Kindle drives Amazon print sales

New entrants to the UK e-book market buy more books, but tend to buy more from Amazon, even for print. The number of UK digital book buyers crossed the eight million threshold for the first time; but the percentage growth for first-time entrants to the e-book market is slowing.

Those were some of the highlights of “Understanding the E-Book Consumer Today” the latest look at the UK e-book market conducted by Nielsen BookScan/Kantar Worldpanel.

The research—which combines BookScan’s print data and Kantar’s panel of 15,000 UK consumers aged 13–79—showed that those who bought their first e-book in January 2012 went on to buy significantly more books than in 2011—up 77%, from 6.2 million units to 11.2 million.

Fifty-three percent (5.9 million) of those 11.2 million units were digital books. Of those e-books purchased by Kantar new entrants in 2012, a stunning 95% were bought through Amazon.

This has affected physical bookshops significantly. January 2012 new entrants bought 31.6% fewer books at bricks-and-mortar retailers in 2012 than 2011, with specialist booksellers hit hardest (down 40.5%), while supermarket purchases fell 24%.

Significantly, however, the new entrants did buy more physical books from Amazon year on year (up 9.2%) suggesting that as e-book adopters begin to buy digitally from Amazon, print book purchases follow suit.

The Nielsen/Kantar data unsurprisingly shows that e-book market penetration is rising. The survey said 8.3 million people in the UK had bought an e-book by the end of January 2013—up 5.4% (from 7.9 million) versus December 2012, and up 104.1% (from 4.1 million) against January 2012. That 8.3 million represents 17% of the UK population aged between 13–79.

However, the data also shows some slowing down of first-time entrants to the e-book market in the key post-Christmas period. In January 2011, there was a 48.4% growth of first time e-book buyers over the previous four-week period. In January 2012, that growth slowed to 18%, but in January of this year this growth has slumped to 5.4%.

Read the LBF Bookseller Daily: Day 2