* Erotic novels drive British book sales up in 2012
* Move from print to e-books seen not as rapid as expected
* Digital sales rising but not eroding print book market
By Belinda Goldsmith
LONDON, May 1 Erotic trilogy "Fifty Shades of
Grey" helped drive print and e-book sales in Britain to record
levels in 2012 with publishers hailing figures on Wednesday as
proof that digital books are not killing the traditional market
Print and e-book sales rose 4 percent to 3.3 billion pounds
($5 billion) after slipping 2 percent in 2011, top British trade
organisation The Publishers Association said, although printed
book sales fell 1 percent and had dropped 5 percent in 2011.
Chief Executive Richard Mollet said the overall rise was
driven by a 21-percent jump in fiction sales to 674 million
pounds, fuelled by demand for E.L. James's trilogy, a
sadomasochistic story of student and businessman Christian Grey.
The books, published by Bertelsmann-owned Random
House, sold over 70 million copies globally and were lampooned
by critics. They are set to be made into a film, and sparked
other sales of a growing genre of fiction dubbed "mummy porn".
"You can see in the world around you the growth in
e-readers," said Mollet, pointing to commuters engrossed in
Amazon kindles, iPads and Barnes and Noble's
"But what is interesting is that the continued growth of
digital books does not seem to be eating away (as much as
expected) at physical sales."
Fiction sales buoyed the print market, which nevertheless
dipped to 2.93 billion pounds, and helped to more than double
e-book sales to 216 million, he said.
Digital books accounted for about 12 percent of 2012 sales,
up from 8 percent in 2011 and 5 percent in 2010.
The global book industry that was estimated to be worth $121
billion in 2011 is forecast to grow to $172 billion by 2017,
according to a report by market research firm Lucintel.
Mollet said digital sales, for e-books, audiobook downloads
and online subscriptions, jumped 66 percent in 2012 to 411
million pounds with fiction sales up 149 percent.
Philip Jones, editor of industry magazine The Bookseller,
said fiction was the trailblazer for the shift to digital and it
was key to now watch how print sales were affected as more
non-fiction and children's titles were sold in digital formats.