2011 is widely believed to be a year of explosive growth for e-books, but few statistics are available yet for this year. However, here’s a pretty impressive stat from Random House: In the first half of 2011, digital sales accounted for over 20 percent of Random House’s revenues in the U.S.
BookStats, a new annual statistical survey from BISG and the Association of American Publishers, estimates that e-books made up 6.4 percent of the trade book market in 2010, with a greater percentage expected in 2011. We’re now seeing how much greater that percentage could be.
Overall, Random House saw “triple-digit percentage sales growth in e-books,” parent company Bertelsmann said, although it did not break out e-book revenues, units sold or other indicators of how well e-books are doing. Revenues for Random House internationally were €787 ($1137.22/£696.97) million, down from €791 ($1,143/£700.51) million in the first half of 2010. The company said that “digital revenue potential [was] strengthened through acquisition of digital media agency Smashing Ideas.” Bertelsmann acquired Smashing Ideas, a digital media agency, for Random House in May.
Random House now has 27,000 e-books available worldwide, the company said.
In a letter to employees that accompanied Bertelsmann’s announcement, Random House Group UK CEO Gail Rebuck said that e-book sales now make up over 10 percent of RHUK revenue. And she said the company now has lifetime sales of three million e-books and has 7,000 titles available digitally.
Other publishing companies have also reported high percentages of digital sales (which really mean e-book sales at this point), though none as high as Random House’s. Digital sales made up 15 percent of Simon & Schuster’s revenues in its most recent earnings report (for the second quarter of 2011, ending June 30). HarperCollins reported that digital sales made up 12 percent of U.S. revenues for its full fiscal year. And in its half-year earnings report, Penguin parent company Pearson (NYSE: PSO) reported that 14 percent of Penguin’s worldwide sales are now digital.