Canadian publishers are focusing on digitizing their backlist and frontlist when it comes to audiobook and ebook production. In 2019 91% of all publishers are involved in ebook production and 55% have converted their backlist to the ebook format, while 74% release front-list ebook titles, in conjunction with print. Publishers are also embracing the public library, as an avenue to increase sales. Sales rose 90% in 2019, whereas in 2014 it was only at 75%.
According to a Booknet survey, 61% of Canadians read at least one ebook in 2019, an 11% increase from 2018. Where are they getting their ebooks? 35% buy from an online shop, such as Amazon or Kobo and use either their e-reader or an app to read them. 31% forgo buying them altogether and instead borrow them from Overdrive, who is the undisputed market leader in Canada with a 76% market share. 20% download them for free from the internet, this obviously includes digital piracy. A paltry 8% have a subscription to a service such as Kindle Unlimited and Scribd, these companies really need to step up their advertising game if they want to sell more subs in Canada.
Audiobooks are the fastest growing segment in digital publishing. 63% of Canadian publishers produce either audiobooks on CD or digital audiobooks, 28% do not release audiobooks at all, and have no plans to do so in the immediate future. This is primarily attributed to the costs involved in building out a studio, hiring sound engineers and cultivating a local pool of professional narrators. 6 in 10 publishers have converted their backlist to the audiobook format.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.