Is it a surprise that Publishers are claiming strong iBooks sales?

After Apple announced that 1.5 million ebooks had been sold in the first month on 1 million iPads you’d think it wasn’t a very significant sales channel for ebooks.

However, Publishers beg to differ.  

Publishers claim iPad is the #2 ebook seller and then sales double, triple

Notice the interesting and impossible details revealed (when you piece them together in a logical way).

First, we get –  

For most companies surveyed iBooks sales comprised 12 to 15% of all ebook sales before the new models landed, quickly equaling or surpassing Sony as their number two ebookseller. 

Alright - It seems Publishers are saying that even before the release of the iPad 3G iBooks accounted for 15% of ebook sales.

Really? One App (not even the best one) on a device that does so much more than just read is selling more ebooks than Sony Reader Store?

Next, we get -

One publisher saw a three-fold increase over last weekend alone; another said sales were up more than 400% in that period.

At another company, sales for the week ending last Sunday, iBooks sales of their top titles nearly doubled.

So iBooks went from 15% to 2, 3 or 4 times (30% to 60%) in sales.

All this when we have had just 1.5 million iBooks book downloads and some of those must have been public domain free titles.

It doesn’t make any sense – or does it

Let’s be generous and say that 1 million out of the 1.5 million iBooks downloads were paid books.

That means those 1 million books downloaded accounted for 20% or more of all ebook sales in that month.

Quite frankly that’s ludicrous. Except you start thinking -

  1. Penguin doesn’t have its new titles at Amazon any more. 
  2. Lots of the new titles from Agency Model Publishers are at $14.99 and probably not selling well. 
  3. Random House aren’t selling on iBooks.
  4. Only 30,000 titles are available so perhaps users are buying more of the obvious choices.
  5. Perhaps it’s the initial rush.

It still doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Either the boycott of Agency Model Publishers is working very well or Publishers are straight out lying.

It would be nice to know how sales last month compare with sales in December 2009 and with sales before the Agency Model came into play.

Got to love how the data was collected -

Publishers Marketplace spoke to a number of US publishers on condition of anonymity with “responses from multiple houses”

Let’s be as vague as possible so we can deflect all questions and deny any responsibility later.

3 Responses

  1. Hey, this is totally off-topic, but after being a Kindle owner for some time, I have to say one of the least appealing aspects of Amazon’s book store is the over-abundance of public domain books that are being sold by people who just duplicate free versions already found on the internet.

    It’s gotten to the point where you have to wade through pages and pages of duplicate material, with slapped together digital book covers to differentiate between them, whenever you’re doing a search on Plato, or Dickens, or Shakespeare, or whoever.

    I suppose there are people out there who suppose they can make a tidy income collecting nickles and dimes from selling public domain books ripped off of Project Gutenberg. Honestly, I doubt they make more than a few dollars for all their effort.

  2. I agree – the math does not work here. That being said, Apple really needs good content to sell iPads and other iStuff. I think they have succeeded in this.

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