UK: Ebooks and audiobooks head for all-time high in 2020. So much for “screen fatigue”

From The New Publishing Standard:

The head of the UK’s Publishers Association puts a brave face on the latest numbers from Nielsen, which show digital heading for an all-time high as this year winds down.

Despite a significant drop in print sales, as we’d expect with the country’s “nations” (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) in varying stages of lockdown, UK publishers have been doing surprisingly well this year, and that is in large part due to online print sales, and to sales of ebooks and audiobooks.

Per the UK’s The Guardian, summarising the latest Nielsen stats,

The pandemic has revived the fortunes of the consumer ebook. The format once touted as the future of reading has suffered six straight years of sales declines since peaking in 2014 but this year has been different, with sales home and abroad up 17% to £144m in the first half. UK publishers can now expect consumer ebooks to enjoy their best year since 2015, when sales were just under £300m.

The UK Publishers Association CEO Stephen Lotinga explained,

In a challenging year for the UK publishing industry, growth in digital has helped counterbalance print decreases. These figures really emphasise the enduring nature of books and reading – and that readers continue to embrace books in all their forms.

So let’s get this straight. With people confined to their homes, with endless time to spend on their screens on social media or playing mobile games or watching Netflix… The enduring nature of books and reading prevails, says Lotinga.

That’s great. Nothing to disagree with there. Only… Whatever happened to screen fatigue, Stephen?

Screen fatigue? That was the buzzword in the publishing industry a few years ago when the digital naysayers were eager to explain slowing ebook sales without admitting publishers had artificially warped the market against the format.

Link to the rest at The New Publishing Standard

2 thoughts on “UK: Ebooks and audiobooks head for all-time high in 2020. So much for “screen fatigue””

  1. ‘Statistics’ (How to Lie with…) can be found to support almost any view these days, because many people don’t know what is being proved, or how to spot the many large and small lies, and it’s getting quite exhausting to even try, because so many choose the answer first, and then go try to locate something that can be spun into supporting it.

    It’s rife everywhere – I remember reading papers about the usefulness of particular drugs after receiving stents (a personal interest at that time), and having to figure out that though one set of numbers indicated your would be twice as likely to die if you didn’t use the drugs versus choosing to use them for a very long time – but the absolute numbers were so small that it was meaningless (1.0% of non-users vs. 0.5% of users) – so one’s chances were either 99.0% of surviving, or 98.5%. Meaningless for most of us. I changed doctors.

    The numbers back then for screen fatigue didn’t include a pandemic. It kind of changes things on a massive scale, an experiment that would never have been allowed.

    ‘Consider the source’ still applies, and consider the intent of the piece.

    The publishers don’t want real data, they want their prejudices soothed and validated.

  2. “The head of the UK’s Publishers Association puts a brave face on the latest numbers from Nielsen, which show digital heading for an all-time high as this year winds down. ”
    —-
    Oh, dear: such a cross to bear, people buying your high-margin edition despite all your efforts to marginalize it in favor of the low margin dead tree pulp edition.

    Way to turn a success into a catastrophe, guys!

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