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Digital reading still in infancy

16 апреля 2010

Sales of e-books and other digital products rose 20 per cent in the UK in 2009, but publishers said they still contributed less than 5 per cent of industry sales, suggesting the digital reading revolution remains in its infancy.

According to the Publishers Association, UK sales of digital products such as e-books, audio books and downloads rose to about £150m in 2009, compared with £75m-£80m in 2008.

In spite of the growth, that represented just 4.9 per cent of the total £3.1bn of sales reported by UK publishers in 2009.

“Digital sales showed strong growth year-on-year, albeit from a small base,” said Simon Juden, chief executive of the association.

“At the moment, digital revenues form quite a small part of the overall market.”

The vast majority – £130m – of digital sales were in the academic or professional sectors, which analysts said reflected the appeal of e-readers to niche groups such as lawyers or academics, who can benefit from the ability to carry numerous reference books inside one device.

Consumer titles, including novels, non-fiction and children’s books, contributed only about £5m of digital sales.

Benedict Evans, at Enders Analysis, said that consumer demand was likely to have been hampered by the limited options available in the UK until the latter part of the year.

“In 2009, for most of the year, there were only very limited e-book devices on offer,” he said. “Amazon launched the Kindle – the first product with a really large array of books and a 3G chip in it – towards the end of the year and it wasn’t even really a UK launch. [This year], 2010, is when all the interesting stuff is coming on to the market.”

Publishers are hoping that the launch of new products such as the iPad could catalyse a surge of consumer interest in e-books.

“I think the launch of new devices like the iPad will accelerate the growth,” said Mr Juden.

“The e-readers we’ve had to date are important, but platforms like the iPad provide a degree of interactivity ... It takes the user experience to another level and it affords publishers the ability to reach audiences in different ways.”

Источник: Financial Times

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