I’ve been documenting the recent, surprisingly sharp decline in ebook sales growth. The falloff has continued through the first half of this year, with ebooks now showing clear signs of “stagnating” at about 25 percent of the overall U.S. book market, according to Digital Book World: “Once thought destined to reach 50% or 80% of all book buying and reading in the U.S., ebooks have stalled out on their way up to higher altitude.”
DBW bases that conclusion on a new study by the Book Industry Study Group, a publishing trade association, which uses data from Nielsen Book Research. The study shows that “for the past year or so, the share of all new ebooks sold — both in units and dollars — has been flat at about 30% and just under 15%, respectively.” A DBW chart drawn from the Nielsen numbers indicates that e-books actually lost some market share during the second quarter of this year (a trend also seen in recent sales reports from the Association of American Publishers):
The Nielsen data also reveals “a slow decline in the number of people who exclusively buy e-books.” Comments Nielsen’s Jo Henry: “It is clear from four annual research surveys that e-books are in the later stages of the innovation curve and have settled into reasonably predictable consumption patterns.”
Maybe this is just an anomaly and ebooks will eventually gain a second wind and start taking more share from printed books. Right now, though, it’s looking as though there’s a Gutenberg Firewall — and that ebooks have hit it.