Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Tools of Change Frankfurt Key Note 1: Jo Henry on Consumer eBook Monitor Data

The (ebook) world according to Bowker
For the first session at Tools of Change conference on the eve of the Frankfurt Book Fair, Jo Henry from Bowker presented an overview of their Consumer eBook Monitor data.

Who are downloading ebooks? In general, they are male and a third to a half are under 35. The majority live in urban/surburban areas and half to three quarters are in work. A third have a degree (although this rises to 90% in India).

Future trends include i) moving towards more even male/female split; ii) becoming older with more 35+ in most markets; and iii) increasingly suburban. India is a massive market however the US is still the biggest market. There is a long tail across to New Zealand, with a small population and low growth.

Other interesting trends include:

  • engagement in ebooks is not slowing print purchases
  • heavy book buyers are usually promiscuous and buy/borrow from all channels
  • 10% of people who were not buying print books are buying ebooks

What is the role of free in the digital world? Free is driving engagement with paid digital content. If you are a free downloader you are two and a half times more likely to buy print while still downloading, unless you are in India or South Africa. In this survey they also asked about piracy. India and Canada are low in the 'never would download illegally'. Some consumers are conflicted and might consider downloading illegally if they couldn't get a legitimate copy.

Where there is a young market, the device most used for e-reading is a PC. The markets who've adopted e-reading devices most enthusiastically are Canada and the UK. There is also a significant number who read using mobile. Amazon has the strongest market share in the UK, US and New Zealand while Canada have a higher proportion from Kobo.

Attitudes to pricing are fairly consistent: consumers say they should be cheaper than print books. In most markets they think the ebook should be 50% of hardback and c.70% of paperback for adult fiction except in India where value is perceived to be more than print. For debut author prices need to be cheaper.

She concluded with the following observations:

  • growth rates are fast - particularly in emerging markets
  • engagement with ebooks doesn't always reduce print spend
  • free is driving the ebook market
  • the biggest players don't always dominate the market
  • 'E' is regarded as less valuable than 'P'.

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