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The Global eBook Market: Current Conditions & Future Projections by Ruediger Wischenbart

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Chapter 6. A Comparative Analysis of eBook Bestsellers in Europe

Overview

At the end of 2012, with ebooks becoming a normal part of the larger European book markets, a number of obvious questions are emerging. Questions that have to be answered in order to identify and asses the driving forces and consumer habits behind the evolution of the book markets and to compare patterns of print and digital. This is ever more true as Christmas is by far the strongest season for books and reading devices. Both ereaders and tablets have gained popularity everywhere at a fast pace in the second half of 2012, resulting in the expected increase in book downloads.

A few spectacular blockbuster titles, notably the erotic trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, received such widespread media coverage that they must have also been downloaded in great numbers. By January 2013, the New York Times knew of 40,000 digital units sold in France alone—a number that must be compared to 900,000 printed volumes (New York Times, January 16, 2013). This would give ebooks a share of 4.4 percent over print sales, which is clearly higher than the estimated 1 or 1.5 percent of market share that ebooks are thought to have in the overall book market in France. But the comparison also hints at the fact that, so far, ebooks are almost all fiction—and in some significant cases self-help and how-to books—with the strongest bestsellers getting the lion’s share of it.

The French translation of Shades costs a substantial ...

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