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Saturday, April 23, 2005

Computer Books Sale Data- Trend Indicator Of The Industry Vibrancy

(Via O'Reilly Radar) Tim O'Reilly writes,data from Neilsen Bookscan, on aggregated point-of-sale data about computer books from about 70% of US bookstores, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and many smaller chains and leading independent bookstores, show that the computer book sales, which have been falling by about 20% a year since 2001, have stabilized, and started to climb again. Apart from giving some interesting technology trend indicators (C# is gaining on Java, python is gaining on perl, InDesign is eating Quark's lunch), the data may also give us some intriguing insight into other economic factors. The industry suffered from a three year trend. 2003 was about 20% below 2002, which in turn was down about 20% from 2001 - it's been a tough couple of years for the computer book market and the industry as a whole.
The market appears to have hit bottom, with the 2005 graph overlaid neatly on 2004. In fact, 2005 was ahead of 2004 in seven of the thirteen weeks. This is really good news for book publishers and the whole computer industry, as the sales rate of computer books is likely a good indicator of an overall increase in industry activity.Several major software products, including Mac OS X, Photoshop CS, Flash MX 2004, and Dreamweaver MX 2004, had been released late in 2003, and book sales on these new products was just peaking in the first quarter of 2004. By contrast, sales of books on these products are all depressed in the first quarter of 2005 as users await upcoming software releases later this year.Several of the big decliners were directly related to recent new software release in the 2004 numbers: Mac OS X, down 39%, Photoshop CS, down 6.5%, Dreamweaver, down 16%, and Flash, down 14%. All of these categories are expected to rebound significantly later this year along with new releases of those software products. A number of categories that showed a surge (or decline) without any new software release to drive sales: books on web development (HTML, CSS, and other general books on creating web pages, up 39%), Excel (up 19%), and Quickbooks (up 63%) all showed substantial gains. These are core categories for business, perhaps indicating some kind of rise in small business creation. Powerpoint (up 16%) was also a gainer in the business applications category.
Another really interesting technical trend data point to: The Red Hat book market took a huge fall with the introduction of Fedora, from which it hasn't recovered. The Red Hat book market is down 29% from the same period in 2004, while Linux as a whole is up 32%. The strongest part of the market is now once again distribution-agnostic Linux books. Interesting, with lot of dynamism - good news so long as the trend shows upward rise!!

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"All views expressed are my personal views are not related in any way to my employer"