Blog Post

What will the global e-book market look like by 2016?

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

New data from Pricewaterhouse Coopers’ Global Entertainment and Media Outlook projects that e-books will make up 50 percent of the U.S. trade book market by 2016. What will happen in the rest of the world during that time? PwC gave paidContent an exclusive look at their e-book data, and here are some of their predictions.

Total book spending in the U.S. will be flat

PwC considers consumer and educational books together in the report, as well as breaking them out separately. Below, I focus on the consumer book data except where noted. Overall, the company sees total book spending in North America as relatively flat, “1.1 percent compound annual rate” of increase between 2011 and 2016 — and PwC thinks that while total spending on print trade books will decline, the e-book market will be growing fast enough by 2013 to offset those declines. In the U.S., the company estimates that “around 30 percent of adults had at least one portable reading device [an e-reader or tablet] in the first quarter of 2012.”

By 2016, PwC expects, “e-books will account for half of total spending on consumer books” in the U.S. and the total U.S. consumer book market (print + digital) will be worth $21 billion, up from $19.5 billion in 2011.

North American e-book spending will skyrocket, but Europe will be slower

I made this chart using PwC data to compare consumer e-book spending by region.

In addition to breaking out Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) by region — as I did in the chart above — PwC considers them together when it projects that “the consumer and educational book publishing market in EMEA will decrease during the next two years and then rise to $44.8 billion by 2016, returning to its 2011 level.”

In consumer books, the firm thinks “weak economic conditions will continue to limit print spending” in the near term and that e-books will “siphon off a portion of the print market,” ultimately resulting in the overall market remaining “stable in growth” as e-book spending counteracts (but doesn’t override) the decline in print book spending.

Japan, South Korea and China will lead the way on growth in Asia Pacific

In 2011, South Korea has Asia Pacific’s second-largest consumer e-book market after Japan, PwC says, and consumer e-book sales there “constituted 24.2 percent of South Korea’s total consumer book sales — the highest share of any country in the world.” But because South Korea is already relatively far along in the transition to e-books, the researchers expect its e-book growth in the next four years to be the slowest of any country in Asia Pacific.

I added Australia here, too, because PwC has it as “the only other country [in the region] where e-books will generate more than $100 million in sales.”

See also:

What will it take for international e-book markets to take off?

Photo: Flickr / Mr. iMaax

5 Responses to “What will the global e-book market look like by 2016?”

  1. carlosotohn

    Latin America has some problems, Google Apps are not available to our region, we have to LIE saying we live in the US, give a fake address and phone number and then buy with our visa!

    Same happens with Sony but it rejects the fake info because it does not recognize the Time Zone of our devices!

    The price (average) of a tablet might reach 1,000 dollars! Which is 3 times the salary of a peasant! Simply impossible to buy! Chinese de devices can be found in the black market for 100 dollars!

    So far, non of the local Publishing houses are interested in evolve into digital!

  2. Bonjour

    Le marché de la lecture numérique va connaitre une forte augmentation des ventes du aux vente de liseuses en forte progression




  3. R. Scot Johns

    Where is PCoopers getting their sales data for NA market? AAP data shows US ebook sales for 2011 at just under $1b, and I find it hard to account for the remaining 2011 projection of $2.696 in Canadian/Mexican ebook sales. Really? They’re selling well over twice what the US digital market generates? Unlikely. These charts also assume a flat trajectory, which will becoming increasing difficult to maintain as number rise and adoption rates reach saturation. Not that I’m being pessimistic, I just think this is a little over-optimistic.

    • Part of the difference is that the AAP data is only a small subset of publishers. Not all their members submit data and lots of publishers are not.