18 April 2011
U.S. e-book sales overtake paperbacks in February
NEW YORK—For the first time, sales of books in digital format has exceeded that of print, according to the Association of American Publishers’ sales report for February 2011.
 
The report, released on April 14, shows that e-books have enjoyed tremendous growth – a 202.3% increase over February 2010. Year-to-date growth till the end of February was pegged at 169.4% over 2010, for a total of US$164.1 million. Simultaneously, all categories of print trade books declined by 24.8% so far in 2011 compared to 2010.
 
Downloaded audiobooks accounted for US $6.9 million in sales, an increase of 36.7% from February 2010.
 
The growth is attributed mainly to the post-Christmas surge when many consumers received book readers as gifts, and loaded them with their favourite novels. Additionally, e-books are seen as generating fresh consumer interest in “backlist titles” or those published over a year ago—as consumers tend to find newer pieces by preferred authors, and use those to track down an author’s entire collection online.
 
While no Canadian numbers are available to show the proliferation of digital-format books, according to Carolyn Wood, executive director of the Association of Canadian Publishers, “there is a great deal of evidence that [the trend toward e-books replacing print] simply isn’t the case in Canada. We might get there one day, but not just yet.”

For more information, visit http://www.publishers.org/press/30/
 
— Tom Czerniawski
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