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Ebooks, young readers stimulate publishing industry growth

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The Association of American Publishers' latest sale figures show significant growth of ebook sales, led by a huge increase in uptake by younger readers.

Harry Potter ebooks
Harry Potter ebooks

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) released its January sales figures this week, revealing a 27.1 percent rise in revenue over the same period last year, led by a huge 73.2 percent increase in ebook sales. The gains weren't at the expense of traditional mediums, however — hardcover and paperback revenue both saw overall growth as well, but not on the same scale.

As well as reporting total trade figures, the monthly report breaks down hardcover, paperback, and ebook sales for three key demographics: adult, child / young adult, and religious. It's in these subsections that we see figures more in line with what we'd expect. There's an overarching trend away from paperbacks, with marketshare down significantly, and the growing popularity of ebooks likely to blame. The industry tactic of holding some titles back from ebook stores for the initial hardcover run seems to be working, however, as sales are up in this sector across all three categories.

Perhaps the most encouraging trend is to be found in the child / young adult statistics. Ebooks saw an incredible 475 percent increase in this demographic, up from just $3.9 million to $22.6 million, in the space of 12 months. The AAP speculates that the increase in ebook sales may be down to "more options for devices aimed at those demographics as well as a number of popular new releases." Overall revenue was up by 80.5 percent, with child / young adult titles now accounting for 25 percent of the entire publishing industry. While the dramatic increase may be due to the inexplicable popularity of titles like Twilight among non-young adult readers, we're hoping it indicates that devices like the Kindle and iPad are inspiring the halflings to read more often.