Book Retailing on the Internet 2015
- ID: 3274306
- May 2015
- Region: United Kingdom
- 112 Pages
- Key Note Ltd
This report examines the UK market for book retailing on the Internet, including physical books sold online and digital books (such as e-book formats). The scope of this report covers a number of categories, such as consumer books (i.e. fiction, non-fiction/reference and children’s books); academic and professional books; and school books (including English language teaching [ELT] aids). However, it should be noted that digital sales of other written content, such as journals, magazines and newspaper publications, have been excluded from the coverage.
The report will assess key trends and drivers affecting the online book retailing market, as well as consumer buying behaviour and overseas trends in book sales. In addition, the report provides an overview of the online book retailing market in the UK using SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) and PESTEL (political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legislative) analysis.
The Internet book retail marketplace can be broadly divided into the following two main market categories:
physical books sold online - this includes sales of physical books (i.e. paperbacks and hardbacks) sold via an e-commerce retailer, including via publishers’ own websites, online-only vendors or companion websites to physical bookstores (e.g. Waterstones.com)
digital books - these include books downloaded by a consumer on a compatible device, such as an e-reader, mobile phone or tablet device; such formats are widely known as e-books or e-editions, which largely consist of text, images or both, and are readable on computers or other electronic devices.
These sectors can be further sub-divided in terms of audience category and genre, as follows:
- Academic/professional - books related to all areas of academic and professional study, including books on science, technical and medicine (STM) subjects, as well as social sciences and humanities (SSH), among other topics. Similar to trends in the wider publishing market, digital sales of academic and professional titles have grown significantly in recent years, with e-journals and e-books now accounting for 20% of the total academic and professional market sector as of 2013. There has also been a shift to Open Access models - an alternative to the subscription model of journal publishing - which typically involves a publication charge being paid by the author to allow for the online distribution of articles and academic journals to educational institutions and libraries free of charge. Open Access models have been widely supported by the UK Government; however, publication of academic and professional content via such channels has grown at a slow pace due to concerns that a shift to such models could have a detrimental impact on revenue generation within academic and professional publishing in the longer term.
- Non-fiction/reference - includes a broad range of popular consumer book genres, including autobiographies and biographies, cookery books, and self-help books. This subsector also covers general hobbies and interests, as well as travel guides. According to The Publishers’ Association (The PA), although digital sales of such books have continued to increase while physical sales have declined, digital still represented just 7% of the overall non-fiction market in the UK as of 2013.
- Fiction - fiction books largely consist of novels or short stories read for pleasure, and encompass many different genres such as crime, romance, erotic romance, science fiction, fan fiction and fantasy novels. Plays, poetry and fables are also included in this subsector. Fiction titles are generally available in paperback form, and are low cost and highly disposable. Digital fiction sales have continued to rise and are now estimated to account for around a third of total sales within this particular sub-category.
- Children’s - this subsector primarily includes books written for children from 0 to 18 years old. The broad age range thus encompasses a wide variety of books, from fairytales, picture books and general children’s fiction to young adult novels. As a result of the higher proportion of illustrated books arising in this category, only around 5% of children’s book sales are accounted for by digital formats.
- School - includes books vital to education, such as textbooks and study books. Often such books are purchased and provided to students by schools or educational institutions, with these books covering a wide variety of academic subjects. It should be noted that school books may also be purchased by consumers for the purposes of revision or if the school does not provide pupils with textbooks. Although growing, digital school books continue to represent only a very minor proportion of total sales within this subsector, with the majority of growth being delivered by digital resources in core subjects such as English and maths.
- ELT - this sector refers to English language teaching books that are used to teach English to individuals for whom English is not a first language. The popularity of these types of books has been aided significantly by inwards migration into the UK in recent years, as well as a rise in foreign students across UK-based universities and more widespread participation in university exchange programmes, such as Erasmus
The total UK market for book retailing on the Internet - which comprises sales of both physical and e-book formats sold via online retailers - has observed significant growth over the past 5 years, with sales rising by 103.9% between 2010 and 2014. The strong growth observed across the market in recent years has primarily been down to the rapid uptake of mobile platforms, such as smartphones, tablet computers and e-readers, with penetration of such devices in the UK now estimated by Ofcom to stand at 61%, 44% and 24%, respectively.
