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Better read than dead: Physical book sales surge

  • News
  • May 2, 2017
Better read than dead: Physical book sales surge

Brick and mortar stores are surviving the turning of a new page as the rise in physical book sales surpasses digital ebooks.

With the constant pull of smartphones, IPads, Kindles, and television it's apparent that consumers are heading towards a digital detox when it comes to books.

A study conducted by PWC titled 'The economic contribution of the New Zealand book publishing industry', says physical books sales accounted for a total impact of $234 million over 2012-2017.

Ebook sales accounted for only $29 million.

The study says brick and mortar bookselling “was at its highest level in four years, rebounding after difficult trading conditions in 2013 and 2014.”

A UK study done by CNN says that ebook sales in the United Kingdom declined by 17 percent in 2016, the Publishers Association revealed, while US sales in the first nine months of 2016 declined by 18.7 percent.

The attraction of a physical book can draw in readers as apparently the smell of a book is a globally recognised benefit to a real book.

The PWC study wasn’t restricted to any type of genre or target audience. But looking back upon latest trends, adult coloring books, for instance, have risen in popularity, while children's books continue to sell better in print than in digital form.

Jenna Todd, manager of Time Out Bookstore, one of Auckland's most highly recommend stores, says "ebooks have just plateaued as people have adjusted to having them available as a choice for reading."

"I find many of our customers got e-readers when they first came out but then have adjusted to reading physical books from both bookstores and libraries and then reading e-books occasionally." 

Todd also states that the store often receives feed back from customers who enjoy reading physical books but prefer ebooks for light weight travelling. 

Time Out bookstore sales have been rising consistanly since 2014, according to Todd. "We are up on sales on last year by a little bit but this should get blown out of the park by the end of the year."

Steve Bohme, research director at Nielsen Book Research UK, who presented the data on Monday ahead of this year’s London Book Fair, said young people were using books as a break from their devices or social media. “We are seeing that books are a respite, particularly for young people who are so busy digitally,” he said.

“Over the last few years we have seen a return to favouring print, partly from what is really successful, this year being non-fiction and children’s books,” says Bohme.

Bohme said ebooks sales would continue to decline in 2017, barring a new development in e-reader technology.

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