Are eBook Sales Stagnating?

eBooks lost a little bit of sales ground in the third quarter of 2014, according to data from the latest survey of book-buying behavior from Nielsen Books & Consumers. Here is what this survey found for sales of books from January through September 2014:

flatline

  • eBooks accounted for 21% of book unit sales
  • Paperback Books made up 43% of book unit sales
  • Hardcover Books were 25% of book unit sales

In 2013, statistics showed that ebook sales increases were slowing. In other words, ebook sales were not growing at the same rate in 2013 that they had been in 2012. It appears that ebook sales continued to slow in 2014, creating a bit of an uptick in sales of print books.

Nielson’s recent book-buying behavior survey also showed where print books are being purchased:

  • 39% of books are purchased through e-commerce outlets (led by Amazon)
  • 21% of books are purchased through bookstore chains

For ebook sales, Amazon continues to be the leader with 57% of readers reporting buying ebooks through this retailer in 2014. Amazon’s closest competitor is Barnes & Noble, where 14% of reader purchased ebooks via the Nook store in 2014. Interestingly, only 6% of readers reported buying ebooks through the Apple store.

While it does appear that sales growth for ebooks is stagnating, keep in mind that digital books command one-fifth of all book sales. That means that about one out of every five books sold is an ebook. So, if you sell only ebooks, the growth of sales may not be where you hope they are. On the other hand, if you sell both print and digital copies of your books, you have your basis covered for maximizing book sales.

Another thing to keep in mind is that while the growth of ebook sales is stagnating in the United States, it is growing in other parts of the world. This growth will especially be seen in developing countries where the use of smart phones is growing, allowing readers easy access to digital books. Making sure that your ebooks are available for sale worldwide is one way to tap into this growing ebook market.

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2 thoughts on “Are eBook Sales Stagnating?

  1. I tend to think it is more of an adoption issue. I think that from here out ebook sales will grow slowly, not rapidly. The early adopters have not all jumped on board. From here, people will slowly continue to gravitate toward digital books as the world gets more digital.

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