Has the meteoric rise in the growth of ebooks started to stall?
Continuing a trend started in the middle of 2012, ebook revenue gains continue to slow in early 2013. In January, the latest month for which data is available, ebook revenue was up 0.7% to $130.2 million, according to the latest numbers from the Association of American Publishers. Adult trade across the board was down 1.5% to $503.1 million.
The weak January 2013 performance is likely a matter of an unfavorable comparison with January 2012, when ebook revenues were driven heavily by the success of young adult series like The Hunger Games. For both print and ebooks, young adult revenue declines far outpace those in other categories: down 23.5% to $100.3 million.
For just ebooks, the young adult category was down even more significantly to $14.4 million, a decrease of 36.2%. Religious ebooks, after seeing huge gains in 2012, were also down for the month to $5.7 million, a 13.8% decline.
While ebook growth slowed in 2012 from the triple-digit growth years that preceded it, it was still fairly strong by any other measure. Ebook revenues across all categories that the AAP measures increased 41% last year to $1.54 billion, driving a 6% increase in the overall trade. (This tracking includes adult fiction and nonfiction, young adult and religious ebooks only.) By the end of the year, ebooks accounted for 23% of all publisher revenues. So far in 2013, ebooks account for about 25% of publisher revenue.
While 2012 was a good growth year overall for ebooks, it was led by early gains and followed by a late-year slowdown. Adult ebooks were up about 20%, while children’s and young adult were down and religious ebooks were flat.
Note on Numbers
These figures are slightly late, arriving in June. The AAP will be releasing February and March numbers soon to give a complete picture of the first quarter.