Skip to main content

Infographic: Charting the eBook Market Growth "Slowdown"

The state eBooks_Infographic_-_Sainsburys_eBooks-largeof the growth of the ebook market is a contentious topic in digital publishing at the moment.

On the one side we have people arguing based on far from complete data that growth has flattened, while on the other side we have people, some with an emotional investment in continued growth,  arguing that the data is incomplete and providing anecdotal evidence that they’re still seeing increased.

The topic is so contentious that I was surprised yesterday when I came across an infographic which (almost) reports on the topic fairly. It’s from Sainsbury’s, and it appears to have been created in August so it is a little out of date and is missing a lot of current data.

But in spite of its shortcomings it’s still a fairly balanced infographic. Enjoy.



Similar Articles


Andrew February 5, 2014 um 9:03 am

Interesting. Thanks for posting this.

With economies and people’s incomes growing little or not at all, double- and triple-digit growth clearly had to temporary. A 5% growth rate in 2013 is still good – more than a few people and businesses would be overjoyed with that level of growth in their company, market or personal income.

I have been buying books from Kobo for a few years now, generally using coupouns and waiting for sales – $7 per novel (the current US average) is higher than I would want to spend.

The market has problems that need to be fixed:

1. DRM is becoming more restrictive, and should be done away with. If I can’t buy an ebook from any store, keep a local copy to know it is safe and permanent, and use it on any ereader or device (PC, notebook, ereader, tablet, phone), then I’m not going to buy it. I like reading and am happy buying ebooks, but I have no interest in "licensing" books or any other kind of content.

2. Stores should compete on user experience, selection and price, without vendor lock-in. It is strange that stores are increasingly requiring the use of custom software, increasing the risk that my "content" will become unavailable at some point in the near future. I should not need apps from Kobo, Kindle etc to read books. They are text files for pity’s sake!

I used "I" above a lot, but from what I have read online and heard from other book-lovers in real conversations, these are common problems the industry needs to solve.

Helmut February 5, 2014 um 5:18 pm

Why is it falling?
I can only speak for myself, but I have gone back to paper reading.
I own a Onyx M92 (9 inch) and bought it for academic reading, mostly PDFs. But in bad also everything else.
Although I really tried to like it (it was expensive), the speed of turning pages in PDFs is too slow. And this impacted my reading speed.
But much worse: my concentration obviously was lower, I remembered things worse.
And the use of any software tools like commenting or making notes was extremely slow.

The slow behaviour also impacts very negatively the natural use of pages: what was written at the beginning of the chapter? The slow response leads to not looking at all.

And I don’t want to even talk about quickly going to the TOC and searching a certain chapter, reading a few pages and jumping back. Horror on the eReader!

After the screen broke and the repair would have cost a lot, I decided to try an Android tablet.
Well, that’s already like night and day. Snappy response, good reader software.
But the LCD screen is like reading on the laptop.

So I decided to begin to print againt the articles I read and after two years of abstinence I was reminded how vastly superior the physical paper is. Annotations are there and stay there. Additionally I use OneNote for writing a master thesis, but having the articles also in paper form is much more convenient.

Now, when I grab a few old scripts and can look at my notes written into them, I’m just glad about this vastly superior "technics" and always think in shock and awe about my times of trying to switch to electronic reading.

And before someone says "but reading ebooks is different" I would argue that now, since I had recognized that I was falling victim to a hype, I begin to cherish to be able to go in the private library of my family and take a physical book that was already read by my grandfather much more.

eBooks are not one, but two steps back.
Therefore I believe, after the hype will settle, that people will recognize how great paperbooks are.

Helmut February 5, 2014 um 5:19 pm

bed = bad and many more. 😀
Sorry for the typos.

Bart Anderson February 5, 2014 um 6:55 pm

Hello Helmut,

It’s funny how e-books make us realize the many advantages of p-books. For me, both are tools which are appropriate in certain circumstances.

I had been printing thousands of pages of documents, which I would later discard or accumulate in dust-catching piles in the condominium. E-books are a great way to deal with a mass of reading material that is NOT worth saving.

For web articles, I have been using Pocket (one of several read-it-later services). For PDFs, I’ve been using a tablet or the 9.7-inch Kindle DX (now for sale at $200 – I think Amazon is trying to clear its inventory). You’re right that reading PDFs this way is more awkward – but for many documents, I find it’s good enough.

Helmut February 5, 2014 um 7:22 pm

Hi Bart,
I agree that it is a tool that can have it’s advantages. I still read maybe around 200 pages per day only on screen and don’t print it out. For some jobs eReading is sufficient.

But my post is more aimed against the tremendous propaganda wave how much better erading was compared to paperreading and that schools or universities could not abandon fast enough paperbooks.
This blog is not as bad, but I guess everyone knows the blog that hails even the worst developments for children in that regard.

Additionally I want to add, that the first studies are already showing, that memorization on online computers is much worse compared to paper reading. People switch fast between different pages and the huge flow of input overwrites what was read prior.
It also takes a LOT of discipline when being online, not becoming distracted – be it email or a RSS feed, or a link on the page.

If I as an adult, who grew up in a time, where it was still possible to work without distractions, recognize problems, this must have a tremendous negative impact on children who their whole life have never learnt to focus on one topic for one hour or more.

Bart Anderson February 6, 2014 um 1:25 am

" the tremendous propaganda wave how much better erading was compared to paperreading "
I agree. It’s the temporary insanity that accompanies any new technological development, don’t you think?. The fans make extravagant claims, the old guard says that it’s just a fad. Eventually it will get sorted out. We’ll find what works best for each application.

fjtorres February 5, 2014 um 8:47 pm

Not going to happen.
Paper’s not going away soon but ebooks are here to stay and usage will keep on growing indefinitely. Safe bet, that one.

Write a Comment