7 Reasons Why Ebook Sales Are Falling–and Print Book Sales Are Rising Again
A few years ago, after four-plus decades of reading print books, and several years after Amazon launched the ebook revolution, I finally took the plunge and downloaded the Kindle app for my iPhone and started buying and reading ebooks.
I quickly became hooked on the convenience of being able to pull my iPhone out of my pocket, purchase an ebook with the tap of my finger, and, within seconds, start reading it.
My shift to ebooks helped me save real money–and not just from the much cheaper price of the ebook compared to the print edition. Buying ebooks instantly chops off the 50 percent surcharge that Amazon slaps on my credit card to cover the cost of shipping physical books thousands of miles from the US to Taiwan, where I live.
Traditional print books look great, they smell good, and they last a really long time.But as much as I’ve come to enjoy the convenience of ebooks, and while I will continue to buy them, digital books just don’t deliver the same sort of visual and tactile satisfaction I get from reading physical books.
I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way, either, especially if you look at the shift in sales of ebooks versus print books.
According to The Wall Street Journal, sales of traditional print books rose by 5 percent in the US last year, while sales of ebooks plunged by 17 percent. It will be interesting to see if this represents a one-time phenomenon, or if it’s the beginning of a trend.
Regardless of how this plays out, this shift in sales led me to reflect on what makes print books so much more special than ebooks. Here are a few reasons that come to mind.
Physical books are more easily shared.
Print books promote sharing. Print books on shelves in book stores or home libraries or office book shelves invite potential readers to browse and then to borrow and read and potentially to buy. Ebooks are selfishly hoarded by the owner on his or her reading device. Want to share your favorite ebook with a friend or family member? Not going to happen.
Physical books make more meaningful gifts.
Some of the most meaningful gifts I’ve ever received were books. The beautiful coffee-table-sized hardcover edition of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, which my mom bought me, made me understand more about how we all got here on this earth–and where we’re headed–than any course at school I ever took. And I remember the time our managing partner in Shanghai gave me a copy of Bill Bryson’s book about Shakespeare’s life, in recognition of my writing and editing work for him over the years.
These were gifts I still remember today.
Physical books offer a much wider variety of fonts.
Reading as a kid, and even as I studied my way through college and then graduate school, I never really noticed the incredible variety of fonts that books sport–until I discovered just how few fonts that ebooks offer…