Friends or Foes

There are significant disparities in international ebook growth rates between English and non-English speaking markets according to Ruediger Wishenbart, compiler of The 2015 Global E-book Report.

Growth in US and UK ebook markets has been strong for several years, with digital sales now making up 30% of trade book markets. This is similar to the trend in Australia. However, ebook growth in non-English countries is slow or non-existent. Ebooks make up less than 10% of the market in European countries.

The 2015 Global E-book Report notes that in Germany and The Netherlands ebooks have become a standard feature and make up 4.3% and 4.7% of trade sales respectively. In France, there is cultural resistence to the concept of ebooks which means the uptake in the market is a miserly 1%.

It is interesting that Wishenbart considers 4% noteworthy. I would consider all of those numbers poor, not standard. Having worked for a small publishing company, I know how much time and effort goes into setting up an ebook list. If you’ve been involved, you’ll know all about exacting metadata standards and all the other technological expertise you have to take on board to get an ebook off the ground, let alone successfully marketed. If the return is 4.7%, I’d be inclined to focus on increasing print book sales instead.

The report concludes that ebook growth is flattening out across all markets and dismissed early growth projections around ebooks ‘to be more of a fancy of marketeers than a reality.’ It seems that the ‘old fashioned’ technology of ink and paper is destined to make it into at least the 25th century!


Initially reported in The Bookseller (UK) and Books+Publishing online (Australia).

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  1. eBooks find their niche with English language readers | It's All Write

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