E-book sales are rising, but the 36 per cent growth forecast for the year is down to expansion in the tablet market specifically, according to new figures from Futuresource.
William Pratt, research analyst at Futuresource, said the e-book market is growing strongly off the back of a large installed base of reading devices.
"Tablets continue their rapid spread, but the market for dedicated e-reader devices falls short of expectations," Pratt said. "The fates of these two device markets are now diverging, as tablets become the reading device of choice."
For the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy, tablet sales growth in the 2012-2013 year is expected to reach 58 per cent, with e-reader sales expanding only seven per cent in the five markets over the same period, he said.
E-book availability is exploding as well, Pratt said. The continued growth of multipurpose tablets represents a huge opportunity for e-book publishers, which will increasingly look to add richer content such as embedded media, interactivity or narration.
This may help books appeal to what Pratt described as "a less committed" reading market as well as facilitate a two-tier pricing strategy.
"For 2013, the e-book sales share in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy sat at 13 per cent of the total book market. Moving towards 2017 the expectation is that the share of market volume will rise to 33 per cent," he said. "However, over the forecast period, Futuresource expects to see a continued decline of the overall market, which is largely due to the declining reading rates and competition from other media."
With e-readers, there was little incentive for consumers to upgrade as the key features – readability and battery life – have not improved, Pratt added.
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