Cannibalisation Effects in the Early Market Stage of E-books: An Analysis of the German Book Market

Tim Prostka, Edlira Shehu, Michel Clement

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The increasing demand for e-books has led to substantial changes in the book market structure and in the demand for printed books (p-books). In the early market stage, demand side cannibalisation from e-books is potentially underestimated due to two effects: (1) early adopter profiles and (2) different usage context situations for digital and physical products. In two empirical studies, we investigate cannibalisation effects as well as drivers of the cannibalisation potential between e-books and p-books related to consumer needs in different usage situations. We focus on the (early-stage) German e-book market and analyse cannibalisation effects and sources of cannibalisation potential between e-books and p-books in two studies. We do not find empirical support for a cannibalisation of p-book demand in the early market stage of e-books in Germany, even after controlling for potential biases related to early adopter profiles. However, our results indicate a significant cannibalisation potential between e-books and p-books that relates to different consumer needs in different usage situations. Our findings imply that research on cannibalisation effects could substantially benefit from analysing substitution patterns between digital media products and their physical counterparts in early market stages. By this, cannibalisation drivers can be revealed early enough, so that managers can react accordingly. We discuss implications for the early positioning of e-books to reduce potential cannibalisation of p-books.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Media Business Studies
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)108-126
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • E-books
  • Books
  • Cannibalisation
  • Print
  • Propensity score matching
  • Substitution-in-use

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