Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Are tablets cutting into e-book sales?

Los Angeles Times reporting:
On his blog Rough Type last week, Nicholas Carr addressed the flattening of e-book sales. Citing a report from the Assn. of American Publishers, Carr noted that “in the first quarter of 2013, overall e-book sales in the U.S. trade market grew by just 5 percent over where they were in the same period in 2012.” What this means, he concludes, is that the “explosive growth of the last few years has basically petered out, according to the AAP numbers.”
Carr has been commenting on e-book sales since the beginning of the year: In January, he wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal suggesting that, rather than eclipsing print, “[i]t may be that e-books … will ultimately serve a role more like that of audio books — a complement to traditional reading, not a substitute.” His recent post follows up on this argument.
“E-books,” he acknowledges, “are still taking share from printed books, as overall trade sales declined by 4.7 percent in the quarter, but the anemic growth of the electronic market calls into question the strength of the so-called ‘digital revolution’ in the book business.”
Carr cites statistics, which have also been reported elsewhere, that e-book sales seem to have leveled out at “a bit less than 25 percent of total book sales … an impressive share, but … still a long way from dominance,” before referring to “a remarkable new Nielsen report indicating that worldwide e-book sales actually declined slightly in the first quarter from year-earlier levels — something that would have seemed inconceivable a couple of years ago.”
...But Carr saves his most interesting conclusion for the end of the post, where he raises the issue of a “possible link between the decline in dedicated e-readers (as multitasking tablets take over) and the softening of e-book sales. Are tablets less conducive to book buying and reading than e-readers were?”

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