Tag Archives: IDPF

November e-book sales up 108%

The rise of e-books: IDPF reports November e-book sales up 108 percent—and here’s some analysis
By Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords

image Mark Coker is founder of Smashwords and Dovetail Public Relations, as well as moderator of a February 10 panel at Tools of Change on “The Rise of E-Book.” See a San Jose Mercury News Q & A on Smashwords (a publisher for independent writers), which recently signed a Stanza-related distribution deal. – D.R.

The IDPF says e-book sales were up 108 percent for the month of November 2008 compared to the same period a year ago. The data is provided in conjunction with surveys conducted by the American Association of Publishers, and represents wholesale sales from only 13 U.S.-based e-book publishers, so total reported sales figures understate actual sales.

imageFor the first eleven months of 2008, e-book sales were up about 64 percent, according to the IDPF.

Dig beneath the surface, and the numbers are striking. E-book sales are surging while the entire trade book industry suffers a decline. Are print sales suffering at the hands of e-book sales? Unlikely. Something else is happening.

For the five years between 2002 and 2007 (click here for data; opens a PDF), overall trade book sales averaged an annual increase of 2.5 percent. That’s lower than inflation, which means unit sales probably decreased.

By contrast, e-books for the same period turned in a 55.7 percent average annualized increase in sales revenue.

Tiny base—but still an accelerating growth rate

Granted, the robust sales growth for e-books was off of a tiny base to begin with. But fast forward to October of 2008, the date for which year-to-date sales are reported on the AAP web site , and you see overall trade book sales for the first 9 months of the year were down 3.4 percent while e-book sales were up about 58 percent. So the rate of e-book sales accelerated during the first 9 months of 2008 compared to the previous five years.

More interesting, for the month of October the AAP reported overall trade book sales suffered a 20 percent drop in the year over year monthly comparison, while e-book sales accelerated to 73 percent growth.

Numbers for November and December aren’t yet published on the AAP site, though today’s numbers from the IDPF, which are supplied by the AAP, indicated that e-book sales have accelerated yet again, up 108 percent for November.

As any numbers guy or gal will tell you, it’s easy to show great sales growth when you’re growing off of a small base. But when sales show sequential acceleration off of sequentially increasing bases (meaning, you grow faster as you grow larger), then something really interesting is taking place.

If we conservatively estimate that overall trade sales for 2008 declined 3 percent, and e-books sales increased 70 percent, then wholesale e-book sales will rise to $114 million and overall trade book sales will decline to $24.21 billion. In other words, e-books will still only represent 1/2 of 1 percent of book industry sales, at least here in the US.

If you extrapolate the 70 percent growth for five more years (and I would argue that 70 percent is a relatively conservative number), then e-books rise to $1.6 billion, and assuming a 2 percent growth rate of the overall trade book sales to $26.7 billion (generous), e-books would then represent a respectable 6 percent of sales.

If you’re attending the Tools of Change conference February 9-11, I invite you to attend a panel I’m moderating entitled, “The Rise of E-Books,” where we’ll explore the past, present and future of e-books and try to understand the implications of these numbers for publishers and authors alike.

In the meantime, if you’re an author, you need to start exposing your books to the digital realm. Clearly, as the numbers above indicate, you should continue to publish in print because e-book sales will account for only a small percentage of your overall sales. In the years ahead, however, e-books will become an increasingly important format for book consumption.

Overdrive Promises more Content, Less DRM

From the TeleRead blog:
OverDrive: ‘Much more content without DRM’ promised for libraries in ‘09
By David Rothman

image Again and again I’ve asked the IDPF to please consider a logo for DRMless ePub books. OverDrive founder Steve Potash is also president of the IDPF, and recently he told Library Journal:

“OverDrive is the leader in bringing downloadable MP3 audiobooks to libraries. [It] is leading the library market in bringing all formats of digital media to readers—including much more content without DRM during 2009.”

I hope that includes copyrighted e-books, too, not just MP3. Like Steve, I’m keen on writers and publishers getting paid, and there are ways for this to happen without DRM. For now, I’ll regard the above statement as indicating at least some flexibility.

Meanwhile check out other comments in the LJ piece, headlined Apple’s DRM News said to have little effect on libraries for now.

(Thanks to Ed Klopek.)

EPUB Standard now on Sony Reader

From Publishers Weekly:

Sony Adopts EPUB Standard for Reader

By Jim Milliot — Publishers Weekly, 7/24/2008 7:16:00 AM

The International Digital Publishing Forum’s epub e-book standard received a big vote of support this morning when Sony announced that effective immediately its Sony Reader will now support the standard. Beginning in August, all new devices shipped will use epub, and right now owners of existing devices can go to http://esupport.sony.com to update their device’s software for epub support.

Brennan Mullin, v-p of Sony Audio, said the company was adopting the epub standard to encourage more vendors, booksellers and publishers to get involved in the e-book market and to broaden the amount of content that can be viewed on the Reader. The move to use epub is a significant change in approach for Sony, which has used its own standards and restricted consumers to buying e-books for the Reader from its own store. The use of epub will allow consumers to buy titles from a variety of outlets and will grow the number of titles compatible with the Reader to well passed the 45,000 now available through its online store. Another avenue for new material will be Adobe: Sony also annouced today that the device will support Adobe e-books with DRM and will also have the capability to reflow standard PDF e-books and other documents.

Publishers, who generally favor the one-format approach made possible by epub, welcomed Sony’s decision. “Sony’s support of epub is an important step forward in the cooperation of publishers and portable digital book manufacturers to create better experiences for readers,” said Brent Lewis, v-p digital & internet for Harlequin. “We’re thrilled with the upgrade.”  IDPF, of which Sony is a member, approved epub as an industrywide standard in an attempt to foster interoperability among e-book reading devices.

Mullin said sales of the Reader have been steady and that sales of titles have increased. Interest in e-books has grown and although reluctant to credit a competitor, Mullin acknowledged that the buzz around Amazon’s Kindle “has been good for everybody in the e-book market.” Amazon, however, has not adopted the epub standard.

In addition to adopting the epub standard, Sony has announced it has started offering the Reader in the U.K.