Amid recent suggestions the eBook may be on the wane, Roy Morgan Research has found that its popularity continues to grow in Australia, with online sales increasing across most age groups over the past two years.Roy Morgan additionally found the number of Australians reading both eBooks and physical books has grown as a whole in the past two years.
In the 12 months to September 2014, 7 per cent of Australians aged 14-plus bought at least one eBook online in an average three months, with Australians in the 35-49 age group the most likely to have bought eBooks.
Of the 35-49 age group, 9.1 per cent bought eBooks in an average three months, growing from 8.7 per cent in the previous year, while during the same period, the proportion of this age group that read a book (either fiction or non-fiction, print or digital) increased from 55 per cent to 56.7 per cent.
Despite being the only age group to post a decrease in overall reading incidence (falling from 55.3 per cent to 53.3 per cent), the proportion of the 18-24 age group buying eBooks online in any given three-month period also increased, up from 3.9 per cent in 2013 to 5.1 per cent in 2014.
The technology is also proving popular with the 65-plus age group, among which the proportion purchasing eBooks rose from 4.1 per cent to 5.4 per cent, with reading incidence among this age group also increasing from 64.5 per cent to 67.1 per cent.
“Between October 2012 and September 2014, the proportion of Australians 14-plus reading books in an average three months grew for the first time in several years,” commented Roy Morgan Research group account director Angela Smith.
“Whether this represents the beginning of an ongoing trend remains to be seen, but it is an encouraging sign for both printed book and eBook retailers.
“Over the same time period, the proportion of us buying eBooks online in any given three months also increased. eBooks still account for a small proportion of the book market, but are showing no signs of being yesterday’s fad just yet.”
Smith added that while just over 15 per cent of the population have at least one e-reader in their household, eBooks can also be accessed via tablets, smartphones or laptops, making them accessible to a broader audience.
“Despite what doomsayers have predicted for years, the rise of the eBook will not necessarily result in the death of its hardcopy equivalent – at least, not where online purchasing is concerned,” Smith stated.
“The proportion of Australians buying printed books over the internet in an average three months has also increased.”