Now that 2012 is coming to a close, it is time to have a look at the ebook achievements in the last year.
eBooks sales figures have continued to grow at exponential rates, and the end is nowhere in sight, so 2013 looks like it will be the year to confirm that ebooks have been fully embraced by book readers. 2012 has certainly been a banner year for sales, with record ebook and e-reading device sales. Making projections from a Pew study indicating that Christmas 2011 sales of e-readers and tablets almost doubled all of 2010’s ownership rates bringing the market penetration to 20%, it is anyone’s guess estimate what effect on the penetration market of Christmas 2012 will have. A single book reader getting a single e-reading device buys a number of ebooks, the effect of Christmas on ebooks sales is likely to give a nice push to ebooks sales.
As Europe is now joining the band wagon, the ebook market’s expansion is likely to take up even more speed in 2013, an excellent news for English language ebooks, as the in-built dictionaries included in most e-reading devices are a nice incentive for non-English native speakers to opt for a digital version of an English book rather than a print one.
Enough about sales numbers. Other major events have changed the publishing world in 2012. Finally understanding that self-publishing ebooks is becoming increasingly successful, and trying to capture some part of the self-publishing market, traditional publishers are now increasingly adding self-publishing options. 2013 will be an interesting year to see if self-publishing is more successful alone or through established publishers self-publishing programs. Because, whether self-publishing alone or in tandem with a publisher, the author ultimately will still have to bear the brunt of the marketing campaigning process, an essential ingredient for self-published writers success.
On the legal side, 2012 anti-trust suit against the Big 6, both in the US and in Europe, has seriously affected publishers pricing styles.
Most of the Big Six publishers have either settled or are in the process of settling, but Penguin Group and Macmillan (along with Apple) are scheduled for trial in June 2013. The publishers that have settled are already seeing some of their ebook prices slashed on Amazon, in some cases at what appears to be below-margin prices. One big concern with the settlement, and the entire lawsuit, is that the main result will be an eventual Amazon stranglehold on the ebook marketplace if it continues to sell below cost. And with Amazon’s wide range of products, most of which have a much better margin than books traditionally have, Amazon has a cushion to sell ebooks at a loss.
While traditional publishers are confronted with anti-trust suits, the growth of self-publishing is accompanied by a parallel growth of scammers trying to lure hopeful writers into spending hard earned money into buying nonexistent or lame self-publishing aid, so, writers opting for the self-publishing route have to be extra careful before buying into any of these programs by checking their actual success rates, for example by looking up Amazon shelves for the books they promoted and see how these books fared.
2012 is also notable for turning reading from a solitary activity into one that can be shared in real time with friends on social networks. The introduction of aps allowing to comment on Facebook and other social networks while reading is actually changing the reading experience in a fundamental way.
No-one yet knows what other changes 2013 will bring, but ebooks are certain to fare well in the coming year and to experience new additions and metamorphosis. So Happy New Year to all ebook lovers, present and future 🙂