reading

eBook revenues outpace print in Q1

June 18, 2012
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reading eBook revenues outpace print in Q1

eBooks outsold hardcover books for the first time

According to the Association of American Publishers’ (AAP’s) net sales revenue report, adult eBook sales were $282.3 million, while adult hardcover sales counted $229.6 million during the first quarter of 2012. During the same period last year, hardcover sales accounted for $223.5 million in sales while eBooks logged $220.4 million.

sales chart eBook revenues outpace print in Q1

“In Q1 2012, net sales revenue for eBooks was higher than that for Hardcover; this represents a switch of positions in the category vs Q1 2011. In both quarters, however, Trade Paperback remained a clear #1 in net sales revenue despite some erosion. While eBooks continue to show growth, downloaded audiobooks also keep accelerating vs last year – as some experts have said, tied to ongoing popularity and acquisition of smartphones and mobile devices.”

A glimmer of hope for bibliophiles is in the Young Adult and Children’s category which saw growth in revenue for hardcovers, up nearly 67 percent to $187.7 million. This category saw a 233 percent increase for eBooks to $64.3 million, but remains far behind print sales.



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goodnight books eBook revenues outpace print in Q1

Personal story about my bibliophilia

Hi, my name is Lani, and I am a bibliophile. Whew, that feels good to get off of my chest. It may surprise some of you that know me well, because I report on technology and operate a digital publication, but despite the changing technology, I can’t shake my affinity for physical books.

When I was young, we lived in the Texas country with not much to do nearby. Before Kindergarten, I would hide in my grandmother’s classroom as she taught dyslexic children to read through the Phonics program. Like magic, I picked it up, and out of curiosity and boredom, I began reading the Nancy Drew series, which was the only thing that looked interesting in my grandparents’ giant wall of books. Before I started school at age four, I had finished the entire series which made school quite boring as children recited the alphabet and I smuggled novels into the classroom to read while they struggled.

By age six, I was writing poetry and had been published, and my book collection was massive. I was always the kid in the class who read the highest volume of literature, and I won a contest in sixth grade for my reading so much, which I seriously thought would be the pinnacle of my entire life. All of this led to my enthusiastic trip to Dallas that year to a shell of a second story retail location my aunt and uncle had just leased, as they were opening an independent children’s bookstore. The green grass carpet had just been laid, a stage was built, the walls were covered in chalk board material (before chalk board paint existed), a castle had been built in a corner, and there were boxes and empty shelves everywhere. I distinctly remember the smell of fresh hardback books in a box that no shopper had ever touched, and the softness of every single page. There was a glowing pride that swelled up inside of me with every book I had the honor of neatly putting on a shelf.

I worked at the bookstore every summer in high school and the first few years of college, and was able to meet many famous authors, and perform dozens of story times in costume. I loved it. There was this inherent understanding that it was an honor to be around books, because each word was poured out from someone’s soul and shared with the world.

In college, I studied English Literature as well as Spanish Literature, and I was again honored to be educated by novelists and students of the written word. I kept all of my textbooks and novels from college, and every so often visit them when I have time.

To me, physical books are more than just an author’s word that can be translated across any medium. I read eBooks, and I purchase print books, but I still have a different physical reaction when turning pages than I do reading digitally, and I am able to retain more from the pages that smell like a new bookstore. While not everyone has the same affinity for booksas I do, and not everyone could possibly care as much, I still choose print over digital, even as a digital publisher myself. The next generation may feel differently, but for me, nothing beats being honored with a writer’s soul that spilled onto a page that I smuggled into a classroom when I was four.

AGBeat Chief Operating Officer: Lani, named 100 Most Influential, as well as 12 Most Influential Women in Blogging, Bashh Founder, Out and about in Austin A Lister, is a business and tech writer and startup consultant hailing from the great state of Texas in the city of Austin. As a digital native, Lani is immersed not only in advanced technologies and new media, but is also a stats nerd often buried in piles of reports. Lani is a proven leader, thoughtful speaker, and vested partner at AGBeat.


  • HannahShaner

    As a book publicist for many indie author imprints, I completely understand your sentiment! There’s nothing quite like the smell and feel – and just overall experience – of a printed book. As a publicist for a free DIY e-publisher (Booktango), though, it’s such a different world. I truly hope print books never go out of existence, but it’s only logical to be able to access books like we access everything else – right this second, wherever we are. Interested to see where things go…