Sunday, June 02, 2013

Is the Ebook Revolution Slowing Down?

A couple of years ago, many articles and stats showed that ebook sales were rising at a dramatic rate in almost all writing categories. In fact, the rise was over 100% in some genre fiction, but is this still the case? I guess it depends on who you read and which stats you believe, but here are a couple of pieces that reflect recent sales data in both Canada and the U.S.

Most of the data reflects that ebook sales are still on the rise, but not at the rate they were two or three years ago. Perhaps, this won’t surprise you as many book buyers still buy books as gifts, particularly during the Christmas season. So far, few readers are gifting ebooks to someone else, but it will be interesting to see if this changes over time.

An article in the Ottawa Business Journal seems to think that ebook sales are plateauing, based on survey conducted by BookNet Canada, involving 4,000 book-buying consumers. They state that paperback sales made up 58% of all sales in Canada in 2012, hardcovers came in at 24%, and ebooks represented 15%, noting that both Kobo and Kindle are popular brand names in this country. Not surprisingly, digital sales peaked in the first quarter of 2012, which is when everyone’s happily loading the e-readers they received for Christmas. Also not surprisingly, ebook sales were at their lowest during the last quarter, or the Christmas gift-giving season. You can find more info at

In the U.S., BookStats also undertook a survey and found that ebook sales account for 20% of all book sales. Although this is a 15% increase from 2011, ebook sales are not rising at the rate once predicted in that country either. In fact, 65 new independent bookstores have opened recently and unit sales increased by 8% in 2012. As you’ll read in the New York Times article, publishers who attended the annual Book Expo America convention are breathing a sigh of relief at what they perceive, or hope, is stabilization in the bookselling industry. But is it really? I don’t know. It seems to me that the only constant in the publishing industry is change, and that all of us writers, publishers, booksellers, and librarians, need to do our best to keep up. To read the article, go to

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