While the trajectory for ebook sales is clearly on the way up in the long-term, that doesn’t mean it will grow at a steady pace, month after month…
That’s what we’re learning from the Q3 earnings reported by the Hachette Book Group. While ebooks made up an impressive 20% of Hachette’s “adult trade book sales” overall. According to Paid Content, that represent major growth in the UK market. That’s actually down from 21% in the first 9 months of 2011 in the US.
In fact, if it weren’t for J.K. Rowling’s latest release The Casual Vacancy, ebook sales numbers for Hachette may have been much worse…
Ebooks as a percentage of total sales were also down compared to the first six months of 2012 — when ebooks made up 27 percent of the company’s adult trade sales in the U.S. and 23 percent in the U.K. The company attributed this to “timing differences between the recognition of physical book sales and digital sales, regarding mainly J.K. Rowling’s book copies.” – From PaidContent
But don’t freak out — it may be cyclical.
That is to say that ebook sales, like pretty much everything else in retail, ebb and flow seasonally. That’s my theory anyway.
Will ebook sales spike on Black Friday… probably not. But you can bet they will on the day after Christmas.
After the holiday season and on into the new year, two things will happen:
a.) Tons of new e-readers and tablets will need to be filled
b.) Gift cards from iTunes, Amazon, etc. will be burning holes in millions of pockets
Both of these very well known factors will result in a wave of ebook sales that may last until late May. It seems to work like that every year.