Print vs. E: How Are Canadians Reading?

An informal reading poll of the BookNet Canada office reveals a host of reading preferences when it comes to format: some exclusively read print while others are committed to digital, some read digitally from the library while purchasing print, and some have even abandoned digital. It has been interesting to discuss and explore how our behaviour has changed over the past couple of years.

For the past two years, BookNet Canada has been running consumer surveys in which we ask book buyers quantitative and qualitative questions about their book purchases. Through these surveys we have found a slight but notable shift in consumer patterns when it comes to format. Below is a graph of the over 8,000 Canadians that we surveyed over the past two years. This doesn’t look at the total number of books purchased by a respondent, but indicates the formats the respondent has purchased in any given period—print books, digital books, or both.

Book Purchases by Format

You can see from the trendline that readership of print has remained very flat over the past two years, while ebook readership has increased slightly. There has been an even more obvious increase for those who are reading in both formats. Through 2012, there was a steady decline in those reading digitally, but this seems to have rebounded in 2013, in particular among those reading in both formats.

When looking at the average number of books purchased by format, we found that those who read in print purchase on average 3.1 books a month, while those who read digitally buy approximately 4.4 books per month.

On a side note, we have also discussed the fact that sometimes our buying behaviour may not reflect our format preference, with price tolerance for ebooks often factoring prominently into the discussion. If you didn’t see it, take a look at our blog post Ebook Sales and Pricing Trends.

This topic, along with a wealth of other facts, is explored in the new BookNet Canada study The Canadian Book Consumer 2013: In-Depth Reader Profiles. Pick up your copy to develop a more granular understanding of book consumers by genre.