Breaking News: You’re Still Buying Books Online

Bowker LogoThere’s a new report out today from Bowker and it reaches a startling conclusion. US consumers like to buy stuff via this new-fangled invention called the internet.

The report is called 2013 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Review, and it shows that 44% of books (both analog and digital) purchased in the US were bought online. This is up slightly from last year, when only 39% of books were bought online.

I only have access to the press release so I don’t have all the details in the report, but that press release does include a few driblets of information. For example, the PR mentions that women increased their lead over men in book buying, accounting for 58% of overall book spending in 2012, up from 55 percent in 2011.

eBooks also made up a larger share of the market in 2012, accounting for 11% of spending in 2012, compared to 7% in 2011. But that’s not the best part. Bowker is also reporting that B&N isn’t selling as many ebooks as they used to. In 2011 an estimated 6% of their revenue came from ebooks, and Bowker is now reporting that ebooks now account for only 4%.

Of course, that is just an estimate based on a limited survey of a few thousand consumers, but that last detail is supported by B&N’s own quarterly reports (which show a drop in digital revenue).


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. flyingtoastr7 August, 2013

    BN’s reports do not show a drop in digital content revenue – there are still increases there (16% YOY in the last report). They’re showing an overall drop for the entire division – which simply means fewer devices sold.

    1. Nate Hoffelder7 August, 2013

      I’m not so sure that 16% accurately reflects ebook sales at B&N. It also includes other content like video and apps.


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