Paper books still outsells e-books by a huge margin, even among young people.

Physical books still outsell e-books — and here’s why

Do you prefer reading an e-book or a physical version? It might be a surprise, but for most people, old school print on paper still wins.

Publishers of books in all formats made almost $26 billion in revenue last year in the U.S., with print making up $22.6 billion and e-books taking $2.04 billion, according to the Association of American Publishers’ annual report 2019. Those figures include trade and educational books, as well as fiction.

While digital media has disrupted other industries such as news publishing and the music business, people still love to own physical books, according to Meryl Halls, managing director of the Booksellers’ Association in the U.K.

“I think the e-book bubble has burst somewhat, sales are flattenin… Continue Reading (3 minute read)

14 thoughts on “Paper books still outsells e-books by a huge margin, even among young people.”

  1. LiliVonStoop9001

    It might have something to do with most e-books being the same price as buying a physical copy. If I’m paying the same I might as well have something I can actually hold.

  2. gandyg

    I love my e-reader but there’s nothing like spending a goodly amount of time just browsing in a physical book store, looking for inspiration or seeing what might take your fancy.

  3. iamjackslackoffricks

    If I’m reading a book its cause I want a break from screens. Plus its nice to have a tangible paper and ink book.

  4. Jabaranks

    Not suprised by this. Nothings more exciting than that new book feel.

  5. abt137

    Sometimes there is no price advantage in an ebook. You would expect them cheaper having eliminated the physical distribution, book store mark up, etc, I know digital editions still require some work but still…
    In addition as another user pointed out buying 2nd hand books is really inexpensive. I have got good titles for less than a dollar and free shipping.

  6. stormcloud-9

    My problem is the DRM. Same reason I still buy CDs & BluRays. I don’t trust the vendor to not go under, or shut down the service, and then I lose what I’ve already paid for. It’s happened so many times to various digital media providers in the last 20 years.

    That said, digital media is very convenient. Having an e-reader makes it easier to travel. I can read in bed laying on my side. I don’t need a bright room light, or a crappy clip-on book light. Etc.

    I also believe in paying the author for their work.

    Solution? I buy the physical book, and then pirate the digital version.

  7. Superc0ld

    A lot of used books are way cheaper than their eBook equivalent.

  8. Dash_Harber

    Besides the obvious appeal of people not wanting to stare a screen all the time or not having access to their electronics at certain times, it seems to me that a large part of this is that there really isn’t a universal system of e-books right now. If you buy a paperback, it’s still a paperback no matter where you take it. You know you own it and it’s in your hand. If you buy an e-book from one retailer, you might need special software, or it may only work on some devices, etc. There is no real universal retailer of e-books where you just walk in, buy the book you want on all your platforms and it’s yours to keep, sell, or give away just like a real book.

  9. twigs669

    I have a huge cookbook collection. I love thumbing through all the pictures and pages

  10. Theon

    I would assume it’s because most e-books that are read aren’t exactly bought? 😉

  11. Spdrjay

    I used to have an enormous library of real books that contained approximately 1,500 paperbacks and around 300 hardbacks.

    It was a nightmare when I moved, and I finally just gave them all away when I left Colorado 25 years ago.

    Now I have an ebook library that is about 30 gigabytes. I have lost count, but there are tens of thousands of books in it. More than I could read in a lifetime and they fit in my phone when I want to carry them around…..

  12. lardbeetle

    That’s because ebooks are more expensive than regular books and can’t be resold

  13. Teknicsrx7

    2020 was the first year digital games outsold physical for consoles (altho pandemic likely played a part in that)

  14. icaruslut

    Nothing beats the smell and feel of a physical book and they never run out of battery

    Edit for people who think I’m trying to kill the planet just for the serotonin: I tend to buy second hand and UK publishing houses are usually FSC certified.

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