A new study from the OECD shows that books are undergoing a massive transformation from being a physical object to something electronic, or an “eBook”. And while eBook sales still make up only a small proportion of book sales (1 percent in most OECD countries, 2-3 percent in the United Kingdom and 8 percent in the United States), consumers spent an estimated USD 966 million on them in 2010. By 2015, the industry is anticipated to nearly triple to almost USD 3 billion. Just as notable is the recent dramatic rate of growth in OECD markets for eBooks; for example, on 19 May 2011, Amazon announced that its sales of eBooks had overtaken sales of all forms of print books combined.
Ongoing policy issues related to eBooks include differing tax rates in countries between physical books and eBooks, consumer lock-in to specific platforms, limitations on how users can read and share their purchased content, laws prohibiting discounting of eBooks, and a lack of transparency about how personal data on reading habits is being used.
This report is part of an OECD series on digital content. Other studies include online news, public sector information, film and video, user-created content, mobile content, online computer games, music, and scientific publishing.
(ACCESS 83, December 2012)