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Is Amazon Losing eBook Market Share in Germany?

Amazon’s dominant position in the global ebook market is largely dependent their strong position in a handful of the most-developed markets: the US, UK, and Germany. And now it looks like Amazon may be losing their grip on on Germany.

BuchReport reported on Friday that the the latest figures from market research firm GfK show that the Kindle Store was losing market share to Tolino. In the 3rd quarter of 2014, the consortium of media retailers that make up the Tolino alliance accounted for 45% of the German ebook market, while Amazon only accounted for 39%.

GfK also estimated that 22 million ebooks were sold in Germany in 2013 for a total market value of about 163 million euros, a 63% increase from 2012. Around 9% of Germans own an ereader, with 43% of that figure owning a Kindle, 12% a Tolino device, and 11% either a Sony or Trekstor ereader.

Formed in early 2013, the Tolino alliance initially consisted of 4 German media retailers (Thalia, WeltBild, Hugendubel, and Bertelsmann) and Deutche Telekom which had pooled their resources and launched a single shared ebook platform to share development and operating costs.

Earlier this year Tolino expanded internationally when the Belgian retailer Standaard Boekhandel joined in July, followed in September by the Dutch bookstore coop Libris, and in November by the Italian retailer

With the addition of IBS, Tolino has partner retailers spread across 4 countries in central Europe with around 1,500 retail stores in Germany and 300 stores in other countries, including 145 stores in Belgium, 100 stores in the Netherlands, and 44 stores in Italy.

Tolino partners support the Vision ereader, as well as several tablet models and apps for Android and iOS.

image by Mark B. Schlemmer

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fjtorres November 16, 2014 um 12:41 pm

And how do they know what Amazon sold?
Are they perhaps tracking publisher reports or ISBNs, like Bowker and the AAP?
Or just guesstimating?

Timothy Wilhoit November 16, 2014 um 3:43 pm

Is the market share of e-books vs. paper books still roughly 5%/95% in Germany? If so, it would take very little movement to get a sizeable percentage change.

Nate Hoffelder November 16, 2014 um 5:18 pm

I don’t have current info on Germany, but it is probably higher than that. eBooks have reached 7% of the Dutch market:

Roland November 16, 2014 um 5:56 pm

Yeah if you read the "Die Self-Publisher-Bibel" Blog (
you wil find that they are also quite skeptical about those numbers…

In any case the numbers for owner ship of an E-reader device break down to
43% Kindle, 12% Tolino, 11% Sony and 11% Trekstor. Thats according to the GfK
whos numbers are cited in this newspaper article ( And the numbers were published earlier this year.
So it is probably the amount of e-readers sold per quarter that were talking about…

This will probably change though since the price for a pw2 has come down by 10 euros and is now as much as a tolino (also you get a money back guarantee from now till the end of january 2015)…

Nate Hoffelder November 16, 2014 um 6:10 pm

Thanks for the link. It’s a much better source.

Roland November 16, 2014 um 6:42 pm

No problem but its basicly all from die-self-publisher-Bibel … 🙂

But this is interesting:
The Buchreport moderator actually says in the comments to the article that they did not measure E-Readers but sold Ebooks…

So how they were able to sell so many Ebooks with a much much lower amount of e-readers makes me wonder… Maybe Sony and Trekstor E-readers are able to access the tolino alliance shops?
Maybe Kindle unlimited drove down the amazon ebook numbers?

Nate Hoffelder November 16, 2014 um 6:49 pm

That’s because most people who buy ebooks don’t own ereaders. That has been true for a long time now.

fjtorres November 16, 2014 um 7:30 pm

Whose ebooks did they measure?
What language?
What ebookstore?

The problem with estimating Amazon ebook sales is that a lot of them are sold globally, even in territories that have local ebookstores.

I am deeply skeptical of any methodology that pretends to know Amazon sales numbers. Period. Only Amazon knows what their indie ebook sales are like anywhere.

Nate Hoffelder November 16, 2014 um 7:57 pm

I think they polled German consumers, and extrapolated from there.

fjtorres November 16, 2014 um 8:00 pm

Pure WAG.
So it is all a matter of the right fudge factor and who was footing the bill.

Roland November 16, 2014 um 8:38 pm

It was some kind of german consumer survey … thats what the GfK does.

Gary November 16, 2014 um 9:38 pm

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics"

One survey result is meaningless. It _might_ be a true reflection of sales in the quarter, or it might not. That is, it could be a sampling error.

Even if these results are real, there might be explanations such as: "Tolino had a monopoly on selling the latest German language best seller, which was not available from" Or, perhaps: "Tolino was very aggressive in marketing this quarter, with lots of books being deeply discounted to build market share."

Finally, if these results are real, and Amazon’s sales really did drop in the quarter, you can be certain that Amazon will do whatever they can to try to regain the lost ground.

So, wait a few years and see if there is a trend.

Ebook Bargains UK November 17, 2014 um 1:58 pm

It’s a false premise to assume falling market share means falling sales. No-one is suggesting Amazon’s sales fell.

If 100 books are sold in total and Amazon sells 45 of them while Tolino sells 40, Amazon has 45% market share while Tolino has 40%

If in the following period 150 books are sold and Amazon sells 65 of them but Tolino sell 70 then Tolino has a bigger market share, but Amazon’s sales have still risen.

Roland November 18, 2014 um 1:12 am

[…] Or, perhaps: “Tolino was very aggressive in marketing this quarter, with lots of books being deeply discounted to build market share.”[…]

Actually they would not have been able to do so. We got a law called "Preisbindung" in Germany that is intended to keep discounting out of the bookshops. It is basicly like agency pricing – the right owner must set the price.
Of course that means that on Amazon over halve of the top 100 in ebooks go to selfpublishers because the publisher are unwilling/unable to that price point.

TheGreatFilter November 17, 2014 um 9:43 am

Why should Amazon worry? They’ve released a super-intelligent speaker and an awesome phone.

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