June 26, 2014 Last Updated 2:52 pm

Are eBook sales really flat? New report says so, but tracking sales is becoming harder

New BookStats report does not include book sales from those being published without ISBN numbers

The latest BookStats report from the the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group reported that U.S. the book and journal publishing industry generated $27.01 billion in net revenue last year, of which eBook sales were around $3 billion in volume, virtually unchanged from the year before.

The report will add fuel to other reports that have said that eBook sales are flattening – or at least have slowed their growth.

KindleFire-eBooksBut the report does not track book sales without ISBN numbers. In past, Apple has required ISBN numbers for all books, a requirement it has dropped. As a result, more and more eBooks are being published without ISBN numbers, making it harder to track sales.

These reports remind one of those magazine start-up reports that have shown a decline in total new titles, while completely ignoring digital-only magazines that have launched in the hundreds each year. It appears that more and more of the market lies outside traditional channels and are harder to track.

One factor mentioned in the new report, that may be depressing eBook sales, is the move from dedicated eReaders to tablets. The inference is that tablet owners are less likely to buy eBooks for their tablets than an owner of an eReader. But even this seems like an odd claim to make since any owner of an eReader would be, surely, an avid book reader, something that shouldn’t change a great deal if they upgraded their device to one capable of more than just reading books… but maybe it does, we need a study on this, don’t we?

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