Ebook Sales Surge in Canada but Adoption Remains Slower Than in US

Nowhere is digital’s takeover of print more profound than in the book publishing industry.

A new report from BookNet Canada reveals that ebooks now represent more than 16% of the overall book market in Canada—a number bigger than even most industry watchers anticipated. According to the data, paperbacks still reign king with nearly 57% of the market, and even hardcovers remain ahead of ebooks at 23%—but digital products are gaining ground at an accelerated pace.

“We were a little taken aback, even though we are in the industry and on the technology side of the industry, at just the sheer quantity of the shift in behaviour in regards to digital and online [shopping],” BookNet CEO Noah Genner told CBC. “We all knew it was happening … but just the sheer volume and the amount of change that’s happened in the last couple of years is a big surprise.”

According to the report, one in three Canadians is a “regular book buyer” who purchases an average of 2.8 books per month. 7% of readers said buy both ebook and print books. These buyers purchase bought more titles overall, an average of 4.5 per month.

BookNet says that just one third of book sales occur in book stores. 28% of books are ordered online and 30% are bought at other retailers, such as big box and grocery stores.

“The other big surprise [in the research] was just how much book buying was done as if it were another consumer good,” Genner told CBC. “We were quite surprised to see how many books were bought with grocery items, with consumer goods and different category lines.”

The price of books are creeping downward, largely due to ebooks being cheaper. The average ebook costs $7.44, the average paperback is $12, and the average hardcover is $19. The average book overall is $13.

Canada is clinging to paperbacks and hardcovers more than Americans. In the US, ebooks have already surpassed hardcovers in sales.