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Press Release: 01.02.2022 - The rise of the reuse revolution in used books; consumer trends revealed

The rise of the reuse revolution in used books; consumer trends revealed

● Literature notlabels: books (81%) are more popular than fashion items (74%) with consumers buying or interested in buying pre-loved items

● Buyers embracing circular economy are driven by environmental factors (83%) and money saving (92%)

● In contrast, sellers are motivated by money and practicality - 39% sellto make space, 38% for cash

● Anatomy of a bookshelf: average home has 124 books with 15 rehomed each year

● Shelfie appeal is strong: 84% hold onto their books because they like the appearance

● Books buck digitisation trend: digital books just 30% share oftotal book sales, and digital native generations (under 44s) made up almosttwo thirds (63%) of physical book sales

Leading online book-seller Wob has revealed an insightful report charting the rise of the reuse revolution in second-hand books. The extensive research, which includes findings from a survey of over 4,000 consumers conducted by EY-Parthenon, reveals that a colossal 54 million used books were sold online in the UK last year, and books (81%) are even more popular than fashion items (74%) with consumers who are buying or interested in buying pre-loved items. Two key drivers have been identified, with 83% choosing second hand books to be kinder to the planet and 92% as a more budget-friendly choice. The pandemic significantly impacted sales of second-hand books, with many adapting how they dispose of their unwanted books. One in four consumers (27%) are now embracing the circular economy and increasing the number of books they sell. Contrasting with planet-conscious buyers, sellers are more motivated by money and practicality: 39% sell to make space in the home, 38% to earn extra money and just 21% to reduce their carbon footprint. Younger consumers are the biggest champions of the circular economy, with two thirds of 16-24 year olds (64%) listing items to reduce their environmental footprint.

Book sales are now worth £2.6 billion in the UK with used books representing 32% of books sold (£326 million) - and Wob confirms this with a book sold from the retailer’s collection of eight million titles every two seconds.

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. Shelfie appeal remains strong in the UK too, with 84% holding onto their books because they like the appearance of a full shelf.

Books continue to buck the trend towards digitisation. Whilst CDs and DVDs now see lower demand (52% of consumers purchased one last year) most consumers (87%) have bought a printed book, with the majority sold to digital native generations - under 44s make up 63% of book sales. This leaves digital books with a more modest 30% share of total book sales.

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.

At the outset of Wob, we saw the huge potential for recommerce, and have been delighted to be part of the growth. 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 recommerce during the pandemic and the growing adoption of the circular economy. For more information visit

Top Five Best Selling Secondhand Books*

  1. The Thursday Murder Club, Richard Osman
  2. Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens
  3. Normal People, Sally Rooney
  4. The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides
  5. The Alchemist, Coelho, Paulo

*Based on Wob 2021 sales



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About World of Books Group

  • In 2002, World of Books Group was founded on an ethos to do good, protect the planet and support charities whilst making a positive impact on the world, all whilst continuing to offer our customers and communities more and more reasons to re-love a preloved book. More broadly, we are dedicated to our company mission to protect the planet and support charities. Today, we drive the circular economy through three re-commerce brands:
    • Wob: Through Wob, we sell. We provide affordable, preloved books and media to customers all over the world. A book leaves our collection of over eight million titles and begins a new chapter every two seconds, enabling more goods to be reused.
    • Ziffit: Through Ziffit, we buy. We give people around the world the opportunity to contribute to the circular economy, earn money and protect the planet, by trading their unwanted books and media.
    • Shopiago: Through Shopiago, we help others. By sharing the technology that has grown World of Books Group into the business it is today, we’re helping charities increase revenue and reduce waste through re-commerce.
World of Books Group are 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.