Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2010 ebook sales are in.

The AAP (Association of American Publishers) has posted the December sales numbers and not surprising ebooks rose dramatically ($49.5M vs $11.25B). When looking at year over year numbers similar % growth can be seen ($441.3M vs $169.5M). What is surprising is that ebooks still only amount to less than 9% of total book sales. (I personally was expecting to see double digits this reporting period of 10% or 11%.

The frustrating thing is the AAP is really not a good indication of overall ebook sales. For instance it does not show all the books sold by indies and small presses - a number which I think is significant. Since most indies and small presses sell many more digital books then print books it would (IMO) have a dramatic shift on the actual %'s.
I really wish Amazon and B&N would stop being so secretive with their numbers as this would tell us so much more than reporting publisher data and would give us some much more accurate data. Oh well...I'm not holding my breath for that one.
The source of the data comes from here. If anyone knows of other sources of ebook penetration I'd love to get a link or two.

13 comments:

rd lecoeur said...

These numbers are meaningless without Amazon & B&N. They are also in $ sold.
As your av best seller dead tree book is $15.00 and a kindle special $0.99c there's a hell of a disparity.
I believe, as you, that the real figure has now hit double digits and will continue to grow this year as more and more ereaders are sold.

Anonymous said...

In your first paragraph, did you mean eBooks account for 9% of total ONLINE sales? Because I bet eBooks acount for 100% of eBook sales. :)

Thanks for this information.

Robin Sullivan said...

@rd lecoeur - the numbers do have Amazon and B&N not just all of them. In other words not the indie books - but it is reporting all sales from 300 publishers many of which of course sell their ebooks primarily thorugh Amazon and B&N.

That beings said...I agree with you completely that a BIG chunk of numbers go un reported (all the indies and small presses) but this is the only data I can get access to.

Robin Sullivan said...

@Anon --thanks for catching my typo (fixed now) yes that is all book sales ;-)

Lois D. Brown said...

Oooohhh. This is so interesting. You truly do know the scoop. I'd love to be as smart as you, but at least I follow your blog. Can I ask a quick questions? And maybe this is not your area of expertise, but is there a way for an indie author to make something free on Kindle? Whenver I try to do it, it makes me set a price beteen .99 and 9.99. And, while I'm here, I'd love to know what you think of Kindle Singles?

Lois D. Brown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
KevinMc said...

I thought the AAP data come from only the top 14 publishers? Not from their entire membership. Pretty sure I recall reading that.

Anyway, their data is wrong. Literally cannot be correct.

Check it out. ;)

Amazon released on 1/27/11 that since the beginning of the year, they were selling 115 ebooks per 100 paperbacks, and ebooks were outselling hardcovers three to one.

That means the sales ratio is 115::100::38, or 115::138 overall for books. So ebook sales at Amazon are about 46% of Amazon's total book sales.

The US Census Bureau reported that Amazon had about a 24% market share of consumer books in 2010.

So just including Amazon sales - even if no one else sold a single ebook in January - Amazon's ebooks alone would mean ebooks had 11% market share.

By most reports, Amazon has a 70-75% share of the ebook market, which means the actual total percent of books sold in digital format is probably around 14.7-15.7%.

Also important - in print, less than 2/3 of sales overall are fiction. With ebooks, it is looking more like fiction is outselling non-fiction by three to one or more (based on analysis of Amazon bestseller lists). No hard data to confirm that, but if true it means that the percent of non-fiction sold as ebooks is probably quite a bit less than 15% - and the percent of fiction sold in ebook form is probably quite a bit more.

Robin Sullivan said...

Lois - yes and no...You can't just set your price to $0.00. But Amazon does "price match" other forums so if you make your book "free" somewhere else - their bots will find it and automatically lower your books to free on Amazon. However...I've heard this doesn't "always happen" it may be that you have to have a certain level of sales for them to do this - I don't know...I do know that Michael's books were set to zero - once on purpose and once as a mistake and both times they became free in Amazon.

Robin Sullivan said...

As for Kindle Singles - I think they are a great idea - and I plan on putting some stuff out on them soon but I've just not had enough time to investigate all the details.

Robin Sullivan said...

KevinMC - We are in complete agreement. The list "used to be" the top 14 - the most recent numbers didn't have that discclaimer so it may be more - but even if just the 14 those 14 represent the majority of the sales so they are reflective of that.

I wish Amazon and B&N would report actual data - I'd kill for that. There is no doubt that the Amazon numbers would pickup all the indies that are selling like gangbusters that no one in "mainstream" pubishing wants to acknowledge.

You can't extrapolate Amazon to the market as a whole because the demographic of that audience is tech savvy and will tend to buy more ebooks then print books. There are MANY people who I know that NEVER buy online. They only buy in stores and therefore are always "just print".

B&N reporting ebooks outsell print 2 to 1 is only applicaple to online sales - I'm sure if you count their "store sales" the ratio looks MUCH different.

That being said...I think you're numbers are probably not that far off but until we get the big eretailers reporting WITH the sales from BookScan or Nielson we'll really not know the true breakdown. No question it is the fastest growing segment of the publishing marketplace but still no where the dominant platform.

Robin Sullivan said...

I just saw numbers for Penguin who reported:8% of Penguin USA’s total revenue is ebook and 6% worldwide so we are still a long long way from saturation.

Robin Sullivan said...

Also saw the latest financial reports from Hachette Book Group (#2 worldwide publsher) and they also report ebooks are 8% of total books sales.

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