Ebook sales increased by 45 percent in 2012 to make up 20 percent of the trade book market, according to a report released today by Bookstats, a co-production of the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group.
Not surprisingly in the era of erotic mega-series like Fifty Shades and Crossfire, adult fiction, particularly romance novels, showed the strongest growth in ebook sales.
This sounds like great news for digital publishing, but the reality may be even better. Despite the impressive increase reported by Bookstats, the figures almost certainly underestimate true ebook market growth as titles self-published or released by micropublishers are not included.
The New York Times today also looked at the state of more traditional formats.
Sales of hardcover and trade paperback books were relatively flat: hardcovers accounted for just over $5 billion in 2012, up from $4.9 billion in 2011. Mass-market paperbacks, the smaller format of paperback popular in airports and grocery stores, also decreased in sales.
Another format that continued its rise in popularity was the downloadable audiobook, which had a 22 percent bump in revenues in 2012 compared with 2011, increasing to $240.7 million from $197.7 million. Publishers attributed the increase partly to the widespread use of mobile devices.
The press release accompanying the Bookstats report pointed out that the growth in trade book sales occurred “despite the loss of numerous brick-and-mortar stores in 2012 and a lower cost for eBooks that print books, which translated to higher quantities of eBooks sold.”