Our FREE 2021 Bookseller Report looks at the top 50 retailers in the industry & ranks them across key online performance metrics.

Brands Featured

  • waterstones.com
  • whsmith.co.uk
  • penguin.co.uk
  • abebooks.com
  • theworks.co.uk
  • worldofbooks.com
  • blackwells.co.uk
  • thriftbooks.com
  • bloomsbury.com
  • bookdepository.com
  • barnesandnoble.com
  • lovereading4kids.co.uk
  • blurb.co.uk
  • forbiddenplanet.com
  • hive.co.uk
  • eden.co.uk
  • thebookpeople.co.uk
  • foliosociety.com
  • books2door.com
  • peterharrington.co.uk
  • kobo.com
  • foyles.co.uk
  • usborne.com
  • biblio.co.uk
  • awesomebooks.com
  • wordery.com
  • uk.bookshop.org
  • guardianbookshop.com
  • alibris.co.uk
  • betterworldbooks.com
  • nationalbooktokens.com
  • dauntbooks.co.uk
  • wonderbly.com
  • nielsenisbnstore.com
  • austinmacauley.com
  • booksamillion.com
  • labourandwait.co.uk
  • bookboon.com
  • thewilloughbybookclub.co.uk
  • bookoutlet.com
  • rareandantiquebooks.com
  • londonreviewbookshop.co.uk
  • cheltenhamrarebooks.co.uk
  • counter-print.co.uk
  • counter-print.co.uk
  • toppingbooks.co.uk
  • jonkers.co.uk
  • psbooks.co.uk
  • oxfordlearnersbookshelf.com
  • shulph.com

Show More Brands

What to expect inside

  • 2021 Book Industry Report Front Cover
  • 2021 Book Industry Report Vis Year On Year
  • 2021 Book Industry Report Winners & Losers

Latest insights

  • waterstones.com has the best brand reach score in the book industry
  • bookoutlet.com has the best page speed across both mobile and desktop
  • Sites that have grown considerably in SEO visibility YOY are: waterstones.com, whsmith.co.uk and penguin.co.uk
  • Sites that have lost visibility in the last year are: bookdepository.com & barnesandnoble.com

10 minutes Reading time

1-50 Brands ranked

Updated Oct 2021

What to expect from our book industry report

We’ve been exploring the book sellers online industry in this iteration of our sector reports, seeing who’s got the best online marketing strategy. Inside, you’ll discover your competitor’s best tactics, analysed using a range of important marketing metrics.

If you’re looking to upgrade your online performance this year and beyond, get your hands on this free UK book market report now. Use the form above and we’ll send it over for free.

Why is SEO important for the book industry?

With the rise of audiobooks and e-books, booksellers have more to compete with than ever before. Making sure your customers can access your website with ease and granting them an experience they’ll choose to return to, has become a key survival tactic of many online book brands. To help, our booksellers report looks into the key components of any successful SEO campaign:

  • Visibility – how visible are you on search engines to your customers? Think of Google as the high-street: if your brand’s SEO is on point, you’ve got the four-storey department store in the heart of the city centre.
  • Keywords – the nuts and bolts of any search campaign. What are the terms your customers search for? Which of these do you target? Are you doing it well? Are there any other opportunity keywords you’re missing?
  • Page speed – a fast website means greater keyword rankings and visibility. Going clean and fast-to-load website will also persuade the digitally savvy of the 21st century to come back again and again.
  • Social Media – From audience-building via Twitter to inspiring next-gen buyers through Instagram, there’s incredible scope to bring your book brand front and centre for your target audience. We combine social performance into one handy score, showing which brands are leading the pack and those who need work.

The winners and losers in the online book industry

The online book industry has been soaring in the recent pandemic. The industry is up by 28% overall! This is huge when compared with many other industries we’ve looked into in the past few months.

A lot of brands have seen decent increases in visibility. This basically means they are now performing better on the base of keywords their site ranks for. These include big brands such as Waterstones and WHSmith, And Penguin.

Despite the overall boost in the industry, some brands didn’t do so well. These included Book Depository, Barnes And Noble, and The Book People.

Want to see the complete breakdown of all your biggest competitors in our exclusive league table? Get the free report using the form above now.


Which are the biggest online book industry brands in 2021?

Here is a quick rundown of the top 10 sites:

  1. waterstones.com
  2. whsmith.co.uk
  3. penguin.co.uk
  4. abebooks.com
  5. theworks.co.uk
  6. worldofbooks.com
  7. blackwells.co.uk
  8. thriftbooks.com
  9. bloomsbury.com
  10. bookdepository.com

Which book industry brands have seen the biggest growth in 2021?

  1. waterstones.com (31%)
  2. whsmith.co.uk (26%)
  3. penguin.co.uk (44%)
  4. abebooks.com (37%)
  5. worldofbooks.com (166%)

Which online book industry brands have seen the biggest losses in 2021?

