E-book sales have been declining at a fairly significant clip in 2015, according to information released by the Association of American Publishers.  The format declined 7.5% in Q1, according to the association’s report, and continued to decline, at a 7% rate, in April, according to Publisher’s Weekly.  Trade book sales in print grew single digits in the same period.

This comes after a 3.8% increase in e-book sales increase in 2014, and a slight decline in 2013. 

Device proliferation, which drove big increases in e-book sales in the early years of the format, has slowed, with Barnes & Noble’s Nook sales dropping precipitously.  Amazon does not break out Kindle sales, but it’s certainly safe to assume that most people that want a Kindle have one by now.  And those that want to read books in tablets and phones also have those devices, for the most part.  So with no new customers driving growth, the e-book market is relying on existing customers’ purchases, and this year they’re buying less.   

Digital comic sales have bucked those trends in the past, with an 11% growth rate in 2014, and a 29% increase in 2013 (see “Digital Comics Hit $100 Million”).  Digital comics did not begin to grow rapidly until the launch of tablets, and the ability to view full comic pages on a portable device they brought.  And now new channels, such as Humble Bundle, and growth of the number of titles available on the Kindle are having an impact.

The decline in e-books, while significant, is still a fairly short term trend, but coming on the heels of two years of slow or no growth, it’s an interesting phenomenon, countering the assumption that digital distribution will grow indefinitely until print is eclipsed.