Our northern neighbor Canada likes to emphasize that they are different from the United States. After all, Canadians are not “Americans”. The most popular sport in Canada is ice hockey. Canadians use the metric system. The legal drinking age in Canada is 18 years. Shoes are not worn inside the home. The quasi-national dish in Canada is poutine—fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy.
However, in many ways, Canadians are similar to Americans. After all, they speak English (for the most part). They drive their cars on the right side of the road. Both countries were founded on Judeo-Christian ethics. And Canadians read books, most of which are published in the United States. The top-selling books in the United States are often the top-selling titles in Canada as well.
I like to pay attention to the Canadian book market because I think it frequently mirrors the U.S. book market. A recent report on the Canadian book market by BookNet Canada reflects the input of over 2,000 book buyers and sales data from 4,700 book purchases.
In addition to breaking down sales performance for books in over 50 subject categories, BookNet’s report also covered what drives book purchase decisions and where Canadians buy books. Following are two nuggets from the study.
Book Purchase Decision Factors
The BookNet study asked respondents to identify the reason for their most recent book purchase (either for themselves or as a gift). Close to half of all respondents (55% for self-purchase and 46% for gift) reported that the reason they purchased the book was “reading for pleasure”. The second strongest book purchase motivator was self-help/improvement.
Interestingly, Canadians purchased more adult nonfiction books (32%) than adult fiction (26%) in 2017. While close to half of all books bought in Canada last year were children’s books (40%).
Where Canadians Buy Books
Online book purchases accounted for 52% of overall book sales in 2017, an increase of 5% over 2016. The most frequent brick-and-mortar place that Canadian residents purchased books was in retail chain stores, which made up 26% of book sales. Only 9% of book sales were made through bookstores in Canada in 2017.
The trend in Canada is clear, and the same trend is evident in the United States. The percentage of books purchased online continues to grow while the percentage of books purchased through bookstores continues to dwindle. As the percentage of books “discovered” in stores dwindles, your marketing focus must shift to aiming the majority of your promotional resources directly at your target audience and increasing online discovery of your books.
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Photo courtesy of Daniel Joseph Petty.