Say goodbye to the go-go years of fast-paced ebook growth — at least for now. Ebook growth, once in the triple and double digits, with no signs of abating, has slowed to a crawl in 2013.
According to the latest numbers from the Association of American Publishers, adult trade ebooks brought in $1.3 billion in revenue in 2013, up 3.8% from $1.25 billion in 2012. Ebooks now account for 27% of all adult trade sales, up from 23% in 2012.
Meanwhile, children’s ebooks fell considerably versus 2012, likely due to unfavorable comparisons because of the success that year of the Hunger Games series. Children’s ebooks generated $170.5 million in sales, down 26.7% from $232.5 million in 2012. Still, chilren’s ebook sales are up considerably from 2011, when they were about $105 million. Ebooks accounted for 11% of children’s book sales, down from 14% last year when Hunger Games ebooks were flying off the virtual shelves.
Sales of religious ebooks, while still small, increased nearly 10% to $63.6 million and now account for 11% of all religious book sales. That’s up from 10% last year.
In 2012, ebook revenue growth was 41% across the trade. After years of accelerating growth, it hi an inflection point, moving to slower growth. In 2013, growth slowed even further.
In the UK, running up to next week’s London Book Fair, there has been bluster from prominent bookseller Tim Waterstone, founder of the Waterstone’s bookstore chain, that the ebook revolution is petering out and print books will take back some lost ground. In 2013, growth slowed but didn’t stop and ebooks now account for a larger percentage of overall publisher revenues than they ever have.