Here’s what’s going on book sales world: Printed book sales continue to increase. Meanwhile, e-book sales are falling. The Printing Report takes a look at what this means.

2017 data released by NDP BookScan show a 1.9% increase in print book sales last year.

The NDP data captures around 80% – 85% of global print sales and the total number of units sold at outlets that report to the service rose to 687.2 million in 2017 – up from 674.1 million in 2016.

This is the continuation of an already documented trend: NDP data shows book sales have risen every year since 2013. During this period print sales are up 10.8%.

This is great news for online and high-street booksellers. British book retailer Waterstones published pre-tax profits of £18m in 2017 – an 80% jump in annual profits.
Despite this growth, Waterstones Managing Director, James Daunt, said 2017 lacked the best-selling titles that usually drive growth. In an interview with The Guardian, Daunt suggested 2018 book sales might show even better results thanks to the Michael Wolff Trump exposé Fire and Fury.

The incredible turnaround

It’s an incredible turnaround. Daunt took over the helm at Waterstones in 2011 when the success of eBook readers such as Amazon’s Kindle suggested troubled times ahead for print book publishing.
Instead, print has seen a resurgence while e-reader and e-book sales have floundered.

In 2015, paper book sales were growing already 2% while sales of e-books decreased by some 6%.

In March 2017, The Guardian reported: “Britons are abandoning the eBook at an alarming rate with sales of consumer titles down almost a fifth last year, as ‘screen fatigue’ helped fuel a five-year high in printed book sales.

The trend is being seen globally. In the USA, e-book sales declined 18.7% over the first nine months of 2016, according to the Association of American Publishers. CNN reported paperback sales were up 7.5% over the same period, and hardback sales increased 4.1%.

Figures from Statisa show that sales of e-book readers peaked in 2011 when they topped out at 23.2m units shipped globally. By 2016, sales had slipped to 7.1m units.

So what is driving this trend?

Research has repeatedly suggested that consumer attitudes towards print remain positive. A 2017 study conducted by TWO SIDES concluded that consumers trust, appreciate and understand information better when it is read on paper.

Writing in Inc. Glenn Leibowitz listed amongst his reasons for preferring print: physical books are more easily shared, physical books make more meaningful gifts, and reading print books sets a good example for my kids.

This emotional response to print was set against the findings that 52% of those questioned admitted to spending “too much” time on electronic devices and 53% said they are worried that their overuse of digital media could be damaging to their health.

It’s great news that print book sales are increasing – research has shown the positive impact having print books in the home can have on a child’s life chances. And here’s one charity that is working to do something about it.