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UK Books and e-books market report

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 and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Products covered in this Report

This Report covers the purchase of print and digital books (ie e-books) 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.

Audiobooks are also included within Mintel’s consumer research section, but not in the market size or segmentation data. Market size data is for purchases made by private consumers – what Nielsen BookScan terms the Total Consumer Market. Mintel’s e-book market size does not include self-published books.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

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

The excitement of the print revival has died down slightly with print growth stalling in 2017 and 2018. The most intriguing sector of the book market currently is audiobooks; with the format likely to receive a boost from the growing popularity of voice-controlled smart speakers Rebecca McGrath
Retail Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

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

          • The market
            • Book market to remain steady in 2018
              • Figure 1: Forecast of total consumer book market sales, 2013-23
            • Slight growth in value of fiction
              • The number of independent stores increases for first time in 20 years
                • Waterstones sold to hedge fund
                  • Key players
                    • Mixed results for top publishers in 2017
                      • Hachette has strong e-book year
                        • More audiobook options are being introduced to take on Audible
                          • The consumer
                            • Half of people buy print books
                              • Figure 2: Book buying habits (nets), April 2018
                            • Amazon dominates the retail landscape
                              • Figure 3: Where people buy print books, April 2018
                            • One in three read e-books via a subscription
                              • Figure 4: E-book paid-for subscriptions, April 2018
                            • Crime/thriller is the most popular fiction genre
                              • Figure 5: Genres of fiction books bought, April 2018
                            • People spend more time browsing in-store than online
                              • Figure 6: Bookstore purchasing habits, April 2018
                              • Figure 7: Online book purchasing habits, April 2018
                            • People are looking for the cheapest for e-books
                              • Figure 8: E-book purchasing behaviour, April 2018
                            • What we think
                            • Issues and Insights

                              • Smart speakers to give extra boost to audiobook market
                                • The facts
                                  • The implications
                                    • The problem of e-book pricing
                                      • The facts
                                        • The implications
                                        • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                          • Book market to remain steady in 2018
                                            • E-book market to grow by 2% in 2018
                                              • Slight growth in value of fiction
                                                • Waterstones sold to hedge fund
                                                  • The number of independent stores increases for first time in 20 years
                                                    • EU yet to reduce VAT on e-books
                                                    • Market Size and Forecast

                                                      • Book market to remain steady in 2018
                                                        • Figure 9: Value of consumer book market sales, 2013-23
                                                      • Forecasts
                                                        • Figure 10: Forecast of total consumer book market sales, 2013-23
                                                        • Figure 11: Forecast of total consumer print book market sales, 2013-23
                                                        • Figure 12: Forecast of total consumer e-book market sales, 2013-23
                                                      • Forecast methodology
                                                      • Market Segmentation

                                                        • Slight growth in value of fiction
                                                          • Figure 13: Value of consumer market print book sales, by type of book, 2013-2017
                                                      • Market Drivers

                                                        • Waterstones sold to hedge fund, but remains under fire for unbranded stores
                                                          • The number of independent stores increases for first time in 20 years
                                                            • Libraries continue to close at a significant rate
                                                              • EU yet to reduce VAT on e-books
                                                              • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                                                • Mixed results for top publishers in 2017
                                                                  • Hachette has strong e-book year
                                                                    • Jaime Oliver tops the pile in 2017
                                                                      • More audiobook options are being introduced to take on Audible
                                                                        • Audiobooks.com launches in the UK
                                                                          • Kobo introduces audiobooks
                                                                            • Spotify signs deal with Bloomsbury for Audiobooks
                                                                              • Google adds audiobooks to Play Books
                                                                                • PRH measures diversity via ‘inclusion tracker’
                                                                                • Market Share

