E-book Sales Overtake Audiobooks, But Remain Small Fry To Publishers

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UK book publishers pulled in 20 percent more digital income in 2009 – but e-books remain a small slice of the pie, and digital’s growth rate has tailed off.

Digital book sales reached over £150 million, says the Publishers Association statistics yearbook. But this income growth was slower than the 27 percent seen in 2008.

2009 Total Book Sales (£ million)

Digital makes up less than five percent of total UK book publishing sales…

2009 Digital Book Sales (£ million)

Within digital, much-hyped consumer e-book sales are still relatively small, but they overtook audiobook sales. The average consumer digital book price fell from £5.11 to £4.90 last year. Total consumer e-book sales quadrupled to £2.1 million from 2008 – and are likely to see their first big growth in 2010 thanks to new e-readers.

2009 Digital Book Sales (£ million)

Not all “digital” sales are equal – digital revenue is composed mostly of schools and professional sales, but the small amount of money in general consumer sales did triple.

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Des Greene

The ebook expansion in the UK reflects the slow penetration of ebook devices on the market. Yet where the US goes the UK follows and without doubt there will be a surge in ebook sales when iPad and Kindle sales take off.

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