E-Book Revenue Continues Growth Across Trade in March, Children’s Still Surging

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By Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director, Digital Book World, @JDGsaid

E-book revenue in March across adult, children and young adult and religious titles was up nearly 50% as digital publishing continues to grow across the book business. Downloaded audio books for adults were also up nearly 50%. Overall, revenue in the book trade was down in the March 2012 versus March 2011.

Revenue from adult trade, children’s and religious e-books in March 2012 grew 47% to $114.8 million from $78.1 million in March 2011, according to the latest figures from the Association of American Publishers. Overall trade revenues across those categories fell 2.6% in March 2011 to $531.1 million.

Children’s e-books continued to show strong growth versus the other categories, up 173.9% in March 2012 to $19.3 million from $7.0 million. The segment has been gaining steam all year on the strength of sales of Scholastic’s The Hunger Games trilogy, which has been dominating e-book best-seller lists for months.

There are other signs, too, that children’s publishing is turning a corner, like Disney Publishing’s aggressive moves into the space and the continued work in book apps by companies like Sesame Workshop, Callaway Digital Arts, Nosy Crow and, of course, Pottermore.

Sony’s new Wonderbook platform, though unveiled to little fanfare in the gaming community, may provide yet another place for children’s book publishers and content creators to increase digital revenue.

E-book revenue across the trade surged in January and then slowed in February, due to an unusually high February 2011, according to Publishers Lunch. Year-to-date, e-book revenue is up 45.7% to 379.9 million, driven by a 232.9% year-to-date increase in children’s e-books. According to Publishers Lunch, e-books now represent 22% of revenues in the overall book trade.

With January’s report, the AAP expanded the number of publishers queried to nearly 1,200 versus about 90 in 2011. The report now also includes additional categories, like children/young adult. The 2011 numbers have been backwards-engineered to include the expanded data set.

“We realized how critical it was to get frequent data and got all the major distribution houses involved in the report,” said Tina Jordan, vice president of the AAP, at the time.

Perseus Book Group and IPG are among distributors participating. Ingram is not yet participating.

Write to Jeremy Greenfield

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