UK e-book market 'to hit £1bn in 2018'

UK e-book market 'to hit £1bn in 2018'

The UK consumer e-book market will triple over the next four years to be worth £1bn, overtaking the paperback and hardback as the preferred option for reading novels, according to a report by accounting group PwC.

The report has predicted that sales of print editions will fall by more than a third to be worth £912m in 2018 while e-book sales will grow from £380m in 2013 to £1bn in 2018. The digital growth has been attributed to increased tablet ownership, with around 50% of the country expected to own one by 2018.

However, the report said: “Growth in consumer e-books is strong, but slowing. While global consumer books electronic revenue remains high… growth is slowing as the market matures, with year-on-year growth down to 10.3% in 2018.” It added: “With more reading taking place on tablets, publishers will increasingly have to compete with video, music and game content for attention.”

E-book sales will help to grow the overall market for book publishers, with the report suggesting the total UK consumer book market will be worth £1.9bn in 2018, up from £1.8m last year – despite the loss of more than £500m in print sales over the period.

“Global consumer books revenue grew in 2013 after years of decline, as the increase in e-books revenue surpassed the fall in print,” the report said.

China will also become the second-largest book market in 2017, according to PwC, overtaking Japan in 2014 and Germany in 2017, to become the second-largest book market in the world, with revenue of $13.2bn, after the US with revenue of $37.0bn.

“Education is increasingly a priority for many Chinese, as is professional development,” said the report. “In 2018, China will account for 35% of Asia Pacific's total books revenue.”

Educational e-books have yet to gain traction in that market, with only 14% of global total educational books revenue predicted to come from e-books in 2018, compared with 7% in 2013. Despite this outlook, educational publishers will continue to invest in digital publishing, the report found. “Despite barriers to growth, educational publishers are still backing digital publishing initiatives, especially in higher education,” it said. “College electronic revenue in the US will reach $2.2bn in 2018, accounting for 43% of total college book revenue.”

Meanwhile professional books will see the fastest migration to digital. “No matter the size of the economy, businesses and the staff working in them will require the most up-to-date information available," the report said.

PwC predicts professional books will see global revenue coming from digital sources rising to 36% in 2018, when electronic professional books revenue will be worth  $8.8bn.