Full year 2011 sales mark the critical mass for the sales shift away from fiction print editions to the E-book format.
“Net sales of e-books jumped to 15 percent of the market in 2011 from 6 percent in 2010, according to a report by the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group. The groups compiled data provided by nearly 2,000 publishers. Total overall U.S. book market sales declined 2.5 percent to $27.2 billion in 2011 from $27.9 billion in 2010, the report said. While ebooks increased in strength, bringing in more than $2 billion in 2011, the majority of publishers’ revenue still came from print books, with $11.1 billion in 2011.”
While only holding 15% of the total book market, the market share growth of E-books is quite breathtaking. In a year that saw overall book sales fall by 2.5% over the previous year, E-books market share more than doubled. This raises some critical questions for all libraries in response to this dramatic shift:
- Did your library shift enough in by doubling your E-book holdings and decreasing your print purchases? Or are you falling behind the customer demand curve?
- What will be your strategy to monitor the effective weeding of print materials as the usage continues to swing to digital formats?
- What will be your shelving and floor space strategy as your print holdings decrease in size? What will you do to effectively use this new found extra space?
- Did your library spend the last few years with a renovation/expansion project on hold due to the troubled economy? Are those old plans even valid anymore?
- Are your library’s customer demand patterns for E-books the same demand patterns as they were for print hardcovers. Did you know one of the hottest demand E-book category is the “romance” genre? Do you know that an increasing number of elementary grade students have their own E-book device?
- How are you delivering, informing and marketing this collection shift for your customers?
- Are you making Kindles, Nooks and other E-book readers available to your customers. Are you offering training and support to your customers who already have their own devices?
- How does your customer access your E-book collection? Is it easy, intuitive and customer friendly?
- Does your E-book website portal allow for and promote the: tagging, rating and reviewing that happens in the online retail world? Compare your site to Amazon and see the difference.
- How will you handle the likely customer complaints as your non E-book customers come to recognize the smaller collection size of print?
- Are you and your staff trained and ready to positively handle these challenges? Are you ready to promote and support these changes? This is real and unstoppable.
I believe this is the beginning of a tremendously positive opportunity to reinvent your library to make it even more relevant, useful and an even more important component of your community’s quality of life. This is a new opportunity to reach out to and connect with both new and existing users of your library who may choose to access and use your services in a new 24/7, 100% digital way. Lets face it, most of us have changed our retail shopping behavior because of great internet retailers. Our expectations about what shopping is have changed. Libraries need to rapidly adjust to these changes. What happens to your funding if you don’t keep up with this change?
Are you up to the challenge?