The Continued Rise of E-Books
The past year has seen an explosion in the availability of E-Books (a book-length publication in digital form, readable on electronic devices such as Smartphones, Tablets and Computers) across Western Europe, with 36% growth in E-Book sales forecast across the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy, according to a new report from Futuresource Consulting.
In all the markets covered E-Books sales are growing rapidly and becoming a widely accepted medium.
"The E-Book market is growing strongly, driven by a large installed base of digital reading devices. Tablets continue their rapid spread, while the market for dedicated E-Reader devices falls short of expectations," says William Pratt, Research Analyst at Futuresource Consulting. "The fates of these two device markets are now diverging, as tablets become the reading device of choice. From 2012 into 2013 across the five markets covered we anticipate 58% growth in tablet sales, 7% growth in E-Reader sales and 36% growth in E-Book sales."
The continued growth of multipurpose tablets presents a huge opportunity for E-Book Publishers, who will increasingly look to add richer content to books to appeal to a less committed reading market. This also presents a market segmentation opportunity for publishers to offer a two-tier price strategy.
It's also noted that, even though E-Books are continuing to rise because of the increase of tablet devices. Extra competition from the additional content tablets can allow consumers to access, can make it difficult for E-Books to get into the hands of tablet owners.
"For 2013, the E-Book sales share in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy sat at 13% of the total book market. Moving towards 2017 the expectation is that the share of market volume will rise to 33%. 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."
E-Readers on the Wane
The UK is witnessing a decline in E-Reader hardware sales, though the less mature markets in continental Europe do not show the same decline. In particular, Futuresource forecasts show that Germany will have grown by 19% by the year-end 2013, driven by wider consumer acceptance and new service launches.
"The traditional physical book market continues to decline and is expected to continue to do so over the forecast period as a result of weak economy and competition from other forms of media," says Pratt.
However, Futuresource believes that the traditional e-paper E-Reader has some advantages over a multipurpose tablet and will see sales volumes stabilise across the forecast period. In contrast to large E-Reader sales declines around the world, the markets covered here together in the report show 7% combined growth.
"There is a lack of incentive for consumers to upgrade their devices as the key features of improved readability and battery life have remained the same, and no new features have come in to drive the market. The introduction of the Kindle Fire, followed by a rapid growth of smaller 7" tablets has had a dramatically negative impact on E-Reader sales."
Increased promotion of the Kindle in continental European, coupled with low hardware prices is making it difficult for brands that rely solely on hardware margins to compete. In the longer term, tablets will continue to dominate as the mass market proposition; however E-Readers will remain popular with a core group of heavy readers who will continue to use and replace their devices.
The Futuresource E-Book and E-Reader Market Report provides forecasts out to 2017 for the following European countries: UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy.
About Futuresource Consulting
Futuresource Consulting (futuresource-consulting.com) is a specialist research and knowledge-based consulting company, providing organisations with insight into consumer electronics, digital imaging, entertainment media, broadcast, storage media, education technology and IT. With a heritage stretching back to the 1980s, the company delivers in-depth analysis and forecasts on a global scale, advising on strategic positioning, market trends, competitive forces and technological developments.
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