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.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

15 Comments

  1. fjtorres18 November, 2014

    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.

    Reply
  2. […] Moving the Goalpost on Ebook Forecasts (The Digital Reader) Some analysts now expect the ebook market to overtake print and audiobooks by 2018. But as The Digital Reader points out, that tipping point has been predicted–incorrectly–more than once before. Even in a more stable landscape than that of the ebook revolution’s earliest years, the future of the digital market can be notoriously difficult to prognosticate. […]

    Reply
  3. Wise Bear Digital Digest: Vol. 2, Issue No. 5421 November, 2014

    […] PWC CLAIMS E-BOOK SALES WILL EXCEED PRINT IN 2018 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… [read more] Source: The Digital Reader […]

    Reply
  4. […] this happen? I’m not betting on the 2018 number. First, The Digital Reader points out that PwC has been making this same prediction over and over again, year after year. Why? […]

    Reply
  5. Data Guy24 November, 2014

    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.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder25 November, 2014

      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.

      Reply
  6. […] dotycz?cych wzrostu rynku ebooków w Stanach Zjednoczonych i na ?wiecie poinformowa? serwis The Digital Reader powo?uj?c si? na dane dostarczone przez PricewaterhouseCoopers opiniowane m.in przez New York […]

    Reply
  7. […] gli analisti della Pwc propongono ipotesi simili ormai da un biennio. Come fa notare il sito, The Digital Reader, già nel 2012 Pwc aveva pronosticato la supremazia degli eBook sui libri cartacei entro il 2016. […]

    Reply
  8. […] gli analisti della Pwc propongono ipotesi simili ormai da un biennio. Come fa notare il sito, The Digital Reader, già nel 2012 Pwc aveva pronosticato la supremazia degli eBook sui libri cartacei entro il 2016. […]

    Reply
  9. […] Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader points out though, the “perennial ebook optimists” at PricewaterhouseCoopers have now […]

    Reply
  10. […] from the half-year figure. If ebooks really will overtake print in the next few years as some have predicted, it’s so far unclear exactly where the push will come […]

    Reply
  11. […] this happen? I’m not betting on the 2018 number. First, The Digital Reader points out that PwC has been making this same prediction over and over again, year after year. Why? […]

    Reply
  12. […] Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader points out though, the “perennial ebook optimists” at PricewaterhouseCoopers have now moved […]

    Reply
  13. […] anyone who cites PWC estimates as anything other than a joke has obviously been smoking illicit substances (it's time to […]

    Reply

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