February's statistics from the Association of American Publishers show a two-hundred percent increase in e-book sales over the same month last year - in other words, e-book sales tripled.
The Association of American Publishers (AAP) monthly sales report for February 2011 shows that e-books have again ranked as the number one format among all the categories monitored by the AAP (Adult Hardcover, Adult Paperback, Adult Massmarket, Children's/Young Adult Hardcover, Children's/Young Adult Paperback)
February 2010 sales of e-books were $90.3 Million, growing 202.3% over February 2010. The other digital category, downloadable audiobooks ($6.9M) also showed an increase of 36.7%.
For the year-to-date e-books have increased by 169.4% while by contrast all categories of print books combined have declined by 24.8%.
According to Tom Allen, President and Chief Executive Officer of AAP,
"The February results reflect two core facts: people love books and publishers actively serve readers wherever they are. The public is embracing the breadth and variety of reading choices available to them. They have made e-Books permanent additions to their lifestyle while maintaining interest in print format books."
Trade Publishing houses have also noted that e-books generate fresh consumer interest in, and new revenue streams for, "backlist" titles, books that have been in print for at least a year. Many publishers report that e-Book readers who enjoy a newly-released book will frequently buy an author's full backlist.
The AAP's rosy interpretation of consumers adoption of e-books is just one side of the picture. The other is discontent on the part of customers at the high prices charged for e-books by publishers who are raking in profits while at the same time enforcing DRM (digital rights management) policies that are seen as unfair and restrictive. Perhaps the reason that backlists are so popular is simply lower prices.
Can this ever-increasing growth in e-book sales continue?
In the short term probably yes, fuelled by Amazon's Kindle with Special Offers which will tap a new segment of the market, a new crop of tablets with e-reading apps and Barnes & Noble's new drive for NOOK color reading-centric apps. In the longer term publishers will have to come to terms with the new reality. Ebooks seem to be a success despite the desire to continue to treat them as if they were still being printed on paper.
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