                                                                                  • Mixed results for top publishers in 2017
                                                                                    • Figure 14: Value of consumer market print book sales, by top-20 publishers, 2016-17
                                                                                  • Hachette has strong e-book year
                                                                                    • Figure 15: Volume of consumer market e-books sales, by ‘big five’ publishers, 2013-17
                                                                                  • Jaime Oliver tops the pile in 2017
                                                                                    • Figure 16: Top 10 consumer print books, by volume and value, 2017
                                                                                  • Stephen Fry dominates audiobook world
                                                                                    • Figure 17: Top 20 audiobook downloads from Audible, 2017
                                                                                • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                  • More audiobook options are being introduced to take on Audible
                                                                                    • Audiobooks.com launches in the UK
                                                                                      • Kobo introduces audiobooks
                                                                                        • Spotify signs deal with Bloomsbury for Audiobooks
                                                                                          • Google adds audiobooks to Play Books
                                                                                            • Publishers invest more in vinyl audiobooks
                                                                                              • Efforts are being made to promote under-represented demographics
                                                                                                • PRH measures diversity via ‘inclusion tracker’
                                                                                                  • Women-only pop-up introduced by Waterstones
                                                                                                    • Penguin launches more diverse series of classics
                                                                                                      • Pan Macmillan launches competition for independent bookshops…
                                                                                                        • …and launches influencer-hosted house parties
                                                                                                        • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                          • Half of people buy print books
                                                                                                            • Half of people read 2-9 books a year
                                                                                                              • Amazon is the primary way people buy print books
                                                                                                                • Subscriptions are playing an important role for digital books
                                                                                                                  • Displays have encouraged one in four to make a purchase
                                                                                                                    • People spend more time browsing for book in bookstores than online
                                                                                                                      • Many enjoy listening to audiobooks with others
                                                                                                                        • People are often looking for the cheapest e-books
                                                                                                                        • Book Buying Habits

                                                                                                                          • Half of people buy print books
                                                                                                                            • Figure 18: Book buying habits (nets), April 2018
                                                                                                                            • Figure 19: Book buying habits, April 2018
                                                                                                                          • Audiobook penetration set to grow
                                                                                                                          • Reading Habits and Devices Used

                                                                                                                            • Almost one in four read a book on an e-reader
                                                                                                                              • Figure 20: Devices used for e-books and audiobooks April 2018
                                                                                                                              • Figure 21: Devices used for e-books and audiobooks, by age, April 2018
                                                                                                                            • One in five 16-24-year-olds read e-books on a smartphone
                                                                                                                              • Smart speakers to further boost audiobook market
                                                                                                                                • Figure 22: Audiobook listening preferences, April 2018
                                                                                                                            • E-book and Audiobook Subscriptions

                                                                                                                              • One in three read e-books via a subscription
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 23: E-book paid-for subscriptions, April 2018
                                                                                                                                • Nearly four in ten listen to audiobooks as part of a subscription
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 24: Audiobook paid-for subscriptions, April 2018
                                                                                                                              • Number of Books Read

                                                                                                                                • Half of people read 2-9 books a year
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 25: Number of books read, April 2018
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 26: Number of books read, by age, April 2018
                                                                                                                              • Where People Buy Print Books

                                                                                                                                • Amazon dominates the retail landscape
                                                                                                                                  • Nearly one in two purchase print books from chains
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 27: Where people buy print books, April 2018
                                                                                                                                  • One in four purchased from an independent bookstore
                                                                                                                                  • Genres of Books Bought

                                                                                                                                    • Crime/thriller is the most popular fiction genre
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 28: Genres of fiction books bought, April 2018
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 29: Genres of fiction books bought, by age, April 2018
                                                                                                                                    • Only one in ten men buy romance novels
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 30: Genres of fiction book bought, by gender, April 2018
                                                                                                                                    • Biography/memoirs are bought by almost one in three
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 31: Genres of non-fiction books bought, April 2018
                                                                                                                                    • Younger people are more interested in books related to health and self-help
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 32: Genre of non-fiction book bought, by age, April 2018
                                                                                                                                    • People buy a greater number of fiction genres
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 33: Repertoire of book genres bought, fiction and non-fiction, April 2018
                                                                                                                                  • Book Purchasing Habits

                                                                                                                                    • People spend more time browsing in-store than online
                                                                                                                                      • Displays have encouraged one in four to make a purchase
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 34: Bookstore purchasing habits, April 2018
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 35: Online book purchasing habits, April 2018
                                                                                                                                      • One in three look at other readers’ reviews when purchasing online
                                                                                                                                        • People are looking for the cheapest for e-books
                                                                                                                                          • Men are far more likely to be enticed by audiobook tie-ins
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 36: E-book purchasing behaviour, April 2018
                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

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

                                                                                                                                                • Market forecasts
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 37: Value of total consumer book market sales, 2018-23
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 38: Value of total consumer print book market sales, 2018-23
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 39: Value of total consumer e-book market sales, 2018-23
                                                                                                                                                • Forecast methodology