Ebook revenue growth in the U.S. has slowed in 2013 afters years of double- and triple-digit gains.
Ebook revenues for trade publishing grew 5% in the first quarter of 2013 to $393.6 million as measured across the adult fiction/non-fiction, children’s and young adult and religious segments. Meanwhile, total trade sales were down about 5% to $1.47 billion in the first quarter, meaning that ebooks now account for nearly 27% of all trade sales — up from 24% in the first quarter of last year, despite the slowdown in ebook growth.
The slowdown in ebook growth is likely due to a unfavorable comparisons from early last year when ebooks were booming due to a few hits like The Hunger Games series. Children’s ebooks felt the hit especially hard in the first quarter of 2013, with ebook revenue decreasing about 30% to $47.2 million.
Adult ebooks were up 13.6% in the quarter to $328.2 million and religious ebooks were basically flat at $18.2 million versus $18.3 million a year ago.
Despite the slowed growth, these numbers should be fairly encouraging for publishers: There is clearly a very strong appetite for ebooks among U.S. consumers while the appetite to buy hardcover and paperback books isn’t plummeting so fast that it will fundamentally change the business in the near term. For adult trade books, hardcover sales were down 0.4% to $226.5 million and paperback sales were up 1.7% to $306.6 million.