Thursday, June 2, 2011

E-books having an impact

A new report by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) shows that E-books currently account for 11% of the total book market, with the proportion of print book buyers who also download e-books more than doubling between October 2010 and January 2011 (going from 5% to 13%). Other results included:
  • Two-thirds of e-book readers have moved mostly, even exclusively, from print to e-books
  • Fiction dominates downloads, with literary fiction, romance, and science fiction each accounting for more than 20% of purchases
  • While e-book buyers are buying fewer print books, 44% indicate that they are buying more books, and 34% report higher overall spending on books (print and e-book combined)
  • The most influential factors leading to e-book purchase are free samples and low prices
  • Publishers are declining as a source for information about upcoming e-books, being replaced by retailers
  • Third parties figure heavily on e-book reader device acquisition; a large number indicate receiving their reading device as a gift, and when purchasing one themselves, rely heavily on recommendations from friends.

In this report, BISG focused on e-book readers and their attitudes, behaviors, and characteristics, and identify a subset of readers as "E-book Power Readers" (respondents who said they acquired e-books every week).  The study had some interesting things to say about Power Readers:
  • Power buyers account for 18% of e-book readers, but buy 61% of all e-books
  • Power buyers have moved from computers to dedicated e-readers and tablets faster than other readers
  • Two-thirds of power buyers are women
As a former manager of a used-book store, the dominance of genre fiction in sales (particularly romance and science fiction) is no surprise.  Heavy readers (one or more books per week) often have budget constraints, and turn to cheaper sources for books.  They are also less focused on specific titles or authors, instead reading widely within one or more genres, relying on library borrowings and used bookstores to feed their habit.  From that perspective, the rise of e-books can be seen, at least in part, as a replacement for the library and used bookstores for those readers.  The good news for the publishing industry is that that they didn't get much revenue from those sources anyway; thus what portion of e-book sales that comes from this group of heavy readers (or Power Users) is added revenue.

Source: "Book Worms Consuming More" MediaPost Research Brief

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