Neilsen released a survey report today which showed that online book buying is starting to plateau in the UK. Said report is of course behind a paywall, but yesterday The Bookseller released a few dribblets of data which were both frustratingly incomplete and out of context.
The report focused more on online buying habits than book habits, and according to the Bookseller:
Over the next six months books are set to be purchased online by four in every 10 people in the Britain.
Six in 10 (59%) people in the UK said they can usually get the best price online for a product, while more than four in 10 (43%) said they often check out products in a shop before buying online – a practice known as “showrooming”. Nielsen said this was most likely to happen for books, holidays, pet products and clothing, shoes or accessories.
They also note that “between 2011 and 2014, the number of UK respondents who intended to buy e-books online in the next six months increased 200%”, but they don’t give a percentage for either year, so that detail doesn’t help us any.
Given that Neilsen told us earlier this year that ebooks accounted for £300 million of the £2.2 billion UK Book market, and given that an unrelated survey showed that 13% of Brits currently buy digital books or magazines online, I don’t think 200% data point will amount to much.
More importantly, the detail that “books are set to be purchased online by four in every 10 people in the Britain” tells me that adoption of online book buying is not growing at any great rate.
I have data from a 2012 survey which showed that 36% of UK consumers bought books online. That survey also showed that 82% of respondents in the UK shopped online (this is a detail which The Bookseller did not share today).
It also tended to confirm other nonspecific details reported by The Bookseller, including Brits being “40% more likely to buy items online than Europeans as a whole”.