In his latest column in the Irish Times, Eoin Purcell addresses the myth of the “e-book slump” that has been promulgated in the last few months. The apparent “slump” can be explained by the absence of new smash hits like The Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Grey that gave the previous year’s e-book figures an uncharacteristic amount of inflation. He also notes that the American Association of Publishers figures don’t take into account self-publishing, which accounts for 25% of Amazon’s e-book sales.
One of the problems is that ebooks have become so large a market, more than $1 billion in the US alone in 2013, and have grown so quickly, that even large increases now appear quite small in percentage terms, and modest increases seem tiny. Ebooks outside of the US continue to grow – markets such as Ireland, France, Spain and Germany are only now beginning to see the growth that the UK & US markets experienced two and three years ago. That growth has not been factored into AAP figures. If it had been, there would have been no pieces about falling ebook sales.
It’s been known for a long time that statistics can be made to say pretty much whatever you want them to. So, are these figures an intentional attempt to harm the e-book market and boost the sliding print market? Or just a well-meaning but mistaken attempt to make sense of the current market? Either way, it seems reasonable to assume that e-books are here to stay, no matter how the sales figures might fluctuate.
(Found via The Passive Voice.)