Why the Canadian E-Book Market Lags Behind the U.S.; E-Books up to 16% of Canadian Book Market

In the first half of 2012, e-books accounted for 16% of the Canadian book market, thought to be about $1.5 billion (CAN), according to a new report. Hardcover sales accounted for about a quarter of the market and paperbacks for the rest.

While e-book adoption in Canada lags behind the U.S., where e-books make up around 20% to 25% of the market, the amount of digital adoption startled the report’s authors at BookNet Canada.

“We were surprised in the sheer volume of the switch and how much online and digital has impacted the behavior of the book buyer,” said Noah Genner, CEO of BookNet Canada.

Canadian markets operate much like American markets. Despite the oft-cited differences between the two countries — hockey, currency, spellings of various words — the countries are quite alike. So why is the Canadian market lagging behind the U.S. market in e-book adoption?

According to Genner, there are four reasons:

1. Devices. E-book sales are device-driven and while the penetration of tablet computers and e-readers has grown “astronomically” in Canada, they’re not at the same levels as int he U.S.

2. Content. While the digital content libraries available to most Canadians nearly matches what’s available in the U.S., it’s a tad smaller.

3. Amazon. There is no localized Kindle store for Canada, so all Kindle sales go through the U.S. store. While it’s not a major technological hurdle for readers, it does mean that there’s no Canada-focused marketing team for Kindle e-books, dampening sales, Genner said.

4. No Barnes & Noble. There is no Barnes & Noble in Canada, which means that the country has one fewer device and e-book seller.

These reasons add up to slightly lower e-book adoption as well as a different e-book landscape. With its home-field advantage, little opposition from a Kindle marketing team and without Barnes & Noble, Kobo is the leading e-bookseller in Canada with Amazon a close second. Apple is apparently a distant third.

To gather this information, BookNet Canada conducted a survey among over 1,000 Canadian book buyers in the Spring.


One thought on “Why the Canadian E-Book Market Lags Behind the U.S.; E-Books up to 16% of Canadian Book Market

  1. devini

    I wonder why Amazon hasn’t put a local storesite in Canada? I wonder who is causing the roadblock: the gov’t, Indigo, telcoms? Market size or no I still have a difficult time figuring this one out.



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