It appears the digital tide is becoming a tsunami with Nielsen BookScan and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) reporting their latest figures. The AAP reported print sales declined by 25% across all sectors in the first 2 months of 2011, while e-book sales rose by 18.4%. Nielsen BookScan reported mass market paperback sales fell 26.6% in the first quarter 2011.
Speaking at the London Book Fair in April, HarperCollins CEO Brian Murray said that the growth in e-reader sales in the US was having a huge impact on the publishing industry. Barnes and Noble executive Marc Parrish said at the GigaOm Big Data conference in New York in March that “In the next 24 months is when this business will totally shift” implying that e-books will dominate sales. Overdrive who manages e-book lending for public libraries has just announced it is to work with Amazon to provide public lending libraries with Kindle content adding to already available content for ePub enabled devices.
There are almost certainly a large amount of ‘early adopter’ sales for e-book readers. The industry has yet to sort out a sensible pricing structure for e-books. Free is not viable unless it is bundled in with a charging model. However with the rise in Print on Demand services to produce single books to order there are now opportunities to satisfy both formats delivered from ‘virtual’ book stores on the Internet.