Some more E-Book statistics from the USA

The e-book industry loves statistics, and in the USA, especially, they continue to be produced with increasing – and often very helpful, but sometimes confusing – regularity.  The following information is from an article describing the first of two updates planned to forecast and record e-book trends in 2015.

In 2016, two library systems—Toronto Public Library and King County Library System in Washington—experienced more than two million ‘virtual’ checkouts (or borrowings) respectively from the OverDrive platform which each is supported by. A further eight public library systems enjoyed circulations of more than one million. These statistics capture borrowings of e-books, audiobooks, streaming music and video, and electronic periodicals, but have not been broken down further.

Data from the Book Industry Study Group [BISG] and the Association of American Publishers’ [AAP] released in June 2016 showed a plateauing in e-book revenues. Also, the 2016 sales figures ($3bn) were 4% lower than the 2015 figures.  That more people in the USA are borrowing rather than buying virtual publications would seem to offer a plausible explanation for this dip in revenues. However, the article takes the opportunity to assert that there is no reliable, stable source of statistics on the e-book publishing industry, either in the USA or abroad.  Therefore, this may or may not be the case.

The article says that BookStats’ publications often lag behind similar reports and are prohibitively expensive, forcing most people to rely on whatever information is released to the press. The most recent AAP data, from December 2017, covers the first three-quarters of 2016 and shows that e-book revenue from 1,209 publishers was up by 2.8%. ‘In terms of formats, e-books were up, hardbacks were down, and paperbacks were up. Total e-book revenues increased by 5.6% over 2016 (to $1.2 billion from $1.13 billion).’  

If e-book sales and borrowing are indeed both increasing substantially year-on-year, this would suggest that e-books continue to enjoy spectacular and ever-growing success in the USA.  But is this correct? And what is to be made of the conflicting statistics that are now being produced?  The article is worth reading in full, as some of the information that it presents is both complex and counter-intuitive.  It may be found by clicking here.