The print industry has rebounded by 2% in 2015, primarily at the expense of e-books that decreased 11% on the year. The funny thing about hardcovers and paperbacks doing this great is that it is not poetry or literary fiction driving the sales, but YouTube Stars and adult coloring books.
Nielsen BookScan releases annual reports from the sales data provided to them from 1,200 publishers, which basically comprise of 85% of the print market in the US. They said that 571 million paper books were sold this year, compared with 559 million in 2014.
One of the breakout success stories of the year was the sequel of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This single title received the highest level of promotion of any one single title with bookstores setting up elaborate display stands and the nonstop social media barrage on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.
The books that sold the most units in 2015 were adult coloring books, which are hard to replicate in electronic form and YouTube stars like PewDiePie, the Swedish-born celebrity who makes about $12 million a year playing video games for a living.
I think the biggest reason why print has been revitalized is because e-books are just too damned expensive. There are many companies that are heavily involved in the e-book sector that have went out of business over the course of the last year. Sony killed off their consumer e-reader division and abandoned the Reader Store in every country, but Japan. Diesel eBooks,Oyster, Entitle, Txtr, Blinkbox Books and others have all closed up shop because e-books are no longer profitable.
There was a time when e-books were really cheap and helped shape the market. Amazon basically was willing to take a loss on every new bestselling title to drive sales to their Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets. It was hard for any new startup to compete against this type of business model so the publishers all banded together to create a uniform landscape of pricing, so no one company could dominate the industry. Within a few months the average bestseller increased from $9.99 to $12.99 or even $17.99.