In the first four months of 2018 publishers revenue increased by $172.8 million (+5.5%) compared to the same period in 2017. Downloaded audio continued its significant growth and revenue for eBooks declined slightly.
eBook sales generated $358 million dollars and declined by 3.8% and during the same period last year the format brought in $373 million dollars. Digital audiobook sales were $137 million dollars from January to April 2018 and this was an increase of 36%. This was roughly an increase of $37 million from the same time last year.
Declining ebook sales are not just an anomaly in 2018, but have been occurring for quite some time. Traditional publishers sold 10% fewer ebook units in 2017 compared with the previous year, according to data released by PubTrack Digital. Total sales were 162 million in 2017 rather than the 180 million units sold the year before. Nielsen’s reports put 2016 ebook unit sales from the top 30 traditional publishers down a full 16% from their 2015 numbers.
One of the big reasons why traditional publishers ebook sales are crashing is because they have priced themselves out of the market, and their 10% drop in 2017 and 3% decline in the first few months of 2018 is just the latest evidence that the value a traditional publisher adds — whether editing, gatekeeping or marketing — isn’t as highly valued by ebook buyers as a low price tag.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.