From Melville House:
In the Guardian this week, Sian Cain opens an article called “Ebook sales continue to fall as younger generations drive appetite for print” with this assertion:
Readers committed to physical books can give a sigh of relief, as new figures reveal that ebook sales are falling while sales of paper books are growing — and the shift is being driven by younger generations.
Her numbers come from the Nielsen Corporation, whose data are generally read as closely by publishers as by those driving other media.
. . . .
While it’s true that, as a top-line revenue marker, e-books have declined over the past several years, it is not at all clear that this shift is being driven by innate preferences among younger readers, rather than factors more specific to the particular titles those young readers are buying. Take, for instance, the new Harry Potter book published last year by Scholastic, which Nielsen lists as 2016’s all-around top-seller. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, it was the script of a play, a genre ill-suited for e-books; factor in that many Potterheads probably want their own print copies as collectables, and the fact that this particular title has sold most heavily in print seems less relevant.
In fact, looking at Nielsen’s list of which kids’ books are selling well in print, we find many titles that may be ill-suited suited to electronic reading, from the scrawl-and-sketch-filled Diary of a Wimpy Kid series to the lushly illustrated The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Both are available as e-books, of course, but in both cases it seems likely that consumers are mindful of how much better the content is served by print.
. . . .
As Andrew Nusca reported in Fortune a year and a half ago, print books are still on the decline as a trend. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be years in which the data seem to say otherwise, but rather that a larger, overall transition from print toward digital remains visible despite them. And an inquiry that excludes consideration of how a given year’s particular titles might work in varying formats is an incomplete one.
Link to the rest at Melville House
Of course, Author Earnings has shown us that traditional sources of industry information for the book business don’t include Amazon’s massive sales of ebooks. The OP from a traditional publisher is an interesting exception to this rule.
Pulling up to a higher level, anyone who has observed groups of teenagers lately will have seen an obsessive attention to their cell phones. The use of iPads and other tablets in many U.S. schools begins during the elementary years. The lack of computer screens and tablets in a school is generally regarded as a marker of a seriously under-resourced school system.
The idea that a screen-native generation will reliably believe that stories should be read on paper seems illogical. Yes, children are intrigued by colorful objects, be they books or toys, at least up to a certain age, but is that a basis for concluding that the future of printed books is anything but bleak?