Press room

Digital revenue on the rise amid declining ebook sales

Toronto, ON – June 6, 2017 – Most Canadian publishers reported an increase of digital revenue in 2016

A new BookNet Canada report on the state of the digital publishing landscape in Canada finds that 61% of surveyed publishers saw an increase in revenue from digital books in 2016 — 1 in 4 experiencing an increase of at least 25% in digital revenue over the previous year.

At the same time, the percentage of ebooks with sales has declined once again, from 88% in 2014 to 73% in 2015 to 54% in 2016. The publishing firms surveyed for the study reported that, when taking into account their entire digital catalogues, 46% of their available ebooks saw no sales in 2016. Possible factors contributing to these changes could be the continued digitization of backlist titles, thereby increasing the overall volume of available ebooks in the market, as well as the 2.1% decline in ebook sales between 2015 and 2016 in the Canadian market, according to regular consumer surveying by BookNet Canada.

In the wake of reports that consumers may be moving back to print after an initial rise in popularity for ebooks, BookNet Canada has surveyed publishing firms from across the market for the fourth year in a row and published the results in The State of Digital Publishing in Canada 2016. The new study updates previous editions with year-over-year trends in ebook conversion, digital revenue streams, preferred devices, digital audiobooks, pricing models for libraries, and more. 

Other highlights from the report include a significant increase in the number of publishers producing digital audiobooks, which rose by 11% over 2015, and a 20% jump in the number of firms utilizing the agency pricing model for their ebooks. In 2016, 71% of publishing firms reported using that model. When it comes to ebook retailers, Kobo continues to be the most-used by publishers (96%), followed by Amazon (93%) and Apple (84%).

The full report can be accessed for free at

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BookNet Canada is a non-profit organization that develops technology, standards, and education to serve the Canadian book industry. Founded in 2002 to address systemic challenges in the industry, BookNet Canada supports publishing companies, booksellers, wholesalers, distributors, sales agents, and libraries across the country.

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:
Zalina Alvi
Marketing & Communications Manager
BookNet Canada 
(416) 362-5057 x 225