However, recent market estimates suggest that Internet sales of books have been slowing slightly, with this report estimating the total market to have grown by just 6.6% and 4.8% in 2013 and 2014, respectively, despite achieving double-digit growth in past years. The lack of a major bestseller on par with that of Harry Potter or EL James’ erotic romance series Fifty Shades of Grey - which was lauded for driving waning sales of both physical and digital books during 2012 - is also thought to have dampened market growth in recent years.
However, despite the wider slowdown in Internet book retailing observed over the past couple of years, sales of e-books remain buoyant, with this particular sector of the market enjoying double-digit growth year-on-year between 2010 and 2014 - this contrasts to the 1.3% annual growth achieved in physical book sales online during 2013 and 2014. While most of this growth is down to a surge in uptake of compatible devices, such as tablet computers and e-readers, this particular sector of the market has also benefitted from a resurgence in audiobook formats, as well as increased investment in digital formats within non-consumer sectors of the book market, such as academic/professional, non-fiction/reference and children’s books, which have traditionally been dominated by physical formats due to the high illustrative and diagrammatic content that is characteristic of such genres. Despite the strong growth achieved in sales of e-books in recent years, it is important to note that such formats still represented just 16.6% of total book sales as of 2014.
Going forwards, the digital books sector could be in for a turbulent period, with sales of both physical books sold online and e-books likely to slow as the market reaches maturity and e-reader uptake attains saturation. A surprising revival in sales of physical books sold by high-street retailers has also served to dampen the market’s prospects somewhat, with several traditional bookstores such as Waterstones and Foyles reporting a return to growth towards the end of 2014, following years of declining market share at the hands of ever-dominant e-commerce giant Amazon, which is now thought to account for around 80% of e-book sales in the UK alone. Furthermore, the introduction of new VAT laws pertaining to the sale of digital products is likely to help level the playing field and could lead to a rise in e-book prices. These factors combined suggest a further slowdown in the Internet retail book market over the next 5 years, with several market analysts predicting an equilibrium to be reached between physical and digital formats over the coming years, with physical books expected to ultimately ‘win out’ in terms of market share.
SHOW LESS READ MORE >
1. Introduction & Definition
2. REPORT COVERAGE
3. MARKET SECTORS
What’s KEY in the Market?
4. KEY DRIVERS
5. MARKET TRENDS
The Decline of the Traditional Bookstore
Self-Publishing Boom Drives E-Book Sales
Young Adult Fiction and Children’s Books Continue to Drive Growth
Digital Revolution Fuelling Audiobook Sales
6. ECONOMIC TRENDS
7. MARKET POSITION
8. HOW ROBUST IS THE MARKET?
Market Size, Segmentation & Forecasts
9. MARKET SIZE & SEGMENTATION
The Total Market
Future Economic Trends
Forecast Total Market
11. MARKET GROWTH
13. OVERSEAS TRADE
14. MARKET LEADERS
WH Smith PLC
Apple Retail UK Ltd
Waterstones Booksellers Ltd
The Book Depository Ltd
The Book People Ltd
John Smith & Son Group Ltd
W & G Foyle Ltd
15. MARKETING ACTIVITY
16. KEY TRADE ASSOCIATIONS
17. EXHIBITIONS/TRADE SHOWS
19. OWNERSHIP OF E-READERS
20. BOOK PURCHASING
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats
Hachette Resolves Dispute With Amazon Following Threat of Department of Justice Investigation
E-Lending Trial Rolled Out to Selected UK Libraries Following Government Review
A New Era of Optimism as Economy Grows at Fastest Rate Since 2006
Record Price Rise in Books as Printed Formats Enjoy Revival
Is Reading Becoming More Social?
Uptake of Smart Devices Continues to Grow Despite Slowdown in E-Reader Penetration
The Multichannel Novel
Are E-Readers Really Greener Than Physical Books?
Consumer Contracts Regulations Introduced to Strengthen Online Buyer Rights
New EU VAT Proposals Could Result in Price Rises for E-Books
‘Google Tax’ to Affect Discount Online Sellers in UK
Understanding Consumer Survey Data
Number, Profile, Penetration
- Amazon.co.uk Ltd
- Apple Retail UK Ltd
- Blackwell Ltd
- John Smith & Son Group Ltd
- Scholastic Ltd
- The Book Depository Ltd
- The Book People Ltd
- W & G Foyle Ltd
- WH Smith PLC
- Waterstones Booksellers Ltd