Once lauded as the future of publishing, ebook sales have taken a hit recently, as physical format books rise in sales.
This is, indeed, great news for anyone who finds that there is nothing quite like the smell of a bookshop. For the last decade, it seemed as if the lowly book retailer was destined to go the way of music and film. Readers were flocking to Kindle and other ebook readers, citing the convenience, the inexpensiveness and the storage advantages but, yet, something was missing.
It seems that there’s nothing quite like the real thing, as last year saw the biggest drop in ebook sales since 2011. A decline of 17% was noted, resulting in a total revenue of £204 million (€242 million).
In a recent interview with The Guardian, chief exeutive of the Publishers Association, Stephen Lotinga said that; “I wouldn’t say that the ebook dream is over but people are clearly making decisions on when they want to spend time with their screens. There is generally a sense that people are now getting screen tiredness, or fatigue, from so many devices being used, watched or looked at in their week. [Printed] books provide an opportunity to step away from that.”
Physical book sales hit a record £3.5 billion (€4.15 billion) last year, proving that print is far from dead, despite what may have been claimed in the past few years.
Children’s books and lifestyle books, particularly those penned by internet celebrities, assisted with increased sales.
In an interview with ITV News, The Publishers Association stated; “The reasons behind this are varied. People are increasingly looking for opportunities to escape screens, particularly for their children. Publishers are creating striking front covers which are attracting readers. We are seeing a resurgence of the high street bookshop. And, at the end of the day, a book is already the ultimate portable device.”
“Last year, one of the most eye-catching figures from our statistics was that physical book sales were increasing while digital book sales dropped,” Stephen Lotinga added when speaking with the BBC. “While many will debate as to whether this trend will continue, we should not ignore the fact that digital sales beyond the domestic ebook market are growing.”
“The ubiquity of larger screen smartphones and tablets appears to have impacted the demand for ereaders,” says Richard Broughton, analyst at Ampere. “However, for many consumers the screens on smartphones and tablets are not as conducive to reading, not as comfortable. For consumers travelling or on holiday having an additional ereader device to look after is awkward,” says Broughton. “A physical copy of a book is a disposable low-cost entertainment tool. It doesn’t matter if you leave it in your hotel room, on a train or by the swimming pool.” (Sc. The Guardian)
So, it would seem that, no matter how much technology permeates our lives, we just can’t shake off our love affair with books. That, in this reporter’s humble opinion, is the best news that’s appeared for some time.