New research reveals the reuse of second-hand books is rising

EY-Parthenon’s research, reveals the reuse of second-hand books is rising! The extensive research commissioned by Wob (the World of Books Group), which includes findings from a survey of over 4,000 consumers, reveals that a colossal 54 million used books were sold online in the UK last year.

Books (81%) are even more popular than fashion items (74%) with consumers who are buying or interested in buying pre-loved items.

What the research reveals about the second-hand market

The reuse of second-hand books is rising and there are two key drivers for buying second-hand books:

  • 83% of consumers choose this for environmental reasons and 92% because it is a more budget-friendly choice.
  • Book sales are now worth £2.6 billion in the UK with used books representing 32% of books sold (£326 million).

Insight from second-hand online bookseller Wob also reveals the anatomy of the UK’s bookshelves:

  • The average UK household has a total of 124 books with just 15 books (12%) leaving their owner’s collection each year!
  • 84% of people holding onto their books because they like the appearance of a full shelf.

Physical over digital books

Books continue to buck the trend towards digitisation.

Consumers choose to buy physical over e-books, with surprising the more digital native generations (under 44s) making up almost two thirds (63%) of the physical book sales!

87% of consumers have bought a printed book.

Sales of physical over digital books:
Physical book sales are 70% – E-books take just a 30% share of total book sales!
Furthermore, CDs and DVDs now see lower demand (52% of consumers purchased one last year).

New research reveals the reuse of second-hand books is rising

Graham Bell, CEO of World of Books Group, commented:
“As a company of book lovers, we understand the special connection between books and humans. Despite the push towards digitalisation, there is just something about losing ourselves in the pages of a book, which can’t be recreated with technology.”
“Data from our consumers, and the wider preloved industry provides encouragement for further growth across a range of products. And we will continue to use our commitment to purpose, and our innovations in technology, to give people the ability to buy and sell used goods.”

Wob’s report on the used book market shows more people are choosing to buy and sell used books, driven by an increase in re-commerce during the pandemic and the growing adoption of the circular economy.

World of Books Group is an accredited B Corp.
Certified B Corporations (B Corps™) are for-profit companies that use the power of business to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

To buy second hand books visit:

To sell your pre-loved items you can visit:

Images provided by World of Books Group.


Elena Daniilidou

Elena is an ethical vegan and minimalist advocating for sustainable and slow living.

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