Book Buying Trends in Canada

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.

Related Posts:
Fresh Insight into Book Buying Behavior
Why Would Someone Buy Your Book?
Are Millennials Buying Your Books?

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Photo courtesy of Daniel Joseph Petty.

Five Trends Authors Should Know for 2018

A new year is right around the corner. We live in an age of unprecedented technological advances. Yet, as authors and publishers, we are still people of the printed word.

Each year, it gets harder to attract attention for any given book. The number of books produced each year is growing faster than the population rate is growing—while the average time spent reading daily is decreasing.

Marketing is essential to engage readers’ attention for your books. To keep your book marketing activities effective and relevant, you should be aware of these five important trends as we move into 2018.

1. Independent publishing will continue to grow.

According to Bowker, the agency that assigns ISBN numbers, self-publishing has grown tremendously over the past seven years. While the growth has recently slowed, the numbers of books published each year by independent authors will continue to grow.

According to Bowker, the number of books that were self-published (including small presses publishing fewer than 10 titles per year) grew 30 percent between 2013 and 2014. From 2014 to 2015, the number grew again by 21 percent, and then from 2015 to 2016, the growth of self-published titles grew by 8 percent.

While the number of titles published each year continues to grow, the reading rate in America has held steady since 2012. This means that the competition for readers’ attention, time, and money gets fiercer each year.

2. Amazon will continue to streamline operations for book publishing.

Amazon owns CreateSpace, the number one self-publishing platform on the Internet. Authors publishing on CreateSpace automatically have their books placed for sale in Amazon and in the CreateSpace store. However, in October of this year, Amazon shut down the CreateSpace store and the company is now directing all sales of CreateSpace books through Amazon directly.

Earlier this year, Amazon began rolling out KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) print option. Now anyone publishing an ebook via KDP can also request the book be made available in print format through Amazon without having to use CreateSpace. I believe that Amazon will continue to streamline operations for book publishing and that eventually all self-publishing for Amazon will go directly through KDP.

3. Online purchasing will outstrip brick-and-mortar purchasing.

An October survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics for the National Retail Federation found that nearly 59 percent of 7,350 consumers surveyed said they plan to do their holiday shopping online this year, up from 56.5 percent last year. This makes the first time in the survey’s history that online shopping topped brick-and-mortar as the preferred holiday shopping destination.

Online sales for books have exceeded brick-and-mortar stores for a number of years (since about 2012 after Borders closed). The majority of books are already purchased via the Internet. As the number of books purchased online has steadily risen, so the number of brick-and-mortar bookstores has steadily declined in the United States. Book sales tracking companies report that 70% of all book sales are now online (including print, ebook, and audiobook).

Your books should be available in multiple online outlets. While Amazon captures about 42% of all print book sales, books are still being purchased at other online bookstores. To capture the most sales, your books must be available in multiple outlets.

4. Mobile Internet access will continue to increase.

Two-thirds of the world’s population is connected to the Internet through mobile devices. People now spend more time browsing the web on mobile devices than on desktop computers. In fact, 63 percent of searches on Google this year were from a mobile device. The number of searches from mobile devices is expected to continue to grow, even surpassing the 70 percent mark in 2018.

To stay relevant, your website must be mobile optimized. If it is not, you will be left behind. Google gives preference to mobile-optimized websites for mobile searches. If your website is not mobile optimized, you could be missing out on almost two-thirds of the searches looking for your type of book.

5. Video will continue to dominate engagement on the web.

People watch a lot of videos online. Digital Information World reports that 55 percent of people watch videos online every day. Here are a few more statistics on video usage on the Internet:

  • Experts estimate that by 2019, video watching will account for 80 percent of Internet traffic.
  • After watching a video, 64 percent of users are more likely to buy a product online.
  • Recent data from Facebook shows that people are 10 times more likely to comment on a Facebook Live video than other posts.

You can use video to promote your books. Create book trailers, informational videos, and use live stream videos like Facebook Live to share with and connect with potential readers.

Related Posts:
Your Book: A Needle in a Haystack
Reading Rates Remain Consistent
Use Videos to Promote Your Book

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