Most Canadian Publishers Now Selling Ebooks Direct

BookNet_Canada66% of Canadian publishers are now selling ebooks directly to consumers, according to a new survey by BookNet Canada.

That share rose 24% since 2013, when 42% of Canadian publishers reported offering direct sales.

Ebook retailers remain the primary distribution channels for most publishers, BookNet Canada finds, but the sharp growth in direct-to-consumer sales methods shows widespread interest in expanding the distribution landscape and forging direct relationships with readers.

Related: To Go Direct, Publishers Must Mean Business

Less surprising is that the overwhelming majority—93%—of Canadian publishers now publish ebooks, a share that’s up 4% from 2013. Of those, 65% release print and digital editions simultaneously, while less than a third wait until the print book is published before releasing an ebook counterpart.

BookNet Canada also finds that publishers’ “high level of commitment” to digital content stems from a desire to boost sales and meet customer demand. Majorities of the publishers in its sample cited both of those reasons as motivations for producing ebooks.

According to BookNet Canada, “The majority of publishers (69%) report that ebook sales make up 1–10% of their revenue, while 17% of publishers derive 11–20% of their revenue from ebook sales.”

Complete findings from the BookNet Canada report are available here.

Related: Why All Publishers Can and Should Sell Direct

[Press Release]

Canadian Publishers Remain Committed to Digital Books

2014 ebook revenues increased for 52% of responding publishers; stayed flat or declined for 48%

93% of publishers surveyed are producing ebooks

Toronto, ON–May 12, 2015–Canadian publishers’ digital publishing programs continue to progress, according to a report released today by BookNet Canada. The State of Digital Publishing in Canada 2014 lays out the results of a survey conducted by BookNet Canada in early 2015. Over 70 respondents, representing small, mid-sized, and large publishers and distributors, reported on various aspects of their digital publishing programs, including staffing, ebook production & conversion, digital originals, enhanced ebooks & apps, ebook bundling, and ebook sales & distribution. Their responses were then compared to the results of the 2013 fielding of the same survey.

The percentage of publishers producing ebooks in 2014 increased slightly to 93% (vs 89% in 2013). Of those producing ebooks, close to half have digitized more than 50% of their active titles, and almost a quarter have converted over 75% of their backlist titles. The majority of publishers (65%) choose to publish print and ebook formats of a title simultaneously, while 29% delay the ebook edition until after the print version is available. When asked for the main reasons to publish ebooks, the most popular response was to increase sales (77%), followed closely by to meet customer demand (63%). Only 5% cited “as a mechanism to lower costs” as a reason to produce ebooks–a noticeable drop from 15% in 2013. The development of enhanced ebooks and apps remained fairly steady from 2013 to 2014, whereas more publishers are publishing digital originals: from 27% in 2013 to 35% in 2014.

The main sales channel was ebook retailers (95%), followed by direct (66%) and wholesale (43%). Ebook retailers also generated the most revenue for 69% of respondents, while only 12% reported receiving the most revenue through their direct sales channel. The percentage of publishers offering direct sales is up significantly, however–from 42% in 2013 to 66% in 2014. The majority of publishers (69%) report that ebook sales make up 1-10% of their revenue, while 17% of publishers derive 11-20% of their revenue from ebook sales. As for libraries, the majority of publishers surveyed (75%) sell ebooks to libraries, up from 61% in 2013.

BookNet Canada’s Director of Customer Relations, Pamela Millar, says, “This report demonstrates a high level of commitment by Canadian publishers and multinationals to include ebooks in their offerings, and to continue digitizing their backlist titles.”

You can download a free copy of The State of Digital Publishing in Canada 2014 at

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BookNet Canada is a non-profit organization that develops technology, standards, and education to serve the Canadian book industry.

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:
Joanna Karaplis
Marketing & Communications Manager
BookNet Canada
(416) 362-5057 x. 231

One thought on “Most Canadian Publishers Now Selling Ebooks Direct

  1. Michael W. Perry

    Direct sales raise the finder problem. Even readers who might like to buy direct from a publisher often don’t know how to find their website. Amazon’s chief advantage is that, with its huge selection, it makes finding easy and certain. Until publishers can offer an alternative to that, they’ll continue to spin their wheels and get nowhere.

    The solution would be a one-stop book-finder website that’d link to all the sources for a book from any interested publisher and perhaps include prices and other information. Done right, it could put some pressure on Amazon to behave better. Quite a few readers might be willing to buy somewhere other than Amazon if they were informed that their favorite author got about $1.40 of the price if they buy that $1.99 novel at the iBookstore (and almost as much at B&N) but only $0.70 if they buy it from Scrooge-like Amazon.

    The book-finder website could also offer direct sales for publishers who don’t want the hassle of maintaining their own web store. It could even offer advantages that other retailers either can’t or won’t offer, including letting readers who’ve bought a book in a Kindle format also get it in epub for no added cost or give those who buy a reflowable format the fixed layout format at the same price. Both Amazon and Apple seem to be lagging in offering that.

    Back with Google was hot on stealing extracts from copyrighted books, I tried to interest them in this book-finder idea but go nowhere. For the U.S. Bowker, issuer of ISBN’s would seem to be a good choice. But I’m skeptical that there’s anyone there who is web savvy. The company seems trapped in a technological bubble circa 1979. Innovation isn’t a part of its skill set and, as a monopoly, it need not pay attention to those who buy ISBNs.

    One by one, the opportunities to do something new with the Internet are fading, but a top-notch finder website for books, ebooks, and audiobooks remains open.



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