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The Globe and Mail

E-book sales plateauing: BookNet Canada report

A student uses a Kindle during class at Pace University in New York in this 2009 file photo.

Mark Lennihan/The Canadian Press

Kobo and Kindle have grown to become familiar brands in Canada but e-book sales now appear to plateauing, suggests a report by the industry organization BookNet Canada.

Based on surveys with 4,000 book-buying consumers, BookNet Canada pegged paperback sales in 2012 at about 58 per cent of the market, while hardcovers accounted for 24 per cent and e-book sales made up 15 per cent.

BookNet Canada president and CEO Noah Genner says early sales data from this year shows e-book sales are steady and no longer growing.

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Digital sales peaked at an estimated 17.6 per cent of the book market in the first quarter of 2012 before sinking to 12.9 per cent in the last quarter of the year.

BookNet Canada suggests book sales are strongly tied to gift-giving.

Consumers who received an e-reader over the holidays likely drove e-book sales higher at the beginning of 2012. But e-books are not commonly given as gifts, so paperbacks and hardcovers did better at the end of 2012 leading up to the holiday season.

The report found most consumers still preferred to buy their books in stores rather than shopping online. About 37 per cent said they made their purchases at book stores, 34 per cent chose other retail stores (including Costco and Walmart), and 25 per cent went online to buy books.

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