E-book sales begin to cannibalise print

E-book sales begin to cannibalise print

<p>The growth in e-book sales in genres such as romance and science-fiction is leading to a cannibalisation in sales of printed books, according to Nielsen BookScan data.</p><p>Sales of printed romance books have fallen for the first time since records began at a time when e-book sales have more than doubled.</p><p>The data, released as part of a seminar held yesterday with Enders Analysis, &#39;Digital Seminar: e-books and their impact on the market&#39;, showed genres such as science fiction and romance are &ldquo;overperforming&rdquo; thanks to the tastes of early adopters of e-books. For example, the e-book market share of the science fiction and fantasy sector globally for the 10 weeks since June was 10%, more than treble the genre&rsquo;s market share of print book sales. The share taken by romance and saga books was 14%, seven times its print market share.</p><p>Julie Meynink, business development director of Nielsen BookScan, said though it was early days, data from Nielsen BookScan US, which globally represents the biggest share of e-book sales, showed a decline in print sales within these two sectors. In the year to date sales of romance books in the US are down 7.5%, while science-fiction and fantasy sales are down, even when the effect of Stephenie Meyer is stripped out. Estimated e-book sales from the Association of American Publishers show that the e-book market has risen 10-times since 2008, with sales accelerating this year with sales over the first two quarters up 180% on 2009.</p><p>Ahead of the seminar, Meynink said: &ldquo;There has been over-performance in the growth in e-book sales in the romance and science fiction categories, when compared to the market share of print book sales, and this correlates with a fall in print book sales in those sectors.&rdquo;</p><p>Benedict Evans, analyst at Enders, who also spoke at the seminar, was cautious about the data but added: &ldquo;You can definitely see some shifts, and this looks like more than just normal variations, but sales have not fallen off cliff.&rdquo;</p><p>Talking generally about the presentation, Evans said there was a tendency for observers to overestimate the short term effects of going digital and underestimate the long term impacts. He said it took ten years for the album sales to halve, and it could take longer for digital to have the same impact in the book world. Adoption is likely to prove &ldquo;lumpier&rdquo;, with early adopters a small niche of the overall consumer demographic. &ldquo;E-book adoption will vary widely by demographic and genre,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Evans also warned of a &ldquo;disconnect&rdquo; between what consumers thought it cost to produce an e-book, and the actual cost. Though he added Nielsen BookScan data highlighted that the majority of print books sold were already in the &pound;4 to &pound;5 price range.</p>