Are you, like me, a reader who enjoys the weight of a printed book in her hands? Do you like to fold down corners and feel the grain of paper under your fingertips? Then I have good news for you!
When e-books first came out, everyone predicted printed books would go the way of cassette tapes and Blockbuster Video Stores. (There I go, aging myself again.) But a story I heard on NPR last week has me hopeful that printed books will be around for a long time. 😉
Good News Numbers
First, some statistics. According to an article on CNN.com, in the first nine months of 2016, e-book sales dropped 18.7% while paperback sales rose 7.5% and hardback sales climbed 4.1% Sales of e-readers reached their peak in 2011 and have been dropping ever since. A Pew Research study found that 65% of Americans had read a printed book in the past year, while only 28% had read a printed book. Experts explain the trend in sales a few ways:
- Some genres do better in printed form, including children’s books, recipe books, and coloring books (which have been hugely popular in the last few years)
- People are trying to decrease their screen time, and that includes time with e-readers
- You can’t give e-books as gifts
Amazon Opens Bookstores
Another good sign for the print book business: Amazon, the online giant that made the “Kindle” a household appliance, has opened up several brick and mortar book stores in the US. The NPR story on this new Amazon venture says the stores are set up to replicate the online book shopping experience Amazon users have come to enjoy. Books are shelved with their covers facing out, so they are easy to see, and are organized in familiar sections like “Most Wished For”. Prices compare to the Amazon site, with discounts for Prime Members.
Wait- even more good news! Small independent bookstores aren’t threatened by this new Amazon sales approach because they connect with their customers other ways, like community support and author events. The stores that survive often do so because they offer services besides book sales, including cafes/ restaurants, book festivals, and even wine sales. Yet it all comes back to the books and bringing people of all lifestyles together in one place to discover and explore.
My kids still use their Kindles, especially when we are traveling. It is convenient for them to load several books on each device so they know they have a good stock for the trip. I have several friends who like to get free/ cheap e-books or check them out from the library. However, it’s been a long time since I’ve read anything on a screen, and one of my favorite gifts to give is a book. I’m not sad to hear about the drop in e-book sales one bit!
What is your experience with e-books? Do you and the people around you still use them a lot?
Thanks for getting nerdy with me.