In the early days of the e-reader, the printed novel was once forecast to decline – but its forecasted demise has failed to materialize. In fact, in recent years the trend for e-readers has been in reverse.
In the first quarter of 2019, ebook sales decreased by 4.5%. This drop is the continuation of a trend that has persisted for the last four years.
By contrast, printed books are enjoying a boost in sales. Over the same period, hardcover book sales saw a 7.8% ($594 million) increase in revenue and paperback sales saw a respectable 3.1% rise ($553.6 million).
Audiobooks are the new “in”
Part of the reason that e-book sales are decreasing is that the current popularity of podcasting is helping to drive a resurgence in audio in general. People who want to consume books electronically are shifting to audio books instead; in the first quarter of 2019, audiobook sales increased by 35% to $133 million dollars.
Nevertheless, the importance of printed books continues to be felt by consumers.
One reason, might be because printed books are better to read at bedtime if you want to improve your sleep.
E-readers have been found by Harvard Medical School to foil a good night’s sleep, because light-emitting electronic devices keep you awake longer than print.
Furthermore, it’s been shown that when you read a printed book you’re more likely to remember what you read! A Europe-wide study found readers using a Kindle were “significantly” worse than paperback readers at recalling when events occurred in a mystery story.
The Book Trust cites evidence from a variety of academic sources which illustrates further benefits of reading printed books. It says reading for pleasure helps with writing ability, text comprehension, grammar, breadth of vocabulary, attitudes, self-confidence as a reader, pleasure in reading in later life, general knowledge, a better understanding of other cultures, community participation, a greater insight into human nature and decision-making.
The charity works to encourage reading for all ages – starting by encouraging regular reading habits with the very young.
This is super-important because the OECD has found that reading enjoyment is more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status.
Plus, it’s important for parent-child bonding as well as educational attainment. In this also, printed books are shown to have important advantages over electronic readers. Research published by the American Academy of Paediatrics and led by University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital found that parents and children verbalized and interacted more with print books.
“Reading together is not only a cherished family ritual in many homes but one of the most important developmental activities parents can engage in with their children,” says senior author Jenny Radesky, M.D., developmental behavioural paediatrician at Mott. “Our findings suggest that print books elicit a higher quality parent-toddler reading experience compared with e-books.”
While we’re on the topic, check out this wonderful campaign with author Neil Gaiman and children’s Poet Laureate Chris Riddell about the importance of libraries.