  1. bookdepository.com (-52%)
  2. barnesandnoble.com (-32%)
  3. thebookpeople.co.uk (-55%)
  4. wordery.com (-29%)
  5. guardianbookshop.com (-47%)

What high competition keywords are available for the UK book market?

High competition keywords are those tough search queries we’d all love to rank for. You know the ones. The ones that have a large amount of search volume but also have sites like Waterstones ranking for them.

These are the keywords that can seem impossible to reach. Yet, if you had the right strategy, you’d be able to craft a stellar plan that could snatch these opportunities up in no time.

Anyway, in the meantime, understanding who sits on the first page for these terms is important. It will tell us what Google wants to see and how we can align content to match intent.

The most competitive keyword in the online book industry is ‘book’, which receives nearly 165K searches every month. Damn. That’s a lot. The interesting thing here though is that it’s probably unlikely that people searching this term are ready to purchase. Instead, the reason it’s important is that sites ranking for this are those whom Google see as those covering all the bases that sit underneath the umbrella of ‘book’. So, if you’re sitting number one for this term then you’re likely seen as the Google’s favourite book site.

From all the brands in this report, the number one spot for that term goes to Waterstones. Congrats to them. Second place goes to Whsmith and third goes to Penguin, despite having a drop year-on-year.

Want to see more high competition keywords in the book industry, as well as the brands that rank for them? Download the free report now. Plenty of them have a real high purchase intent too.

What keyword opportunities are available for the UK book market?

As well as high competition keywords, opportunity keywords also exist in the book industry. These are opportunities that have high search volume and low competition…

Getting them is a big deal and can sometimes only require a few copy tweaks.

Here’s what we noticed in the SERPs when looking to the opportunity keywords found in our report.

Baby Book = Great Opportunity

One thing that we identified in our recent article on the book industry was the opportunity in rare books, and this report yields a similar finding.

The best opportunity found in the data was baby book, with the main keyword receiving over 18K searches every month.

However, if you’re a larger (or smaller) brand looking to expand your book range and snatch a few easy keywords in the process, investing in the baby book category could be incredibly profitable.

How are online bookstore brands performing on social?

Social media is important in 2021 and beyond. Having a strong social presence can make or break a brand. For this reason, we include an in-depth analysis of the social platforms of your competitors, so you know what you’re up against.

We have produced an inclusive metric which also takes into account online engagement and follower-count. This metric is known as the “owned social score”.

Book Boon takes number 1 spot for the social score with a owned social score of 5844. With nearly 3 million followers across all the major social media’s, having looked at their socials the images get less engagement then videos they produce maybe videos is a option to sell certain books or to make better content.

Second place goes to Barnes and Noble with an owned social score of 4678 and across the major social platforms they have a total of 2.7 followers.

The brand with the third-largest owned social score is Penguin. In total, they have an owned social score of almost 4543 which is considerably large given the typical score in this industry. After all, how do you make books interesting on social? They’ve cracked it, accumulating almost 3 million followers across multiple platforms. However, looking into their social posts, there is not much engagement, suggesting they’ve dropped the ball over the course of the year.

Their socials are a little different in that they actually post very good content and feature users recent/current reads. Their posts get lots of likes and views. They feature real people and don’t try to spam their followers with product-centric content.

It’s safe to say, however, that the book industry could do with some advice in the realm of social.

Nonetheless, if you want to see how the competition are performing on this lucrative marketing channel, get your hands on the free report now.

Which booksellers have the best online reputation?

Want people to see your brand as one they can trust? You’ll need to work on your online reputation!

One way in which you can do this is through online reviews, which can be used as an effective trust signal to both users and Google. With Google’s recent E-A-T algorithm, sending these kinds of signals becomes important.

Because of this importance, we have included a breakdown of how each bookseller is performing in terms of online reviews.

Here are the top 5 brands who are crushing it in terms of online reputation:

  1. waterstones.com
  2. penguin.co.uk
  3. whsmith.co.uk
  4. theworks.co.uk
  5. barnesandnoble.com

Which UK bookstore brands have the fastest page speed?

Page speed is an important element in this age of SEO. You need to be loading pages fast if you want to keep users engaged and Google happy.

If you do so, you’ll be rewarded in better rankings and better profits.

To drive home this importance, we perform a page speed analysis of all your competitors in the book selling space, so you can see who’s the quickest and what you can learn from them.

Here’s what PageSpeed Insights identified as the top 5 fastest book seller brands:

  1. bookoutlet.com
  2. bookboon.com
  3. abebooks.com
  4. toppingbooks.co.uk
  5. harringtonbooks.co.uk

Read more about the importance of page speed here.~

Do I have to pay for this report?

No, this report is free. Just like all the other reports we produce. These reports help us to build relationships with brands in specific industries. Feel free to download your free copy with the form above.

I can’t find my brand, have you forgotten it?

Not all brands meet our thresholds when we put these reports together. If your brand is missing from this report, get in touch asap and we can include your brand in a personal report.

If you want to know anything about the report or are curious about how we can create a bespoke SEO strategy for your brand, get in touch today.


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