Mintel predicts 31m Net users

Thirty-one million adults, two thirds of all consumers, are expected to be logging on to the Internet within four years, according to new research from Mintel.

The research group’s latest publication, Books E-Tailing, highlights the growing trend towards book purchasing via the Internet. Despite this, the physical shop-experience is still preferred by over a third of adults who are Internet users, but have yet to buy a book on-line.

The attraction of the retail environment is particularly strong for women, who are traditionally big buyers of books, but who have also been under-represented on the Internet, the publication says.

“There is a degree of inertia attached to purchasing on-line. Many people find the existing ways of buying books satisfactory. The social issue is a factor,” explains Paul Rickard, head of research for Mintel.

Research suggests the book market is generally flat, but also that it shows an average annual real growth of 1.5 per cent since 1994. The Internet share of the book market has risen to around 6 per cent of the current market since the mid-1990s.

Almost 20 per cent of Internet users have purchased a book on-line in the past six months, generating a market worth almost £185m.

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