Resurrection of Print leaves the E-Book Shook

Readers are ditching their E-books for their print counterparts in a move away from electronic devices, reports Becky Kelly

The sales of printed books in the US increased by 1.9% from 2017, with a decreasing interest in E-books replaced by a growth in the sale of audiobooks, according to Forbes .

The Guardian also revealed in the UK that “sales through shops increased 7% in 2016, E-book sales declined by 4%. It is the second year in a row that E-book sales have fallen.”

These statistics reveal that customers are opting for a more traditional reading experience and taking a break from electronic devices.

Maria Dickenson, managing director of Dubray Books has seen a similar rise in the Irish market: “There are certain genres – particularly mass market fiction and certain reference areas – where E-books have done long term damage to book sales but overall the physical book market has rallied significantly with volume increases being seen in the Irish market over the last few years.”

However, the increase in books sales has not been exclusive to bookstores. Amazon.com revealed in their fourth quarter of 2017 report that sales of products including books had risen from over $94 million in December 2016 to over $118.5 million by December 2017 a rise of 25.5%.

“It is exactly the same as print, except it’s electronic. There is no creativity, no enhancement, no real digital experience”

Dickenson also believes that print versions of books are making a comeback due to the amount of time we spend looking at computer or smartphone screens on a daily basis: “Numerous studies have shown the benefits of reading on paper with regard to better retention of information as well as great levels of relaxation, and customers tell us that after a long day of engagement with computers or smartphones the appeal of a book is very strong.”

The Guardian and The Irish Times also attributed the fall in sales of E-books by 4% in 2016 to ‘screen fatigue’, meaning people want to spend less time looking at screens, resulting in an heightening interest in the purchasing of physical books.

In an interview with Scroll.in last month, chief executive of Hachette Livre, Arnaud Nourry, referred to the E-book as “a stupid product”: “It is exactly the same as print, except it’s electronic. There is no creativity, no enhancement, no real digital experience.”

The improvement of print sales has had a positive effect on book publishers with Bloomsbury Publishers in the UK reporting an increase of 16% in print revenues, improving from £51.7 million in 2016 to £60.1 million in 2017.

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