Are ebook sales really in decline?

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Kindle Oasis in use

Some sobering news for ebook enthusiasts in the New York Times:

Sales of adult books fell by 10.3 percent in the first three months of 2016, and children’s books dropped by 2.1 percent. E-book sales fell by 21.8 percent, and hardcover sales were down 8.5 percent. The strongest categories were digital audiobooks, which rose by 35.3 percent, and paperback sales, which were up by 6.1 percent.

So, are the print fundamentalists right? Is the magical smell of paper winning, and that insipid upstart, the ebook, banished to the technologies of the past? Which other possible explanation could there be?

But e-book sales have fallen precipitously for months, in part because many publishers have raised their prices after negotiating with Amazon and gaining the ability to set their own prices.

Oh. Publisher greed.

And while some book buyers may have traded e-books for print books, others may be buying cheaper, self-published e-books on Amazon.

Double oh. New, cheaper competition.

Where have we seen this pattern before, exactly?

digital disruptionebooksKindlepricingPublishingpublishing strategy

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.