Print is alive and well—at least for books
TMT Predictions 2015
Deloitte predicts that in 2015 print will represent more than 80 percent of all book sales in dollars worldwide. In the US, the world’s largest book market, the figure is lower at just under 80 percent, but the percentage of print is higher in other developed world countries, and even more so in the developing world .
Deloitte predicts that in 2015 print will represent more than 80 percent of all book sales in dollars worldwide. In the US, the world’s largest book market, the figure is lower at just under 80 percent, but the percentage of print is higher in other developed world countries, and even more so in the developing world.
A decade on from the launch of the eReader, print still dominates book sales even in markets with high digital device penetration – and print will likely generate the majority of books sales for the foreseeable future. Sales of eBooks have hit a plateau, or seen decelerating growth, in major markets including the US, UK and Canada. This has occurred only over the last year, but as of late December 2014, US print book sales were up two percent year over year. It should be noted, however, that the longer-term trend for print books has not been as good. Although eBooks do not make up the majority of the book market, they have taken significant share: in the period 2008-2013 total US book sales were up eight percent to $15 billion and eBook sales were $3 billion. If eBooks are removed from the total, book sales would be down eight percent over that time frame.
In some print markets, such as newspapers, most of the demand is being driven by older consumers who grew up in a print-only world. This is not the case for books. The aversion of millennials to physical CDs, DVDs, print newspapers or magazines does not extend to print books.
Younger readers are still reading, and in print: 92 percent of 18-29 year-old book readers in the US read in print in 2013, above the average for the population as a whole. What’s more, they aren’t just reading -- they are doing so intensely. In a different US survey, a quarter of 16-34 year-olds described books as a ‘passion’, in line with the average for all ages. And their passion is not just for books, but particularly for print copy. Nearly half of 16-34 year-olds agreed that “eBooks will never take the place of real books for me”. Why do millennials show a preference for print books? One UK study found that 62 percent of 16-24s prefer buying print books over eBooks because they like to collect, ‘like the smell’ and ‘want full bookshelves’.
The continued preference for print does not appear to be a panacea for physical bookstores. Although closures of independent bookstores in the US have gone into reverse, with over ten percent growth between 2009 and 2013, online book sales continue to thrive. In the UK nearly 40 percent of all books (print and eBooks combined) were bought from online-only retailers in 2012, and the number is likely to be higher now.