Sales & Pricing

Examples and information about what libraries can expect for the pricing of Digital Content and Ebooks.

icon indicating Digital Content page

Total Sales

  1. E-Book Market report (2013) - The Global eBook report documents and analyzes how ebook markets emerge in the US, UK, continental Europe, Brazil, China, India, Russia and the Arab world.

  2. John Soares - "2010 Book and Ebook Sales Data for the United States," - Productive Writers (2/16/2011) Provides 2010 sales figures for books and ebooks from the AAP.

  3. Industry Statistics 2010 Info graphic detailing e-book sales

Sales to Libraries

  1. School Library Ebook Business Models: Creating partnerships that work. (June 2014) While facing some of the same pressures as public libraries, school libraries have a different set of issues, deal with different ebook sellers - and may have stronger market power to influence models than public libraries.

  2. Brace Yourself: SLJ’s school library spending survey shows the hard times aren’t over, and better advocacy is needed (3/1/2012) About two-thirds of LMCs don’t have any circulating ebooks—ranging from four-fifths of elementary schools to about half of high schools. The difference between the mean (average) and median (the half-way point) was startling: an average 1,277 ebooks, with 1,281 for elementary schools, 763 for middle schools, 1,741 for high schools, with a median of just 50 items. Nevertheless, overall spending for ebooks rose an average of 8% over the previous year, with the greatest gains (around 14%) in high school libraries and in the Northwest and Midwest. Report is released annually and older versions are available online.
Back to top

Sales by Format

  1. GigaOM: U.S. publishers’ revenue from ebooks roughly flat in 2013, but unit sales rose (June 2014) A new report by BookStats finds that trade (consumer) ebook revenue in the U.S. was roughly flat between 2012 and 2013, even as the number of ebooks sold rose by 10.1 percent to an estimated 512.70 million.

  2. Publishers Weekly: E-book Sales Growth Slows in 2013 (9/2013) New data from Bowker Market Research provides more evidence of the slowdown in the growth of e-book sales in 2013, although the format still managed to capture more market share. For the first half of the year, e-book sales accounted for 14% of consumer spending on books, compared to 13% in the first six months of 2012. E-books’ share of spending rose by four percentage points in 2012, compared to the previous year. The format did increase its share of unit sales by a more significant rate, accounting for 30% in the first six months of 2013, up from 27% of unit sales during the same period in 2012.
  3. Publishers Weekly:  January E-book Sales Soar, Top Hardcover, Mass Market Paperback  (3/17/2011) E-book sales from 16 reporting companies jumped 115.8%, to $69.9 million in January, 2011. No other trade segment posted a sales increase in the month. Mass market paperback sales were down 30.9% from the nine reporting companies, falling to $39.0 million, $30 million below the sales of e-books. E-book sales also topped the $49.1 million in adult hardcover sales reported by 17 publishers; hardcover sales fell 11.3%. Trade paperback sales fell 19.7% in the month but remained above e-book revenue at $83.6 million from 19 houses. Downloadable audio sales increased 8.8% to $6.5 million at 14 publishers, while physical audiobook sales dropped 6.7% to $7.3 million from 20 publishers. Religion was the only print segment to post an increase in January with sales up 6.8%.

  4. CNet News – “B &N: Nook Has 25 Per Cent of U.S. E-Book Market”  (2/23/2011) William Lynch, Barnes & Noble's CEO. "We now represent 25 percent of the e-book market in the U.S., larger than our share in physical books. We sell twice as many e-books as all formats of physical books combined on"

  5. Richard Curtis - "When is E-Royalty Not a Royalty? When 9th Circuit Court says it isn't," - e-reads (10/2010) The United States Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal of a lower court’s ruling that digital music royalties should be treated as a license.  Given the similarities between music and book contracts, the implications for authors are significant.

  6. Association of American Publishers Industry Statistics 2009 Book sales were $23.9 billion in 2009. Audio book sales for 2009 totaled $192 million, down 12.9% on the prior year.  E-books overtook audiobooks in 2009 with sales reaching $313 million in 2009, up 176.6%. Much more detail in this report.

