E-Books Drive Revenue Growth for Children’s, Young Adult and Religious Categories

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

Children’s and religious e-books continued their precipitous rise in February after leading the trade to record January revenue numbers.

Total trade revenues were up to $490.3 million in February 2012 from $410.7 million in February 2011, a 19.1% increase, according to the latest figures from the Association of American Publishers (AAP). E-books led the way with $122.5 in revenue, up from $97.3 million in February 2011, a 25.9% increase.

In January, e-books were up 76% versus the previous year. The slowdown in e-book growth was due to a one-time payment that hit adult trade publishers in February 2011 and greatly increased the e-book revenue number for that month, said the AAP. Adult trade e-book revenue for February 2012 was $92.5 million, up from $82.4 million, a 9.9% increase. Adult e-book revenue in February 2012 was also down from January 2012, when e-book revenue nearly hit $100 million.

Publishers Lunch points out that last February was unusually high and that month-to-month figures from publishers may not be strictly revenue earned in each month.

Children’s and religious e-books continued their rise. Children’s and young adult e-book revenues were up to $22.4 million from $8 million in February 2011, a 177.8% increase. Religious e-books were up to $7.6 million from $5.1 million, a 49.2% increase.

Adult trade e-books are on track to hit $1.15 billion in revenue this year. Across all three categories, e-book revenues are on track to hit $1.5 billion.

Growth has slowed in both categories versus last month, when children’s e-book revenues were up 475.1% and religious e-book revenues were up 150.7% versus the same period last year.

A slowdown in February versus January was expected as many readers who got e-reading devices for the first time may have spent January loading up on books. This past January, however, a lot of the new iPads and Android tablets may have been second devices, affecting e-book buying.

“E-book sales ‘surge’ based on the number of new device-owners, not on the number of new devices,” said Mike Shatzkin, an industry consultant (and, full disclosure, partner with Digital Book World on the Digital Book World conference). “Many of the Kindles, Nooks, and iPads being sold now are going to people who already owned something that previously motivated them to open a Kindle, Nook, or other e-book account. They already did their initial purchase load-up. So when they get the new device, they don’t need to do that again.”

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

3 thoughts on “E-Books Drive Revenue Growth for Children’s, Young Adult and Religious Categories

  1. Kite Readers

    Delighted to hear about the growth in children’s eBooks. Children’s eBook sales are still in its infancy; they would continue the momentum as the fixed-layout eBook format matures on iBooks, Nook Kids and Kindle Fire; more consumers buy these tablets and more parents discover the children’s eBooks on their tablets!

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