E-Reader ownership is trending upwards in the United Kingdom. Over the course of the last year the number of people who owned a Kindle, Nook or Kobo has increased 28%, up 4% from the year prior.
The United Kingdom has quickly become a market that everyone wants to have a stake in. This is because not only are device sales profitable, but so are the sales of e-books. A few months ago Nielsen released data showing that online spending on books had overtaken in-store spending for the first time. E-books now account for 30% of book units purchased in the UK, and the sales of print and e-books together in 2014 stood at £2.2 billion, up from 4% the previous year.
Barnes and Noble is very bullish on the UK market, this is the only other country other than the US that they have any sort of presence in. The company has sponsored the Get London Reading campaign which saw 1,000 NOOK Simple Touch e-Readers get donated to Beanstalk, a national literacy charity that recruits and supports reading volunteers in schools. Barnes and Noble has also made the greatest impact on having their line of e-readers available in the retail sphere. Currently you can buy them at John Lewis, Argos, the leading academic bookseller Blackwell’s, Foyles and Dixons, which oversees PC World and Currys.
Many independent e-reader companies also have a niche presence in the UK, such as Pocketbook, Energy Sistem, Onyx, Bookeen and Icarus. The vast majority of these e-readers have the open Android concept, which allow readers to install their own apps, instead of being locked into a walled garden.
Speaking of walled gardens, Amazon has the largest footprint in the UK. It is estimated that they account for 95% of all e-book sales and the Kindle is the most popular e-reader. Whenever a new device is issued, the UK is always the second market to get it after the US.
No one can quite explain why e-reader ownership is constantly increasing, not even the researchers compiling the data. I surmise that it has to do with e-books being cheaper than print and serious readers saving money. There is also e-books subscription services that are available such as Kindle Unlimited and Scribd.
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.