Print is not dead. Actually, it’s e-books that are having a rough time right now. The Association of American Publishers says e-book sales slumped about 10 per cent in the first five months of 2015.
This could be a sign that more people are returning to books with binding, or that more people are hybrid readers, as The New York Times suggests. Do people just prefer reading on paper? The Times points out that sales of dedicated e-reading devices have also taken a hit, but that’s not too surprising considering how popular tablets and smartphones are — both of which can also fulfil the e-reader role.
Print publishers don’t seem to be treating the drops as a short-lived trend, because big names are already pouring a lot of money into the “old school” medium, though with some changes. The Times reports Hachette, Simon & Schuster and even Penguin Random House all invested in making warehouses or distribution centres larger. Penguin’s also been offering faster turnaround times for sellers orders. And HarperCollins is paying close attention to data to get books shipped faster too.
Even independent booksellers seem to be investing again. The American Booksellers Association counted a higher number of member stores and locations in comparison to five years ago: (2015) 1,712 stores in 2,227 locations versus (2010) 1,410 stores in 1,660 locations.
This is turning into a pretty impressive turnaround. If only newspapers could ride on the coattail of some of this paper love.