One Publisher’s E-Book Revenues Up 795% In 2011

Posted on January 19, 2012



Book publishers don’t often share much information about their digital revenues, but Naperville, Ill.-based independent publisher Sourcebooks reports some good news, including nearly 800 percent growth in e-book revenues in 2011.

The mid-sized Sourcebooks publishes over 300 books a year in a variety of categories, including nonfiction, historical fiction and romance, children’s and gift books. The publisher shared its 2011 results on its blog. Sourcebooks is a privately owned company and does not report its revenues, but says “decline of print book sales looks modest and increase in e-book sales looks incredibly strong.”

E-books now make up 28 percent of Sourcebooks’ revenues. That percentage is a bit higher than at big-six publishers like Random House and Hachette, which most recently reported that e-books make up around 20 percent of their revenues.

Sourcebooks’ e-book unit sales increased 138 percent the week between Christmas and New Year’s, compared to 2010.

The company also noted a shift in retailer market share for its e-books. For Sourcebooks titles, “Barnes & Noble’s Nook steadily gained share in the fourth quarter and posted amazing growth during December and the week of Christmas”—Sourcebooks sales on the Nook platform were up 437 percent over last year.

I’ve updated our Publishers’ Digital Revenues chart with the new data from Sourcebooks.

Here’s our chart comparing the most recent earnings from a variety of publishers. Not all publishers break out their digital revenues, but I hope more will start to do so.

Publisher (Parent Company) Date (Earnings Period) Book Publishing Revenues (Change*) Digital Revenues (Change*) Digital As %Age Of Total Book Sales Release
Sourcebooks 2011 N/A N/A but up 795% over 2010 28% release
John Wiley & Sons professional/trade books 12/8/2011 (Q2 2012) $112 million (-1%) $9 million (+145%) 8% release
Hachette Book Group (Lagardere) Q3 2011 Lagardere Publishing worldwide (U.S., UK, Australia, France, Spain): £601 million (-2.5% on like-for-like basis) Not broken out 21% (U.S.), 9% (UK)
Simon & Schuster (CBS) Q3 2011 $220 million (+1%) Not broken out (“more than doubled”) 17%
HarperCollins (News Corp.) Q3 2011 Not broken out Not broken out N/A. Print books sold in brick-and-mortar stores accounted for 71% of sales in the U.S., 77% worldwide
Penguin (Pearson) First 9 months of 2011 Not broken out; “level with 2010.” First 6 months of year: £457 million Not broken out. First 6 months of year: Up 128% In first 6 months of year, e-book sales represented 14% of sales worldwide
Harlequin (Torstar) Q3 2011 C$115.7 million (-1.5% due to foreign exchange rates) Increased by C$7.5 million 15.8% worldwide
Bloomsbury 6-month period ending 8/31/11 ?44.9 million (+16%) ?2.5 (+564%) 5.5% (U.S. and UK)
Scholastic children’s trade books Q1 2012 (ending 8/31/11) Children’s trade books: $59.6 million (+10%) Not broken out N/A
John Wiley & Sons professional/trade books Q1 2012 (ending 7/31/11) Professional/trade books: $100 million (+0.4%) $11 million (+175%) 11%
Hachette Book Group (Lagardere) First half of 2011 Lagardere Publishing worldwide (U.S., UK, Australia, France, Spain): ?900 million (-7.7%) Not broken out 20% (U.S.), 8% (UK); 5% of Lagardere Publishing revenues worldwide
Random House (Bertelsmann) First half of 2011 Random House worldwide: ?787 million (-0.5%) Not broken out, but “triple-digit percentage sales growth in e-books” Over 20% in the U.S.