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Audiobooks up slightly in first half of 2018

Toronto, ON – Aug. 2, 2018 – Canadian book market holding steady overall

Sales of print books in Canada for the first six months of 2018 were down 1% when compared to sales for the same period in 2017. This is according to numbers provided by online and physical retailers reporting print sales to BNC SalesData, the national sales tracking service for the Canadian English-language trade market.

At the same time, BookNet Canada's quarterly surveying of adult book-buying Canadians in 2018 shows that audiobooks made up 4% of all reported purchases, which has fluctuated from 3% in 2016 to 2% in 2017, while ebooks made up 18% of purchases compared to 20% in 2017 and 17% the previous year. Hardcovers and paperbacks continue to hold steady year over year at 23% and 51%, respectively. In terms of the channels where buyers are acquiring their books, digital sales, which include online retailers, ebook/audiobook downloads, and mobile apps, accounted for 52% of purchases in the first half of 2018, up from 51% in the first half of 2017. Minor decreases of approximately 0.5% can be seen at general retailers, grocery stores, and independent bookstores over this time.

With fluctuations of just a percent or two over the last two years, the book market in Canada seems to be holding relatively steady, with the audiobook market seeing incremental growth. It should be noted, however, that audiobook sales reported by survey respondents may be under-reported due to the many ways of accessing digital audiobooks online, from credit-based subscription models to all-you-can-listen streaming services. Plus, many audiobook listeners are getting content from their local libraries; the Toronto Public Library, for example, recently shared that audiobook downloads grew 40% last year.

More research on the Canadian book market and audiobooks will be released later this year. All of our studies can be found 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 2250