Ask A Reader - Do Canadian book-buying habits differ by region?

We’ve reviewed the questions submitted during our Ask A Reader campaign and realized that some of the answers could be found in recent research we’ve already conducted. Huzzah! So we’ve taken to the blog to share some of that data, which you’ll find in a series of posts over the next few weeks.

Q-Which Canadian city buys the most books?

When it comes to books, Canadians read a lot. We also have a lot in common when it comes to our book-buying habits. We buy more print books than ebooks, we’re most likely to discover our books online—though we prefer to buy them in-store—and we almost always pay full price. But we found some interesting variances in our 2013 consumer study, Coast to Coast: Book Buyers Across Canada, among book buyers from Western Canada, the Prairies, Central Canada, and the Maritimes. Though our consumer research can’t tell us which cities purchase the most books, we can share other interesting regionally specific book-buying behaviour, like what book genres are the most popular.

Fiction vs. Non-Fiction

For instance, book buyers in Western Canada are more likely to buy non-fiction books over fiction, whereas fiction is more popular in all other regions. We also know that mystery and detective books represent the largest volume of purchases nationwide, but they are the most popular genres in the Prairies and Atlantic Canada, whereas in Western and Central Canada fantasy books are nearly as popular as mysteries.

Question: Into which of the following categories does this book fall? Please select one. (All Canada N=9,940, West N=1,704, Prairie N=1,769, Central N=5,628, Atlantic N=885)


Question: Into which of the following categories does this book fall? Please select one.
(All Canada N=9,940, West N=1,704, Prairie N=1,769, Central N=5,628, Atlantic N=885)

Format Preference

Interesting differences also arise when we look at format preferences. Central Canadian book buyers are more likely than any other region to purchase hardcover books and book buyers in the Prairies purchase the most ebooks. Although Canadians overall prefer reading print books, Atlantic Canadians are the most likely to purchase print books (84% compared to 79% All Canada average) and they are the least likely to purchase ebooks.

Question: Please indicate the format of this book. Please select one. (All Canada N=11,983, West N=1,996, Prairie N=2,043, Central N=6,846, Atlantic N=1,098) *Appendix C contains a complete breakout of format purchases by region.


Question: Please indicate the format of this book. Please select one.
(All Canada N=11,983, West N=1,996, Prairie N=2,043, Central N=6,846, Atlantic N=1,098)
*Appendix C contains a complete breakout of format purchases by region.

How Books Are Purchased

When it comes to deciding where to shop, Western and Central Canadians are influenced by a store’s convenient location, whereas Atlantic Canadian book buyers are likely to choose a store because of price or special offers. Book buyers in the Prairies prefer to shop at store outlets because they provide a wide selection of books. Although Canadians in all regions are most likely to buy their books in-store at full price, with online channels a distant runner-up, there are still a few small regional variations that stand out: ereaders are most popular among book buyers in the Prairies and Atlantic Canadians are least likely to purchase books by mail (2%).

Question: How was this book purchased? Please select one. (All Canada N=9,987, West N=1,701, Prairie N=1,703, Central N=5,628, Atlantic N=900)


Question: How was this book purchased? Please select one.
(All Canada N=9,987, West N=1,701, Prairie N=1,703, Central N=5,628, Atlantic N=900)

Impulse vs. Planned Purchases

Now that we know where Canadians are buying their books, we can further analyze their book-buying behaviour. Differences emerge when we look at how deliberate or impulsive different regions are about their book buying. Book buyers in Central Canada take a more deliberate approach to shopping and are more likely than other Canadians to entirely plan the time and title of a book purchase, whereas book buyers in Atlantic Canada are most likely to be entirely impulsive about book purchases, including which title they choose and when they buy it.

Question: Which one of the following best describes your decision to buy this book at this outlet at this specific time? All Canada N=9,987, West N=1,712, Prairie N=1,747, Central N=5,628, Atlantic N=900)


Question: Which one of the following best describes your decision to buy this book at this outlet at this specific time?
All Canada N=9,987, West N=1,712, Prairie N=1,747, Central N=5,628, Atlantic N=900)