Statistics, damn statistics, and wishful thinking - the not-death of the ebook

Picture of Kindle headstone

I have to admit to finding it a bit difficult to understand how an increase in eBook sales of 12.3% (from 2013 to 2014) is being peddled as signally the end of the ebook, particularly when sales of the physical book fell by 1.7% over the same period.

Well, actually I can understand it - it's called wishful thinking. What's happening is that the rate of e-book growth has started to slow, and coupled with a slowing in decline of physical book sale the traditionalists are hoping it signals a return to the printed book. Just remember though, according to Nielsen Bookscan, we bought 237 million books back in 2008. In 2013, this had fallen to 184 million, a pretty drastic fall of 22 per cent!

So yes, it appears the book market might be starting to reach some sort of equilibrium, with about one in three books being a digital one, and the rest being physical books. And yes, there is good news for booksellers with Waterstones reporting that  sales of physical books has increased by 5 per cent during December, compared with the same month in 2013. A picture echoed by Sam Husain, the chief executive of Foyles, who said sales at his chain of bookshops had jumped by 8.1 per cent, compared with December the year before.

Bottom line, however, the eBook market continues to expand, and even if its growth slowed further to 9% it will only take five years before eBook sales constitute 50% of the total market.

You can read the full article from the Telegraph here.

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