Brits buy more e-books than other Euro readers
Flying off the shelves
Brits are embracing e-books more enthusiastically than anyone in Europe, the numbers show.
Last year, UK e-book buyers were responsible for half of Western Europe's digital book spending - even though the nation only accounts for 15 per cent of Europe's combined spending on physical books, market watcher Futuresource said today.
It reckons we'll spend £100m on e-books this year - five per cent of what Britons will spend on all types of book.
That compares favourably with a European average of one per cent.
As a whole, the Western European e-book biz grew by more than 400 per cent in 2010, with more than 10m e-books sold. That total, Futuresource forecasts, will hit 32m during 2011.
Of course, the figure is even higher if you factor in free e-books from the likes of Project Gutenberg, downloaded directly or provided by retailers like Apple and Amazon.
Futuresource's numbers likewise don't factor in downloads of nicked e-books being shared using technologies like Torrents. Perhaps continental Europeans are simply more enthusiastic freetards than are Brits?
Beyond next year, come 2015, European sales, said Futuresource, could hit €1.6bn (£1.4bn). In that year, e-books will account for 15 per cent of the money spent on books, though represent 20 per cent of all books sold in the region.
Europe's key e-book markets are the UK and Germany. The market has exploded in Britain after Amazon introduced a UK version of its Kindle online bookshop a year ago this month.
"Within a five-month period Amazon sold close to 400,000 Kindle devices and achieved e-book sales in the region of £20 million," said Futuresource analyst Fiona Hoy.
Hoy mentioned the Kindle's aggressive pricing, Amazon's "extensive catalogue of e-book titles at loss leading price points from key publishers" and "aspirational TV and print advertising campaigns" as key factors in Kindle's success here.
Lots more ebooks in English...
...than in any other language probably has something to do with it, I'd say.
Amazon's barriers to buying books
Also factor in the nonsense that Amazon UK won't sell Kindle titles to non-UK residents, instead forcing them to the US store with a poorer selection and almost invariably higher prices. I know it's not entirely Amazon's fault, and the blame lies rightfully at the door of the publishing industry with their questionable pricing practices and who haven't learnt much from the debacle that's been the music industry for the past decade. Torrents start to look appealing when what should be the most seamless part of the whole process, actually buying content, involves jumping through hoops involving proxies.
Amazon sent me an email asking for a copy of my passport as I'd dared, shock, horror, to buy an ebook from an Irish IP address. I told them where they could shove their request
Kindle store not even open yet on Amazon.fr, this "research" boils down to "more people bought a product where it was for sale than where it wasn't".
I'm fairly sure we could have worked that out without any help at all.
What next? PSP Vita didn't sell very well last year?
I never thought the ebook 'thing' was ever going to amount to much. Paper books are a remarkably usable technology (drop em in the bath dry them out etc). But having been bought a Kindle 3G I've come to eat my words somewhat.
The Kindle is a cracking piece of kit which Amazon has got really sorted. Certainly I've loaded up the Kindle with free books but I've also started buying the cheaper ebooks too. I've no doubt I'll buy full price books soon enough.
Amazing how one product can be a game changer for a whole medium.
But it doesn't make the book shelves look very good.
German Kindle store only launched in April 2011
Not sure of the usefulness of a survey of this type, at least not for the sake of comparisons between regions.
The German Kindle store was only recently launched and due to the size of the Amazon content it instantly makes it Germany's largest digital bookstore.
So, given Germany is Europe's largest economy, how can you make any meaningful comparison?