Monday, November 3, 2008

eBook Stats - Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

I don't know about you, but these days I am looking for any good news I can find!  Last week I found some:  the IDPF (International Digital Publishing Foundation) says that eBook sales for August of this year are up 83% over August of last year.  And year to date, sales have grown 53%.

I am so impressed that I have actually printed the latest IDPF graph and posted it on my bulletin board:

idpf graph

The idea that anything is growing in this economy is novel enough.  But the idea of publishing as a growth industry makes me laugh out loud.  This is my own personal version of change I want to believe in.

Remember, the IDPF numbers are very conservative and quite limited in scope.  Their website notes these caveats:

  • The data represent United States revenues only
  • The data represent only trade eBook sales via wholesale channels
  •   Retail numbers may be as much as double due to industry wholesale discounts.
  • The data represent only data submitted from approx. 12 to 15 trade publishers
  • The data does not include library, educational or professional electronic sales
  • The numbers reflect the wholesale revenues of publishers
  • The definition used for reporting electronic book sales is "All books delivered electronically over the Internet OR to hand-held reading devices"

Presumably the Amazon Kindle numbers are buried in these statistics.  Add to that the factiods that the biggest retail distributor of books, other than Amazon is Ingram Digital (ID). Last month ID reported that they "enjoyed record third quarter growth with downloads more than double the same quarter last year".

Maybe a statistician could figure out the impact of Kindle on these numbers.  I can't.  All I know is that after years of believing that eBooks would eventually catch on; it looks like it is finally happening.  And that, folks, is economic news that makes me happy!

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