22share Guy LeCharles Gonzalez has written an editorial on Digital Book World on the need for transparency in the e-book market. He cites Apple’s confusing “22%” sales figure that was picked up by such notable organizations as The Motley Fool and Gartner Research Group as an example of the “smoke and mirrored mess” that the e-book market has become.

He seems to have a point. It’s hard to tell a lot about the e-book market given how tight-lipped some of the major players have been about their sales. Amazon still hasn’t said just how many Kindle units it’s sold, and cutting through the spin on such pronouncements as Jobs’s “22%” sales figure can be hard.

Gonzalez notes that when the second quarter wholesale sales figures for 2010 come out, we may get a better idea of just how the iPad’s release has affected things. But there are still some important questions to be answered, writes Gonzalez:

  1. How much of the decline in February and March was attributable to Macmillan’s [and Penguin’s, et al] eBooks being removed from Amazon during their dustup over eBook pricing and the move to the “agency model”?
  2. Will April sales spike upwards, and will it be thanks to iBooks or the iPad’s relatively open platform that allows Amazon, B&N, Kobo and others to play along?
  3. Will the Nook have any impact at all, and if so, will anyone acknowledge it?

And, of course, whether any publishers or resellers will provide hard figures to back these up.


  1. Publishing has ALWAYS been about smoke and mirrors. Hard cover bestseller numbers, for example, are based on the number of books shipped, NOT sold.

    Things are improving a bit with new services like Bookscan, but publishing has always been secretive about its real numbers.

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