‘Hybrid’ readers juggle print copies and e-books

Are book publishers weathering digital disruption better than their peers in the music and television industries? In The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead [New York Times] Alexandra Alter reports that print and digital book sales may have reached equilibrium. Print versions may even be regaining market share.

TabletsMany consumers are now “hybrid readers,” Alter suggests, purchasing both print copies and digital versions. E-book sales (about 20 percent of the market) are sliding this year. Business is improving at independent bookstores like Boulder Book Store in Boulder, CO, and BookPeople, in Austin, TX, where sales are up nearly 11 percent this year. And major publishers like Penguin Random House and HarperCollins are investing in more efficient warehouses and distribution.

The clearest trend is the decline of dedicated e-book reading devices. These devices emerged about 2008 with Amazon’s Kindle, with Kobo and Barnes and Noble’s Nook arriving soon after. Sales of those devices peaked in 2011 and have fallen dramatically as consumers adopt multi-purpose devices like tablets and smartphones. According to a Nielsen survey, only 32 percent of readers use e-readers as their primary reading mode, down from 50 percent three years ago. Industry observer Mike Shatzkin sees the Nook in an “accelerating slide to oblivion.”

e-reader sales growth decline Shipments of e-book readers worldwide peaked in 2011.

Post-‘Serial’ podcast boom, in one chart

We hear plenty of anecdotal evidence about a boom in podcasting since the phenomenal success of Sarah Koenig’s “Serial” podcast, but concrete data is hard to come by in this fledgling industry. Hats off to Josh Morgan, a podcaster himself, for scraping together 10 years of iTunes data to visualize key trends for the first time. He identifies 60,000 podcasts currently active on iTunes; the largest categories are Christianity, Music and Comedy.

Here is the money shot confirming the ‘Serial’ boom — it plots new podcasts launched over time (‘Serial’ debuted in July 2014):
podcast launch chart 2007-2015

Morgan includes many more charts and insights in his article on Medium, “How Podcasts Have Changed in Ten Years: By the Numbers“.

(Thanks to Nick Quah for pointing out this article in his HotPod newsletter now at NiemanLab.)

Internet growth solid but slowing, Mary Meeker reports

The average Internet user spends 5.6 hours per day with digital media, says Mary Meeker in her 2015 Internet Trends update.
The Consumer sector has been completely reinvented by the internet, but Education, Healthcare and Government still have a long way to go.