Digital book sales increase by 54pc in 2011

Digital book sales have risen by 54% in the past year and are now worth £243 million according to the Publishing Association.Figures released by the Publishers’ Association (PA) showed the market for ebooks, downloads and online subscriptions had more than trebled since 2007, when it was worth £74 million.

Digital content now accounts for 8% of the total value of book sales in 2011 – it made up 5% in 2010.

However, total book sales fell by 2%, with the market worth £3.2 billion.

Physical book sales dropped 5% to £3 billion, according to the PA Statistical Yearbook.

“The story of the year is a decline in physical sales almost being compensated for by a strong performance in digital,” said chief executive Richard Mollett.

“That said, physical books remain the format of choice for the vast majority of British readers, underlining the continued importance of the high street sector,” he added.

However, the report noted, the number of high street book stores had almost halved in the last six years – with roughly 2,000 shops closing since 2006.

The yearbook also noted that sales of children’s books had fallen by 19% since 2007, when the final Harry Potter novel was published.

Whilst the growth of digital books are increasing rapidly- boosted by all sorts of innovations like iPads, Kindles and Nooks they still have a way to go before they will dominate the book market.

Having said that if the rate of growth continues- both online and offline, it will only take three to five years before digital book sales constitute a very significant segment of the total market.