August 21, 2014

Canada: Ebooks Made Up 15% of All Book Sales During 2012, Paperbacks at 58%

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From BookNet Canada:

The Canadian market for ebooks remains steady, according to a new report from BookNet Canada. Findings in The Canadian Book Consumer 2012: Annual Report show that paperback books (including mass markets) comprised 58% of all purchases in 2012. Hardcover made up 24% and ebooks 15%.

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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.

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While pricing is a factor for some shoppers when selecting retailers, shoppers don’t often perform pricing comparisons. This suggests that showrooming, the practice of examining a product in a store and then buying it online for a lower price, may not be that widespread an issue for the book industry in Canada. 55% of respondents indicated they rarely or never compared book prices between stores.

On the digital side, the battle for e-reading device market share continues. Ebook readers planned to read on a variety of devices but Kobo continued to top the list. Kobo was at 25.2%, iPad at 14.0% and Kindle at 18.4%.

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.