Children’s Digital Continues to Surge as Overall E-Book Growth Slows in May

Children’s e-book revenues continued to surge in the Spring even as overall e-book growth was slowing, according to the most recent data on U.S. trade publishing sales from the Association of American Publishers.

Revenues from children’s and young adult e-books were up to $27.7 million in May 2012 from $7 million in May 2011, a 297% increase. Children’s e-books are up 272.5% Jan. through May to $126.6 million.

Meanwhile, adult trade e-books, the largest category for digital books by far, were up 51.7% in May to $106.4 million — a huge growth number to be sure but a far cry from the triple-digit increases seen in 2011 and 2010. Year-to-date, adult trade e-book revenues were up 31.8% to $469.8 million.

While growth for e-books accelerated in May vs. April, where adult trade e-books showed an increase of 38%, that bucks the overall trend of slowing e-book growth.

From 2007 through 2011, e-book sales doubled or more every year. In 2012 so far, e-book revenues have grown 65.9% across adult trade, children’s and religious publishing. Digital growth at major trade publishing companies like Random House and Hachette — bellwethers for the industry — has slowed, too. Digital publishing revenues at both companies now represent 27% of total revenues, up from about 21% the year before.

Across the categories that the AAP breaks out in its monthly report — adult trade, children’s and young adult, and religious publishing — e-books now represent 18% of overall publishing revenues.

While many adult trade publishers are now looking for ways to continue to show robust growth on large bases of e-book revenues, children’s publishers are just starting to flex their digital muscles.

Every week brings new announcements of children’s app and e-book start-ups building a digital publishing future. Big companies like Disney and Scholastic are moving aggressively into the digital space. And seasoned digital houses like Sesame Workshop, Callaway Digital Arts and Nosy Crow continue to launch new apps and children’s e-books — not to mention Pottermore.



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