This time around the NYTimes is repeating the latest PwC prediction, writing that:
E-books have made impressive inroads into the English-reading world, but their success in Europe — even among wealthy, tech-savvy countries with robust publishing industries — remains spotty at best. In the United States and Britain, sales of e-books represent between a quarter and a third of the consumer book market and, by 2018, will edge out printed and audio books as the most lucrative segment, according to projections by the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. But the picture is radically different in continental Europe. Last year, digital books made up 8 percent of the consumer book market in France, less than 4 percent in Germany and Italy, and 1 percent in Sweden and Norway.
The NYTimes also posted a graph of the prediction:
While I would be happy if PwC's prediction came true, I feel I must point out that they have made this prediction before.
it is something of an annual tradition for the tea leaf readers at PricewaterhouseCoopers to make the same prediction about the US ebook market, namely that it would exceed the print market in 4 years. In 2012 PwC said that ebooks would pass print in 2016, and in 2013 the goalpost was moved to 2017. And now PwC has moved the goalpost yet again, this time predicting that ebook sales would exceed print sales in 2018.
Don't get me wrong, I would be happy if PwC was right at one point, but in pushing the target year back by a year they've basically admitted that they've been wrong twice. That doesn't exactly convince me that they're going to get it right this time around.
And to be completely forthright, I'm not sure I would be able to prove that PwC was right or wrong when 2018 rolls around. The size and shape of a market like ebooks cannot be feasibly measured accurately. You can make estimates, sure, but it's too fractured to find the full measure.
In any case, I am looking forward to making this post an annual tradition. PwC will post their prediction, and I will point out that they missed in their previous predictions. We'll all laugh, drink hot cider, and what fun we'll have.