E-Book Revenues Double in 2011, Top $2 Billion
By Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director, Digital Book World, @JDGsaid
E-book revenues across trade publishing topped $2 billion in 2011, more than doubling from $869 million in 2010, according to the latest figures from BookStats.
In 2011, e-books represented about 15% of all trade publishing revenues versus 6% in 2010, according to the report, a joint venture between the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group.
That 15% number may seem low compared with the 20% (and higher) numbers that some publishers have been discussing for fiscal 2011 results, but the BookStats report includes many small and mid-size publishers that may not derive as much of their revenue from e-books, not to mention cookbook publishers and children’s book publishers that may also lag behind large trade publishers.
“The BookStats survey encompasses all sizes of publishers. No matter what size of publisher you are, digital is an integral part of your strategy — but it’s a matter of degree,” said Tina Jordan, vice president of the AAP, referring to the difference in how large and small publishers perform digitally.
Unit sales of e-books also more than doubled to 388 million units in 2011 versus 125 million in 2010, capturing 15.5% of the market, up from 5% in 2011. The disparity between unit sales and revenues suggests that in 2011 more less expensive e-books were sold.
Overall trade publishing revenues were $13.97 billion in 2011, up 0.5% from 2010 when they were $13.90 billion. E-book revenues were $2.074 billion, meaning that over $1 billion of lost print business was replaced by e-book revenue across the book trade in 2011.
A rise in e-book sales offsetting declines in print sales to result in relatively flat revenue is a familiar story for many publishers in 2011. Both Penguin and Simon & Schuster, for instance, reported flat revenues and increased profits due to increased e-book revenues for their 2011 fiscal years.
“There’s been exponential growth [in e-books] in the past few years,” said Jordan. “From what we’ve seen so far in 2012, the growth is continuing.”
According to the AAP’s monthly stats on the book publishing industry, which uses a different sample set from BookStats, e-book revenues are at about 25% of total trade revenues through the first three months of 2012.
The overall book business, which encompasses trade publishing, school and K-12 publishing, higher education and professional and scholarly publishing, declined 2.5% in 2011 to $27.2 billion from $27.9 billion in 2010.
Despite being under pressure in 2011 with the shuttering of Borders and the closing of several independent book shops, bricks-and-mortar bookstores still were by far the largest sales channel for all publishers, moving $8.59 billion worth of books, 31.5% of total net dollar sales. Libraries, businesses, governments, schools and other organizations represented 20% of sales. Online retail represented 18.5% of sales, or $5.04 billion, a 35% increase over 2010.
Also of note in the BookStats report was that publishers made over $1 billion selling directly to consumers in 2011, up from $702 million in 2010.
The 2012 edition of BookStats is the second edition of the report. The joint venture between AAP and BISG surveys nearly 2,000 publishers of all types and sizes.
Write to Jeremy Greenfield
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