Future eBook market

Word version of this document.

During the Summer of 2010, Forrester Research surveyed 4,000 U.S. adults about their reading. From this survey, James L. McQuivey wrote a report called US eBook Forecast, 2010 to 2015. Since McQuivey’s report costs $500, I could not afford to read it. So, the following information comes from his online articles and an interview about this report.

  • 7% of adults read eBooks.

  • Another 8% of adults claimed they would probably start reading eBooks by the middle to end of 2011.

  • ½ of eBook readers do not own eReaders. They read eBooks on laptops, smartphones, etc. These people read 40% of their books as eBooks.

  • The ½ of eBook readers owning eReaders read 66% of their books as eBooks. - http://tinyurl.com/3y6keub

  • “What you need to understand, though, is of readers, [eBook readers] are the crème de [la] crème. They spend the most, they read the most, they are the most interested in best sellers, in literary works, in what’s winning the latest literary prizes. These people are the people that you want to have coming in and out of your bookstore. And if they’re not coming in and out of your bookstore anymore because they are reading so much digitally, they inadvertently cause a dramatic shift in the business.” -http://tinyurl.com/6dq2obu

  • My chart shows AAP's estimated net sales from 2002 to 2009 for a variety of print media, audiobooks and, on the bottom, eBooks. During these years, eBook net sales grew at an median rate of 80% a year. This growth just starts being noticeable in 2006 and  2007. McQuivey predicts “eBook buying is about to spiral upward” to $2.8 billion by 2015. $2.8 billion is the peak sales year for hardbacks in 2007. In other words, in 4 years, eBook sales will equal to hardback sales.

  • This “dramatic shift in the business” means a change in the economics of publishing, not just a change in formats. Based on his observations of the digitalization of music, movies and newspapers, James McQuivey makes the following predictions.

      • Eventually, publishers will decide their eBook marketing strategy first. Their print book marketing strategy will be secondary.

      • So, for example, many, many books will be published as eBooks only. If eBooks sales are good, print versions may be published.

      • Authors will get smaller royalties for print books. Amazon.com is now offering Kindle authors royalties 70% of the retail price and paid monthly, not annually.

      • These changes will reduce the number of print books available both wholesale and the amount of retail shelf space devoted to print books.

    Publishing eBooks without print versions is already occurring as authors explore the advantages of self-publishing eBooks.
    • Award-winning science fiction writer CJ Cherryh and two colleagues have noticed changes in the publishing world over the past 20 years that limit the distribution and availability of their work. They are trying to expand the distribution and availability of their work by publishing eBooks distributed from their Web site, Closed Circle. (http://tinyurl.com/ykucbmz)

    • Thriller writer Joe Konrath claims self-publishing eBooks provides the greatest income. His six print books earned good money the first year, but earned less each succeeding year. His seven eBooks, however, increase earnings each year. (http://tinyurl.com/2ejbko3) eBook publishers want to sell his eBooks for $5.99. Though he earns more money per book, Konrath earns the most money selling eBooks for $2.99 because he sells many more eBooks. (http://tinyurl.com/2dgf5pl)

    James McQuivey quote: “[John Thompson of Cambridge University] is right that people love books. But what he (and they) really mean when they say that they love books is that they love the ideas that books convey and the feelings they get from reading books. This is where I have news for the industry: the ideas and feelings books provide can be evoked digitally -- in some cases even better than before, and in all cases, more cheaply than before. Some readers with a thing for technology will get there first (shifting a majority of book reading to digital, as today's eReader owners have) while others will take some time to catch up -- indeed, large numbers will never read digitally. They will not have access to the same pool of literature that eBook readers do, but they won't care. Does this seem a dreary future? Not to me; I see a world with more books, more ideas, and more feelings available to more people, more easily than ever before. And yes, it will hurt to get there.” (This is response to an interview presenting the alternative view of John Thompson at http://tinyurl.com/294xc8z)

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