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Tipping Point? Publishers Now Making More Money Online Than from Physical Bookstores

In what could be the tipping point for digital book commerce, the Book Industry Study Group says publishers in North America generated more money from e-commerce than through brick-and-mortar bookstore sales.

The difference is small, however—$7.54 billion online versus $7.12 billion physical—and it’s important to note that the digital figure includes online sales of physical books in addition to ebooks.

In 2013, 2.3 billion books were sold in the US, generating a total of $14.6 billion in revenue, according to BISG, which translates to an average book sale price of $6.3, a figure that has decreased in recent years thanks to the lower average price of ebooks versus hardcovers and paperbacks.

It’s also worth mentioning that ebook sales could be higher; researchers at BISG note their “BookStats” reports only include books with ISBN numbers, which means they’re excluding thousands of self-published ebooks.