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Insights into the E-book industry

The E-book industry has become one of the most fast growing business sectors of our times. While it is still a bit premature to consider that the practice of going online and downloading your favorite books will replace the pleasures of exploring a bookstore, the smell of print, the joy of actually holding that bestseller, and so forth, let us face it: e-books represent the future of reading.

Unfortunately for all hardcover book lovers out there, this is not a statement made to catch their attention. It is in fact backed up by figures. A recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) points out that by 2017, e-books libraries will bring in more than 8.2 billion$ revenue, surpassing print book sales. And this trend is well under way. The Association of American Publishers, an independent organization that has been tracking the online book market, has estimated that the revenue for e-books downloaded has grown by 41% in 2012 alone. This brings the e-book industry to an estimated 23% of all trade publishing incomes. This increase has also helped expand the trade publishing industry overall by 6% since the print sector has been seeing a steady decline in revenues.

Surprising as it may sound, 2012 was actually a slow year for e-book libraries, with revenues dropping from previous years. Don’t be fooled by this decrease though, for the e-books industry is bound to pick up, and fast. Although not the best of practices, a look over the growth trend from 2002 might give us some insight in to what the future might hold.

Back in 2002, the online book market represented a meager 0.05% of all trade publishing revenues. Ten years later, revenues sky rocketed to 23%. What was the catalyzer for such a tremendous increase? Well, one might argue that since e-books are bound to cost less, cheaper reading might be the prime reason. True to some extent, but not entirely. A second factor to take in is the ease of purchase since you will never have to wait in line to buy that recently published best seller. Of course, there are many other factors to consider and all might play a part.

What was the main catalyst for this surge in e-book revenues was in fact something eye catching, trendy and techy: yes, that’s right, we are talking about the 2007 launch of Amazon’s Kindle. Ever since Kindle came to the market, books started being downloaded at an ever increasing rate. During 2008  –  2011, e-books saw a staggering triple digit increase in sales. More precisely, adult fiction/ non fiction and religious books saw an uptick in e-book sales with more that 1.5 billion$ in revenue for 2012 alone. This genre of e-books has now become one of the most popular media formats with sales overshadowing those of softcovers, hardcovers or paperbacks taken together.

Looking forward, the aforementioned PwC study predicts that e-book libraries will total around 38% of all book sales, a strong and steady increase from the current 16%. There is a high probability that this estimations…

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