From The Straits Times:
If the media industry needed proof that it moved too quickly to devalue its print products on the way to chasing digital audiences, the book industry has been making a convincing case in the last few years. The rise of print book sales and decline in e-books in 2015 was no accident. Last year, the trend continued, and self-publishing in electronic form no longer seemed as good a bet as in previous years.
Last year, the unit sales of printed books in the United States increased by 3.3 per cent. That’s not unusual, except that the publishing industry didn’t produce any runaway bestsellers such as 2015’s The Girl On The Train, and only a handful of books, mostly from previous years, sold more than one million copies. The industry made up that deficiency by selling more non-fiction books. That’s an indication of book publishers’ overall health: They are flexible and versatile.
In dollar terms, hardback and paperback books were both headed for solid growth in the first eight months of last year, while e-books appeared destined for an even bigger decline than the 14 per cent drop registered in 2015, according to the most recent data released by the Association of American Publishers. If traditional book publishers accepted that the digital revolution meant a total overhaul of their business – the way the music and media industries have largely done – they would be locked in the same race to the bottom that those two industries have faced. The ease of digital self-publishing and readers’ sense that digital books should be cheaper than paper ones have resulted in growing unit sales but falling revenues – much like how the audiences of major news media have snowballed since the turn of the century without a concurrent growth in revenue.
. . . .
Even in the US, the most mature e-book market in the world, printed books are far more popular. Last autumn, Pew Research found that 65 per cent of Americans had read a paper book in the past 12 months, while only 28 per cent had read an e-book. The popularity of both formats has been steady since 2014, thanks to older consumers who refuse to leave print behind and younger consumers who seek a more analog lifestyle. Reading a paper book – or listening to vinyl records – is a statement, a human being’s answer to being increasingly surrounded, and now even threatened, by machines.
Link to the rest at The Straits Times and thanks to Eustacia for the tip.
PG is anything but an expert on “younger consumers”, but doubts that large numbers are seeking “a more analog lifestyle.”