The number of online college bookstores has shrunk to just about 1% of U.S. bookstores, but the industry is seeing some impressive gains as online publishers and retailers seek to diversify their online business, according to an analysis by Bloomberg.
Online college booksellers, which have proliferated since the mid-2000s, have been growing in popularity as consumers become increasingly interested in purchasing more ebooks and audiobooks online.
Some of the biggest growth is in online textbook publishers, which are seeing an explosion in demand for books and ebooks online.
The online bookstore industry saw sales grow by more than 1,000% between 2005 and 2014, according, the research group for online education, EY.
Online bookseller growth, like that seen in online bookstore sales, is not as robust as online bookselling overall.
EY’s study found that online bookselling has been growing by around 30% annually since 2009, but only about 5% of the growth in the total e-book market is accounted for by online bookstores.
The number of booksells has grown more than double to 1.5% of total book sales, or about $1 billion in revenue for the industry in 2015, according the report, released Monday.
Online education companies such as Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble also see significant growth in online book sales.
Amazon, which sells more than 100 million books, posted an annual sales growth rate of 2% during the first half of this year, the report said.
Barnes & Nob reported a sales growth of 11% during that time.
The largest growth is from online publishers, with Amazon reporting growth of more than 33% from January through March, compared with less than 2% growth for Barnes & Norris.
For now, the industry remains small.
Eighty-two percent of online book publishers are still owned by smaller companies, and about a quarter of the publishers reported no revenue in the first nine months of this fiscal year, according data from research firm eMarketer.
The study by eMarketers also found that the largest online bookseller is Amazon, with sales of $5.9 billion.
Barnes&Nob has a smaller footprint, but it reported revenue of $3.9 million.
The growth of the industry has been fueled by a surge in the number of people searching for and buying ebooks, according Alex Mihalovic, director of eMarketing Analytics at EY, who noted that the market is growing by 1.3 million e-books a month.
That growth has also helped the e-commerce giants, which had a sales of about $3 billion in 2015.
Amazon and Barnes&N are also expanding their offerings, and Mihabovic said that more e-reader and tablet sales are being generated through the growing number of digital books available online.