BookNet Canada’s first survey of where Canadians buy books and what types of books they buy found that about 16% of purchases in the first half of 2012 were of e-books, while paperback remained the most popular format, with a 57% share. Noah Genner, CEO of BNC, said that e-books’ percentage of total purchases was higher than expected, but that the figure was supported by feedback from publishers. “Some publishers are higher, some are lower,” Genner said, adding that Canada is starting to catch up to the U.S. in terms of e-book sales. The most popular device for reading an e-book is the home-grown Kobo, which was being used by 27% of e-book readers, followed by Kindle at 19% and iPad at 14%.
Even as e-books grew as a percentage of sales, most Canadians still bought books from bricks-and-mortar stores in the first six months of 2012. Online retailers accounted for less than 10% of purchases, while bookstores and big box retailers had the two largest shares. The study, “The Canadian Book Consumer 2012: Book-Buying Behaviour in Canada January to June 2012,” confirmed the growing role of nonbook retailers such as Costco, Wal-Mart, and Zellers in the bookselling market. Collectively, such retailers topped the list of purchase locations for the first half of 2012, slightly ahead of chain bookstores, which in Canada consist primarily of Indigo Books & Music and its affiliates. Genner said these nonbook merchandisers are one of the few growing channels for books. In small towns, a drug store or Wal-Mart may be the only place to buy books, he said. But even in larger urban centers, he added, “We know that Indigo has decreased their book footprint.... and the nontraditional retailers see an opportunity there, and I think they are trying to grow that business.”