After watching ebooks take off at an astounding rate and after these electronic publications have moved from one form of mobile technology to the next, it looks like print books are coming back at a surprising rate.
Since ebooks first started gaining popularity, publishers and authors, alike, began producing e-versions of their words. Now, it has reached the point that there is hardly a book published, these days, that doesn’t have a digital edition. While it doesn’t appear as though ebooks are on their way out – as people do still consider mobile technology to be a convenient way to read – books made out of actual paper and ink bounced back considerably throughout 2015.
The recovery of printed books was recorded by several sources, including Nielsen BookScan, which collects about 85 percent of the print market data. It showed that in the United States, there were 571 million paper books sold throughout 2015. Comparatively, in 2014, that figure was 559 million and in 2013 it was 501 million. Clearly, people are buying more print. While it isn’t a massive increase (approximately 2.1 percent per year), it does remain an increase at a time in which it was expected that print books would be working their way toward extinction.
Readers are using mobile technology in a way that is breaking away from publisher and marketer predictions.
That said, ebooks are continuing to sell. What is different is the way in which people are using mobile technology in order to read them. The purchase of e-readers is starting to slow, as people are finding it just as convenient to read ebooks on their smartphones. The reason is that smartphones are mobile devices they already have with them, and those gadgets are being made with increasingly large screens, making it easier to use them to read a book.
According to a Pew Research report from the fall of 2015, there were fewer people in the United States who owned e-readers than was the case in 2013. Last year, only 19 percent of Americans said they owned an e-reader. In 2014, that figure had been 32 percent while in 2013, it was 24 percent.
Clearly, it isn’t the ebook market that is slowing, there is merely a shift in the mobile technology being used for ebook reading. There are certain categories in which ebooks appear to be particularly strong, such as in young adult fiction (YA fiction), how-to guides, as well as self-help books.
According to author Julie B. Campbell from the Perspective book series, “When ‘Love at First Plight’ first came out, Amanda Giasson [co-author of the book] and I knew we needed to offer it in both print and ebook form. It’s what people want. All the stats told us that we should expect the ebooks to be the top sellers, but that wasn’t actually the case. Our readers seem to be split down the middle as to which version they prefer. It will be interesting to see how things go with ‘Second Wind’ when it hits the shelves – digital and physical – in a few months.”
Authors and publishers, alike, will be watching the print and mobile technology trends over coming years, to help to ensure they’re reaching readers in the way they love the read the most.