Digital book sales in slight decline according to latest BookNet Canada survey

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.

Digital book sales in slight decline according to latest BookNet Canada survey
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