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Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Books and e-books market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Key points included

  • People want to support chain bookstores nearly as much as independent ones
  • Apple could challenge Amazon’s dominance with cross-media subscription
  • Interactive audiobooks could be next opportunity

Covered in this report

This report covers print and digital books (ie e-books and audiobooks) through all channels. E-books are all books readable on dedicated e-reader devices like the Amazon Kindle, or through smartphone or tablet applications or desktop/laptop browser extensions.

For the market size of consumer print books Mintel uses data from Nielsen BookScan which monitors retail book sales.

For the market size of digital books Mintel uses data from The Publishers Association which reports the invoiced value of UK publisher sales of digital consumer books. This include e-books, audio downloads, online subscriptions and other digital book sales.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Rebecca McGrath, a leading analyst in the Media sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

2018 was another positive year for the print book market and Mintel’s research shows the strength of people’s affection for bricks-and-mortar bookstores, whether part of a chain or independent. Waterstones continues to make acquisitions to better position itself against Amazon, particularly with the looming threat of Amazon potentially opening its own bookstores Rebecca McGrath
Senior Media Analyst

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What's included

What's included

Table of contents

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Print book market continues to grow
              • Figure 1: Value of consumer print book market sales, 2014-24
            • Slight turnaround for digital books
              • Figure 2: Publisher UK sales of consumer digital books (net invoiced value), 2014-24
            • Great year for non-fiction print books
              • Key players
                • Eleanor takes the crown in 2018
                  • Waterstones makes acquisitions
                    • Apple revamps iBooks as Apple Books
                      • The consumer
                        • Increase in number of people buying books
                          • Figure 3: Book buying habits, April 2018 and May 2019
                        • 16-34s nearly as likely to read e-books as print books
                          • Figure 4: Devices used for e-books and audiobooks, April 2018 and May 2019
                        • More digital readers/listeners are using a subscription
                          • Figure 5: E-book paid-for subscriptions, April 2018 and May 2019
                          • Figure 6: Audiobook paid-for subscriptions, April 2018 and May 2019
                        • Home is the main location people listen to audiobooks
                          • Figure 7: Occasions when people listen to audiobooks, May 2019
                        • Dislike for reading on devices is main barrier for e-books
                          • Figure 8: Reasons for not buying e-books, May 2019
                        • Familiarity with author the main driver of book choice
                          • Figure 9: Reasons for buying books, May 2019
                        • Only one in four would give an e-book as a gift
                          • Figure 10: Interest in giving books as gifts, May 2019
                        • Bookstores have a lot of goodwill
                          • Figure 11: Attitudes towards buying books, May 2019
                        • What we think
                        • Issues and Insights

                          • People want to support chain bookstores nearly as much as independent ones
                            • The facts
                              • The implications
                                • Interactive audiobooks could be next opportunity
                                  • The facts
                                    • The implications
                                      • Apple could challenge Amazon’s dominance with cross-media subscriptions
                                        • The facts
                                          • The implications
                                          • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                            • Print book market grows in 2018
                                              • Slight turnaround for digital books
                                                • Waterstones makes acquisitions
                                                  • Waterstones staff call for living wage
                                                    • Independent bookshops grow in number for second year
                                                      • UK government faces calls to remove VAT on e-books
                                                        • Microsoft closes e-book store
                                                          • Great year for non-fiction print books
                                                          • Market Size and Forecast

                                                            • Print book market continues to grow
                                                              • Figure 12: Value of consumer print book market sales, 2014-24
                                                              • Figure 13: Value of consumer print book market sales, 2014-24
                                                            • Slight turnaround for digital books
                                                              • Figure 14: Publisher UK sales of consumer digital books (net invoiced value), 2014-24
                                                              • Figure 15: Publisher UK sales of digital consumer books (net invoiced value), 2014-24
                                                            • Value of audiobooks growing rapidly
                                                              • Figure 16: Publisher sales of digital consumer books, by format (net invoiced value), 2014-18
                                                            • Forecast methodology
                                                            • Market Segmentation

                                                              • Great year for non-fiction print books
                                                                  • Figure 17: Value of consumer market print book sales, by type of book, 2014-18
                                                                • Fiction and non-fiction consumer digital books grow in 2018
                                                                  • Figure 18: Publisher UK sales of consumer digital books, by category (net invoiced value), 2014-18
                                                              • Market Drivers

                                                                • Waterstones makes acquisitions to “champion” bookstores…
                                                                  • Foyles
                                                                    • Barnes & Noble
                                                                      • …while facing staff petition for living wage
                                                                        • Independent bookshops grow in number for second year
                                                                          • UK government faces calls to remove VAT on e-books
                                                                            • Charity calls on government to promote reading as way of combatting loneliness
                                                                              • Microsoft closes e-book store
                                                                              • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                                • Apple revamps iBooks as Apple Books
                                                                                  • Amazon creates e-book gift option
                                                                                    • Amazon opens pop-up shops but not yet bookshops
                                                                                      • PRH boosts e-book sales by 27%
                                                                                        • Eleanor takes the crown in 2018
                                                                                          • Stephen Fry’s Mythos is top Audible audiobook
                                                                                          • Market Share

