From Digital Book World blog opinions:
Everything being said about the state of publishing is (relatively) true—but not everything that is true is being said, as there are data points and trends being left out of the broad discussion. I’d agree that ebook growth has slowed down for many of the major houses, and that it now accounts for 20-25 percent of their revenues.
. . . .
If we are painting the landscape with a broad brush, there are some significant shifts that have gotten mysteriously little attention. A few worth noting include:
• The U.K’s biggest publisher, Penguin Random House, is closing its largest distribution center and is citing the reason as “an increase in the people reading ebooks.” In the last sentence of the article, it states that print sales were down 5 percent while ebook sales were up 11 percent.
• According to the New York Times, Ron Boire, the new CEO of Barnes & Noble, is leading a push to rebrand the company as a “lifestyle brand,” which includes removing more print books and expanding its offerings in games, toys and other gadgets. Sales are down 4.5 percent for the same quarter year-over-year, and the Barnes & Noble stock is down 20 percent. The company plans to close an additional 10 stores next year.
• Wal-Mart has announced that it is committing $2 billion to expanding its digital footprint in 2016. The company is exploring new digital channels and opportunities in an effort to innovate at a speed similar to Amazon’s. This will most certainly affect all forms of media, including physical books and ebooks.
• In 2015, readers borrowed more than 169 million ebooks from libraries, a 24-percent increase over 2014. This is a record number and a significant increase.
Link to the rest at Digital Book World blog opinions and thanks to Jan for the tip.
There’s also the Costco index at PG’s Costco store. The amount of floor space devoted to selling books is about 20% of what it was 2-3 years ago. Sometimes it’s even smaller. Author book signings were formerly a regular Saturday feature at PG’s Costco. He hasn’t seen one of those in a year or more.
Has anyone seen a large national retailer increase the amount of floor space devoted to printed books in the last couple of years? Barnes & Noble certainly has not. BN’s bookselling floor space has been decreasing at startling rate.
Retailers vote on the success or failure of products with floor space. That’s why the checkout line at the last BN PG entered was lined with geegaws and gimcracks, not books.
Big Publishing and bookstore owners are quite public about their deep emotional commitment to the idea that ebook sales have leveled off and won’t seize more market share from print.
PG calls it an emotional commitment because it’s not really a rational response to the realities of the growing ebook market and declining print market. It’s not PG’s job to solve tradpub and bookstores’ problems, but he suggests denying reality is not a good strategy.