Although many readers believe in the notion of a decline in the publishing industry, it is surprisingly still going strong. Hardcore bookworms still prefer physical books, and they are expected to continue doing so. Reading is more than just a pastime; it’s an experience of setting foot in another world, powered solely by your imagination and the words on the pages of a book.
Reading is not a simple leisure activity but is a means to explore and learn new things. There are many reasons why readers still prefer a physical book over a digital one and why it hasn’t completely died yet. The feeling of owning a tangible object still weighs heavier than an intangible collection on your small device.
The Digital Change
Amazon Kindle was released long back in 2008, and everyone had the same question – will the printed book market die in the coming years? Many speculated it will, but there’s no sign of them dying out, at least not yet! You can still find huge libraries, brick-and-mortar stores, and second-hand bookstores with the latest bestsellers.
However, there was a time when the printed book market almost died due to the popularity of ebooks. According to a report published in Denmark, the share of earnings from ebooks compared to printed books stood at an astounding 90/10 ratio. However, it has stabilized to 60/40 in 2022.
How the Market Fares Now
Other parts of the world saw a similar trend when the digital trends boosted ebooks and audiobooks. Fortunately, bookworms kept the love of physical books alive throughout these years. In 2022, Mexico had the best sales in physical copies, followed by Australia. Other countries such as Brazil, South Africa, and Spain saw upward trends as well. Sadly, the sales in Ireland fell flat and even declined in the UK. It dipped in other countries, Italy and New Zealand. India had the most significant dip in sales in the last year.
Image credit: PublishersWeekly
How People’s Perspectives Change Over the Years
One of the common reasons why ebooks and audiobooks became highly popular was due to them being accessible, versatile, and cheaper. You also didn’t need to have a physical space dedicated in your homes to store your digital books. They were not just trendy; they were practical and convenient. Stephen Fry quoted it rather nicely: “One technology doesn’t replace another, it complements. Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.”
The latest reports have all substantially supported Stephen Fry’s quote. On a similar note, even physical copies of music sold as CDs and vinyl haven’t died down, as they’re still thriving. It only goes to prove that there will always be a market if there’s a demand for it.
When it comes to audiobooks, many people have claimed that reading and listening are two very different activities. However, they are both equally enjoyable in their own right. Readers still opt for books because they care enough to be proud to own them. They can personalize it however they want, adding notes, marking memorable moments, and using colorful stickers to beautify them.
On the other hand, ebooks do offer the option of highlighting. Sadly, it’s only for your eyes. That’s why you can sometimes find a great treasure when buying from a second-hand bookstore. These small acts of personalization significantly add to the value of the physical book, telling another story entirely. You can also showcase your collection on a dedicated bookshelf.
You’ll be surprised how many readers wish to have a dedicated library in their homes if they ever taste the riches of success! Some readers have also expressed how they previously followed the digital trends blindly but came back to physical books in the end. One of the users on Reddit, u/CapnAhabsFishShack, shared the following when it comes to reading.
Image credit: Reddit
Another excellent reason for buying printed books is their artistic value. There are many special editions of certain books that have beautiful hardcovers, pages, and personal notes from the authors. In a way, you can treat it as a collectible to be passed down to the generations.
What is the Future Going to Look Like?
As long as bookworms exist, there will always be a rising demand for the printed book market. Some reports have showcased that physical books continue to dominate the market in countries like the United Kingdom and the United States. Surprisingly, Czechia saw the highest user penetration rate in the physical books market.
In a recent report, printed books are doing fairly well in 2023. It has already amassed $64.35 billion in revenue and is predicted to grow in the upcoming years continually. They are projected to reach $67.14 billion by 2027.
Some countries like Germany have seen a slow decline in ebook sales since last year. The share of ebooks was only 6%, and about 42% of all book sales occurred in physical bookstores. Germany was also the UK’s top importer of consumer literature, coming in third place worldwide after Australia and the USA. The country was also ranked second as a consumer of education publishing, with Spain ranked on top.
There has been similar behavior among the readers of other countries. You can still find printed books in supermarkets in the UK. Moreover, book fairs continue to be held and are highly anticipated. Physical books are more than just physical objects. They can play a vital role as a memory in an individual’s life.
The printed book market is far from dying and is likely going to stay in the upcoming years. Many readers who hopped on the digital trend still favor physical copies over digital ones. Some even buy them after having them in digital format. Furthermore, the recent trends in sales of printed books and ebooks have seen a drastic change, with the readers’ preference shifting back to printed books. Do you think that it is declining in your country? Feel free to share your views below!