Summary:

Sales of e-books may have already overtaken those of hardback in 2011 by volume, but it will take until 2014 for actual sales revenue to catch up, according to one forecaster.

Pile Of Books and Sony E-reader
photo: Flickr / Jukka Zitting

Sales of e-books may have already overtaken those of hardback in 2011 by volume, but it will take until 2014 for actual sales revenue to catch up, according to one forecaster.

UK e-book sales revenue will overtake hardbacks in 2014 and close in on paperbacks by 2016, an Oliver & Ohlbaum (O&O) forecast presented to London Book Fair’s Digital Minds conference showed.

Amazon and Waterstones reported e-book sales overtook hardbacks by volume last year. The lag indicates the lower prices that digital content can fetch compared with physical counterparts.

“While current publisher margins are higher on e-books than physical books, average retail prices are lower,” O&O said.

The analyst house reckons a quarter of the UK population will regularly buy e-books by 2017 – that is 40 percent of all regular book-buyers.

All of that will push total UK book sales by volume up 8.5 percent by 2017, O&O reckons. But, thanks to that dimes-for-dollars challenge, retail value will dip by 10 percent over the same period.

O&O thinks half of books, regardless of format, will be sold online by 2015.

Meanwhile, Sony’s Reder Store e-book store, first unveiled in the U.S. in 2006, finally rolled out in the UK today, despite Sony having earlier committed to an October 2011 launch.

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