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Publishers report boost from e-books

Print

The Telegraph, by Christopher Williams

Total spending across printed and digital formats rose 4pc to hit £3.3bn in 2012, according to the Publishers Association.

Printed books still account for the vast majority of sales and slid by just one per cent to £2.9bn.

Publishers were cheered, however, as continued growth in the digital market more than made up for the shortfall. Digital sales, including the hugely important market in e-textbooks and titles for e-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle range and a new wave of smaller and lighter tablets, led by Apple’s iPad mini, were up 66pc to £411m.

Sales of consumer e-books, the measure of the digital market for mainstream fiction and non-fiction, were up 134pc to £216m.

That was down from growth of 366pc in 2011 so the resilience of printed books offered comfort to publishers who feared they could be as badly battered by technology the record industry has been.

 “Panic and apocalyptic predictions were always the preserve of commentators rather than publishers,” said Richard Mollet, chief executive of the Publishers Association.

“What these figure show is that publishers are more about the opportunities of digital. There’s definitely an additive element to e-books as well as some substitution of printed book sales.”

“What publishers have been good at is making sure the books are available to consumers in as many places and formats as they demand. That’s something the music industry perhaps struggled with, although they had different threats.”

“There is an inevitable slowdown going on,” said Mr Mollet. “You expect that with any new technology but there is still very healthy growth.”

Benedict Evans, an industry analyst at Enders, said it is likely that e-books will account for a smaller portion of the publishing industry than digital music does of the record industry.

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