Digital sales 'worth 25% of market by 2015'

Between 15% and 20% of the book reading public will own electronic devices and up to 25% of books will be sold in digital form by 2015, according to a new French study.

The study showed that multimedia tablets such as iPad should account for between two-thirds and three-quarters of total sales and ereaders such as Kindle the remaining third to a quarter.

The study was conducted among 3,000 people in six countries—France, Germany, Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States and carried out by management consultants Bain & Company. The findings were revealed at the weekend during the third cultural forum in Avignon.

The switch to digital will be more rapid in Korea and the United States, where ebooks now represent about 5% of the market, and will be slower in countries like France, where the network of different types of retailers selling physical books remains extensive, said the report’s authors, Patrick Béhar and Laurent Colombani.

They are cautiously optimistic about the book industry’s future. "Books should not suffer from the same catastrophic scenario that the music industry did," they said. Apart from helping revive interest in reading - more than 40% of device owners say they read more than before - the shift to electronic is occurring through online sales for books, whereas it occurred through piracy for music. Electronic and print should continue to coexist for some time, as 41% of respondents said they remained attached to paper.

The electronic sector could represent between 20% and 28% of book industry profits in the future, the report said. But the industry will not benefit financially unless it innovates in its operating methods and content. "Experimenting with new formats - non-linear, hybrid, interactive or social - is where opportunity lies," it concluded.