Ebook Sales Cratering, Audiobooks Surging

www.nytimes.com

Alexandra Alter:

Sales of adult books fell by 10.3 percent in the first three months of 2016, and children’s books dropped by 2.1 percent. E-book sales fell by 21.8 percent, and hardcover sales were down 8.5 percent. The strongest categories were digital audiobooks, which rose by 35.3 percent, and paperback sales, which were up by 6.1 percent.

The most striking thing here (beyond the massive surge in audiobooks) is the continued decline of ebook sales. And the decline appears to be quickening. Last year, ebook sales had fallen 10% over roughly the same period. So why is this?

As Alter continues:

But perhaps the biggest factor affecting publishers’ revenue, and one that is not likely to go away soon, is the decline in e-book sales, Mr. Cader said. While publishers once fretted that digital book sales were eroding more profitable categories like hardcover, they now are finding that e-books — which cost next to nothing to produce and zero to ship and which can’t be returned as unsold merchandise by retailers — are critical profit engines. But e-book sales have fallen precipitously for months, in part because many publishers have raised their prices after negotiating with Amazon and gaining the ability to set their own prices.

After all the handwringing about ebook prices -- not to mention price-fixing lawsuits -- the publishers end up being their own worst enemies in the end.

One other fun tidbit from the article: adult coloring book sales are also plummeting. Thus likely ending one of the weirdest fads in recent memory. 

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