ipad ebookIt’s no surprise that video is the most popular type of content shared on the controversial peer-to-peer protocol BitTorrent – according to one report, at the height of its popularity each episode of the TV show Heroes was downloaded five million times over the network – but the number of digital books and magazines that are available as ‘torrents’ is growing fast as well.

The statistics come from the Germany-based website TorrentFreak.com, which tracks data that is shared via BitTorrent technology. In December, the total amount of torrents was approximately 10.4 million, exceeding 12 petabytes in actual file-size, which is a huge amount of data: one petabyte is a million gigabytes, or roughly 250 DVDs.

Of the total, video is overwhelmingly the largest category of content with 5.5 million torrents, or 9,150 terabytes of data. Two-thirds of all active BitTorrent users are sharing or downloading video content. Movies account for the majority of video with just a little over 2 million torrents; TV shows account for roughly one million torrents. Audio comes in second place with 2.2 million torrents and a “mere” 845 terabytes of data.

While still claiming modest numbers, the amount of ebooks and magazines that are available as torrents is on the rise, says TorrentFreak.com, although does not give a comparison figure. In December, there were 399,267 ebook torrents, and 81,841 audio book torrents available.

Even though the TorrentFreak’s data should be taken with a grain of salt, it does mean that digitized books and magazines are picking up in demand, as does this report from the International Digital Publishing Forum, saying the wholesale ebook sales in the U.S. hit $119.7 million in Q3, growing almost three times the number from a year ago. So, this may be further evidence that the printed book is going the way of the album in terms of distribution and consumption.

[Photo credit: anitakhart]