Ebooks will surpass print in the U.S. over the next two years

This should be good news for Apple's iBookstore (and perhaps the iPad): over the next two years, ebooks are set to surpass print in the U.S.

However, the fate of the ebook is set to vary significantly by country. In Germany, for example, it will remain a niche player for the foreseeable future, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study published by the Economist

Today in the United States, the e-book industry is worth over US$5.7 billion, while print is worth approximately $10 billion. By 2018, print and e-books will be worth $7.9 and $8.7 billion respectively.

According to a 2014 DigitalBookWorld report — the most recent I could find — Apple is now either the second or third largest ebook retailer in the U.S. It's a neck-and-neck race with Barnes & Noble (Amazon is number one).

What’s more, by 2017 the world e-reader market is expected to achieve unit shipments of nearly 54 million a year, according to a new research report available from the Companies and Markets research group. And the iPad certainly counts as an ebook reader, so perhaps that will help improve moribund sales of the tablet.

(The accompanying chart is courtesy of Statistica.)