The Rise and Fall of Physical Book Sales Worldwide.
What is your preference when it comes to packing your summer reading? The paperback paper versus eBooks debate continues to be a very popular one amongst the general public and the publishing industry alike. Whilst the eBook is often seen as the convenient, hassle-free option for your holiday read that doesn’t add any extra weight to your luggage, there are several studies that suggest reading on paper is better for memory retention and focus. And let’s not overlook the nostalgia factor too – who doesn’t like to browse the titles in a book shop to choose their summer reading, and to give it a personal touch with writing your name and date on the inside cover? Or maybe using your airline or bus ticket as your bookmark?
Effects of Introduction of eBooks on Physical Book Sales
Is the physical book dead? Not according to the data! Research published by various agencies indicates an increase in sales of physical books in 2017 compared with the previous year. Other research also points to the reading public ditching e-books and returning to the good old-fashioned printed word.
The 2016 research by Nielsen, which tracked book sales in several countries, presents a mixed bag in terms of physical sales of books. Whilst sales are up in the UK, US and Ireland they are down in Italy, Spain, Australia and South Africa.
In terms of Ebooks, sales plunged 17% in the UK in 2016, according to the Publishers Association, compared with a 7% increase in the sales of physical books and journals over the same period. The sales for children’s books surged by 16%. A number of reasons are offered for the decline in E-book sales – a key suggestions is that cookery and humor are simply better in print. Would you agree?
So, despite our digital addiction – with consumers spending more time watching screens than ever before – print is winning out!
So, what’s behind this boom in consumer desire for physical books?
Perceived Value in Physical Media
Sales of print books are predicted to grow by 25% in the next five years, reaching £2.1 billion by 2022. In contrast, annual growth of e-books will be minimal.
Perhaps we can put this down to the fact that consumers attribute higher value to physical books. Mintel’s research found that 69% of consumers are prepared to pay more than £6 on a hardback book, while 48% are prepared to spend more than this on a paperback. On the other hand, just 17% are prepared to spend more than £6 on an e-book, demonstrating how the perceived value of physical media is much greater.
The Shelfie Trend
Another reason for the resurgence in affection for physical books could be the ‘shelfie’ trend popularized by Instagram. Essentially, instead of taking photos of themselves (i.e. in a selfie) social media users are now photographing beautifully curated shelves – filled with an impressive amount of books.
Depending on the reading preferences and situations, it looks like we all want the best of both the digital and analog worlds! Studies have shown that the majority of consistent eBook readers also regularly purchase print books too. These ‘hybrid’ readers seem to make buying choices situationally; for instance, an avid reader might enjoy a physical paperback for reading at a park or while relaxing at home, then switch to an e-reader while traveling with limited luggage space, or in a dark area where front-lit screens come in handy.
According to a recent survey by SurveyMonkey interesting results come out on readers’ preferred choices.
So, both medium have their own benefits and advantages. Reading paperback books has an attraction and charm that cannot be replaced by an electronic book. Holding a physical copy of the book in your hands, and turning each page makes the reading experience so much more real and memorable. For this reason, most people prefer reading print copy books.
On the other hand, the convenience of an e-books cannot be denied. Purchasing an e-book can take place in a matter of seconds and are often cheaper than print copy books. Then again, in order to read e-books one must have a particular device – tablet, iPad, Kindle or laptop to read it on. Thus, an additional payment has to be made in order to have access to e-books, whereas reading print copies does not involve any extra device.
The debate of paperback versus e-book will always be difficult, but with the help from PG Paper we can try and make your decision slightly simpler with our broad paper supply. Publish your first book with paperback paper from PG!
Interested in finding out more? Get in touch with our team who will be happy to help with their expert advice.