Ebook sales in Canada plateauing: report

The library says 244,144 eBooks were "borrowed" from the VPL last year, up from 133,452 eBooks in 2012. YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images

TORONTO – Kobo and Kindle have grown to become familiar brands in Canada but ebook sales now appear to plateauing, suggests a report by the industry organization BookNet Canada.

Based on surveys with 4,000 book-buying consumers, BookNet Canada pegged paperback sales in 2012 at about 58 per cent of the market, while hardcovers accounted for 24 per cent and ebook sales made up 15 per cent.

BookNet Canada president and CEO Noah Genner says early sales data from this year shows ebook sales are steady and no longer growing.

Digital sales peaked at an estimated 17.6 per cent of the book market in the first quarter of 2012 before sinking to 12.9 per cent in the last quarter of the year.

BookNet Canada suggests book sales are strongly tied to gift giving.

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Consumers who received an e-reader over the holidays likely drove ebook sales higher at the beginning of 2012. But ebooks are not commonly given as gifts, so paperbacks and hardcovers did better at the end of 2012 leading up to the holiday season.

The report found most consumers still preferred to buy their books in stores rather than shopping online. About 37 per cent said they made their purchases at book stores, 34 per cent chose other retail stores (including Costco and Walmart), and 25 per cent went online to buy books.

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