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Global eBook Survey 2013 by Bookboon

As being an eBook publisher means regularly conducting market research, we created a survey covering 13 of the most important eBook markets in the world. Between December 2012 and February 2013, a total of 40.337 people answered our Bookboon eBook Survey. Let’s take a look at the results of all 13 countries.

Main results

eBooks are facing a very interesting time ahead as about 75% of the respondents are expecting to be reading eBooks in 2015, and half of the respondents expect the majority of their book reading to be eBooks. As a result, 2015 may in many ways be a defining year for eBooks, as they will overtake printed books in units sold.

Graph 1: Except eBooks to be 50% or more of their book consumption in 3 years

The huge success of tablet computers and eReaders is the major driver behind this development and in most markets these portable eReading devices will reach a 50% market penetration by the end of 2013.

New eBook markets such as Germany and Scandinavia will see a significant adaptation to eBooks in 2013. At the same time, more developed markets such as the UK and the US will still see a significant growth.

Below you can find the details of how many people in the different countries already own tablets, will start using eBooks in the next 12 months and what they think about the price and selection of eBooks. All in all, you can gain insights into what potential the eBook market holds and if it is used to full capacity. If books are your business and passion, then you shouldn’t miss these results about eBook trends.

People with eReading devices in the surveyed countries

Looking at the people who already own an eReading device, our results show that in terms of tablets, the US is leading (30.6%), followed by the Netherlands (29.4%) and the UK (28.1%). The country with the least tablet owners is India with 0.5%, followed by France (8.1%) and Austria (9.8%).

Estimating that the ownership of tablets has a positive influence on the purchase of eBooks, this graph shows the recent eBook potential in the respective countries. This also applies to eReaders: the higher the number of eReaders, the more likely it is that consumers download an electronic title.

Graph 2: People with eReading devices in the surveyed countries

Do respondents expect to buy an eReading device in the next 12 months?

Next we asked readers if they expect to buy a device within the next 12 months. The highest number of respondents that answered with yes is located in the countries with few eReader owners. This applies to Norway (32.4%), Sweden (32.1%), Finland (29.2%), Denmark (28.7%) and Germany (28.5%).

However, over 50% of the readers in almost all of these countries will not or will later buy an eReading device. There still exists a lot of potential for the eReader and eBook market in these countries.

The lowest number of respondents that answered with yes is located in India. This can be explained by the high population of over 1.2 billion people and the fact that online retailer Amazon has only recently entered into the Indian e-commerce market.

Graph 3: Do respondents expect to buy an eReading device in the next 12 months

eBook buyers and those who are considering buying them regularly 

When looking at the results shown in the graph below you can see that in over half of the analyzed countries 2/3 of respondents intend to buy their first eBook within the next 3 years. This applies to Switzerland (77.1%), Finland (74%), Norway (69.9%), Sweden (69.5%), Denmark (68.9%) and Germany (68.9%).

In the Netherlands (64.4%) and Austria (62%) the willingness to purchase an eBook within the next 3 years is also high.

When it comes to buying eBooks regularly, the winners are American readers (27.1%) and UK readers (24.4%).eBook buyers and those who are considering buying them regularly

Graph 4: eBook buyers and those who are considering buying them regularly

Printed book vs. eBook – book reading trend in 3 years

But what is the actual amount of eBooks consumers will buy? When looking at the division of eBooks compared to printed books the respondents from Finland (60.2%), the US (57.6%), the UK (56.2%), the Netherlands (51.8%), Norway (50.6%) and Switzerland (50.2%) estimate that over half of the books they purchase in the next 3 years will be eBooks.

The most traditional readers with the highest amount of printed and the lowest amount of eBooks are found in India (29.2%), Austria (38.4%) and Germany (44.6%).

Graph 5: Printed book vs. eBook – book reading trend in 3 years

Price perception of eBooks in respective countries

We also asked readers what they think of the price of eBooks in their country of purchase. According to our results, Indian readers are most unsatisfied with the price of eBooks. 50.2% answer that they find the eBook prices unfair or even very unfair, followed by Finnish readers with 42.7%.

In the Netherlands where 39.5% of readers regard the price as too high as well as in in France (39.4%), Austria (36.8%) and Germany (31.4%), the prices for eBooks are still regulated by a fixed-price law or agreement for books. This could be one explanation for the high pricing and therefore high level of dissatisfaction of consumers.

However, in countries which no longer have this law, readers still complain about the high prices. This is the case in Denmark were 35.6% find eBooks unfairly priced, but also in Norway (33.6%) and Sweden (32.9%).

In the US (12.2%) and the UK (18.7%) there are fewer readers who are unsatisfied with the eBook offers. This can be due to the fact that low-cost retailers such as Amazon don’t have to follow pricing regulations.

Graph 6: Price perception of eBooks in respective countries

How satisfied are eBook consumers with the selection of eBooks?

When it comes to the selection of eBooks, especially the consumers in the Nordic countries seem to find fault with what bookstores have to offer them. 44.1% of Finnish readers and 40.4% of Danish readers find the selection unsatisfying or even very unsatisfying. In Norway there are 39.4%, in Sweden 39.3%.This could be caused by a limited number of eBooks which are available in the local language.

The satisfaction with the eBook selection in the UK (only 3.6% unsatisfied), the US (only 4.4% unsatisfied), Switzerland (only 5% unsatisfied) and Germany (only 5.6% unsatisfied) is a lot higher.

Graph 7: How satisfied are eBook consumers with the selection of eBooks

Do you want to receive the entire report?

These are just some of many results which we gathered in the course of our survey.

If you are interested in receiving the full report, please feel free to contact Johan van den Bos. You can send Johan an email at


In 2015 we started a new eBook survey to get an idea of the latest trends. Please help us by answering our 11 questions (takes maximum 2 minutes). At the end of the survey you can see the preliminary results. Click here to start the survey.