How German Readers Find and Choose Ebooks – A Survey

How do German readers choose their books and find their reading material? Which devices do they use to read ebooks? Matthias Matting of wanted to find answers to these questions, so he created a survey that participating indie authors forwarded to their own readers. 2,342 people responded to the survey and provide some interesting insight into reader behavior in Germany. You can have a look at the German survey answers with all the graphs here. This is my summary of the results:

What device do German readers use to read ebooks?

  • The vast majority (60%) of readers use Kindle e-readers or the Kindle app on smartphones (12%) to read ebooks.
  • Only 7% use the Tolino device – the e-reader issued by the Tolino Alliance, the biggest Amazon competitor in Germany.*
  • Another 7% read ebooks via iBooks.
  • 30% of the readers who took the survey use Amazon’s subscription service Kindle Unlimited.

*Since this survey was distributed by indie authors among their readers and followers, it shows quite clearly that their audience is mainly in the Amazon fraction, even though the overall market share of Tolino vs. Amazon should be more like 50-50.

How do German readers buy ebooks on Amazon?

  • Most readers buy new ebooks on their Kindle device or on the website on their PC.
  • Mobile applications (either the Kindle app or Amazons mobile website) seem to play a significantly smaller role in purchasing ebooks for Germans.

How do German readers find new ebooks?

  • 60% of readers find new books through searching on the retailer’s website. This emphasizes how important meta data is for your book to be found by the right audience.
  • 49% of readers go by recommendations of other readers.
  • 47% find new books in author newsletters.
  • 43% follow Social Media
  • 35-38% find books on the retailer’s website through Bestseller lists, featured books and by searching in the categories.
  • 35% respond to advertisements
  • 11-12% find books through websites or newsletters promoting discount deals.

It seems that besides direct search, word of mouth is one of the most important factors in discovering new books for German readers. As such, author newsletters can be a valuable cross-promotion tool for authors.

How do German readers choose books?

  • 89% of readers decide to buy a book based on the book description, so make sure you get your copy right.
  • 65% of readers buy a book because they know the author name/brand.
  • Cover and reviews are about equally important (48-49%) for the purchasing decision.
  • About 46% of readers look at the price when they decide to buy.
  • The title plays an important role as well (45%).
  • The bestseller rank is only relevant to 15% of readers.

What genres are most popular among German Amazon readers?

  • Mysteries are most popular, 21% of readers love them.
  • Not far behind are Romances with 20%.
  • Fantasy readers make up 18% of those who answered the survey.
  • 12% prefer Thrillers.
  • Erotica attracts 10% of readers.
  • 5% enjoy ChickLit / Women’s Fiction
  • 2% are most interested in Science Fiction and Contemporary Fiction

Be aware that these statistics are influenced by the genres the participating authors write in, as they sent the survey out to their own readers. Apparently, there weren’t too many participating SciFi authors among them because other data clearly show SciFi to sell quite well (have a look at my Amazon Category Cheat Sheet for more information on bestselling categories on Amazon).

More fun facts:

  • KU-users read a high number of erotica and romance titles and they buy books mostly on their Kindle instead of on the website.
  • Customers who are most price-sensitive are less likely to use subscription services, but they do find more books through deal websites.
  • Readers who don’t care about the price are more likely to own a Tolino e-reader and also to use KindleUnlimited (KU). They read more mysteries and thrillers instead of romance.
  • Fantasy readers pay more attention to the cover than the author.
  • Many romance readers use KU and are very receptive to recommendations on Social Media and Facebook advertisements.
  • Less than 20% of mystery & thriller readers use KU, but they are most loyal to particular authors, and don’t look at recommendations or deals very much.

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