From Our Friends at Patently Apple
May 21, 2013

Stats Show that e-Books are Still a Tough Sell in North America

1A. ebooks not selling well

A new and interesting e-book trend has emerged showing that e-books are still not the preferred choice for books in Canada. While the Canadian market for ebooks remains steady, the reality is that they’ve already plateaued. The stats show that paperback books comprised 58% of all purchases in 2012. Hardcover made up 24% and ebooks came in at a miserable15%. And within that dismal figure, Apple’s iPad struggled to come in as the number three e-book reader.

According to BookNet Canada’s President and CEO Noah Genner, “The research suggests that the ebook market in Canada may have reached a plateau. Early 2013 data backs this up. So far, we’re seeing the same pattern repeating itself.” 

Ebooks peaked in Q1 2012 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 Wal-Mart, were used for those same reasons, but pricing and the convenience of being able to shop for other items were cited more often.

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. The top three e-book readers in Canada were Kobo at 25.2%, Amazon’s Kindle at 18.4% and Apple iPad at 14.0%.

The US stats are slightly higher with e-books taking 22% of the book market.



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