Oreilly comFrom O’Reilly’s 2010 State of the Computer Book Market:

This shows the percentage of sales on oreilly.com during 2010 for Books, Ebooks, and Video. These are big three content types with much of the same content. The ebooks are just digital versions of our print products. So the big, and more likely HUGE, news is that ebooks represent about 88% of our unit sales, and 79% of our dollar sales on oreilly.com. What is really impressive is that the growth of our digital products is moving faster than the decline of our print products. This suggests to me that we are not seeing one product type cannibalizing another — rather they are supplementing each other.

OrmDistroThe third chart shows the changing nature of our publishing program. The percentages represent each particular format and how many units we sold that year. To me, this shows the trend of what is happening. Print is slowly declining, and EPUB, Mobi, and Ebooks are skyrocketing off the chart at a rate faster than print is declining. PDF is declining and when you think about it, this makes sense. O’Reilly used to offer two type of book product: print and a PDF. Now we offer our content in virtually any form a reader would like it. So with Mobi, EPUB, and Ebooks, we are seeing the less useful PDF decline significantly.

Again, this data is taken from direct sales for O’Reilly and oreilly.com, and may not represent the whole computer book market. I have heard from other publishers, specifically Dave Thomas at the Prags, that this split is consistent with, or a little behind, their publishing program. Smaller publishers who are growing are seeing digital products catch on quicker than print, and some of us who have sizeable legacy-print-programs are seeing a faster ramp-up of digital products than the decline of our print programs. It is an interesting notion to talk about a print program as ‘legacy’, but that is truly the best description. How’s that for the changing nature of the computer book market?


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