Digital book boom sees sales revenue rise by 180%

The e-book market has seen an explosion over the past 12 months, with the Publishers Association reporting a 180 per cent increase by value in digital sales of consumer titles.

Sales of fiction, non-fiction and children’s e-books brought in revenues of £84 million between January and June this year, up £54 million from the £30 million figure recorded for the same period in 2011.

Digital fiction has played the biggest part in propelling sales, with a huge value increase of 188 per cent in this category over the last year. The astonishing success of erotic novel 50 Shades of Grey is likely to have contributed significantly to this year’s rise, with digital copies representing a large portion of the title's sales.

The Publishers Association’s research provides further evidence that the digital book market is a force to be reckoned with, following Amazon’s recent announcement that it is now selling more Kindle e-books than hardcover and paperback copies combined. With the US retailer refreshing its e-reader and book-friendly tablet line-up earlier this month, the current sales pattern is likely to grow further.

Richard Mollet, CEO of The Publisher’s Association, said, “the huge increase in digital sales shows how rapidly readers and publishers are embracing e-book reading. Whether books are enjoyed physically or electronically, publishers will continue to invest in exciting authors and titles. They can do this because of the stability provided by the UK’s robust and flexible copyright framework.”

Despite the digital reading boom, physical book sales did not suffer too badly as a result, with a mere 0.4 per cent drop in sales value (£985 million to £982 million) and 3.8 per cent fall in sales volume (260 million units to 251 million) from 2011 to 2012.