Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Death Of Digital Books?

The numbers don’t lie.  Fewer e-books were purchased in 2016 than in 2015, representing a three-year downward trend.  This is great news for the book publishing industry.

In 2013, some 242 million e-books were sold, according to Nielsen Book. Last year, 177 million e-books were sold, which, for the first time in four years, saw the number of hardcover books exceed e-book unit sales (with 188 million).

E-books, by unit, account for 23% of all books sold, a huge chunk of a growing market, but not quite the expected domination that digital was to have over print.

The area e-books are weakest is juvenile non-fiction, where only 1 in 100 books sold are e-books.  That’s good.  The longer and earlier we can get kids hooked on print, the better.  One in 10 juvenile fiction and just 12% of adult non-fiction books sold are e-books.  However, the battleground for supremacy remains in adult fiction.  Print leads narrowly, 51% to 49%.

So why is the e-book in danger?  Rumors, guesses, surveys, predictions, and research reveal any number of answers.  Here’s what I believe:

·         People prefer print and feel it is substantial vs. digital.
·         People buy physical books as gifts more often than digital.
·         Screen strain on the eyes leads people to escape to print.
·         Though e-books are still dirt cheap, they have gone up in price, and thus the digital discount is narrowing to the point people will buy print.
·         More indie bookstores are opening and people are returning to bookstores.
·         Those who read digital books get distracted more easily – they are a click away from getting out of reading a book and thus take longer to read their books. And then they read fewer books as a result.
·         Competing online content that’s free keeps people from buying e-books.
·         Free e-books are the rage for marketers but they are leading to people either not buying the e-book or it inspires some to buy the print version.
·         Libraries promote printed books and still inspire people to read print.

Whatever the reason, I don’t care.  When print books rise-and digital falls – everyone wins – book publishers, authors, bookstores, printers, readers, and society.  The paperless world may await us, but don’t tell that to book lovers.  They’ve made a choice, and more and more are choosing printed books.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 

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