Post-Holiday ‘Loading’ Makes Digital Books Top Format Choice in February

NEW YORK—April 14, 2011—The powerful, ongoing growth of books in digital formats (both e-Books and downloaded audiobooks) is a key finding of the February 2011 sales report by the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

The report, produced by the trade association of the U.S. book publishing industry, tracks publishers’ monthly and year-to-date net sales revenue in all categories of commercial, education, professional and scholarly books and journals.

According to the February results, e-Books once again have enjoyed triple-digit percentage growth (202.3 percent) vs. February 2010. Downloaded audiobooks, which have also seen consistent monthly gains, increased 36.7 percent.

e-Books ranked as the top format among all categories of trade publishing—adult hardcover, adult paperback, adult mass market, children’s/young adult hardcover, children’s/young adult paperback.

This one-month surge is primarily attributed to a high level of post-holiday e-Book buying, or “loading,” by consumers who received e-Reader devices as gifts. Experts note that the expanded selection of e-Readers introduced for the holidays and the broader availability of titles are factors.

Additionally, trade publishing houses cite e-Books as generating fresh consumer interest in—and new revenue streams for—“backlist” titles, books that have been in print for at least a year. Many publishers report that e-Book readers who enjoy a newly-released book will frequently buy an author’s full backlist.

For the year-to-date (January/February 2011 vs. January/February 2010) period, which encompasses this heavy post-holiday buying period, e-Book sales grew 169.4 percent to $164.1 million, while the combined categories of print books fell 24.8 percent to $441.7 million.

According to Tom Allen, president and CEO of AAP, “The February results reflect two core facts: people love books and publishers actively serve readers wherever they are. The public is embracing the breadth and variety of reading choices available to them. They have made e-Books permanent additions to their lifestyle while maintaining interest in print format books.”