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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.

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