Ebooks Now Account for Greater Share of the Canadian Book Market Than in the US

Canada's National Reading Campaign has just released the results of a recent market survey. This is the second annual survey, and it is the first that tracks ebooks. The survey covers just the last week in January and it covers books sold by Indigo, Amazon, and other national chains, as well as 260 indies.

English language book sales in general were up 4% from last year, and French language print book sales also increased by 35% (due to more stores reporting).

But it's the ebook news that I'm most interested in.  If the stats  are to be believed, ebooks are now just under 10% of the English language book market in Canada.

Let me give you the reason that this blew my socks off. The ebook market share in the US is only about 7%, assuming that we use the AAP stats as a yardstick. That means the Canadian ebook market is growing faster than the US market. I hope you were sitting down (sorry).

This raises the obvious question, why is it growing faster?

The US market is older, and we've had Amazon pushing the Kindle since Fall 2007.  I don't have specific details on the Canadian market, but I would bet that it started taking off after Shortcovers became Kobo. Kobo was owned by Indigo at the time and it was heavily promoted in their stores.

That in-store presence could have made the difference. Yes, B&N lunched the Nook at about the same time that Kobo was launched, but B&N doesn't have the market presence you might assume they have. For example, I don't have a B&N store within driving distance. (On the other hand, I do have a Books-a-Million nearby, and the value of the  in-store presence might be why BAM carries the Nook.)


About Nate Hoffelder (9906 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

6 Comments on Ebooks Now Account for Greater Share of the Canadian Book Market Than in the US

  1. Another thing that makes the numbers for Canadian e-book sales so remarkable is that a LOT of e-books available in the U.S. are still not available in Canada. Try buying a fairly recent e-book on many sites and you will get “Not Available in Canada”. After acquiring a Nook a few years ago I was dumbfounded to find the only books available to me from the B&N site were classics.

    • If you live in Canada just register your B&N account with an US shipping and billing address. Any valid US address will do, just Google something. The billing address is not checked so your Canadian credit card will work fine.
      This way you have access to all ebooks in the B&N store.

      • I was wondering if it is possible to provide a EU credit card number. I just cannot stand how the kindle dominated the EU market.

  2. Could be that Canadian publishers aren’t as actively attempting to suppress ebook sales and proliferation as US publishers are. But with indies taking an ever larger market share, these publisher-reported percentages are only a blurry snapshot of what is happening right now.

  3. Maybe a lot of Canadian live in places where print books aren’t readily available? The convenience factor should never be overlooked.

    • Exactly. I think that’s an important factor. When I worked at Borders the stores in Maine had gangbusters sales, and the explanation I was given was that in Maine there were only so many places to buy books, especially in the winter when ordering online might take longer.

      Could very easily be something similar here. If it’s cold and nasty out and you need to drive a 1/2 hour for a bookstore, grabbing a Kobo and downloading the ebook is a significant convenience.

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