UK Book Buyers Switching to Digital & Spending Less

Bowker released some results of a survey earlier today, and the data raised some questions about the growth of the UK ebook market. The key takeaways are:

  • Book buyers spent 6% less on paper books in 2011 than they did in 2010
  • Ebook buyers spent 3% less in 2011 than they did in 2010
  • The number of paper books dropped by 4%, while the number of ebooks purchased increased by 0.3%
  • Kids & senior citizens are buying  more ebooks while the ages in between are buying less
  • Ebooks went from 2.8% of purchases in December 2010 to 12.5% in November 2011
  • Average price paid for ebooks increased (see chart at right)

What’s really interesting about the data is that I was under the impression that the UK ebook market grew last  year by some noticeable amount. But if you look at the numbers above, it shrank. Consumers are reporting that they spent less. They’re buying a very slightly larger number of ebooks than before, but they’re spending less.

I’m going to hold out for more data before I jump to any conclusions. Bowker plans to release the rest of the results at their conference in London in March, and once that data is in hand then I will try to figure it out.


Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. willem15 February, 2012

    Here’s another interesting study, this time about the US market – ‘eReader Sales Outstripping eBook Unit Sales Growth’.

    Always remember the old rule of gigo (garbage in garbage out) in such studies. Stats for self publishers are missing in action & all I’ve seen are guesses, though has got some interesting charts for the months of 2011, suggesting selfpublishing could be almost one-third of ebook market unit sales.

  2. […] Apparently UK book buyers are switching to ebooks, and spending less overall on books. […]


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