During the past 18 months we’ve seen a dramatic shift in customer preference from print to digital when looking at sales from oreilly.com, which is a substantial sales channel for us. And looking across all of our sales channels for individual ebooks — including mobile apps — 2009 ebook revenue was up a staggering 104% on 2008 (which was more than 50% above 2007):
Overall, printed books are still the biggest sellers for us (though Safari Books Online is our second-largest individual sales channel), but with the market for printed computer books declining at a double-digit rate, digital sales will overtake print much sooner than most people realize.
It’s becoming clear that as in the print world, there are a handful of very large channels (four or so for us) and then a lot of smaller ones that together add up to quite a bit. Pushing a large quantity of content into all of these channels effectively isn’t easy, and suggests the role publishers have long played of aggregating authors for retailers and retailers for authors will only grow in importance — though whether existing publishes continue to play that role remains to be seen.