We've all known that e-books are kind of a big deal, meine Autoren, but the requisite benchmark facts & figures haven't been consistently available. Well, good news, everyone!
Forrester Research has found that e-book sales are closing in on one. Billion. Dollars. (For 2010.) And with sales up 176% year-on-year, they project that that billion-dollar figure will triple by 2015. Some of you might be thinking: "that is totally bananas." I'm thinking: "it's probably going to be even more than that."
As I've recently mentioned, I believe that parity between physical book sales and e-book sales (that is, the point at which electronic sales will comprise 50% of the market) will be in 2013 or 2014. Keep in mind that currently, only 7% of on-line adults who read books read e-books; as the price of devices comes down (I think the magic number is under $99) and the industry further adapts to the electronic format, I expect that number to spike. My guess (and this is just a guess!)? At least 30% over the next three years. If 7% of on-line reading adults are generating a billion dollars in e-sales this year, how much money will 30% of on-line reading adults generate three years from now?
It's hard to say. The industry made $35 billion in 2009, but that was almost exclusively physical media (e-books accounted for only $169.5 million, or 0.48%, dollar-wise). If the industry were to make another $35 billion in 2010 with $1 billion representing e-book sales, that percentage would jump to 2.9%. My guess is that the industry will make a little more money next year, but over $1 billion will be in electronic media sales. At that rate, it's not difficult to imagine double digits next year and parity two or three years after that.
It's true that e-book pricing will become an even bigger problem over the next few years, and I expect that, on average, e-books will become cheaper as more competitors enter the market and attempt to undercut each other. There's already some downward pressure on pricing from retailers like Amazon, so unless publishers withdraw from third-party retailers altogether and begin selling directly to consumers, there's no reason to assume e-books will stay at $14.99 (or $12.99, or even $9.99). But! Another topic for another day, mes auteurs.