According to the BookStats report released this month, ebook revenues across trade publishing topped $2 billion in 2011, more than doubling from $869 million in 2010.
Whereas in 2010, ebooks represented about 6% in 2010 of all trade publishing revenues, it jumped to 15% in 2011.
This 15% ratio may seem low when compared with the 20% (and higher) ratio claimed by some publishers when discussing their fiscal 2011 results, but the BookStats report includes many small and mid-size publishers that may not derive as much of their revenue from e-books, not to mention cookbook publishers and children’s book publishers that may also lag behind large trade publishers.
According to BookStats report, not only did the revenue explode, but also the number of sales per unit, jumping from 125 million in 2010 to 388 million in 2011. This means that ebooks now claim 15.5% of the book market, rather than the 5% of the market they occupied in 2010. As the ebooks rise in market share per unit is higher than the rise in revenues, it indicates a higher proportion of inexpensive ebooks were sold. A factor to keep in mind when pricing your ebook, low price seems to yield more sales.
When looking at printbooks vs ebooks, taking into account that overall trade publishing revenues were $13.97 billion in 2011, up 0.5% from 2010 $13.90 billion and that ebook revenues were $2.074 billion, it means that over $1 billion of lost printbooks revenue was replaced by ebook revenue across the book trade in 2011.
For publishers, this means that for an equal total revenue between the two years, their profit has increased as their margin is higher on ebooks.
This larger margin is partially due to cutting out the middleman as the report indicates that publishers made over $1 billion selling directly to consumers in 2011, up from $702 million in 2010.
Good news for Children/YA and religion categories as these showed the fastest growth in 2011
The rise in sales and revenues of ebooks is expected to continue unabated in 2012.
Though these stats come from publishers only and do not include sales or revenues figures from self-publishers, the rise in popularity of ebooks also reflects the penetration rates of ebooks in household and is good news for self-publishers as more ebook readers means more potential readers for books published in digital format exclusively,