Another timely Economist reality check
Quite how big is the subject of much debate. PricewaterhouseCoopers, a consultancy, reckons e-books will represent about 6% of consumer book sales in North America by 2013, up from 1.5% last year (see chart). Carolyn Reidy, the boss of Simon & Schuster, another big publisher, thinks they could account for 25% of the industry’s sales in America within three to five years. She may well be right if the iPad and other tablet computers take off, the prices of dedicated e-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle keep falling and more consumers start reading books on smart-phones. Mobclix, an advertising outfit, reckons the number of programmes, or apps, for books on Apple’s iPhone recently surpassed that for games, previously the largest category.
And from a related article
The struggles of booksellers can be explained in part by a surge in competition. More than half of book sales in America take place not in bookshops but at big retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target, which compete to peddle bestsellers at ever steeper discounts. Online retailers, too, are wreaking havoc. In 2009 Amazon sold 19% of printed books in North America, reckons Credit Suisse, compared with Barnes & Noble’s 17% and Borders’ 10%. By 2015, the bank estimates, Amazon will sell 28%.