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Western Europe Warms to eBooks

Futuresource Consulting announced it forecasts that 32 million eBooks will be sold this year in Western Europe.

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Unedited press release follows:

E-book market to exceed 30 million paid-for units this year says Futuresource

The Western European e-book market continues to gain traction, growing by over 400% in 2010 to exceed ten million paid-for books, and on track to achieve unit sales of 32 million this year, according to a new European e-book and e-reader report from Futuresource Consulting.

“During the last 12 months there has been a notable change in the industry’s attitude towards e-books,” says Fiona Hoy, Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting, “with publishers and retailers alike underlining the importance of a digital revenue stream to help offset the slow decline of the previously stable Western European physical book market. And despite all this rapid growth in demand for e-books in Western Europe, the market is still in its infancy, representing less than 1% of total consumer spending on books. 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.”

The UK continues to dominate the European market and generated close to half of all Western European e-book spend last year, this despite only accounting for 15% of the region’s physical book spend. The country is on track to achieve sales of £100m this year and over 5% of total UK consumer spending on books.

“The introduction of Amazon’s e-reading device and Kindle Store to the UK during August 2010 was a key catalyst behind the UK’s strong growth,” says Hoy. “Within a five month period Amazon sold close to 400,000 Kindle devices and achieved e-book sales in the region of £20 million. Amazon not only launched a premium brand e-reading device into a market which had previously been fragmented with unbranded dedicated devices, but also provided an extensive catalogue of e-book titles at loss leading price points from key publishers. In addition, aggressive aspirational TV and print advertising campaigns continue to drive demand.”

In Germany, which has the highest per capita spend on books in Western Europe – more than twice that of the UK – the opportunity for e-books is highly favourable, although local book pricing laws will restrict companies from replicating the loss leading pricing strategies that have been implemented in the UK and US.

With the installed base of dedicated e-reading devices in Germany currently below 1% and the market relying heavily on the tablet as an e-reading device, the country is primed for both hardware and content opportunities.

“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,” says Hoy. “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.”

For many countries across the region – including Italy and Spain – 2010 was the first full year that e-readers were readily available at retail. However, a lack of local language titles and limited paid-for e-book services acted as key obstacles to legitimate paid-for e-book market growth. Since then, local language content and demand has started to develop; and combined with the strength of Amazon and Apple’s iBookstore for both the iPad and smartphone market, the significance of the Western European market on the world stage will continue to develop.

Futuresource Consulting
is a specialist research and knowledge-based consulting company, providing organisations with insight into consumer electronics, digital imaging, entertainment media, broadcast, storage media, education technology and IT. With a heritage stretching back to the 1980s, the company delivers in-depth analysis and forecasts on a global scale, advising on strategic positioning, market trends, competitive forces and technological developments.