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Print Is Still the Dominant Format for Canadians, Says New BookNet Canada Study

E-Books Represent 16% of Book Purchases in Canada

Toronto, ON – October 10, 2012 – Canadians still overwhelmingly prefer print books to e-books, says BookNet Canada’s new The Canadian Book Consumer 2012: Book-Buying Behaviour in Canada January to June 2012 report. The first edition of the report—available today—finds that 86% of Canadians still purchase print formats and 19% buy electronic formats. Only 7% buy both. Paperback formats remain the most popular, but hardcover books still account for 24% of all book purchases.

This long-awaited study provides some much needed insight into consumer behaviour after some tumultuous times for the industry. The report also looks at where book purchases are made and why. It found that approximately 20% of print book purchases were made online (27.5% of all book sales were online, including mobile). But in-store purchases are still more prevalent: non-book retailers account for 32% of sales and traditional bookstores for 37%. 

“What we’re seeing is that Canadians are still devoted to print and they’re most comfortable shopping in physical stores,” said Noah Genner, CEO of BookNet Canada. “But online shopping and digital formats already have significant adoption across Canada, and it’s something we will continue to track as the study continues over the next two years.”

Among Canadian e-book buyers, Kobo was the most popular purveyor of e-reading devices—27% planned to use a Kobo device to read their next e-book. “Given Kobo’s Canadian roots, this isn’t surprising,” said Pamela Millar, BookNet Canada’s Director of Customer Relations. “But Kindle and Apple devices are not far behind. The next couple of holiday seasons will be important events for e-reader adoption. Then we’ll see if the majority will mimic the early adopters in terms of device preference.”

This report is based on the first two fieldings of a two-year study that began this year. This edition will cover the book-buying behavior, including genre, format, price tolerance, and retailer preference, and demographics of book-buying Canadians according to surveys from the first and second quarter of 2012. This edition also features a focus on library usage. BookNet Canada plans to release bi-annual editions over the next two years.

Data for The Canadian Consumer was derived from a nationally representative panel of book consumers. Each month a new group of respondents completed surveys about their book-purchasing behaviour for Bowker Market Research. Respondents were qualified for the survey when they indicated they had purchased a minimum of one book, regardless of format, in the prior month. This process yielded a survey sample of 1,000 book consumers.

The survey findings are available for sale in a PDF report, and a substantial discount is available for BNC SalesData subscribers. An executive summary is also available at no cost. For more information and to order a copy of The Canadian Book Consumer 2012: Book-Buying Behaviour in Canada January to June 2012, visit /consumer-studies/.


About BookNet Canada

BookNet Canada is the non-profit agency created by the Canadian book industry and the Department of Canadian Heritage to facilitate improvements in the book industry supply chain. It provides services and develops standards and certification in areas including electronic commerce, bibliographic data, and analysis of point-of-sales and other supply chain data.

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) for this project. / Nous reconnaissons l’appui financier du gouvernement du Canada par l’entremise du Fonds du livre du Canada (FLC) pour ce projet.

Media Contact:
Samantha Francis
Marketing and Communications Manager
BookNet Canada
416-362-5057 ext. 231