eBook sales peaked in Canada last year
A new study from BookNet Canada notes that the e-book market could be in trouble. According to BookNet’s The Canadian Book Consumer 2012: Annual Report, Paperback books made up 58 percent of all books sold last year, with hardcover taking 24 percent. e-books were only 15 percent of total sales last year, a figure that’s down overall from 2012’s first quarter, where they made up 17.6 percent. Put simply, e-books are selling, but they’re not taking the market by storm.
“The research suggests that the ebook market in Canada may have reached a plateau,” says BookNet Canada President and CEO Noah Genner. “Early 2013 data backs this up. So far, we’re seeing the same pattern repeating itself.”
Ebooks peaked in Q1 at 17.6% of unit sales and declined steadily over the rest of the year to hit 12.9% in the last quarter. The 5% decline is likely due to heightened sales in Q1 after receiving new devices over the holidays followed by declining interest or having enough titles banked after the Q1 spike, as well as a preference for giving physical books as gifts. Further proof is that paperback sales had an inverse trend throughout the year and steadily increased in market share over the course of the year. Hardcovers also had their strongest quarter in Q4. 16% of book purchases were gifts in the holiday quarter.
The report has also revealed that Canadians still prefer to buy their books in physical stores. 34% of book purchases were made in non-book retailers, 37% in bookstores and 25% online—print book purchases made online account for 19% of those online sales. The top reasons respondents said they chose brick-and-mortar bookstores were the convenience of the location, the selection available and ease of purchase. Non-book retailers, such as Costco and Walmart, were used for those same reasons, but pricing and the convenience of being able to shop for other items were cited more often.
Canadian Book Consumer 2012 – An infographic by the team at BookNet Canada
“We’ve found that the dominant factor in selecting a retailer is convenience,” says Pamela Millar, Director of Customer Relations at BookNet Canada. “Great location, what’s in stock and the opportunity to complete more than one errand—they all come down to convenience. Pricing comparison isn’t as big a factor as we might have guessed.”
While sales of eBooks seem to have slowed down the battle for e-reader market share continues. In Canada Kobo continued to top the list. Kobo was at 25.2%, iPad at 14.0% and Kindle at 18.4%. In the US the eBook market seems to be more buoyant accounting for nearly 23% of publisher net revenues in 2012, up from 17% in 2011 and, astoundingly, 1% in 2008. Ten years ago, in 2002, the first year that the AAP measured the size of the ebook market, revenues from digital book sales accounted for 0.05% of the overall take.
I guess I’m a bit of a hybrid buyer, I prefer to read books on my iPad Mini but I find the online shopping experience less than exciting. So, I shop for books at my local bookstore but actually buy them from Kindle.