I read about this report in The Bookseller, and after finding little value in their basic repeating of the facts I went looking for the actual report and some extra data so I could put it in context. The report shows a wide range of results, with some countries showing a surprisingly low percentage of online shoppers.
Portugal and Italy, for example, are 2 western European countries that you would expect to lead the way in online shopping, but the report actually showed that only 35% and 29% of respondents from those countries shopped online in 2012. They were beat out by ex-Iron Curtain countries like Latvia (37%), Poland (47%), and Slovenia (49%).
That is a rather curious result, and it suggests that online activities are affected more by recent economic developments than by culture. Some parts of Europe are still working to catch up, and as a result they are actually pulling ahead.
And just as importantly, this report also shows that Europeans are slower to adopt the online shopping experience than Americans. According to the Pew Research Center, 71% of Americans shop online. This dates to May 2011, so it is very out of date, but I still find it a useful data.
Old data or not, it's clear that Americans are more likely (on average) to shop online than Europeans, and this might be having an affect on ebook adoption. Also, if you look closely at the figures for shoppers buying books online you'll see that there might be a correlation between ebook adoption and buying books online. The 2 leading ebook markets in Europe, Germany and the UK, both showed some of the highest percentage of online book buyers (41% and 36%, respectively). The only other countries that are even close are Sweden and Luxembourg, but I don't have any data on their ebook markets.
If this report is pointing to a real preference for buying from brick and mortar stores then it could also be a sign of resistance to buying ebooks, which for the most part cannot be bought in a store. This could even mean that ebook gift cards (like the failed Quinqo) could be the future of ebook sales in Europe because they give b&M stores a chance to sell ebooks.
What do you think?
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