paper books

When the first electronic reading devices reached the shelves in the US in the early 1990s most people in the book industry saw them as gadgets that over the years would fade away. Time proved that this was not the case and slowly but gradually ebooks readers, and with them ebook sales too, started to become ever more important in book reading. Until 2005-06 while their sales growth was, almost invariably over 10%/year, the sales of paper books was marginal or worse which led quite a few analysts to predict that by 2020 or 2030 there would be no more paper paper books on the market. Since then, however, things have changed and while the sales of paper books continued to grow slowly or, in some years, even stagnated, the growth in ebook sales became less hectic too, with the average growth rate decreasing to 5% to 6%/year. It looked as if the market for paper books would still be around for quite some time after all. That was until 2014 when, for the first time in 20 years, the growth rate of paper book sales overcame, for the first time those of ebooks. Quite a lot of people thought that this would be a one off in a long term trend but, surprise surprise, data just published by Nielsen BookScan, show that the same happened in 2015. Whilst paper book sales grew 2%, the sales of ebooks decreased by some 6%. Two years is quite a short time to show that the fundamentals of paper books versus ebooks have changed but it will be interesting to see what happens this year. If the “old” books beat again the “new” ones, something is happening!