Home After Strong Holiday Sales for E-Readers, E-Books Outselling Print

After Strong Holiday Sales for E-Readers, E-Books Outselling Print

Another sign of the success of e-readers and the changing publishing world: when USA Today publishes its first post-holiday bestseller list tomorrow, e-book versions of the top six titles will have outsold their respective print versions for the previous week. And of the top 50 books, 19 have higher digital than print sales.

It’s the first time that the newspaper’s top 50 list has had more than two titles in which the digital version outsold the print.

The news isn’t terribly surprising as both Amazon and Barnes & Noble recently named their e-readers as their most popular product ever. And Amazon announced last fall that e-books were already outstripping hardback book sales.

As Paul Bogaards of the publisher Knopf says, “Lots of consumers woke up Christmas morning with new e-reading devices ready to load them up with e-books.” Knopf is the publisher of the popular Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, and Bogaards says the company sold about 165,000 Stieg Larsson e-books, compared to 155,000 print versions last week.

But it remains to be seen if this burst in e-book sales will continue. The surge may not be a “sustainable trend,” according to Kelly Gallagher of the publishing research firm Bowker. Gallager predicts e-book sales will flatten after this initial post-holiday spike. Nonetheless sales for e-books are still on track to be twice as high as they were last year. Currently, e-book sales account for less than 10% of the market.

Although e-book sales are up, we aren’t necessarily reading more. It may be simply that we’re buying fewer hardcover books, particularly as these can cost almost twice as much as digital versions.

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