Why are Ebook Sales Falling?

September 8, 2015

Ebook sales are falling, the Wall Street Journal reports, this after languishing sales for the past several years. We’ve seen statistical examinations of a drop in ebook sales, but this is the first article to focus in-depth on a possible cause: rising ebook prices from the big 5 New York publishers. (more…)

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Running the Numbers on Barnes & Noble

April 13, 2012

In the wake of media speculation of the impact of the Department of Justice lawsuit against Apple, Macmillan and Penguin and the secondary speculation of the impact on Barnes & Noble I thought I’d run a few numbers and see what story they might reveal. (more…)

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Latest eBook Sales

December 15, 2009

The IDPF (International Digital Publishing Forum) has released its October sales figures and the records continue to be broken. As noted in an email to IDPF members:

eBook sales statistics for October 2009 have been released from the Association of American Publishers (AAP) who collects these statistics in conjunction with the IDPF. Trade eBook sales were $18,500,000 for October, a 254.3% increase over October 2008 ($5,200,000). Calendar year-to-date sales are up 180.7%.

And further:

October 2009 wholesale trade sales were $18,500,000 which is the highest single month thus far. July 2009 wholesale trade was the previous high at $16,200,000.

The association quietly once again reminds the curious that:

  • The data above represent United States revenues only
  • The data above represent only trade eBook sales via wholesale channels.  Retail numbers may be as much as double the above figures due to industry wholesale discounts.
  • The data above represent only data submitted from approx. 12 to 15 trade publishers
  • The data does not include library, educational or professional electronic sales
  • The numbers reflect the wholesale revenues of publishers

In other words, these numbers are probably understated if anything (provided you ignore the fact that Amazon apparently sells the bulk of its eBooks below wholesale cost).

Here’s the IDPF chart showing quarterly sales:


Your humble blogger notes that while these year-to-year increases are indeed impressive, the Association of American Publishers, while not yet announcing October sales, has released September’s figures: “Book sales tracked by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) for the month of September increased by 12.3 percent at $1.26 billion and were up by 3.6 percent for the year.” He would also note that while he cannot find the eBook sales number for September 2009, the statement above from IDPF indicates that it must have been below $16.2 million, claimed as the previous monthly high. As such, eBook sales in October were less than 1.3% of overall book sales (although there is no doubt some finagling to be done to balance retail and wholesale numbers).

We are once again reminded that there are lies and damned lies. And then there are statistics.

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The Latest eBook Sales Stats

October 29, 2009

I’m duty-bound to provide you with the latest eBook sales statistics as dredged up by the the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). The organization doesn’t seem to want to crow about the numbers but Mike Shatzkin notes that “The IDPF just announced that year-over-year ebook sales for August are triple what they were a year ago!”


As the following chart shows, “triple what they were a year ago” means $35 million+ versus $11 million+. Although Q1 ’09 was about 2.5 times Q1 ’08, let’s just assume that the whole of ’09 will be triple of all of ’08. That would suggest 2009 eBook sales of at least $150 million. No spare change, but as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, this remains little more than a rounding error for the book publishing industry as a whole, representing still less than 5% of anticipated 2009 total print sales.


Yes, eBooks sales are growing quickly, as are the sales of organic produce. According to the 2009 Organic Trade Association Survey, organic produce sales rose by a “whopping” 17.1% in 2008. As a result “organic food sales now account for approximately 3.5% of all food product sales in the US…”

Let see when Spelt Flakes put Cheerios out of business, and when eBooks kill the printed book business.

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The Latest Data on eBook Sales

August 20, 2009

Once again it’s a record quarter.


But keep in mind (as I’ve pointed out many times before) that annualized this would total about $150 million of a $35 billion US book industry.

Let’s cheer them on. The sales are exploding.

Let’s stop the cheering as we keep our perspective.

Do please go to the IDPF website and consider their provisos regarding this data. They are important considerations. But small percentages tell their own story; and optimists sleep well.

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