eBook sales will be 60% of all book sales by 2017

Source: AntiPope blog, Apr 2012

… we get to 2012, and ebooks are likely to hit 40% of total publishing sales by the end of this year, and are on the way to 60% within five years (per Tim Hely Hutchinson, CEO of Hachette UK). In five years, we’ve gone from <1% to >40%.

Related Resource: Digital Book World, Mar 2012

Wherever we are, we can buy books in an instant, and sales of Hachette UK-published ebooks continue to grow at an extraordinary rate, from 1% of our relevant sales in 2009 to 12% in 2011. That number is running at over 20% so far in 2012 and, for fiction, at over 30%. At present most readers are simply swapping the purchase of a print book for an ebook and I am afraid the market for printed books is shrinking. Last month, in Britain, sales of printed books were down by 13% year-on-year, and in 2011 the total consumer market for printed books in the UK was down by 7.8% – the third successive year of decline. Even after we factor in sales of ebooks, the totals for the UK and most of our other markets were still slightly down so ebook sales didn’t wholly account for the drop in sales of printed books, although that equation has possibly stabilised this year.

It is not at all hard to foresee that fiction and narrative non-fiction sales could be 50% digital within just one or two years. As tablets become more widely owned and we and our authors and illustrators dream up new formats, children’s and illustrated books may follow quite closely. Some people see copyright and royalty issues as a potential battleground between publishers and authors but we do not. We think publishers and authors are natural allies and that we should be able to work out what is fair amongst ourselves in a collegiate way.

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