Which Bookstore Has Most eBook Titles

An important consideration for buyers of eBook Readers is the likelihood that they will be able to read their favorite authors and genres on their devices. Knowing this, some of the competing eBook Reader organisations like to impress potential buyers by emphasising the large number of titles in their eBook collection. Here are some of their claims:

  • Amazon’s Kindle Book store currently boasts over 865,000 eBooks available for download.
  • Sony eBook reader product pages boast over 2 million titles in its Reader Store.
  • In recent press releases Barnes and Noble claim that over two million Nook books are now available for the Nook and Nook Color.
  • Apples iBookstore website claim over 150,000 titles have been added to its collection within the first year of operation.

Additionally Barnes and Noble, Sony and Apple have boasted that even more titles are accessible, and free, by using one of the many online public libraries that are increasingly replacing paperbacks and hard covers with eBooks. This is possible as the NookColor, Sony Reader, and Apple iPad can all work with ePUB formatted eBooks offered by OverDrive, the leading library lending service provider. The eBook Reader Comparison Table covers these differences further.

Elusive eBook Titles

Despite the impressive size of collections at many of the eBook stores, there are many complaints from followers of eBookReaderGuide.com that they are unable to find a sought after title in these eBook stores. Most commonly the complaints come from owners of Nooks and Sony readers, taking into account these ereader’s smaller market share. This is surprising, as both Barnes and Noble and Sony marketeers claim to have also twice as many titles as the next largest collection. Meanwhile, there have relatively fewer complaints from Amazon and iPad users about their eBook stores, taking into account these ereader’s smaller market share. In the case of iPad, this may reflect the multifunctional nature of the device and that the primary function of the device may not be eBook reading.

Numbers, Statistics and Fiction

eBookReaderGuide.com looked more closely into why there should be so much disappointment with the eBook stores having such larger collections. As we explain below, some of the eBook reader marketeers seem to have caught the fiction writing bug, and increased expectations to an unrealistic level. Our findings are summarised in the figure below and cover eBook titles available in the United States.

eBook-Store-Size-by-Paid-and-Free-Titles-Kindle-NookColor-iPad-Sony-Overdrive

The two topmost lines show the total number of Nook and Sony eBooks claimed to be available for download from the Barnes and Noble, and Sony Reader Store. Just below these lines, the figure shows the number of free titles available for download at the same stores. The proximity of these two groups of lines indicates that the vast majority of Nook and Sony eBooks are free titles. In fact a massive 85% of all titles are free. Browsing through the Nook and Sony bookstore reveals that many of these are Google’s scanned library copies from one or two centuries ago and includes multiple versions of the same ancient title.

Returning to the Figure, the next pair of lines is the number of total number of Kindle paid eBook titles, both paid and free, very closely followed with the number of Kindle paid only titles.  The reason for the close proximity is that less than 2% of eBook title in the Kindle eBook store are free. Rather that suggesting that Amazon are exploiting their leading market position and charging for books that are free elsewhere, previous surveys have revealed that Amazon generally prices eBooks lower than Nook or Sony. Furthermore, although the Kindle can also be loaded with over two million free ebooks the Internet Archive and Open Library public domain eBook collections, Amazon have chosen not to include these in its titles count. Amazon’s headline number of 850,000 titles in its Kindle eBook store truly represents the number of contemporary ebooks available. The figure below more clearly shows Amazon’s market leading position by displaying only the number of paid titles in the various book stores.

eBook-Store-Size-by-Paid-Titles-Kindle-NookColor-iPad-Sony-Overdrive

The nearest competitors with less than half as many paid titles is Barnes and Noble with its Nook Book store, and Sony.

Next with about one-third as many titles is OverDrive, the organisation that provides eBook lending services to public and private libraries.

Finally in fifth position is Apple’s iPad iBookstore. Clearly the size and quality of Apple’s iBookstore is not a major selling point that Apple highlights when talking about the benefits of the multifunctional iPad. Indeed access to the iBookstore is only available via a iPhone or iPad, making it difficult for potential buyer to check the availability of books that they are interested in before buying the iPad. Relatively less disappointment is expressed regarding the iBookstore and this may reflect the fact that eBook reading is not a primary reason for owning an iPad. Nevertheless, since the launch of iBookstore in late March 2010, the number of titles has grown from 60,000 to 150,000.

The Naked Truth

So stripping out the free titles from the various eBook Reader stores shows the real situation. Except for the essential classics and occassional promotional free ebooks, it is the paid titles in the book stores are the one that you are most likely to be at the top of the reading list. And if you were hoping that your local elibrary may be able to loan you a sought after title, well think again. As our survey shows, Kindle owners are much more likely to find a sought after eBook. And as the figure above shows, this advantage is rapidly increasing. However, compared with over 20 million titles in paperback or hardcover currently listed on Amazon.com, this story still is at the beginning. Indeed, we could be entering a new chapter with renewed competition from the latest generation of color eBook readers such as the NookColor and iPad2.

For now, Amazon’s claim “the Kindle Store contains the largest selection of the ebooks people want to read” appears to be very true.


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