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. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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?

  4. 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

  5. E-books are convenient and incredibly portable. They are difficult to read in sunlight. They require a charged up device. They are skeuomorphic. The real problem is that almost all of them are just books made into electronic versions. The potential of an e-book to be so much more than a physical book has been wasted by almost all. An e-book should be more of a value than a published book and if they were done right, they should cost more. Animation, Video, contextual glossaries, graphics, internet based extenders and links. All this is available and none of it used. The e-book potential for spawning a new era in publication and an entire new industry for graphic artists, animators, videographers, 3-D artists, etc has not yet been realized. Missing all this opportunity, while just publishing words, is the reason people think they are too expensive and only a novelty.

  6. They are still way to expensive! I was in Indigo yesterday with a friend. The new Dan Brown Hardcover is there for sale for $15.00. The eBook is $15.99 and is not shareable. My friend said he would lend it to his girlfriend after he reads it. No sharing with eBooks.

    If the ebook was maybe $8.99 or $9.99 it would be a consideration, but consumers are not stupid and this is why eBooks have not taken off.

    Digital distribution costs almost nothing compared to the Physical books. Pass the savings on to the consumer and you will see an increase in sales.

    1. I don’t know about you but I think 9.99 is insanely cheap for a book actually. If you convert the dollars to SEK for Sweden it’s nothing. No one makes any money if that. Most authors don’t make any money. Only the best top sellers. And just as with CDs the author get I think it was something between 7-14% of the cover price of the book.

  7. What you mean Hardcover? It is paper too…
    I don’t believe in e-books for everything but technical papers, manuals, certain school books, manuals for hospitals as such things. There are many attributes of normal books that still makes them better in many cases. They don’t break. You can resell then, you can give them away. They are compatible with every major platform I.e. they don’t use one. You will be able to read them 300 years from now. And more. Same with news paper. When you are done throw it away or you can share it with someone.

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