The figures: how are books performing?Despite a small year over year decrease, Canadian book sales remained similar to previous years in 2021 at close to 53 million units. In line with trends, juvenile and young adult fiction remain the best-selling category, accounting for over 40 percent of sales. Book publisher revenue from sales to bookstores comes from independent stores rather than chains, though brick-and-mortar revenue is overall falling as customers move online to make digital book purchases.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the e-commerce giant’s clout across multiple industries, the preferred platform for buying e-books was Amazon. Behind Amazon were Apple Books, Google Play Store, and Kobo, whereas less than 20 percent had purchased their e-books from Barnes & Noble.
Canadian reading behaviorData on book spending in Canada in 2021 showed that readers were inclined to pay higher sums for print books than for digital. In fact, a small share of Canadians had spent in excess of 300 Canadian dollars on printed copies. Audiobook buyers were the most frugal in their spending, whilst e-books had the highest share of readers who got their books for free.
Book discovery among Canadian readers happens mostly via word of mouth, whereas online book retailers are losing ground in this respect, with potential buyers more likely to find new books from physical stores or libraries. Literary awards and ‘best of’ lists played a very limited part in readers’ book discovery with just six percent finding books this way, suggesting that a book’s status is of less value to readers than recommendations from others. A survey on _blank" rel="noopener">factors which most influence a reader’s decision to read a new book confirmed this – respondents were less concerned about a book being a bestseller and more likely to be persuaded by a recommendation.
In years to come, podcasts could play an increasingly important role in this respect. CBC’s ‘Canada Reads’ is just one among many podcasts targeting audiences in search of something new to read, and, as of early 2021, over one third of Canadian adults listened to podcasts each month. Since tips from others can be instrumental in helping Canadians discover and ultimately read a new book, podcast creators with loyal and trusting audiences could rise up to be one of the main influences behind book discovery and purchasing.