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Publishers hail 'first family digital Christmas'

Publishers have confirmed the expected Christmas spike in digital sales, noting the contribution of children's and backlist titles alongside frontlist bestsellers. Pan Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Random House, Hachette, and Bloomsbury all noted strong e-book sales at Christmas and throughout 2012.

Random House saw sales of e-books over the Christmas week exceed 420,000 units worldwide, up 13% on the previous year. App downloads hit 36,000, which was a four-fold increase on 2011. Children's e-books over Christmas grew "at the highest level ever",  with titles from authors including Jacqueline Wilson, Andy McNab and McFly's Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter proving especially popular. Meanwhile, its digital consumer campaign, Giftabook.co.uk, attracted more than 30,000 unique visitors over four weeks.

Random House Group deputy c.e.o. Ian Hudson said the publisher had seen "the significant contribution from children's titles for the first time—helped no doubt by lower priced e-readers—and the sense that it was the first digital Christmas for all the family."

Simon & Schuster UK said e-book sales more than doubled in Christmas week over the seven days before, with New Adult titles and big brand names selling strongly. Hachette UK sold more than 250,000 e-books between Christmas Day and Boxing Day, with most sales coming on Boxing Day. The company reported sales were not limited to frontlist, with more than 6,500 titles seeing digital sales over the two-day period.

Bloomsbury said its global Just Great Reads Christmas e-book marketing campaign "reached more than a million readers", and boosted sales, with UK e-book sales tripling year on year from 2011 to 2012.

Meanwhile, Pan Macmillan has said it more than tripled its UK e-book revenues over the course of last year. Taking 2012 as a whole, its UK trade digital sales represented about 30% of its overall UK trade sales by volume and value, up from 10% in 2011. Pan Mac's top 10 e-books of the year sold more than one million copies in total.

The publisher reported e-book sales of more than 4.5 million copies in the UK over the year, more than 200% up on 2011. It said that its top ten e-books accounted for sales of more than one million units, including Jeffrey Archer's The Sins of the Father and Only Time Will Tell, David Baldacci's Zero Day, Ken Follet's Winter of the World, Alan Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child, and three novels from Peter James. James' Not Dead Yet and Perfect People sold together more than a quarter of a million copies in total in e-book.

However, at independent publisher Oneworld, publisher Juliet Mabey reported e-book sales were down in 2012 compared to 2011, attributing the drop to "a lot more competitive e-book discounting this Christmas", as well as the availability of tablets which support content like films and music as well as e-books.