Digital sales up 10% in first quarter

Digital sales up 10% in first quarter

Consumer e-book sales rose 10% in the first quarter of 2014, according to the Publishers Association, with strong performances from children’s e-books, and digital downloads of audio titles.

The figure show the continuing slowdown in digital growth rates, after last year’s  industry-wide growth rates of about 20%, but also how e-books continue to gain ground over print-book sales, which were down 2.5% in the first quarter, according to Nielsen BookScan data.

The figures comes from the Publishers Association Digital Sales Monitor April 2014, and show that digital sales increased from £119.9m from January-April 2013 to £132.5m in the same period this year, a rise of 10.5%.In the consumer sector, including digital audio, there was a 10% rise in 2014 to £81m, while in the educational/professional sector sales increased 11% to £51m.

In the consumer sector digital sales of fiction increased 8%, with a 10% rise in sales of adult non-fiction. Digital sales of children’s titles meanwhile enjoyed a particularly strong performance, with a 33% rise.

In the educational/professional sector the largest growth was seen in Scientific Technical and Medical (STM) books, where sales increased by 16%, however, there were also strong performances by schools/English Language Teaching (ELT) sales which grew 14%, and social sciences/humanities which saw an 11% rise.

The PADSM also recorded growth across the digital formats. While consumer e-book sales rose in line with overall sales, recording a 10% increase from £71.3m to £78.6m, the fastest growing digital format in the consumer sector was audiobook downloads which increased 22% to £2.6m. In the educational/professional sector ebooks sales rose 7.5% to £17.6m, while online subscriptions increased saw a sharp rise of 17% to £30m.

The PA said the numbers continued the increasingly strong performance of digital formats which in 2013 represented 16% of total book sales, and has grown a massive 305% over the past five years.

Richard Mollet, chief executive of the Publishers Association said: "Increases in digital sales in both consumer and non-consumer sectors shows how publishing as an industry has embraced digital technology and continued its strong track record of innovation and service delivery.”

In total, data from companies estimated to represent c75% of total UK publisher digital sales are included in the analysis. The figures do not includes sales from Amazon publishing, self-published authors or other new, digital-only companies.