Kobo reveals 60% growth in eBook sales

Chris Stead
 | Updated May 17, 2021

Kobo reveals 60% growth in eBook sales

Chris Stead
 | Updated May 17, 2021

One of the biggest online retailers of books, Kobo, has revealed huge growth in eBook consumption during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Digital books haven’t had the smoothest of journeys over the past decade. Some years have seen growth, others have seen declines, but generally eBooks has been slowly climbing in popularity. It’s a shame given the huge advantages eBooks can have over books. However, 2020 could turn it all around. The market has recently seen a huge surge in interest with growth far exceeding estimates.

Should it come as any surprise?

With the coronavirus pandemic forcing millions to isolate and stay at home, two things were always bound to happen. We would start consuming more entertainment due to the sudden abundance of free time. And we’d have to be able to access that entertainment from home. TV, video games and books have all been on the up. But by how much?

One of the biggest online sources of digital books is Rakuten Kobo, with a catalogue it claims is in excess of five million works. Kobo has sent Old Mate Media the latest year-on-year data from March 2019 to March 2020, and also the month-on-month sales data from March 2020 to April 2020.

That data is good news for indie authors with eBooks.

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Kobo year-on-year eBook sales

In the data sent to us by Kobo’s PR team in Australia, the store’s eBook consumption is up a whopping 60% year-on-year for March. The use of Kobo eReaders is also up, with the number of times people use their device rising in kind by 61%.

What’s also surprising is the times when people are reading. Tuesday saw the biggest jump in people reading eBooks, with 125% growth year-on-year, closely followed by Mondays at 113%. When Kobo burrowed down into the time of day that’s seen the biggest jump in eBook reading, it’s Monday between 9am and 10am, which has jumped a huge 467% year-on-year.

We imagine the sharp climb in Monday reading is simply down to the number of people no longer working or working unusual hours during coronavirus. Even though it is a year-on-year stat, in this March alone that is one time period where any growth in reading would have registered as significant.

The more interesting revelation from Kobo’s data is Tuesday being the day many have started to turn to their eReader for entertainment. Perhaps this is because Tuesday, traditionally, is not a big day in other entertainment mediums. New episodes of TV tend to launch Thursday to Sunday, and this is also when sport is most commonly on.

It potentially means Tuesdays are a great day to launch your new book. That said, while year-on-year Tuesday has seen impressive growth, it still can’t make a dent against Saturday and Sunday for biggest reading days overall. With Thursday coming in third.

Kobo data suggests big 2020 for eBooks

While the Kobo data for year-on-year growth of eBooks is impressive, it really only includes one month of the COVID-19 lockdown. April and May saw even tighter restrictions globally as nations have fought to turn the tide on the coronavirus pandemic. It should come as no surprise then that Kobo month-on-month eBooks sales data for March 2020 to April 2020 shows even more growth.

Indeed, eBook consumption is up 30% March to April 2020. While the April year-on-year growth is closer to 100% as a result. It’s an early sign that it will be the biggest year for eBook sales by some stretch, even if isolation restrictions ease throughout the year.

As for genres, it looks like Historical Fiction is where most eBook readers are spending their coronavirus isolation being entertained. The genre is up 285% month-to-month. Meanwhile, Thrillers (157%), Crime (127%) and Fiction (110%) are the next cabs off the rank.

Converting your book into an eBook

If you’ve got a book in paperback or hardcover form, but do not have a digital version of your work, then you’re missing out. There are some huge advantages to having an eBook beyond just capitalising on the growth of interest in 2020 detailed in this article.

An eBook provides a cheaper price point for consumers. It also gives you the ability to get a larger margin than a physical book. It allows you to do freebies and giveaways easily for marketing purposes. It’s a useful tool for garnering reviews, as it can be more easily sent to potential reviewers. Plus, you can engage kids in new ways, adding sounds, animations, interactions and more.

The cost of converting your book into an eBook is usually relatively cheap, too. However, that does depend on what files you have for your designer to work with, not to mention the existing shape of your book. We do a tonne of paperback book to eBook conversions for indie authors, so simply email us and we can talk you through the process and provide a bespoke quote that fits your situation.

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Next step for self-publishing indies

If you’re an indie author, we’re sure you can find a lot of great information in our free guides. We work one-on-one with authors to help them through the journey of being self-published and retaining 100% ownership. So, check out our services in the menu. Finally, if you’re stuck – like us – dealing with kids at home during the coronavirus pandemic, we have the perfect solution. Check out our just released Stay at Home Activities Guide for kids.

Chris Stead

Chris Stead is an award-winning author and editor with over 26-years of experience in the publishing industry. After publishing over 1000 magazines and launching a dozen commercial websites, fatherhood saw him turn his attention to the world of children's picture books and self-publishing. He now makes books for himself and countless indie authors around the globe.

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One comment on “Kobo reveals 60% growth in eBook sales”

  1. Kobo Forma is a great product. BUT trying to speak to Kobo is nearly impossible. Overdrive was missing on my device. Seems they thing Guam is a foreign country....NOT SO !! Anyway, What's the big secret ??
    Overdrive would greatly help me with my library books.

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