  Back to top

Publisher Pricing

  1. "Why Steve Jobs Doesn't Want you to Read," - The Daily Caller (4/09/2011) This article explores how Steve Jobs was able to negotiate for higher-priced eBooks in Apple's iBookstore and why publishers believe the higher prices will save their industry.  The author compares Apple's decision to the Amazon model - which keeps most eBooks under $9.99 and explains how Amazon's model may be a more sustainable one for the publishing industry.

  2. Eric Landes - "Ebook Pricing Problems," - The Digital Reader (3/30/2011)This article discusses how publishing industry profits have fallen overall, even though ebook sales are on the rise.  The author discusses both paper and ebook pricing models and offers his opinions on why the publishing industry is making a mistake in trying to use the same sales model for ebooks that they have traditionally used for paper.

  3. Nathan Bransford (literary agent) - “Why Some E-Books Cost More Than the Hardcover” (3/10/2011) Here is a thousand word explanation of how the current publishing model works, and how prices are set, the wholesale model (which is what libraries are used to), the agency model, and how they affect pricing.

  4. Library Thing Thingology – “The Downward Spiral of Ownership and Value” (1/24/2011) E-books are part of a downward spiral as readers get used to the idea that they don’t own their books, but merely license them. The loss of ownership creates a downward spiral in value, and erodes the very notion of paying for books at all.

  5. School  Library Journal’s Average Book Prices 2010 Average 2010 prices: Children’s Hardcovers - $22.46 YA Hardcovers - $23.98 Adult Trade Hardcovers - $28.05 for fiction, $26.13 for nonfiction The chart includes price information for trade and mass market paperbacks, as well as 2009 prices and estimated 2011 prices.

Back to top


  1. Bowker Reports that Self-Publishing Continues to Experience “Strong Growth” In U.S. - Infodocket (10/ 2013)  "Ebooks continue to gain on print, comprising 40 percent of the ISBNs that were self-published in 2012, up from just 11 percent in 2007."
  2. "Eisler's Decision Is a Key Benchmark on the Road to Wherever It Is We're Going" -Mike Shatzkin - (3/21/2011) A well known publishing consultant believes that Barry Eisler’s recent decision to turn down a $500,000 offer from a traditional publisher in order to self-publish his newest book is a turning point. “This one won’t cause a tsunami and a nuclear meltdown, but you better believe it will lead everybody living near a reactor — everybody working in a major publishing house — to do a whole new round of risk-assessment. Because, in its way, this is more threatening than the earthquake that just hit Japan. This self-publishing author will much more assuredly and directly spawn followers. As news of Eisler’s decision spreads, phones will be ringing in literary agencies all over town with authors asking agents, ‘shouldn’t I be doing this?’”

  3. A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing – Ebooks and Self-Publishing - A Dialog Between Authors Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath” (3/19/2011) Bestselling author Barry Eisler decides to self-publish rather than accept a $500,000 contract with his traditional publisher. Konrath and Eisler discuss the self-publishing phenomenon.

  4. Huffington Post – “Meet Mega Bestseller Indie Heroine Amanda Hocking” (1/5/11) For those who say that Joe Konrath was successful because he was published originally by a traditional publisher, and thus was a known quantity, meet Amanda Hocking, a 26-year-old writer who tried for years to break into publishing, only to finally give up and self-publish. In 8 months she sold 185,000 copies of her books.

  5. Los Angeles Times – “Book Publishers See Their Role as Gatekeepers Shrink” (12/26/2010) Joe Konrath, the author of several books in his Jack Daniels series, finds that he makes far more money self-publishing. His blog, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, is causing quite a stir in the industry as he follows the money in detail and tests differing price models.

  6. Publishers Weekly – “Self-Published Titles Topped 764,000 in 2009 as Traditional Output Dipped” (4/14/2010) Based on figures from Bowker, this article says that in 2009 there were 764,448 self-published titles, and 288,355 titles from traditional publishers.

Back to top