Online book shopping overtakes in-store for first time

Online book shopping overtakes in-store for first time

Print book sales showed "continuing resilience" in 2014, with overall spending on print and digital titles increasing across the year. Meanwhile, online book buying overtook in-store book buying for the first time last year.

In 2014, sales of print and e-books stood at £2.2bn, up 4% from the previous year. The data was revealed today (25th March) at Nielsen Book's annual conference, BookInsights.

Overall, e-books accounted for 30% of book units purchased in 2014, with the fastest growth coming in non-fiction and children's categories. However, digital migration in those categories still remains limited, while there were signs that migration in categories such as romance and fantasy was slowing. Altogether 56% of the 36,000 book buyers in Nielsen Books & Consumers UK Survey owned a tablet by the end of 2014, up from 41% in the previous year, with 25% owning an e-reader.

Overall spending on children's books grew 15% in 2014, mainly driven by a 9% growth in print sales. YA was one of the strongest performing genres, with the growth in book spend driven by those aged 13-34. Adult book print sales saw a 4% decline, but the shortfall was made up by digital growth. Despite the rise in overall book spending, volume sales were down compared to previous years.

2014 also saw online spending on books overtake in-store spending on books for the first time. However, bookshops actually gained share in the print market, and remain ahead of online sales for children's books, impulse buys and the gift market. Overall, the proportion of books bought for gift occasions fell from 25% to 20% between 2012 and 2014. Spending on digital formats as gifts rose, but did not make up the shortfall in print gift buying.

Steve Bohme, Nielsen Book’s UK Consumer Research Director, said: “In 2014, we saw an increasing number of readers engaging with digital reading and media, but the proportion of book buyers reading printed books, newspapers and magazines has stayed level over the last three years. While digital helped grow a number of key market sectors, there was lower spending in 2014 than 2013 on genres such as crime, romance, historical fiction, annuals, cookery, health/fitness and travel.”