The overall book market including print and digital fell by 4% in 2013, according to Nielsen Book.
The data company's UK Books & Consumers Annual Review found that the overall book market, combining "e" and "p", declined by 4% in volume and value in 2013 after fewer customers bought physical books. E-book purchases rose to one in four in comparison to one in five of all books bought last year against 2012.
However, e-books were bought at a much lower price to physical books, accounting for only 14% of books spend overall.
The Annual Review provides an overview of consumer book purchasing in the UK in 2013 compared to 2012, using data based on 80‐90,000 book purchases made by a nationally representative sample of 37‐38,000 book buyers per year.
By contrast Nielsen BookScan figures for 2013, covering print sales only, showed volume dropping 9% year-on year (to 184.1 million units) and value down 6.5% year-on-year (to £1,416.8m).
The Books & Consumers survey noted that adult fiction was the most popular genre read in digital. “The e-book share of Adult Fiction rose to over 40% of purchases in 2013 (from one-in-three books bought in the previous year), with e-books also gaining in Adult Non-Fiction (to one-in-eight purchases) and in Children’s books (up to one-in-ten),” the survey said. “The e-book share was higher still within Adult Fiction genres such as romance, crime and fantasy, and above the average for Non-Fiction as a whole in narrative genres such as true crime, self-help and mind/body/spirit.”
The e-book share of children's titles varied from one-in-five for adventure, fantasy and relationship stories, to less than 5% of Non-Fiction and younger children’s formats.
Meanwhile, the number of self- published books being bought also rose in 2013, particularly in the e-book format, with a commensurate rise in the market share taken by internet-only retailers.
The survey also showed that fewer books were bought as gifts last year in a “concerning trend,” according to Nielsen Books’ international consumer research director Jo Henry.
She said: “One concerning trend noted in the survey is the drop in books being bought as gifts. In the UK, the share of the book market taken by gift purchases reduced 2% points, from 24% to 22%; this equates to a decrease of some 9m books bought as gifts in 2013 compared to the previous year, a phenomenon that has also been noted in the US Books & Consumers survey.”
In view of the importance of the gift market to the book industry, Nielsen Book Research is proposing a further study to understand what is behind the apparent decrease in the value that consumers are placing on books as gifts and what might be done to counteract this.
Anyone interested in taking part in this should contact Hazel Kenyon on Hazel.Kenyon@nielsen.com