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Hachette Reports eBooks Sales Are Still Rising in the US and Abroad – Now 34%

Hachette-Book-Group-LARGE11[1]Lagardère, the French media conglomerate that owns the US publisher Hachette, posted a new financial report yesterday.

The report covers the first 6 months of 2013 and while it doesn’t include as many specific details as I would like Lagardère did mention a few details about the ebook market.

According to the press release, ebooks continue to make up a growing percentage of Lagardère’s adult trade sales in English-speaking countries. eBooks have reached a new high of 34% of Hachette’s adult trade sales in the US (up from 27% this time last year) and they are also accounting for 31% of adult book sales in the United Kingdom (up from 22% this time last year).

eBooks now account for over 11% of Lagardère Publishing’s total net sales (across all markets including France, UK, US, Canada, India, and more). That’s a considerable from this time last year, when ebooks generated only 8.4% of net sales.

Unfortunately Lagardère doesn’t offer any other details on specific ebook markets (other than adult trade ebook sales in France accounted for 3.2%), but the data they have provided is still useful in debunking the idea that Nicholas Carr invented last month – namely, that ebook sales are flattening.

The news today from Lagardère Publishing shows that their ebook revenues continues to increase. It went up by 2.9 percentage points, which is an increase of about a third of the 8.4% of net revenues provided by ebooks last year. That might not be the stellar growth seen in past years but it is still a decent growth rate.

And given that ebooks are still nascent in many book markets other than the English-language markets, there’s no reason to assume that ebook market share won’t continue to increase.

Update: Eion Purcell took the data apart and showed that the only thing growing at Lagardère Publishing was digital:

But you need to actually work the sums to see what that means. It means that in Fast-half 2013 Lagardère saw €103.61million in digital sales (Based n 11.3% of Net Sales for the division of €907million). So digital is now worth over €100million in net sales to Lagardère. That €100million is €27.59million more than First-half 2012.

That €27.59million represents just over 3% of overall net sales for the publishing division meaning practically all the like-for-like growth in the division and more than all the reported growth in the division came from digital. Without digital, Lagardère Publishing would be a shrinking business.

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flyingtoastr August 30, 2013 um 11:09 am

eBook sales are flattening – which is entirely different than saying that they’re flat. Flattening just means that their growth is beginning to slow down, which is inevitable given how drastic the growth was a couple years ago.

mark williams international August 30, 2013 um 6:49 pm

"And given that ebooks are still nascent in many book markets other than the English-language markets, there’s no reason to assume that ebook market share won’t continue to increase."

I would expect English-language sales outside the US to dwarf the US market over the next five years and for ebooks across all languages the expansion is going to be simply phenomenal.

For the richer countries the issue is a simple one of distribution. As the artificial territorial restrictions of print are abandoned English-language ebooks rare and will be available in laces print could never reach. Similarly the logistics of making print books available in less urbanised areas, combined with the limits of shelf space, meant print books could never reach their market potential. Throw in lower prices and the availability of ebooks inevitably means book sales will increase manyfold.

The English language is our greatest asset, thanks to its wide use around the globe, but the limited availability of English-language books in mainland Europe, for example, where English is pretty much everybody’s second language, meant sales could never reach their full potential.

As ebooks become mainstream across the world those old barriers are removed. Trad' publishers are already raking it in from English language ebook sales overseas, and once indie authors get their act together and start taking international distribution seriously then there competitive pricing and marketing energy could well see the emergence of internationally best-selling indie authors in 2014.

For trad publishers who already have the infrastructure in place and are able to reach more readers in more countries for less costs, the rewards will be stunning.

What you refer to here as the nascent markets, Nate, are really just the second stage of a three tiered shift towards what can only be described as a new renaissance in literary culture where literally millions of new readers will discover books for the first time.

The third stage is the empowerment of the "Third World" of reading – the many literate people who live in countries (like here in the Gambia, West Africa) where books stores simply don’t exist, and reading for pleasure is a luxury of the rich.

Smartphones and ebooks are breaking down these barriers and opening up new opportunities for authors and publishers to reach readers in places where print books fear to tread.

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