Sales of print books are on the rise, according to a study by the Publishers Association. This is the first time in 4 years there has been an increase in physical book sales in the UK, and ebook sales by big British publishers are down since the e-reader was invented.
One of the reasons for this spike is because many readers love the touch and scent of a real book, compared to an e-reader. It seems the experience of reading an actual physical book gives people aesthetic pleasure. They also make great gifts for friends and family which seems to keep printed books popular.
The Decline of Ebook Popularity
It might surprise you to know that digital books have been around for decades, ever since publishers started to experiment with CD-ROMs. However, consumers didn’t really become interested until Amazon released their first Kindle in 2008.
Once the Kindle was launched, other e-readers appeared on the market such as the iPad, Nook and Kobo’s e-reader, and the public couldn’t wait to buy them all. These e-readers boasted millions of ebooks which readers could buy seamlessly and read immediately.
Digital sales enjoyed double- and triple-digit growth rates, especially during and after the holidays, coinciding with the times people received e-readers as gifts. However, the numbers began to drop again once smartphones and tablets became commonplace.
The UK’s largest bookseller, Waterstones, stopped selling the Kindle, Amazon’s e-reader, in 2015 after revamping their sales strategy, and this negatively affected ebook sales too.
Something else that influenced physical book sales was the popular craze for colouring books for adults. These, of course, don’t translate well on to a digital format.
UK Publishing Industry Sales Figures
The report found that UK publishing industry sales were up to £4.4 billion in 2015, an increase from £4.3 billion in 2014, although these figures don’t take account of ebooks sold via alternative market places – Amazon’s self-publishing platform for example.
The reason for this is Amazon chooses not to reveal these numbers. A spokesperson for Amazon quoted, “Our UK, US and worldwide Kindle book sales grew in 2015, with particular strength in independent publishing and Kindle Unlimited.”
The decline in ebook sales was not considered big enough to make any claims about large consumer behaviour shifts, according to the Publishers Association, who said for this reason they were unable to make physical book sales predictions for the future.
Sales of Children’s Books
Sales of children’s board books increased in 2015, according to trends taken from Nielsen’s BookScan print sales database. This is thought to be because parents prefer to read physical books to their children, not digital versions.
Actually children’s books accounted for 24 percent of the total 2015 consumer market, a large increase from 15 percent of the market in 2001. The 2 bestselling genres last year in this category were children’s fiction and activity/novelty books.