Booming demand in emerging markets from Vietnam to India has made books the most popular item to buy online, according to research out today. More internet shoppers have bought books than any other product online over the past three months, according to a global survey by Nielsen Online.
While two-fifths of e-shoppers bought books, 36% have bought clothing, accessories or shoes, 24% have bought airline tickets and 19% music.
Putting paid to predictions that online clothes and shoes shopping would never take off, those categories have enjoyed the fastest growth. The proportion of internet shoppers buying shoes and clothes has jumped to 36% from 20% two years ago, according to Nielsen's survey of more than 26,000 internet users in 48 countries.
There was also strong growth for books, whose biggest buyers are in South Korea - also the country with the highest proportion of online shoppers, at 99% of those with internet access.
Germany is second in the rankings, with just over half of internet users there buying books online in recent months. Its neighbour Austria is next, followed by Vietnam, Brazil, Egypt, China and India.
"Some of the biggest buyers of books on the internet are from developing countries - China, Brazil, Vietnam and Egypt - indicating massive growth potential for online retailers that can specifically target these fast-growing markets," said Nielsen Online's Jonathan Carson.
The data ranks Google Book Search as the world's number one books website.
The UK was in 10th place for online book-buying, with 45% of internet shoppers getting their tomes online. The next most popular category for the UK was videos/DVDs/games, then clothing/accessories/shoes and music.
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