What will the global e-book market look like by 2016?

New data from Pricewaterhouse Coopers’ Global Entertainment and Media Outlook projects that e-books will make up 50 percent of the U.S. trade book market by 2016. What will happen in the rest of the world during that time? PwC gave paidContent an exclusive look at their e-book data, and here are some of their predictions.

Total book spending in the U.S. will be flat

PwC considers consumer and educational books together in the report, as well as breaking them out separately. Below, I focus on the consumer book data except where noted. Overall, the company sees total book spending in North America as relatively flat, “1.1 percent compound annual rate” of increase between 2011 and 2016 — and PwC thinks that while total spending on print trade books will decline, the e-book market will be growing fast enough by 2013 to offset those declines. In the U.S., the company estimates that “around 30 percent of adults had at least one portable reading device [an e-reader or tablet] in the first quarter of 2012.”
By 2016, PwC expects, “e-books will account for half of total spending on consumer books” in the U.S. and the total U.S. consumer book market (print + digital) will be worth $21 billion, up from $19.5 billion in 2011.

North American e-book spending will skyrocket, but Europe will be slower

I made this chart using PwC data to compare consumer e-book spending by region.
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In addition to breaking out Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) by region — as I did in the chart above — PwC considers them together when it projects that “the consumer and educational book publishing market in EMEA will decrease during the next two years and then rise to $44.8 billion by 2016, returning to its 2011 level.”
In consumer books, the firm thinks “weak economic conditions will continue to limit print spending” in the near term and that e-books will “siphon off a portion of the print market,” ultimately resulting in the overall market remaining “stable in growth” as e-book spending counteracts (but doesn’t override) the decline in print book spending.

Japan, South Korea and China will lead the way on growth in Asia Pacific

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In 2011, South Korea has Asia Pacific’s second-largest consumer e-book market after Japan, PwC says, and consumer e-book sales there “constituted 24.2 percent of South Korea’s total consumer book sales — the highest share of any country in the world.” But because South Korea is already relatively far along in the transition to e-books, the researchers¬†expect its e-book growth in the next four years to be the slowest of any country in Asia Pacific.
I added Australia here, too, because PwC has it as “the only other country [in the region] where e-books will generate more than $100 million in sales.”
See also:
What will it take for international e-book markets to take off?
Photo: Flickr / Mr. iMaax