Western Europe Sees Huge Shift Toward E-Books


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Europe has lagged behind the U.S. in widespread adoption of e-books, but a new report suggests that they are finally taking off. The e-book market in Western Europe grew by 400 percent in 2010, a new report finds. By 2015, e-books should make up 15 percent of total book sales in the region. (By contrast, in the U.S., they were already at 6.4 percent in 2010.)

Futuresource Consulting, a UK-based consulting firm, published the research on e-books and e-readers. “Despite all this rapid growth in demand for e-books in Western Europe, the market is still in its infancy, representing less than 1 percent of total consumer spending on books,” Futuresource market analyst Fiona Hoy said. “Moving forward, there are enormous opportunities within the market and our forecasts show Western European e-book revenues will reach €1.6 billion by 2015, accounting for 15% of total book spend and representing one out of every five books sold in the region.”

As a point of reference, e-books in the United States comprised 6.4 percent of consumer spending on trade books in 2010, according to the most recent data available from BookStats–up from just 0.6 percent of the trade market in 2008. Total net revenue from trade e-books in 2010 was $878 million.

Some other findings from Futuresource’s report:

–The UK is ahead of other countries in terms of e-book sales and adoption, generating close to half of all Western European e-book spend last year despite only accounting for 15% of the region’s spend on print titles. The country is on track to achieve sales of £100 million this year, with e-books predicted to make up over 5 percent of total UK consumer spending on books.

–Futuresource says that Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) sold nearly 400,000 Kindles in the UK between its release there in August 2010 and the end of the year, and “achieved e-book sales in the region of £20 million.”

–Germany, which has the largest book market after the United States, is poised for growth–especially for reading on tablets instead of e-readers. “By 2015 the tablet market will account for close to half of all paid-for e-book sales in Germany, compared to around one in three in the UK and France,” Hoy said. “The Kindle store launched into the market during the first half of 2011, though consumer demand for devices and content has so far been relatively low, in part due to low consumer awareness. However, strong promotional campaigns in Q4 will help stimulate demand and convert the market potential into real revenues.”

–In many countries in the region, lack of local language titles has inhibited e-book growth, though this is starting to change.

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