eBook sales jump 115%

The American Association of Publishers (AAP) recently confirmed that eBooks sales are significantly increasing as paperback and hardcover shipments decline.

Of course, the gradual switch from traditional print to electronic format is not entirely unexpected.

To be sure, paperback/hardcover versus eBook sales are following a very familiar trend, which is made dramatically evident by the closure and disappearance of print newspapers.

Add to that the proliferation of eBook readers like Amazon’s Kindle, as well as the phenomenal growth of the iPad, and it becomes clear why eBooks are experiencing rising sales.

So what are the numbers? 

Well, based on AAP’s report, eBook sales in January 2011 soared to $69.9 million when compared to $32.4 million in January 2010 – a 115.8% increase.

But closer scrutiny of the numbers illustrates one cannot summarily conclude growth in eBook sales necessarily means more books are being sold. 

It is also unclear whether the eBook sales are the result of a new book reading audience roped in by the convenience of eBook readers, or if seasoned paperback and hardcover readers are going electronic.

Overall, sales dropped (albeit marginally) to $805 million from $821.5 million in 2010, registering a 1.9% decline.

Even more fascinating is the performance of certain demographics. For example, the adult paperback market fell 20% and adult hardcover dropped by 11%.

Sales of children’s paperback and hard cover also decreased, but by a somewhat lighter 17.7% and 2%, respectively.

Meanwhile, online audio book sales experienced 8.8% growth, contributing to overall eBook sales – even though they currently form a small proportion of the entire eBooks market.

Clearly, book reading habits are evolving. As such, publishers have to determine ways of adapting to the new eBook paradigm by developing fresh licensing and pricing models.