Real-world data

BookNet Canada (BNC), "the not-for-profit agency responsible for driving technology innovation for Canadian publishers, distributors and booksellers", is working to compile The Canadian Book Consumer, a review of book-buying behavior in Canada. The full report will be published this fall.

In the meantime, BNC is posting highlights on its blog. Conducted in March 2012, the study found that more than a third of books are sold online, more than half are purchased by women and that half are "impulse buys".

Looking into Canadian book buyer behavior and their use of libraries, BNC found that more than a third of those responding visit a library at least once a month. Driven by frequent visitors (whose use runs from daily to several times a week), the average book buyer visits the library about 2.8 times a month. This figure is based on my own analysis of a chart in the BNC post.

BookNet Canada also asked book buyers to tell them what they would do if a title is not available at the time they went looking for it. A third said they would look elsewhere for a free option, while about a fifth said they would buy the book. Other options included "abandon the search" (about 11%), "don't know" (16%) and "other" (a bit over 15%).

This data seems to extend claims that libraries provide a fertile ground for discovering book content. The BNC post adds:

"When asked why consumers purchased a certain book there was a notable amount of commentary stating that years ago they had read the book in the library, in particular with regard to children’s book purchases. Gift giving of children’s titles are considerable with 55.83% of all books purchased as gifts being for children or grandchildren."

In addtion to its leading role in the Canadian book publishing market, BookNet Canada was a partner in this year's study of the creation and use of metadata throughout the book supply chain, a project commissioned by by the Book Industry Study Group.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.