Some industry watchers have noted the recent tapering off of digital sales figures and come to the conclusion that ebooks have finally found their place with readers, meaning they are no longer the enticement they once were when they posted unbelievable sales. But while publisher Hachette UK’s overall sales dropped a couple of percentage points for the third quarter of the year, its digital sales increased an astounding 80% over the previous August, and 32% over the previous July.
Part of the reasons for the increase could be the slate of new e-readers that were launched this year, as well as news of pending device launches that were scheduled for October as consumers filled their virtual bookshelves in expectation of a new device purchase from the same company. But more likely it came down to old-fashioned content: Hachette had a number of significant releases over the summer and carrying on into September. The July news of Robert Gilbraith’s true identity (JK Rowling) created a mad rush to purchase the April publication A Cuckoo’s Calling, while highly topical and timely books like I Am Malala were instant bestsellers. Additionally, titles that have been out for quite some time but still have a strong market presence–such as Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane–contributed to those figures.
Hachette UK CEO Tim Hely Hutchinson told The Bookseller, “The summer months were exceptional for us, with a number of standout achievements including holding all the number one slots on the Sunday Times bestseller lists for five weeks and a record-breaking month of e-book sales in August. We are now looking at a very strong last quarter from every division in the group.”