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More Australians buying eBooks

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), October 2012-September 2013 (n=19,585) and October 2013 – September 2014 (n=16,176).

Amid recent reports in the UK that the eBook may have had its day, Roy Morgan Research’s latest figures reveal that this might not be the case in Australia. In fact, over the past two years, online sales of eBooks have increased across most age groups — along with the proportion of Aussies reading novels or non-fiction titles in an average three-month period.

In the 12 months to September 2014, 7.0% of Australians aged 14+ bought at least one eBook via the internet in an average three months.  Australians aged between 35 and 49 are the most likely to have bought eBooks, with 9.1% doing so in an average 3 months, slightly up from the previous year (8.7%).  During the same period, the proportion of this age group that read a book (either fiction or non-fiction, print or digital) increased from 55.0% to 56.7%.

The proportion of Australians aged 18-24 buying eBooks online in any given three-month period has also increased, from 3.9% in 2013 to 5.1% in 2014 — despite being the only age group to have seen a decrease in reading incidence (from 55.3% to 53.3%).

eBook purchasing online: 2013 vs 2014

eBooks-purchased-chart Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), October 2012-September 2013 (n=19,585) and October 2013 – September 2014 (n=16,176).

Meanwhile, the 65+ age group showed a growing willingness to adopt this new technology, with the proportion purchasing eBooks rising from 4.1% to 5.4% -- a higher proportion than some of the younger age groups that have grown up in the digital age. Reading books in general also increased among this older demographic, from 64.5% to 67.1%.

Angela Smith, Group Account Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Between October 2012 and September 2014, the proportion of Australians 14+ reading books in an average three months grew for the first time in several years. 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.

“While just over 15% of the population have at least one e-reader in their household, it is also possible to read eBooks on one’s tablet, smart phone or laptop, making them accessible to a much broader audience than one might think.

“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. The proportion of Australians buying printed books over the internet in an average three months has also increased.”

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%