walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

Are You Impressed Yet?

I've found a Christian Science Monitor article from today about this press release:

http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/chapter-and-verse/2011/0415/E-book-sales-overtake-paperbacks-in-February

And a Guardian article:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/apr/15/ebook-sales-milestone

Here's what I don't understand. If I take _just the February numbers_ and _ebooks vs. combined trade_, I'm looking at eBooks being all but 30% of the total. I'm excluding religious, education and professional/scholarly. If I do the February numbers and ebooks, combined trade, religion and professional/scholarly (but not "education categories", which does not supply February only numbers in the release), I get 22ish%. I'm looking at Feb only (YTD 2011 gives "totals" without explaining categories that work out to 27%), on the premise that January would get the bulk of the Christmas Gift Card/new eReader effect, which AAP's release is worded in such a way as to suggest that this heavy fraction of ebooks is a time-of-year-dependent phenomenon.

From CSM:

"Some publishing experts now predict that within the next two to three years e-book sales will comprise up to 25 percent of all book sales."

Yeah, well, damn easy to predict it when it has already happened.

Over at the Guardian, Philip Jones, deputy editor of the Bookseller, sez:

"Ebooks have grown massively, but they do not yet match overall print books and nor is it predicted that they will. The most bullish predictions suggest that ebooks will account for 50% of the US market by 2014 or 2015, and then will probably plateau."

You keep telling yourself that if it helps you sleep at night.

Honestly, I'd seen a bit over at the HuffPo remarking that eBooks were 20% of trade sales and was surprised at how non-surprising this was treated in the piece. I was _looking_ for numbers and I cannot for the life of me figure out why there isn't a huge circus going on around What Does It All Mean.

ETA: FWIW, the CSM piece is quite decent -- I'm not mocking Marjorie Kehe in particular. However, I do think that what the AAP crafted in its press release was remarkable in how carefully it avoided giving anyone an opportunity to remark upon what it revealed. It put some truly shocking numbers right out in plain sight (because they release those numbers at regular intervals and _not_ releasing them was a non-starter), and then carefully did _not_ do a calculation that would have made the group they represent -- publishers -- completely lose the capacity for reasoned discourse. Unfortunately, the effect was to also obscure reality from media commentators, because apparently those people who do pay attention to numbers put out in press releases by AAP are not people who reflexively calculate percentages.

That's my guess, anyway.
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