which is based in Toronto, attributes thatpartially to Canadian consumers not hav-ing purchased the critical mass of devicesthat American consumers have. But themarket is still growing.The rise of digital in Canada hascaused multiple ripple effects through-out the Canadian book world, particu-larly because it coincided with theglobal economic crisis. So far, however,those effects have not been cataclysmic.Many publishers say digital sales havenot taken a discernible bite out of printsales and that e-book sales are helpingthe bottom line significantly.Nevertheless, Darwinian effects of thedigital age can be seen throughout theCanadian publishing ecosystem. Thisyear’s Canadian supplement examinesthose effects and the ways in which pub-lishers, distributors, and booksellers areshowing their resilience, creativelyadapting to survive and even thrive inthe new environment.
BookNet Canada has been tracking printbook sales in Canada since it was foundedin Toronto in 2003. CEO Noah Gennersays 2012 has generally been a difficultyear so far in the Canadian market, but itis an improvement over last year, whichwas especially tough in Canada. Sales of E.L. James’s Fifty Shades series, pub-lished in Canada by Random House of Canada’s Knopf Doubleday PublishingGroup, are “having a huge impact” andgiving the whole market a lift, he says.“The sales of that are much larger thananything we’ve seen in quite some timein print and in e, I think. They are defi-nitely starting to hit Twilight kinds of ranges.” RHC’s Martin said that threemillion copies of the series in all formatshave been shipped in Canada.But even if you back the Fifty Shadesspike out of the sales figures, Genner says2012 still looks better than 2011. “We’retrending down, but we’re not trendingdown at the 11% or 12% that we werethe year before.” He says he thinks partof the improvement is due to a levelingoff of e-book sales, but that is based onlyon BookNet’s new survey of book buyersand anecdotal information from publish-ers, because BookNet is still developinga system to track Canadian e-book salesstatistics. Genner notes that trend is notunexpected in the context of the plateau-ing that has been seen in U.K. and U.S.e-book sales. “It’s still a growing seg-ment, but it’s not growing at the 35%and 40% per quarter that we saw before,”he says.
Canadian publishers respond to thedigitally altered landscape
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The publishing business mirrors the natural world in manyways: it’s a fertile, creative process influenced by myriadconditions, some as unpredictable and unforgiving as weather.The coming of the e-book and digital publishing to theCanadian book industry can be compared to the approach of climate change. Although the digital revolution was longpredicted, there were e-book deniers and those who predictedthe end of publishing and bookselling civilization. In recentyears, Canadian publishers prepared, digitizing their frontlistsand backlists as fast as they could, while watching the effectsof the phenomenon as it washed through the U.S. industryfirst.
s fall approached lastyear, many publishersin Canada told
their digital book saleswere in the 5%—6%range with the highestreported levels at 10%–12%. This year,digital is estimated to be about 12%–13% of the book market, with publisherssurveyed for our annual look at the Cana-dian industry reporting e-book sales thatranged up to 17%. That’s still lower thanU.S. levels, but Brad Martin, presidentand CEO of Random House of Canada,
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Canadian Publishing 2012