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Ebooks Growth is Up, Both Traditional and Self-Published

In book news, a recent report shows that book publishers received nearly 23% of their revenues from sales of ebooks (versus paper books) during 2012.  That’s up from 17% the year before.  That comes from full-year data by the Association of American Publishers (AAP).  The AAP  includes 350 publishers, including large ones such as Simon & Schuster, Hachette and Harper Collins, as well as independents like Sourcebooks.

eBooks growth [1]

Self-published ebooks growth is strong

The above numbers would not include self-published ebooks.  For that data, look to Bowker research [2].  According to a study released last October, the number of self-published books produced annually in the U.S. has nearly tripled, growing 287% since 2006.  As between print and electronic, self-published ebooks had the strongest percentage growth.

One thing we have noticed from the Small Business Book Awards is the fast-growing number of ebook-only submissions of business books.  Many are self-published using one of the many new-form publishing platforms such as Smashwords and CreateSpace.

People still read print, but ebooks growth hard to ignore

According to the APP survey, overall book sales (print and electronic) for 2012 are up over 6%.

What you can take from this is that despite predictions of the death of books in the Internet age, books are still much in demand — both print and ebooks.

However, according to a Pew Internet study from December, ebook reading is increasing [3] while print-book reading is declining.  And it’s no wonder, given the advantages of ebooks.  You don’t have to have shelf space to store electronic books as you do with paper books.  It’s fast and easy to buy ebooks – a purchase can be done from the comfort of your home or office in minutes, rather than hours or days to buy/order print books.  Ebooks often provide a richer experience, in the sense of being able to provide you with direct links to electronic resources, better searchability and annotation features, and links to dictionaries and Wikipedia to look things up.   And in many cases, the ebook version is cheaper.

Today, though, ebooks’ growth is still hindered by the “walled garden” aspect of many ebook readers.  It’s difficult — in some cases impossible — to transfer electronic books purchased in one place, into an ebook reader of another retailer.  Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Google Books reader — all are set up to make it easy to purchase and read books from THEIR stores, but not from others.   Each retailer wants 100% of your book-buying purchases. They don’t want to encourage  you to purchase just anywhere.  Some determined book lovers do manage to transfer ebooks across some device/app platforms.  But it still takes extra steps and sometimes requires special conversion software or syncing.

In the end, however, consumers will vote with their wallets.  They are already doing that according to Bowker [4].  Consumers are showing a growing interest in reading with multi-purpose tablets, versus dedicated e-reader devices.


eBook [5] Photo via Shutterstock