Image: Double Cross

January 15, 2015

double cross

Books and E-Books: Which Are Thriving?

January 15, 2015

I’m confused.  Are e-books cutting into the sales of physical books or not?

First I read this story in The Guardian that, in Great Britain at least:

Print sales of adult fiction have declined by over £150m since 2009, new figures show, as ebooks take an increasingly large bite out of the market.

The problem, they write, is primarily in fiction …

“The ebook has quite demonstrably hit the commercial end of the fiction market,” said the Bookseller’s editor Philip Jones. “Almost any drop in adult fiction sales can mainly be put down to the migration to digital, which is obviously still continuing. We think consumer ebooks this year will be worth £350m, with most big publishers reporting ebook growth of double digits – and almost all of that will be in fiction.”

… though non-fiction also suffered:

Adult non-fiction also saw a decline in print sales last year, down 4% to £585.7m, reported Nielsen BookScan. The sector is down 21% compared to 2009, when sales were worth £738.4m.

I suspect that this transition to electronic readers is what most of us have been led to believe, so this news comes as little surprise. However, I then read in Time that print books are doing just fine, thank you:

British book stores have good news for bibliophiles, reporting that more people have been buying physical books recently. What’s more, sales of e-readers have apparently slumped according to their reports. Waterstones, a U.K. book store chain which also sells Amazon’s Kindle, told the Financial Times that demand for the e-reader has all but disappeared …

Meanwhile Sam Husain, the chief executive of Foyles, a London bookstore chain, also told the FT that sales of paper books were up 11 percent this Christmas over last year and that sales of Barnes & Noble’s e-reader, the Nook, were “not as impressive as one would expect them to be.”

“The rapid growth of ebook sales has quite dramatically slowed and there is some evidence it has gone into reverse,” said Douglas McCabe of Enders Analysis.

Are you getting as confused as me?

I don’t have a horse in this race (although I do not have an electronic reader); I just like to have a grasp of what’s going on.  These two conflicting reports from the same week don’t help at all.