E-Book Sales Rise as People Hunt Desperately for Stuff to Do

E-Book Sales Rise as People Hunt Desperately for Stuff to Do
Photo: Stephen Brashear / Stringer, Getty Images

E-book revenues are up by 15.2% from 2019, hitting $US1 ($1.5) billion last year, according to a report by the Association of American Publishers. December figures should reach at least $US100 ($131) million if the organisation’s estimates are correct.

“Print book sales tracked for the year by NPD BookScan rose 8.2 per cent in 2020 despite — and in some ways because of — the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic,” wrote trade book analyst Porter Anderson.

Total book sales saw a bump as well with adult books rising 35.4% year-over-year thanks to A Promised Land by former President Barack Obama and political books like Mary Trump’s Too Much and Never Enough.

The seemingly slow rise of e-books is still surprising given lockdown and the ease of downloading new titles. Total revenues across all categories — from young adult titles to university presses offerings — rose 24.5% compared to November 2019. Total book revenue was $US1 ($1).2 billion. Ebooks made up 9.3% of total book sales last November.

Stats through January 2, 2021, US print sales only (Screenshot: The NPD Group / NPD BookScan) Stats through January 2, 2021, US print sales only (Screenshot: The NPD Group / NPD BookScan)

“After a jarring drop-off at the beginning of the pandemic, the US print book market has shown remarkable resilience throughout 2020, posting impressive gains, even as alternate formats like ebooks and audiobooks have also grown,” said Kristen McLean of the NPD Group, a market research firm.