this, but do they price the ebooks at half the printed price? Nope! Sometimes MORE than the printed one!? Yep. Just seems greedy. Viva l'independant authors!

  2. Yes, I do mean the 'old publishers,' more often referred to as the 'legacy publishers.' Those publishers are sacrificing future market share to preserve print. To some degree it has worked... But only to a degree.

    I know too many individuals acquiring ereaders, so the flat sales strongly imply a loss of market share. Note: I'm talking individuals where the spouse didn't take the hint and buy them an ereader for Christmas, so they're going out and buying one for themselves.


  3. Using the thread to THANK YOU on great graphs and analysis !!

  4. I'm writing a blog post (in French) about your summary. May I link directly to your graphs and include them in my post, or do you prefer I only link to your post ?

  5. Take teh graphs. Sorry for the late reply. Please link to my blog. ;)

  6. Just to be clear, you anyone may re-use my graphs as long as long is a link to is noted.

    I actually get asked this about every other month, (when I publish the graphs), so I'll put it in the blog header.