The Association of American Publishers has just released their annual data report and e-book sales are not doing that great. In the first three months of 2015 they have plummeted 7.5% from the same period last year. Meanwhile paperback sales have increased by 8.9% giving further credence that people are switching back to print in greater numbers than originally thought.
The AAP isn’t the only organization to proclaim that print is making a comeback. According to the US Census Bureau Brick and mortar bookstore sales are on the rise for the third straight month. May 2015 sales across the board for books, stationary and magazines have increased 0.9%, to $776 million from the same period last year.
Bookstores all over the world are seeing a resurgence of hardcover and paperback sales, as the novelty of e-books have clearly waned. The Kindle “has disappeared to all intents and purposes”, said James Daunt the head of Britain’s biggest book chain Waterstones. He also reported that print book sales lifted by 5% in December 2014.
Meanwhile, Australian bookseller Jon Page of Page and Pages said “print sales were up 3% last year, which is fantastic because for the last three years we’d actually seen a decline in that time.”
In Germany brick-and-mortar bookstores maintained better sales performance than online bookstores for the second year in a row and even gained a higher percentage of overall book sales (49.2% of book sales in 2014 compared to 48.6% in 2013). Online bookstores saw a significant decline of 3.1% in terms of market share.
Chapters Indigo, the largest bookseller in Canada reported during their Q2 2014 earnings call that they generated an extra $9.7 million, despite operating four fewer superstores. They reported double digit increases in print sales as customers are buying less e-readers and tablets.
I think e-books are the modern equivalent of a Polaroid camera or LP record. There is a niche market that will always support it, and make it financially viable for publishers to produce digital editions. The mass market though, experimented with e-books for awhile and decided that print is far more affordable and carries a true sense of ownership.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.