Thursday, April 29, 2010

A First Look at How Apple's iBooks Catalog Breaks Out by Category and Publisher

If you are wondering exactly what's for sale in the iBooks Store that serves as Apple's home-field entry into the highly competitive arena of retail ebook apps for the iPad (and soon, we guess, for the iPhone and the iPod Touch), you may be interested in Ben Lorica's research post at his O'Reilly Radar blog, noted here via Teleread.

Among the interesting tidbits reported by Ben in his study of the "the over 46,000 (paid and free) books available through the iBooks app:"
  • 68% are "paid," which according to my research suggests that 32%, or about 15,000 titles, are free. (For comparison's sake, 20,600 (or about 4.1%) of the 507,700 titles in the Kindle Store are free.)
  • Over half of the iBooks catalog is fiction, despite Ben's headline that reads "A few weeks in, a third of iPad Books are Fiction." (The discrepancy is based on the fact that the original post broke out various genre fiction categories separately and did not include them in an aggregate figure).
  • There's an interesting symmetry in the representation of the largest publishers between the iBooks App and the Kindle App (or, of course, the Kindle Store), which owes to the ongoing controversies and negotations involving the agency price-fixing model. Ben reports that Penguin/Pearson has the most iBooks titles with 23.5%; MacMillan, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins andtheir imprints are all well-represented, but there appears to be nary a title to be found from the various imprints of the world's largest English-language publisher, Random House. Random House is the one Big Six publisher holding out from the agency price-fixing model, and whereas it is the very well-represented in the Kindle Store, there are, alas, very few Penguin/Pearson ebooks there.
  • Smashwords appears to have found its niche, with 5.2% of the total catalog.

One thing that surprised me about the post was the 46,000 figure. It had been widely reported that there were 60,000 titles available in the iBooks Store at launch, so I left this comment on Ben's post seeking clarification, and if I hear back I will post an update here:

Terrific work, Ben. I'm surprised that the aggregate figure is 46,000, since we were all hearing 60,000 as of the 4/3 release date and would have expected some growth since then. Is there any chance that the 46,000 figure covers titles for which there has been an actual sale, or am I barking up the wrong apple tree? I'm naturally resistant to the notion that Apple would have padded the numbers!


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