E-books to outsell print by 2018 says new report

People read at the Hay Festival Printed books and e-books were on the menu at the recent Hay Literature Festival

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The sale of printed books will be outstripped by e-books by 2018, a new report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) has suggested.

It says the consumer e-book market - which excludes text books and professional manuals - will increase in value from £380 million to £1 billion.

At the same time, sales of printed books are forecast to fall by a third.

PwC said 50% of the UK population would own an iPad, Kobo, Kindle or similar e-reader device by 2018.

It added that 15.5 billion apps were expected to be downloaded in the UK in 2018.

The company's evaluation of the e-book market is at odds with the founder of the Waterstone's book shop who predicted the "e-book revolution" would soon go into decline.

Tim Waterstone told the Oxford Literary Festival in March that "every indication - certainly from America - shows the [e-book] share is already in decline. The indications are that it will do exactly the same in the UK."

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But Phil Stokes, an entertainment and media partner at PwC, said: "This growth is being driven by the internet and by consumers' love of new technology, particularly mobile technology."

The report went on to say that the UK's entertainment market is expected to be worth £64 billion by 2018.

Filmed entertainment, currently worth £3.9 billion will rise to £4.6 billion by 2018.

The market for video games is expected to reach £4.1 billion, with digital console games expected to overtake online games this year and mobile games in 2017.

Last year's best-selling e-book on Amazon - which has 79% of the UK market - was Dan Brown's Inferno.

Mr Stokes said. "The entertainment and media industry is at the forefront of the digital revolution, because so many of its products and services can already be delivered in digital form.

"It may not be long before digital revenues from print, film, publishing and music overtake physical revenues in some markets."

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