e-books remain a tough sell in North America

“A new and interesting e-book trend has emerged showing that e-books are still not the preferred choice for books in Canada. While the Canadian market for ebooks remains steady, the reality is that they’ve already plateaued. The stats show that paperback books comprised 58% of all purchases in 2012,” Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple. “Hardcover made up 24% and e-books came in at a miserable 15%. And within that dismal figure, Apple’s iPad struggled to come in as the number three e-book reader.”

Purcher reports, “According to BookNet Canada’s President and CEO Noah Genner, ‘The research suggests that the e-book market in Canada may have reached a plateau. Early 2013 data backs this up. So far, we’re seeing the same pattern repeating itself.'”

“E-books peaked in Q1 2012 at 17.6% of unit sales and declined steadily over the rest of the year to hit 12.9% in the last quarter,” Purcher reports. “The US stats are slightly higher with e-books taking 22% of the book market.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Apple launches iBookstore in Japan – March 6, 2013
DC Comics’ releases entire line-up on Apple’s iBookStore – November 8, 2012
Over 350,000 textbooks were downloaded from Apple’s iBookstore in just 3 days – January 23, 2012
Random House makes entire US catalog of 17,000 ebooks available on Apple’s iBookstore – March 2, 2011
Pearson, Peachpit titles now available in Apple’s iBookstore – November 17, 2010
Apple’s iBookstore for iPad to feature full Gutenberg Project catalog – 30,000 free e-books – March 25, 2010
iBookstore growth continues: Perseus inks e-book deal with Apple for iPad – March 22, 2010


    1. Judging by the amount of Labatt Blue and Kokanee (both great beers) drank in Canada, I’d venture Canadians spend more time drinking than reading.

  1. I don’t see why people hate ebooks. I have been reading them through Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive for years. I think people are just afraid of new technology.

  2. I am Canadian, I have purchased more ebooks this year than paper books in the last 3. I purchase most of them direct from the publisher and down load to my iPad. So most of my sales show as U.s. purchases. I think the Internet is throwing the numbers off a bit.

  3. I live in Canada. There arent many books written in Canada. I buy 99% of my ebooks from Amazon UK where the choice is not limited.
    I like iBooks, but they simply dont have enough books, especially in the very small Canadian iBooks store. Apple need to allow people to buy books from wherever they want, as Amazon does.
    This whole scenario, probably familiar to Canadian residents, will skew the figures more than a little.

  4. I enjoy real books and e-books also. There’s just something enjoyable about holding a book when time and space allows. E-books are great when you are on the move or have your hands full. I still buy books, probably too many as I have quite a stack I need to work on. But I go through at least one book every 2 weeks on the average. And I enjoy everything from a to Z. And at least one e-book every month. And I’m a busy, busy guy. I still have books on tape cassettes from yesteryear. They were great in their time. And I continue purchasing old time radio shows on CDs. Books. Gotta love em.

  5. It just seems to me like I’m renting an e-book, whereas a paperback or hard bound book I will always own. It can be a bother also transferring an ebook from our Kindle to our iPad to my Mac, depending on which device I feel like using. Not impossible, of course, just a bother. Coupled with the fact that the price of an e-book will undoubtedly always be more that I feel it should.

    1. It can be a bother also transferring an ebook from our Kindle to our iPad to my Mac, depending on which device I feel like using. Not impossible, of course, just a bother.
      Whispersync keeps all Kindle content in sync. There is nothing to be done and nothing to transfer.

  6. Even though I’m now e-book only, when a title is available in electronic format, I still think it’s a ripoff when the e-book costs the same as the hardback, given there’s no manufacturing cost or delivery cost.

    1. Think of it this way. You are paying the author for their work in writing the book. Also you are paying for the convenience an ebook affords. Why would you think an ebook should be cheaper?

      1. I can understand your argument, but I’d side with MM here.

        We now have an obvious challenge for the eBook industry (at least in Canada), where a point has been reached where the eBook market share is apparently no longer growing, and it should be.

        There is a question of the perceived value: a physical book automatically implies some inherent value (the labour, material and other effort that went into printing it and delivering it to the point of sale), where no such perceived inherent value exists for an eBook. While the printing, warehousing and delivery cost for an average book (retailing at some $20 or so) can be fairly small (perhaps less than 5% of that retail price), the perception in consumer’s mind is that those costs represent a much larger part of the total value of the book. It is difficult to determine exactly how much does the average consumer think the value of those incidental costs is, as a percentage of the retail price. Judging by some of the surveys out there, people believe that eBooks should cost at least some 30% less than a physical book. Add to this the practice of heavy discounts for physical books (sometimes more than 50%), and not to mention paperback pricing, and it should be no surprise that eBook format may struggle to take market share away from physical books.

  7. My only issues with eBooks:
    1- An eBook should not have the same price as a dead tree book. No ink, no paper, no printshop, no warehouse, etc.
    2- The IP rights assigned to eBooks in the US essentially reduce a purchase to a lease.
    3- Apple Books are only available on iOS devices, unlike the Kindle which has a Mac app.

  8. It’s the pricing, stupid. If an ebook costs the same or higher than a paperback, why would I want an ebook? With a paperback, there is a chance to resell and still get something back. Of course, if the stat includes free e-books, e-book sales should be higher.

  9. Speaking from the perspective of a librarian, e-books are being held up by the publishers. I’d like to be providing them to my student-clientele, but their prices are too high (See Darwin Evolved above). They are too limiting in their DRM schemes, and their distribution channels are abysmal. Companies I typically order books from only have rights to sell a very limited number of titles from a very limited number of publishers. it’s not possible for me simply to buy them from iTunes or Amazon. So I’ve been stuck in e-book limbo.

  10. If publishers would stop being so greedy and charging the same price for ebooks as for physical books, they could sell a lot more books for the same profit. When you subtract the cost for printing, paper, shipping, bookseller markups and other, you should arrive at the price for ebooks. That is not the case though. Greed kills the read.

    1. The pricing is crazy. I would think that an ebook should cost half a physical book.

      I am wondering if the problem is that when they publish a physical book they have to sell a certain number to remain profitable? So, they inflate the cost of digital books to ensure they sell enough physical books?

  11. In my country e-books are taxed 19% compared to the 6% tax on the same paper book. It’s more expensive, more restrictive and you need to install several apps to get the same coverage. Why bother?

  12. I got a great read from Amazon UK called ‘A Deadly Dozen’, by M. B. Mason. 12 short murder stories, with twists in the tale, for £0.77!!!

    Now that’s value.

    Unfortunately, iBooks prices are too high

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