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    Are E-Book Sales Stagnating?

    A recent issue of the International Business Times “Business & Books” section bore the headline, The Latest Publishing Craze: Print Books?

    The piece was triggered by a survey released by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) titled Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading . The report sponsored by Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor and the Bowker Market Research found that “the percentage of e-book consumers who exclusively or mostly purchase book content in e-book format has decreased from nearly 70 percent in August 2011 to 60 percent in May 2012.” Furthermore, “Over the same period, the percentage of survey respondents who have no preference for either e-book or print formats, or who buy some genres in e-book format and others in print, rose from 25 percent to 34 percent.”

    Courtesy of Kodomut under Creative Commons

    These findings led the Business Times to observe, “…the results of the survey might also appear to be a dream come true for the traditional publishing industry.”

    However, the Times advised traditional publishers not to be too happy too fast. Another BISG report "BookStats 2012" report published in July found that e-books are still on the rise -- making up 15 percent of all trade book sales in 2011, up 5 percent from the previous year. That same report also found that total book sales decreased slightly, with total revenues from book publishers clocking in at $27.2 billion in 2011, compared to $27.9 billion in 2010.”

    A second element of the BISG report on e-books found some interesting things on how they are being read. “The Kindle Fire tablet has overtaken Apple's iPad among e-book consumers for the first time…. Ownership of the Kindle Fire has grown from seven percent of respondents in December 2011 to 20 percent just six months later. Apple's iPad has remained static at 17 percent over the same time period….five percent of respondents investing in Barnes & Noble's NOOK tablet and eight percent reporting possession of another Android-based tablet.”

    But what may have been of even greater significance is the news that “……the overall use of multifunction tablets as primary e-reading devices continues to rise, with a corresponding drop in preference for dedicated e-readers.”

    That finding led Digital Book World to conclude I-Pad Reading Market Share Stagnates as Tablet E-Reading Rises .

    Kelly Gallagher, vice president of publishing services at Bowker, told Digital Book World that the increased use of tables is significant because,. “Tablets will adversely affect the e-book business in that the tablet is a multifunction device and will therefore draw the reader into non-book activities and therefore cause them to consume books slower and therefore buy fewer books versus a single function e-reading device.”

    Looking at the analysis generated by the BISG survey which is enough to confuse industry insiders, authors trying to decide how to publish their books could be excused for throwing up their hands and saying , “I can’t figure out what’s going on here.”

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