As many have noted of late, e-book sales are slipping, and Publishers Weekly’s Jim Milliot has a report on how slowing e-book sales hit profits of two big publishers, S&S and HarperCollins:
Parent company News Corp blamed the weak sales performance on lower Divergent sales and lower e-book sales. Digital sales, which include both e-book and digital audio sales, accounted for 20% of revenue in the most recent quarter (about $82 million), down from 23% of sales ($93 million) in the comparable period a year ago. With digital audio sales generally performing well across the industry, the 11.8% decline in digital sales is most likely due to a drop in e-book sales. A bright spot at HC was the U.S. general-books segment, which benefitted from more than three million units sold of Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.
a conference call discussing the quarterly results, News chief executive Robert Thomson said the company is “watching closely” the softening e-book sales trend in the U.S.
The decline in e-book sales has been a big thing recently, while print book sales are holding their own. E-books seem to have become a convenient form of reading, while print books are “the real deal” to readers.
As was noted in a piece here at The Beat by Bruce Lidl the other day, the tablet revolution seems to have stagnated along with sales. (Which isn’t to say that digital comics sales don’t remain strong; they are, but their growth has slowed as well.)
But don’t start celebrating with a tablet bonfire just yet. Mobile phones, which as Bruce noted, are getting bigger and bigger, are becoming the preferred reading platform. I’m not sure how the situation has evolved in Japan, but I remember when the digital comics thing first started taking off it was reported that in Japan everyone read light novel son their phones, and owning a desktop or more more substantial computer was a definitely outlier.
I’d expect mobile to continue to be the preferred platform for most information; Google and FB certainly want you to go that way, and we tend to do what they say. I’m not sure how this will affect comics reading, but you are free to speculate in the comments.
Disclosure: I work with Jim Milliott at PW. Also, I just got a new tablet for my birthday and looks like I’ll be getting a new iPhone later this week, so expect more personal reports very soon!
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.