PwC Claims eBook Sales Will Exceed Print in 2018

PwC Claims eBook Sales Will Exceed Print in 2018 DeBunking The perennial ebook optimists at PricewaterhouseCoopers are back again with a new projection of the growth of the US and global ebook markets.

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:

PwC Claims eBook Sales Will Exceed Print in 2018 DeBunking

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.

About Nate Hoffelder (9903 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

3 Comments on PwC Claims eBook Sales Will Exceed Print in 2018

  1. Well, one good thing can come of this: the AG and AU will have added ammo to ask for better royalties for tradpub ebooks. If they are serious about showing some spine.
    Not holding my breath, of course.

  2. In terms of overall unit sales and in terms of author earnings, ebooks have already surpassed print by a significant margin.

    To authors and to readers, the gross share of publisher dollars coming from ebooks versus print books means little.

    That only matters to publishers and pundits.

    • You’re probably right about author earnings, but I’ve never liked the way your guesstimates are presented as statistics. There are far too many assumptions involved for me to trust your data any more than I would trust data from PwC.

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