Hardcore Readers Prefer to Buy Books from Kobo and Amazon


The eBook market has blossomed over the course of the last four years.  In the United States nearly 8.5 million adults, 18% of the population, have bought at least one e-book. There are hundreds of bookstores that sell electronic books online, some are very niche specific and others sell everything under the sun.  Good e-Reader Research is reporting today that Amazon and Kobo are basically tied as being the online bookstore of choice for hardcore readers.

Good e-Reader conducted a one month research project where we polled 250 people about their favorite online bookstore of choice. Good e-Reader users tend to be savvy, well educated and not afraid of new technologies. These are basically the hardcore users that often buy 50-100 books a year and often have more than one e-reader in the household.

Amazon and Kobo were tied with 35.34% of the overall votes and these two stores have the largest international footprint. They exist in over 30 different countries and offer millions of titles. Kobo has a much larger library of titles, with over 3.6 million available, they are also easier for people to buy books from. One of the advantages these two companies have  is their extensive portfolio of e-readers and tablets to facilitate reading. The Kindle Fire and Kobo Arc line of Android devices are perfect for reading newspapers, magazines, comics, kids, cookbooks and content that shines in living color. Hardcore Fiction and Non-Fiction readers tend to gravitate more towards the Kindle Paperwhite and Kobo Aura.

It is no surprise that Kobo and Amazon are basically tied, as they do offer the more extensive library of content, whether you are using one of their devices or install the app on your iPad.

Barnes and Noble might be seeing a 30% decline on their hardware and eBook sales during the past holiday season, but they they do have user loyalty. 10.04% of our readers prefer to buy their Nook Books, but 99% of the participants originated from the US.  This is the core market where the Nations largest bookseller sells tablets and e ink readers in hundreds of retail locations. Their ecosystem is fairly well developed and they offer self-published titles under the Nook Press banner and full color content optimized for the Nook HD. The sole new device of 2013 was the Nook Glowlight, which tends to be your best friend for binge reading.

The Nook hardware is basically only relevant in the US and UK, but their ecosystem has expanded recently. If you are a Windows 8 tablet owner or like to read on your computer, Microsoft has aided the international expansion into over 32 different countries over the last year. Sadly, Android and iOS readers have to be based in the US/UK to buy books online.

Most other bookstores only had a few people claiming to use it on a regular basis. Sony had 6.02% of the vote, Google with 4.42%, Smashwords at 2.41% and Wattpad with 2.01%. There were 11 people, that made up 4.42% of the vote that mentioned iBooks, the library, Bookeen and others.

Michael Kozlowski (5147 Posts)

Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about electronic readers and technology for the last four years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the Huffington Post, CNET and more. Michael frequently travels to international events such as IFA, Computex, CES, Book Expo and a myriad of others. If you have any questions about any of his articles, please send an email to michael@goodereader.com

  • Karen Myers

    What happened to Apple iTunes? A significant seller of books.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    They actually are a very minor player in the ebook world. Part of the reason is their high prices compared to everyone else, that is one of Sony’s problems, their books are priced so high, that would shop at kobo/amazon where on average prices are 30% cheaper.

  • Karen Myers

    Well, just speaking anecdotally, I’ve sold dozens thru iTunes (not just US), and 1 (one) thru Kobo (of 9 works). And I have no special advertising going on with Apple.

    I would suspect the result on your survey is an artifact of sample size (250). Can you point to other comparisons that include Apple vs anyone else?

  • GE

    I too am somewhat suspicious of the result. I suspect the issue is less sample size, and more likely selection bias. I suspect the reading habits of people who really care about their hardware are not typical of those in the general consumer market. I suspect most people buy books sold through their device because they don’t know how to do anything else. I suspect consumer device sales would be a better indicator of purchasing choice, although not necessarily volume.

    Like me, I’m guessing most of the readers here are running Calibre and know how to decrypt/move/convert books between any seller and their preferred device(s). I can tell you that my own purchasing habits as a Canadian are: Kobo first, if the price is close to competitive with the US prices, B&N second, if their price is close to Amazon, and Amazon last. In terms of volume, I probably end up buying equally from all three.

  • Claude

    I get most of my ebooks from the public library. The ones I buy, I try yo get them from indepant bokstores, and convert them trough Calibre, cause I have a Kindle.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    None really exist, since Apple does not devulge iBooks sales.. Ever.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    This is why its called “Hardcore” readers

  • MarylandBill

    No offense, but if we are talking about dozens versus one, I think we are in the range where other factors can be the driver than the book store.