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Growth in e-book sales slows in 2012

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Shaun Stanley/The Durango Herald/AP

(Read caption) A computer screen e-book titles available for check out at a library in Durango, Colo. E-book sales increased 43 percent last year, but that's far below past increases.

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The good news: The number of e-books sold last year grew by 43 percent.

The bad news: After three years of triple-digit increases in sales, that’s a serious slowdown.

That’s the latest news from the Association of American Publishers, which released its annual BookStats study Wednesday. The report found that digital books remain the fastest-growing segment of the publishing market, but that record growth is hitting a plateau after years of runaway sales.

Among the report’s findings:

• E-book sales grew by 43 percent in 2012 

• E-books now represent 20 percent of all books sales

• Some 457 million e-books were sold in 2012, compared to 557 million hardcovers sold in last year

• Even if e-book sales have slowed, the industry has made massive progress: the 457 million e-books sold in 2012 represent a 4,456 percent increase over 2008 when 10 million e-books were sold.

As for the reasons behind the e-book slowdown, analysts’ explanations vary. Some, like Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch, cite the enduring strength of the print format, which continues to outsell digital books by a margin of 4-to-1.

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