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AAP Reports eBook Market Up in October 2013

The AAP aapreleased a new report today on the US ebook market, and depending on your viewpoint it has either good news or bad news.  According to the sales data reported by 1200 odd publishers, the US ebook market in October was up several percent at a time when the overall US book market was down.

AAP’s share of the overall US book market reached $724.1 million in October 2013, down from $735.6 million in October 2012 (largely due to a drop in the Adult segment). Sales for the 10 month period ending in October 2013 totaled $5716.2 million, down from $5893.2 million. This amounts to a 3% drop, and while all 3 segments (adult, YA, and religious) were down the decrease can mostly be attributed to the Hunger Games (and to a lesser degree 50 Shades) sales spikes reported last year.

Neilsen Bookscan independently confirms that at least one segment of the US book market declined; earlier this week they reported that print book sales had dropped 2.5% in 2013 as compared to 2012. Clearly this is a sign that paper books are on the decline and that we will soon see a revival of the market for scrolls.

On a related note, 2013 might be a down market but the AAP press release also points out that the difference between 2012 and 2013 has shrunk as 2013 progressed. The first 7 months of 2013 was 4.8% down from the same period in 2012, but by October the difference had decreased to only 3%.

The digital content market, unfortunately, is still down  from its peak in 2012 but there are signs that it is beginning to rally. eBook and downloadable audiobook sales for the 10 month period were down 2.4% (from $1.42 billion to $1.38 billion), largely due to the release of the Hunger Games movie last year (and the sales spike it caused).

And even though digital sales were down for the 10 month period, they still represent a larger share of the overall market. Based on the data I have in hand, digital content made up 24.2% of the overall US book market in the first 10 months of 2013, up from 24% in the same period in 2012.

The reported digital sales were up 5.6% for October 2013. They totaled $137 million, up from $130 million. All the reported segments (downloadable audiobook, adult ebooks, YA ebooks, and religious ebooks) showed an increase in sales.

I don’t know about you but that comes as no surprise to me. I reported last month that indies were facing more price competition in the ebook market from major publishers than they had in 2012 or even earlier in 2013, so it was safe to assume that we might see a bump in the AAP sales figures. That increased competition has resulted in driving the average price of best-sellers down, thus deflating the ebook market, but it has also boosted sales.

Also, October is in the middle of the traditional Fall release season for legacy publishers so the increase in ebook sales is doubly explained.

As always, the data I got from the AAP is embedded below. Enjoy.

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Caleb Mason January 13, 2014 um 12:26 pm

Thanks Nate, great information. I wonder if you have the detail for Adult Trade Fiction. Last year I went through the AAP/BISG numbers and saw that the split was roughly 40/60 for adult fiction dollars and units, ebooks to print. I am personally very interested in seeing how the reading of novels is migrating from paper to ebooks. Related…I woke up early this morning so rolled over and enjoyed Goldfinch on my mini-ipad, large fonts, sepia background, and backlit. I do not think I would have done this with a paper edition bedside. I actually struggle reading in paper anymore due to my aging eyes.

Nate Hoffelder January 15, 2014 um 4:05 pm

The only data I have is included in the post.

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