Shift to e-books pushes book publishing off the cliff

The book publishing industry is heading into decline as consumers swap books for e-readers.

A long term period of decline is expected in the market for books in both traditional and electronic forms, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) showing a decline of three percent from 2010 to 2014, compared to a slight increase in the preceding five years. That’s according to a report from analyst company IHS iSuppli.

This will be mainly attributable to a five percent CAGR drop in paper books, despite the heroic efforts of Mills and Boon novels accounting for 200 million lofty tomes sold every year, giving a good indication that the days of the printed word are indeed on the wane.

Meanwhile e-books are expected to see sales rise by a massive 40 percent, though this is not enough to drag the overall book industry into the black up until 2014 as the downturn in traditional books accounts for a significantly larger amount of revenue at this stage, with the electronic format costing around 40 percent less.

In total the amount of cash drawn from book sales will fall to $22.7 billion in 2014 from $25.0 billion in 2010, symbolic of a stage of disruption in which the book industry seemingly prepares to shift to digital formats.

It is in America where the forefront of the move towards digital publishing is occurring, with 13 percent of revenue expected to come from e-books by 2014, up from three percent in 2010 and six percent this year, with these trends expected to be seen throughout the rest of the world as e-reader sales increase.

And in the short term it seems that the disruption to the book industry is likely to benefit manufacturers of e-readers in the short term, with shipments of devices expected to triple from 2010 until 2014, rising from 9.7 million to 30 million units.

According to IHS iSuppli stats the generally held expectations for 43.4 million shipment s in 2014 are unlikely to be realistic due to competition and pricing factors.

For example the increase in use of tablets means that people are unlikely to shell out for a Kindle having purchased whichever iPad incarnation over the next few years.

Also price declines are unlikely to fall any further as firms are interestingly already working at “near-zero” margins.

According to IHS iSuppli analyst Steve Mather it will be necessary for e-reader makers to broaden horizons a little and be inventive with the content accessible.

This could mean adding magazines and news subscriptions to the likes of tablet paper The Daily, as well bored commuters favourite Sudoku, or even flogging royal wedding programmes adorned with Kate Middleton’s grinning mug like Apple are, would help uptake.