Second Annual National Book Count

More than 3.4 million books bought and loaned in typical January week in Canada
– 10% of English book sales are now in digital format.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Vancouver (February 16, 2012) – The numbers are in for the second annual National Book Count, sponsored by the National Reading Campaign (NRC), and for the first time e-book sales have been counted. E-book sales comprised 10% of all books sold in English Canada. Public libraries reported that 3 % of their circulation comprised digital formats. This finding puts English Canada near the very top of international estimates on e-reading.*

Book sales and public library circulations were counted for the week of January 23-29, 2012, as a snapshot of a typical reading week in Canada. A total of 3,405,687 books were counted as being sold or circulated for the week of January 23-29, 2012. That works out to more than five books sold or circulated every second in Canada.

We can now compare findings from the first count that took place in January 2011. The National Book Count is only a snapshot and the NRC cautions against over-interpretation, but as the only combined tabulation across the spectrum of book retail and public libraries in Canada, the National Book Count can reveal some dynamics of reading in Canada today. The major findings this year include:

  • 1,153,081 print books were sold by retailers including Indigo Books & Music, and other national chains, as well as over 260 independent bookstores across the country. English language print book sales for the week increased 4% over 2011.
  • 111,053 English language e-book sales were counted. As this is the first year counting ebook sales, no direct comparison can be made, but publishers report a “significant”
    increase from 2011.
  • 2,141,553 print books were borrowed from 28 participating public library systems.** 63,196 e-books were downloaded. Canadian libraries saw an 8% increase in print circulation and a 50% increase in digital circulation for an overall increase of 9% total circulation for libraries that participated in 2011 and 2012.
  • French language print book sales increased 35% over 2011. This number primarily reflects increased count coverage, not necessarily a surge in book purchases. No French
    language e-book book sales were captured this year.

The National Book Count shows that Canada is a nation of readers—in a typical week in January. But the emerging digital readership shows change is coming fast. The National Reading Campaign believes more needs to be done to foster pleasure reading and a passionate civic engagement that comes from reading. The NRC will meet in Vancouver May 2-4 for the third TD National Reading Summit to develop and finalize – a reading plan for Canada.

“The Book Count provides more evidence that Canadians are enriching their lives through reading” says Rick Wilks, publisher of Annick Press and Co-Chair of the National Reading Campaign. “It sets the stage for the National Reading Campaign, which will engage Canadians across the country to make reading a central feature of 21st century citizenship.”

What books were tracked?
This is the second time that combined sales and library circulation for books has been tabulated in Canada. The 2011 Book Count took place from January 10-16. The 2012 Book Count took place from January 26-30. As in 2011, book sales were collected by three book sale aggregators: BookNet Canada, BookManager, and la Société de gestion de la Banque de titres de langue française (BTLF). Book circulation was tracked by the Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC).

The numbers were collected and combined by the National Reading Campaign and cover 28 public library systems, 80 % of the English language book retail market and 45 % of the French language retail market across Canada. No individual consumer information was collected. Online print book sales were captured from major online retailers including and Digital downloads from public libraries were provided by the CULC and English language digital book sales were provided by the Association of Canadian Publishers and the Canadian Publishers’ Council. Digital book sales from Kobo, Kindle, Sony Reader and Apple devices were included.

* Global Assessment of E-Book Markets presentation by Giovanni Bonfanti, A.T. Kearny / Marco Ferrario, BookRepublic, Digital BookWorld, January 2012, ranked the top three e-book reading countries: United States at 20% penetration, South Korea at 14.5% and the United Kingdom at 7%.

** The Canadian Urban Libraries Council tracked circulation figures for 28 public library systems in Brampton, Burlington, Burnaby, Calgary, Coquitlam, Edmonton, Gatineau, Greater Victoria, Halifax, Hamilton, Kitchener, London, Markham, Montréal, Oakville, Oshawa, Ottawa, Regina, Richmond, Saskatoon, Surrey, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Vaughan, Windsor, Winnipeg and Whitby. The circulation figure covers over 13.7 million Canadians.

About the National Reading Campaign
The National Reading Campaign had its beginnings in 2008, when a coalition of readers, parents, writers, editors, librarians, bookstore owners, teachers, publishers and distributors came together to assess and consider the changing reading habits of Canadians. Their third and final summit takes place in Vancouver May 2-4, 2012.

TD National Reading Summit III marks the culmination of several years of discussion and research on how to make reading a national priority for Canada. Attendees will review a draft reading plan for Canada. Work has begun to promote the campaign across every possible platform and media. Details will be unveiled at the Summit.

Industry Contacts

Noah Genner
CEO & President
BookNet Canada
416.362.5057 x221

Bahram Olfati
Vice President, Procurement,
Indigo Books & Music

Colleen O’Neill
Executive Director
Canadian Publishers’ Council
416. 322. 7011 ext 226

Kevin Hanson
President, Simon & Schuster Canada
President, Canadian Publishers’ Council
647. 400.9009

Carolyn Wood
Executive Director
Association of Canadian Publishers
416. 487. 6116 x222

Jane Pyper
Chief Librarian
Toronto Public Library System

Sandra Singh
Chief Librarian
Vancouver Public Library

Tom Best
Executive Director, First Book Canada
National Reading Campaign
866.393.1222 ext. 0130

For media enquires please contact:

Jamie Broadhurst | VP Marketing | Raincoast Books | | 604.448.7124