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Friday, January 30, 2015

Print Sales Increase Is Great For Books


Print books are rising for the first time since before the Great Recession/ebook revolution launch.  It’s the first time print book sales climbed since Borders closed up.  Could print really be poised for more growth even with eReader ownership rising?

I don’t know that one year’s gains is a trend any more than it could be an aberration but it is interesting to see print grow for the first time in six years.  It wasn’t a blp of growth, either, but it’s still 20% below the totals of 2008 and even  under 10% of those of 2010.

First, here are the numbers.  According to BookScan, which reportedly accounts for 85% of all print book sales, the number of printed books rose from 591 million sold in 2012 to 635 million in 2014 – about an 8% jump over two years.  778 million volumes were sold in 2008 and 718 million in 2010.

The population in the United States is 320 million people – plus we enjoy tens of millions of overseas tourists.  The number of paper books bought a year ago equals two per every American.  We can do better than that.

The numbers don’t show key factors, such as book price, changes in hard cover vs. trade paper vs. mass market.  It also doesn’t break down children’s book vs. adult.  But an increase is better than a decrease!

What could contribute to more print books being sold?

1.      More events by authors and publishers, pushing signed print books.

2.      Higher prices for ebooks so the gap between digital and print is closed.

3.      Opening more bookstores.

4.      Existing bookstores shelving more titles and more copies of them.

5.      Delaying the ebook by weeks or a month, giving print the lead, just like Hollywood releases to the big screen, then DVD purchase then on-demand or to Netflix and broadcast TV.

6.      Putting extras in print books that won’t be in a digital copy, maybe even attaching coupons/offers to print that are not done with digital.

7.      The industry needs to make a concerted effort to get consumers to stores.  The more they shop, the more they will buy.

8.      Sell physical books in atypical places, beyond the bookstore, such as at the café, train station or supermarket and gift shop.

9.      More libraries should sell new books.  Why not?  It raises funds for them and provides a community service.

10.  More books should be purchased in bulk by wealthy individuals or corporations and donated to community groups serving children or the undereducated.

Really, there are a thousand ways to increase print sales – or book sales, period.  It’s up to marketing-reluctant authors, overworked publishers, under-aggressive retailers, and savvy marketers to assert themselves and get books sold everywhere – and often.  The book industry stalls from time to time but growth is not limited.  I see a billion print books being sold by 2020.  Call me the optimist, the fool, the dreamer.  Instead of trying to prove me wrong, prove me right.  We can grow print sales by double-digits annually.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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