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Google Reports Play Store Revenues Up, Might Actually be Selling More eBooks than B&N

google play booksLate last week Google released their second quarter earnings report. Said report doesn’t break down into specific details, but Google did reveal that the segment which included the Google Play Store hit $1.6 billion in revenues.

Revenues were ip 53% over the same quarter last year, and up 3% over the first quarter of 2014. The company said "digital sales of apps and content in our Play Store drove the year-over-year growth", adding in the investors conference call that "Google Play continues to grow at breakneck speed across all types of digital content, helping developers and content partners reach users around the world."

The $1.6 billion includes content sales as well as devices sold via Google Play, so there’s really no way to tell how much of that comes from ebook sales vs movies, music, apps, or sales of Nexus and Chromecast devices.

I can’t tell you how many ebooks Google sold, but I can tell you that it’s going to be a very small number when compared to Apple or Amazon.

No one knows exactly how many ebooks Amazon sells, but we do know that Apple’s content sales (plus Apple Care license sales) totaled $4.5 billion in their most recent quarterly report (PDF). While we don’t have specifics I think it is safe to say that Apple is selling more ebooks than Google.

That was to be expected, but I don’t think you expected that Google might be selling more ebooks than B&N.

According to B&N’s latest quarterly report, their Nook division had revenues of $87 million in their fourth fiscal quarter. That figure includes both content sales and hardware sales, with digital content accounting for $62 million.

Again, we don’t know what Google’s actual revenues were from ebooks, but I think it is safe to question whether Google is now selling more ebooks than B&N. If even 5% of that $1.6 billion in revenue comes from ebook sales then this supposition is a fact.

In a way, this turnaround should have been expected. Google has a growing ebook presence with 57 local Google Play Books stores around the world, including 11 new stores which launched in Latin America only last month. B&N, on the other hand, has seen declining digital revenue for the past year and change.

It was clear to me months ago that iBooks had supplanted B&N as a major ebookstore, and now it appears that Google Play Books may have as well. Or would someone like to point out the flaws in my math?

P.S. If anyone has specific figures which show I am right or wrong, let me know. Even if all you can say is yes or no, I would still deeply appreciate the information.

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Chris @ Publishing Hero July 21, 2014 um 11:06 am

Intriguing. I’ve all but written off Google Play, mainly because it doesn’t play nice with aggregators and has some quirky upload requirements. Couldn’t even tell you even one person I know who’s bought a book off of Play…

The lion’s share of that has got to be the hardware and the apps – if that’s *less* than 80% I’d be surprised… Music? Maybe 10%, movies 5%… and e-books make up the last 5%…? It’s impossible to know, but I’d expect more buzz… Maybe Play is just the dark horse here, but Google isn’t the first place I think of when it comes to books…

Ebook Bargains UK July 22, 2014 um 2:41 am

Which aggregators is Google Play not paying nice with?

fjtorres July 21, 2014 um 1:54 pm

Points to consider:

Google Play is global, includes a lot of appbooks, and tons and tons of crapware, especially in the ebook space. (Try searching for ebook or ebook app.) So even if they reported separate numbers it wouldn’t be a fair comparison.

In a fair US comparison I seriously doubt Google is particularly close to Nook. Even now, Nook is still running in the $300M range annually (after factoring in seasonality) and the entire market runs around $2.5-2.8B, including indies. Nook is fairly robust in indies but Google (and Apple) are less so.

If we go by the dollar sales, Nook still holds about a 12-15% share, Kobo about 6-8%, Apple somewhere around 12-15% (with a lot of appbooks in there) and Amazon 60-66%. Even shorting everybody won’t get Google ebook sales into Nook territory. Best case might put them around Kobo worst-case territory.

Much much better than in the past when they were noise but they’re still not major players.

Nate Hoffelder July 21, 2014 um 2:05 pm

B&N said digital content sales totaled $246 million in 2013, not $300m. And since that is likely to continue to decrease I will very likely be right in the long run.

fjtorres July 21, 2014 um 5:20 pm

In the long run the sun goes nova. 🙂

In the short term, there is no way Google outsells Nook on actual ebooks in the US market.
Not yet.
In two years, maybe.
Or quicker if they go ahead and buy Nook before Apple scavenges all its market share.

(Oh, and in the medium term, the asteroid impact makes it all moot.) 😀

Nate Hoffelder July 21, 2014 um 5:25 pm

What about the global ebook market?

fjtorres July 22, 2014 um 6:25 am

Nook doesn’t play there.
That is Microsoft out there.

Nate Hoffelder July 22, 2014 um 6:28 am

B&N still claims sovereignty, so it still shows up as Nook revenues (even though there aren’t actually any sales).

Also, the US market is one section of the global market, so yes Nook does play there.

StevH July 21, 2014 um 1:55 pm

Ditto here on discounting publishing thru Paly. Google please reveal some details for us if you like authors/idependents to take you seriously…inquiring minds want to know the data for revenues/sales figures.

Syn July 21, 2014 um 2:54 pm

I have to wonder if Googles Playstore sales numbers are in a bubble and inflated because of all the 25 dollar Playstore credits Samsung, (the largest Android maker) gives away. I’ve had 75 bucks to play with, my Husband had 25 and he never buys anything, until he got the free credit.

Nate Hoffelder July 21, 2014 um 3:11 pm

It could be, yes. I for one don’t buy much in iTunes but when I do I use the gift card that I bought at a discount. I got it for 20% off, so when I do buy stuff it looks like a 25% bump.

fahirsch July 21, 2014 um 4:26 pm

I’m quite grateful for Google digitizing myriad books. Unfortunately, I have no access to books that are plainly in the public domain (I am referring to books printed in the XIX century and early XX century, and specifically printed in Argentina), unless I use VPN to simulate an USA ip address (I live in Argentina).
Incredibly I can buy those same books "reprinted" [on paper!] by such as ABEBooks and others which are fronts by Amazon. I wouldn’t be surprised if the payback Google

Sturmund Drang July 21, 2014 um 8:26 pm and doesn’t work for you?

fahirsch July 21, 2014 um 8:35 pm

Gutenberg is quite ok if what you need is there (books that many people are interested in). Google is digitizing Universities libraries, which are more extensive and have vast more books that very few people read. Especially in other languages.

Nate Hoffelder July 21, 2014 um 8:44 pm

Oh, so that is what he meant.

Yes, PG is great but there’s a lot of content that never made it into their catalog. This is why Google Books, HaithuTrust, and the Internet Archive serve the public interest. They rescue books from oblivion in library stacks.

Sturmund Drang July 21, 2014 um 10:50 pm

I’ve said it before, somehow I’m out of synq with the whole rest of the world. 95% of what I want to read is at Gutenberg. If I just want to browse for some fun, casual reading, I can find plenty at Gutenberg. Google Books and the Internet Archive frustrate the hell out of me. Ev;ritng I nead a+ the In+erhet arch1ue is junked. Oh well. I’ll shut up now 🙂

Anthony July 22, 2014 um 1:26 am

I’ve long since switched from Nook to Google Play for buying digital comics (unlike Comixology, I get an actual EPUB file I can remove the DRM from myself or a watermarked PDF). I’ve seen Google stepping up advertising of its Play store on TV ads lately… whereas I can’t recall the last Nook ad I saw.

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