Ebooks up Modestly in First Quarter 2013

snail growthEbook 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.

3 thoughts on “Ebooks up Modestly in First Quarter 2013

  1. Robert Gottlieb

    This is what I have been saying all along. It is neither one or the other for authors. It is everything. Authors should be in all the revenue tributaries of the Amazon (no pun intended). Ebooks are finding their level and place in the publishing strata. That is to be expected. The business of bifurcating of rights was never a good idea and authors who have done it with houses like HQN and S&S have not succeeded for the most part.

    In business there has to be an upside for all the parties to make a book a success. All of an author’s publishing platforms should work to build the author’s core publishing business and bifurcating in most instances does not achieve a high level of success.

    Yes there was a ban wagon but it has all been seen before. Now we will see a re-evaluation of the ebook business start to take hold as prices go up and sales level off.

    A broad based business and publishing strategy is the best approach for authors and the careers.

    That is not to say that self-ebook publishing is not a good idea for some authors. The traditional system can’t handle the large quantities of books which ebook retailers can and for most traditional publishers the sales from most stand alone ebooks don’t generate enough income for them to publish.

    Trident has a program at our firm for authors who wish to publish ebooks. Traditional publishers are still tied to the notion that they should see most of the upside financially for themselves in regard to their own ebook publishing divisions. We are selective because we work on each ebook for the client. We advise our clients on how to maximize their publishing businesses.

    Ebook sales over seas in the U.K. and translation are increasing as the ebook devices begin to penetrate the market place.

    Robert Gottlieb
    Trident Media Group, LLC
    Literary Agency
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