Ebook Growth Continues Slowdown Through August 2012, Children’s up ‘Only’ 50%, Adult 37%

Ebook growth continued to slow slightly across the book trade in August as children’s ebooks retreated from an early year surge that saw the segment up in triple digits. Children’s ebook sales only grew by about 50% in August; ebooks sales for adult trade books was up 34%, according to the latest numbers from the Association of American Publishers.

Despite the slowdown, year-to-date growth numbers for children’s ebooks remain strong at 196% to $177 million. Adult trade ebooks are up 37% for the year to $858 million. Through August, adult ebooks comprise 21% of all adult trade revenues. On the children’s side, ebooks have a much longer way to go and stand at 13% of total revenues year-to-date.

At 50%, children’s ebooks are still growing quickly, but much slower than in early 2012 when children’s ebooks saw monthly growth rates of 475.1% in January and 177.8% in February. A strong holiday buying season for both e-reading devices and digital content is expected to give the children’s digital publishing industry a boost.

Religious ebook growth continues to slow down versus the early part of the year when it was up in triple digits. In August, religious ebook growth was 3.9%. For the year, it’s up about a third to $44 million.

In 2012, 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.

Related: July Ebook Growth Numbers

Learn more about where the ebook market has been and where it’s going at Digital Book World 2013 in January in New York City.

3 thoughts on “Ebook Growth Continues Slowdown Through August 2012, Children’s up ‘Only’ 50%, Adult 37%

  1. Bob Mayer

    And when they hit 100% will we say growth is now zero percent? Three years ago eBooks were 3% and “wise” people in publishing were dismissing them. Now they’re “only” 30%. Gee. Any numbers person will tell you that’s, hmm, well, a big increase.

    I’m wondering why there is this increasing focus at Digital Book World (it is Digital isn’t it) and PW, PL, etc. all acting like things aren’t changing– that much. I’ve seen a distinct change in the past year, a sense of defensiveness on behalf of traditional and print publishing. A futile effort, but one wonders what the motivation is.

    1. Jeremy Greenfield Post author

      Hey Bob–

      Thanks for the comment. I think you know us better than that. The numbers are the numbers. Growth is still stupendous but has slowed from triple digits. So, that’s what we’re noting.

      It’s also worth noting here that a 20% gain on $2 billion is much better than a 200% gain on $100 million.

      That said, at DBW, I would wager we benefit if growth for ebooks is faster and more celebrated, but cheer-leading isn’t really our style. We have no agenda or motivation here except to serve our readers….

      Speaking of, we miss you on the blog!

  2. Andrew Claymore

    I see that the publisher base has been expanded for this study, but does it cover the major eBook retailers? By that, I mean Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords… And not just publisher’s sales through those channels, but the channel’s overall sales specifically. If not, then the study is failing to capture any shift of readership from big six (or is it four?) offerings to those of the indie world.

    If that’s the case, then eBook penetration may be far larger than the numbers are indicating.



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