eBooks On the Decline in Canada? Now Only 12.9% of the Market
BookNet Canada has just announced the release of a new report on the Canadian book market. While I don’t have the funds to buy a copy, the press release does share a few details about what the Canadian book buyer is doing.
According to BookNet Canada, Kobo is continuing to lead the pack as the preferred reading device, with 25% consumers picking that native Canadian ereader maker. They also report that the iPad comes in third (14%) with the Kindle in second place (18%).
There’s no publicly available info on ebookstore marketshare, but the report does note that the ebook market seems to have declined in Canada. eBooks made up just 15% of the market last year, and that is down from the first quarter of 2012 when ebooks made up 17.6% of the market. eBook market share declined for the rest of the year, hitting a low point of 12.9% in the fourth quarter.
Were you as surprised by the last figure as I was? I frankly don’t understand it why ebook sales declined after Kobo announced new gadgets. Canada was about the only country where they were available, and new ereader launches have usually resulted in increased ebook sales, not a decline.
The press release explains the decline thusly:
The 5% decline is likely due to heightened sales in Q1 after receiving new devices over the holidays followed by declining interest or having enough titles banked after the Q1 spike, as well as a preference for giving physical books as gifts. Further proof is that paperback sales had an inverse trend throughout the year and steadily increased in market share over the course of the year. Hardcovers also had their strongest quarter in Q4. 16% of book purchases were gifts in the holiday quarter.
So readers were choosing to go back to paper books? That could be true but I have trouble believing it.
The US ebook market may have fluctuated in 2012, but the general trend was a positive growth, not a decline. The US ebook market ended the year with ebooks making up 21.67% of AAP members reported sales, and a slightly higher percentage of the overall estimated book market. Given that Canada is the closest market I would have thought that it would have shown a similar growth pattern.
If any Canadians would care to chime in with an explanation, I’m all ears.
Update: A reader has pointed out a detail I missed (Thanks, FBone!). This isn’t a market report but a survey report. It’s based on monthly surveys of 4,000 Canadian consumers, with much of the data extrapolated from there. So that means that one possible reason for the decline in ebook market share is that the methodology was bad.