The recent spike in e-book sales, both in the United States and abroad, has led some to speculate that e-books will one day replace print. Headlines espousing the death of traditionally printed books are abundant.
At the same time, the sluggish response of e-book sales compared to the overall sales of printed texts has led others to proclaim the rise in popularity of e-readers to be nothing more than a fad.
New data that released on e-book sales in the UK actually speaks to both truths. 2010 saw a 400% increase in the sales of e-book and audio downloads of novels and general texts, while digitally published textbook still far overshadowed the sales of general titles.
The point of interest is that this massive increase of e-book sales in the UK came after the August 2010 launch of the Amazon.co.uk Kindle store, despite the 2009 release of the Kindle 2 International version. With only months left in the year, sales still increased to that degree, despite Amazon being only one source for e-books in Europe.
Prior to the launch of the UK Kindle store, Amazon customers were still able to purchase Kindles and e-books, but had to do so through the original Amazon.com website and the sales were based in U.S. currency. With the birth of the Amazon.co.uk Kindle store, e-book purchasing became more streamlined and English-language titles that were making headlines throughout Europe but had not yet gained popularity in the US were now available for e-readers, leading to an increase in interest in e-reader ownership.
While the UK has quite obviously demonstrated a love for digital publishing, the total e-book sales for 2010 was £16 million (roughly $25.7 million), a mere fraction of the £3.1 billion spent on all book sales in the UK that year.
It would be safe to assume that international readers are quite interested in the titles available for e-readers, but that print versions aren’t going anywhere in the near future.