                                                                                            • Eleanor takes the crown in 2018
                                                                                              • Figure 19: Top 10 consumer print books, by volume, 2018
                                                                                            • Stephen Fry’s Mythos is top Audible audiobook
                                                                                              • Figure 20: Top 20 audiobook downloads from Audible, 2018
                                                                                            • PRH boosts e-book sales by 27%
                                                                                              • Figure 21: Volume of UK e-book paid-for download sales, by ‘big five’ publishers, 2018
                                                                                          • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                            • Apple revamps iBooks as Apple Books
                                                                                              • Digital book services produce more original content
                                                                                                • Audible offers free Originals to members
                                                                                                  • Apple Books publishes exclusive audiobooks
                                                                                                    • Scribd launches Scribd Originals
                                                                                                      • Amazon creates e-book gift option
                                                                                                        • Apple Books introduces reading goals
                                                                                                          • Patterson explores storytelling on Facebook Messenger
                                                                                                            • Amazon opens pop-up shops but not yet bookshops
                                                                                                            • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                              • Increase in number of people buying books
                                                                                                                • More digital readers/listeners are using a subscription
                                                                                                                  • Home is the main location people listen to audiobooks
                                                                                                                    • Only one in four would give an e-book as a gift
                                                                                                                      • Familiarity with author the main driver of book choice
                                                                                                                        • Two in five are not buying e-books because they don’t have an e-reader
                                                                                                                          • People want to support bookstores
                                                                                                                            • Nearly half of print buyers have bought from an independent bookstore
                                                                                                                            • Book Buying Habits

                                                                                                                              • Increase in number of people buying books
                                                                                                                                • Figure 22: Book buying habits (net), April 2018 and May 2019
                                                                                                                                • Figure 23: Book buying habits, April 2018 and May 2019
                                                                                                                            • Reading Habits and Devices Used

                                                                                                                              • 16-34s nearly as likely to read e-books as print books
                                                                                                                                • Figure 24: Devices used for e-books and audiobooks, April 2018 and May 2019
                                                                                                                              • More digital readers/listeners are using a subscription
                                                                                                                                • Figure 25: E-book paid-for subscriptions, April 2018 and May 2019
                                                                                                                                • Figure 26: Audiobook paid-for subscriptions, April 2018 and May 2019
                                                                                                                              • Will Apple introduce a book subscription service?
                                                                                                                              • Audiobook Listening Occasions

                                                                                                                                • Home is the main location people listen to audiobooks
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 27: Occasions when people listen to audiobooks, May 2019
                                                                                                                                • Gamification could help boost out-of-home listening
                                                                                                                                • Reasons for Buying Books

                                                                                                                                  • Familiarity with author the main driver of book choice
                                                                                                                                    • One in four buy books they see on display
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 28: Reasons for buying books, May 2019
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 29: Reasons for buying books, by age, May 2019
                                                                                                                                    • Younger people influenced by a greater variety of factors when buying a book
                                                                                                                                      • BuzzFeed partners with Amazon to encourage greater online discussion
                                                                                                                                      • Reasons for Not Buying E-books

                                                                                                                                        • Dislike for reading on devices is main barrier for e-books
                                                                                                                                          • Two in five are not buying e-books because they don’t have an e-reader
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 30: Reasons for not buying e-books, May 2019
                                                                                                                                          • Many want to be able to give books to others
                                                                                                                                            • One in 10 are concerned about lack of permanent ownership
                                                                                                                                            • Books as Gifts

                                                                                                                                              • Only one in four would give an e-book as a gift
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 31: Interest in giving books as gifts, May 2019
                                                                                                                                                • Amazon looks to boost e-book gifting
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 32: Interest in giving books as gifts, by age, May 2019
                                                                                                                                              • Attitudes towards Bookstores

                                                                                                                                                • People enjoy browsing bookstores
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 33: Attitudes towards buying books, May 2019
                                                                                                                                                • Bookstore chains have to be careful not to undermine goodwill
                                                                                                                                                  • Nearly half of print buyers have bought from an independent bookstore
                                                                                                                                                    • Finding a niche
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 34: Purchasing from independent bookstores, May 2019
                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                      • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                        • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                                                                          • Market forecasts
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 35: Value of consumer print book market sales, 2019-24
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 36: Publisher UK sales of consumer digital books (net invoiced value), 2019-24
                                                                                                                                                          • Forecast methodology

                                                                                                                                                          This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.

                                                                                                                                                          • Market

                                                                                                                                                            Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.

                                                                                                                                                          • Consumer

                                                                                                                                                            Mintel's proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.

                                                                                                                                                          • Brand/Company

                                                                                                                                                            Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.

                                                                                                                                                          • Data

                                                                                                                                                            Market reports provide appendices of data to support the research and insight produced. Our tables of data are easily manipulated and downloadable to support your research needs and covers factors from consumer attitudes to market forecasts.

                                                                                                                                                          Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted.

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