eBooks are increasing in popularity and have hit new highs in sales. Open eBook Forum reports that the number of eBooks sold in the first quarter of 2004 was up 46%, and revenues were up 28% year-over-year. A total of 421,955 eBooks were sold yielding $3,233,220 in revenues. A year ago the numbers were 288,440 units and $2,516,469 in revenues.
The best selling eBook for May and the third straight month was Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code with Kevin Ryan’s Van Helsing and Brown’s Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction coming in second and third respectively.
eBooks are books in digital format that can be downloaded to a computer or other device and read using a software program. Depending on the specific format, an eBook can be read on a computer, PDA, or dedicated reader. Their advantages include instantaneous availability — no waiting for a hardcopy to be shipped — and lower price. The Da Vinci Code, for instance, can be purchased in hardcopy on Amazon.com for $14.97 or as an eBook for $10.47.
The fact that eBook best sellers are same popular books that sit atop traditional best-seller lists says a lot about how the trend toward digital publishing is becoming mainstream. The sales may still be small in respect to traditional book sales, but they are growing. Look for this trend to pickup speed as better handheld devices with longer battery life reach the market. And look for business publishing to become an early adopter of eBook and other digital publishing formats.