My personal technology correspondent tells me (and all of Twitter) that in the UK, books are flourishing:
Good news from UK publishers – total sales in 2012 up 4% to £3.3bn , digital up 66%, with physical book sales down just 1%
As we have a fixed time budget, e-books must be causing people to substitute away from some leisure activities, but it evidently isn’t away from p-books. As TV viewing isn’t declining either, and there are large crowds at every live event, from concerts to dance to pointy-headed public lectures, I’m at a bit of a loss as to what people are not doing so much of.
The genre break-down of the publishing figures is interesting too:
More on those positive publishing figs – 26% of fiction revenues now digital, but just 5% non-fiction and 3% children’s books
This must be partly the way books are used – propping a cookbook by the stove, reading to a child cuddled up on your lap – but also surely reflects the fact that much fiction is escapist relief and people know they won’t want to keep the book afterwards? It points to a different kind of pricing point for fiction e-books or even a pure rental model.
Overall, the sums for UK publishers were encouraging for the industry:
.@SheilaB01 66% rise from a small base to £411m + 1% fall from high base to £2.9bn = overall 4% rise to £3.3 bn
Roughly flat revenues in real terms in the context of declining real-terms disposable incomes is pretty good. More support for my hypothesis that the digital revolution is fundamentally good news for purveyors of words, and is encouraging tremendous consumer-serving innovation in publishing.