BookNet Canada has released its latest survey of digital publishing in Canada, and found the sales of ebooks declined by slightly more than 2% from 2015 to 2016. According to the survey, ebook sales in Canada dropped from 19% to 16.9% of the total market last year. In the same period, ebook sales in the U.K. declined by 4% and the U.S. saw a whopping 14% drop in digital sales.
Respondents to the survey consisted mainly of small publishers (59%), with 29% medium-sized and 9% large publishers (defined as those having greater than $10 million annual revenue). Of these, the majority (64%) report revenue from digital sales accounting for between 1% and 10% of total revenue. The largest proportion of survey respondents (71%) represented trade publishers, with scholarly, educational, and other types accounting for the remainder. Thirty-nine percent of publishers claimed to employ dedicated staff for ebooks.
Publishers continue to put resources into the digitization of their titles and backlists, with 68% reporting digital books being made available simultaneously with the print release, and EPUB 3 is emerging as the industry standard for formatting, with 72% of respondents planning to adopt it.
Arguably the most interesting statistic in the BookNet survey was the proportion of ebooks with no sales in Canada. Fully 46% of available ebooks had no sales in 2016; in 2014, by comparison, available ebooks with no sales in the market sat at 12%. Notwithstanding the decline in sales, 61% of reporting publishers claimed an increase in revenue from ebooks, with one quarter reporting a revenue increase of more than 25% year-over-year.