The Trouble With E-books

Andrew AlbaneseThe notion that we live in publishing’s digital age faces a new challenge. Earlier this year, we learned that print may be getting a second wind. This week, the latest sales numbers from leading publishers show a decline in e-books.

“The big question is, What is up with e-books?—or I should say, down with e-books? In their financial results posted this week, lower e-book sales were a big factor in weak financial performances at HarperCollins, and in limiting the gains at an otherwise good quarter for Simon & Schuster. Hachette also reported underwhelming numbers,” says Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer.

Of course, the digital revolution has not actually retreated – ask anyone with a smartphone. Yet industry executives say they are “watching closely” as e-book sales  and total digital revenues disappoint. What do they see as behind the shift?

“In Frankfurt, the discussions I had with the major publishers revealed largely that no one seemed to expect this dip to last. Although, I have to say, no one could explain what was happening,” Albanese tellsCCC’s Chris Kenneally. “Print, while up in some sectors, is not picking up the slack for the loss in e-books. And I, for one, am concerned that lost e-book sales, means lost readers.”

Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.

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One Response to “The Trouble With E-books”

  1. Bob Pimm November 13, 2015 at 11:24 am #

    Doesn’t the drop in ebook sales directly correlate to the across-the-board ebook price increases forced on the market by the major publishers? Once ebooks lost their significant price advantage — the magic $9.99 number advocated by Amazon as supported by their big-data showing how that specific price-point drives demand — book buyers have backed off this category (and the devices to read this category — hence the drop in e-reader and tablet sales).

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