image A recession rages, but tell that to the e-book business.

In the U.S., wholesale revenue zoomed from $8 million in Q3 of 2007 to $14 million for the same quarter of ’08.

Granted, that’s just a speck of the billions in p-book sales and involves only 12-15 publishers participating in a stat collection program.

But it’s still impressive, given the miserable economy, which has harmed p-book sales. I suspect things are the same in many other countries: P hurtin’, E growin’. New platforms, ranging from the Kindle and Sony Reader to the improved iPhone, have helped. Long term, more people are accustoming themselves to reading off screens. Check out 7 year old fives Sony Reader thumbs up, from Sherman Young, author of The Book Is Dead, Long Live the Book.

Click on the above image for a closer look at the chart. Or, better, go to the IDPF site for more information.

September statistics

Our friends at MediaBistro’s Galley Cat blog meanwhile have summed up some September figures from the Association of American Publishers, which cooperates with the IDPF on stat collection:

…E-books sales rose 77.8 percent for the month, and have increased 55.2 percent so far in 2008. Before you get your hopes up, though, keep in mind that those September sales represent just $5.1 million of a $1.062 billion playing field.

True. At the same time keep in mind an oddball little fact noted by TeleRead’s Robert Nagle: Postal rates keep going up. In the future it may be much cheaper to buy an e-book from a small publisher than a used paperback from an Amazon seller—in fact it some cases it may already be. I always end up paying around %5 or more for a paperback with shipping included.

Now—if only the major publishers will lower e-book prices. I’d much rather buy a new book and have the author collect royalties. Just, please—no DRM. I want to own my books for real. Use of ePub, the IDPF’s standard, will also help both individuals and the e-book industry as a whole.


  1. I have an eBook reader, but it’s not a Kindle. In fact, I’ve had it for a few years now and haven’t thought twice about a Kindle, though as an author I have books available in both print and Kindle format.

    I think it’s more because the big NY pubs are getting into eBooks now, like Harlequin. Before only small presses produced the combination of eBooks and print books. eBooks are cheaper to produce, cheaper to purchase. I can buy two or three eBooks for the price of a print book from quality publishers who produce quality products. These are royalty paying experienced and professional publishing houses.

    These days I only buy print books if the book I want isn’t available in eBook format.


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