Latvians are not big fans of buying books online

Despite a popular perception than Latvians are a nation of book lovers, new data from Eurostat suggests they rarely buy books online, compared to their EU peers.

In 2023, at the EU level, 13.4% of residents had purchased printed books online in the previous 3 months. This was a slight increase from 2022 (12.7%) but still below the 2021 share (14.5%). 

In a ranking of EU member states' online book buying habits, Latvia finished one from last. 

In 2023, the highest percentage of residents purchasing printed books online in the previous 3 months was reported in the Netherlands (23.5%), followed by Luxembourg (22.2%) and Ireland (21.1%). The lowest shares were reported in Cyprus (1.4%), Latvia (2.9%) and Bulgaria (3.7%).

Online book-buying habits, 2023
Online book-buying habits, 2023

The low ranking doesn't necessarily mean Latvians aren't book lovers. Maybe we like buying books in traditional book stores. Maybe we like to use lending libraries. Maybe a deceased uncle left us boxes and boxes of books which are in the garage and it will take us the rest of our lives to work through, so we don't really need to buy any new ones at all.

Similarly traditional-minded bibliophiles across Europe will take heart from the data's other conclusion: the electronic or 'ebooks' still have a long way to go to catch up with the good old paper and print format. The highest shares of sales of ebooks were recorded in Denmark (22.0%), the Netherlands (21.6%) and Ireland (16.9%), while the lowest were reported in Cyprus (0.6%), Bulgaria (2.0%) and Romania (2.2%). Denmark and Finland were the only countries with more people purchasing ebooks than printed books in the 3 months prior to the data collection.


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