Digital book sales surge in week after Christmas, with e-book editions preferred over printed books for 42 of the top 50 titles on USA Today's best-sellers list; post-holiday boost linked to popularity of digital readers as gifts

LOS ANGELES , January 13, 2012 () –

In the week of Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, book buyers chose e-books over the printed format for 42 of the top 50 titles on USA Today’s Best-Selling Books list, reported USA Today on Jan. 9.

The post-holiday increase in digital book sales was attributed to the popularity of giving digital readers as gifts over Christmas.

However, the number of USA’s top-selling 50 titles in which e-books outsold printed copies fell to three the week before Christmas from 12 in early November, USA Today reported.

E-book sales will likely increase in “short burst and slow trickles” over the remainder of 2012, said Michael Norris, an analyst with market research company Simba Information.

One in five U.S. adults is reading e-books on various devices, Norris estimates, reported USA Today.

Since mid-November, Inc. sold 5 million if its Kindle Fire tablets, while Barnes & Noble Inc. has sold about 2 million of its Nook Tablets, Forrester Research Inc. estimates. By comparison Apple Inc.’s iPad sold about 40 million units in 2011.

The previous high in e-books sales based on USA Today’s best-sellers list was in July 2011, when 25 of the top 50 titles were purchased in digital format.

While printed books still account for about 80% of the market, sales of digital books have doubled to 20% in 2011. Last year, printed copy sales fell about 9%, reported USA Today.

Amazon’s print and digital book sales are both up, but “digital is growing significantly faster,” said Russs Grandinetti, a VP at the Seattle, Washington-based online retailer.

Barnes & Noble aims to push digital products at its Nook Boutiques, located in the bookseller’s 703 stores, which is down from 717 a year ago.

Barnes & Nobles reported a 4% increase in sales of printed books during the holidays, the first upturn in five years, said James Iannone, president of digital products, USA Today reported.

Publishers are testing multiple formats.

Reagan Arthur Books, a division of Little, Brown and Co., will release the latest novel by George Pelecanos in three formats on Jan. 23 to attract new readers and see the effects of low-priced e-books.

The e-book will be priced at US$0.99; the paperback, at $9.99; and the limited-edition hardcover, at $35. The e-book price will increase to $4.99 after a month, USA Today reported.

The primary source of this article is USA Today, McLean, Virginia, on Jan. 9, 2012.


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