Demand for e-books and e-readers is still strong, according to the latest market study by Futuresource Consulting. Both are supported by the increased global availability of e-book services and the recent launch of new multimedia tablet devices.
"In 2010, the global e-book market grew by more than 200 percent to exceed 90 million paid-for units," says Fiona Hoy, Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting.
This equates to a value of more $900 million and was largely attributable to growth in the U.S. region, which represented more than 80 percent of global revenues in 2010.
Rapid U.S. e-book market growth and consumer adoption was predominantly driven by Amazon's loss-leading strategy on key e-book titles purchased through their Kindle store and related application. A similar strategy was temporarily adopted in the UK.
"Moving forward, the global balance will begin to shift -- with the USA contributing just over half of global revenues by 2014," says Hoy.
Western Europe represented nearly 10 percent of global e-book revenues in 2010, with the UK market dominating. The European landscape exhibits many country differences, with Germany making some steady market gains.
For many countries across the region -- including Italy and Spain -- 2010 was the first full year that e-readers were readily available at retail. However, sparse local language titles and limited paid-for e-book services acted as key obstacles to e-book market growth.
However, as local-language content and demand develops, Western Europe's share of global e-book revenues will grow significantly, contributing in excess of $6 billion towards global revenues in 2014.
Legally free e-books (predominantly out of copyright) continue to play an important role. The launch of Google's eBook service in Europe will have significant impact, providing a recognizable branded service offering millions of free legitimate titles alongside paid-for content.
Additionally, the service allows for storing purchased books in the cloud, ensuring they can be accessed across multiple devices enabling consumers to reap the benefits of heightened competitive forces within the marketplace.
Despite Apple's entry into the e-book market in the second half of 2010, Futuresource research shows that Amazon retained its leadership in the U.S. e-book market last year -- significantly ahead of its competitors. Amazon established a similar position in the UK despite only entering the market in August 2010.