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Still Tracking the eBook Market

Distracted by our paying work, we’ve been slow to follow up our post “eBook Sales versus Download” with any real statistics to help make sense of the subject. Another reason we haven’t presented more statistics on the subject has to do with the fact that we can not find any reliable stats on the subject.

To some extent this is not surprising. It takes time for the statistics gathering organiztions—Census Bureau, industry associations, large research firms—to build the necessary structures with which to track new industries properly. eBooks are relatively new and with the arrival of new players into the game—eReader device makers—there is no industry wide structure yet for tracking eBook sales and downloads. Further complicating matters is the fact that a small number of players control much right now and have no great interest in sharing their numbers. Some of these players are, in fact, intentionally mudding the waters by way of promoting their role in the industry and building the buzz. In time, statistical collection structures will be created.

In the meantime, while we wait for real figures, we’ll have to make sense of it all by trying to read between the lines of the statistical data that track the more traditional part of the publishing business, watching for changes in patterns and trying to figure out what’s behind them.

We’ll turn next to a look at booksellers over the last two decades.

In closing, a quote from Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, “Chief Executive Optimist,” Digital Book World speaking about this very topic:

“From consumer demand, to devices and DRM schemes, to piracy concerns and reliable sales data, the nascent but undeniably booming eBook market is becoming a smoke and mirrored mess for anyone looking for straight answers.”


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