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Recent data from 1189 publishers shows that ebook sales have overtaken hardcover book sales and will overtake paperback books soon.
In comparing the same sales period for 2011 vs. 2012, hardcover sales increased by 2.7% while ebook sales increased by 28.1%. It’s difficult for the supply of quality ebook offerings to keep up with this kind of growth rate, so ebook sellers are likely to see stronger than normal demand for their existing ebooks for quite a while.
Paperback books are still #1 in terms of sales, but this lead isn’t expected to last much longer.
One category in particular that’s been skyrocketing (both for ebook and hardcover sales) is young adult and children’s books. This genre has been seeing triple digit growth rates.
As I mentioned in a previous post about passive income systems, the data clearly points to some major opportunities for selling ebooks.
What’s driving this rapid growth in ebook sales? Tablet computers and ebook reading devices like the iPad and Kindle.
Tablet Computers Driving Ebook Sales
Let’s take a quick look at the projections for tablet sales.
Deutsche Bank projects that 97 million tablet computers will ship in 2012, increasing to 124 million in 2013. That would be a 28% increase year over year. This isn’t for the same year as the ebook sales, but does this number look familiar?
iPad sales alone are expected to pass 60 million units in 2012, increasing to 74 million in 2014.
Even Microsoft has broken with its previous business model, bypassing its hardware partners to create its own tablet hardware, called Microsoft Surface. The tablet space is clearly heating up with competition. Billions of dollars worth of tablet computers are being sold every month now.
Most of these tablet devices are geared for consuming content rather than for creating content. This is creating a big surge in demand for apps, games, and of course ebooks.
A Golden Opportunity for Ebook Authors
These numbers suggest some major opportunities for ebook authors. It’s really not that difficult to create and sell an ebook these days, even if you’ve never written one before. A good place to start is Vic Johnson’s program that teaches you how to create and sell ebooks; his intro video also shares more data about why this is an unusually good time to sell ebooks. Vic even shares contact info for the vendors he uses, so you can get help formatting your ebook, creating a nice cover for it, and so on.
I spoke to Vic again last week, and he noted that it’s very doable to create decent passive income streams just by focusing on the three major players (Amazon, Apple/iBooks, and Barnes&Noble/Nook). It’s great if you have a website to sell your ebooks too, but these days that isn’t necessary. My book Personal Development for Smart People was published by Hay House in 2008, and it has ebook versions for the Kindle, iBooks, etc.
This is a juicy opportunity that isn’t going to last forever. With the rapid growth of ebook and tablet computer sales, this is a great time to get into ebooks. It’s possible to see increasing sales for a while just from watching the market expand. This reminds me of the opportunity I saw in 2004 when I started blogging; many bloggers were able to see significant traffic increases from the general expansion of the blogosphere.
As a final piece of advice, try not to get so worked about about whether or not your first income stream is a home run vs. a flop. Passive income is a skill to develop for the long run. The only way to really know how well a given idea works is to test it. You can do some market research to put the odds in your favor, but it also helps if you can go into this with a beginner’s mind and stay open to all possible outcomes without succumbing to feelings of neediness and desperation. I found it especially helpful to adopt this attitude when I was just starting out.