Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Looks as if print books might be here to stay.

by Rick Blechta

I found an interesting article on the Penguin Random House website about book reading trends in the US. Read it by clicking HERE. I’ll wait while you do.

Okay, so the big take-away is that Americans are still reading at roughly the same rate as last year: 72% having read or partially read at least one book. That’s sort of good news. (I’d like to know the number of people who read more than one book, though. I think that would probably be more telling. My guess is that the number would drop precipitously.)

Anyway, the other big takeaway from the article is this: the level of market penetration by e-books appears to be flattening. Now that is interesting.

It wasn’t so long ago that there was great hand-wringing over “the death of printed books.” The way the pundits told it, in a short time we’d all be carrying around tablets or Kindles or the like and libraries with shelves full of books would start to disappear. For those of us who enjoy holding a “real” book in our hands, that was a pretty scary scenario. The thought of new books only coming out electronically with no print versions available anymore would be very sad to face.

However, if you’ve been around the block more than a handful of times, you know how it is when a technological advancement comes along. For example, television was supposed to be the death knell for radio and movie theatres. Never happened. Another example: CDs were going to bury vinyl recordings, and for a while, they did. But now, improbably, vinyl is making somewhat of a comeback due to its better sound reproduction. DVDs did replace video cassettes — as CDs replaced audio cassettes — but that was more a function of convenience. Cassettes were very clunky and unreliable, plus they degraded badly over time.

Back to e-books and the article mentioned above. Something else screamed out at me that you may not have noticed: reading of printed books in the 18-29 age range was over double that of reading books in a digital format. Knowing how young people love their electronic gadgets, I was quite astounded.

Looks as if electronic books are finding their high-water mark in the great scheme of things in the same way that television found its place.

If you’d asked me even three years ago, I would have reversed those numbers. My supposition was that printed books would not disappear, but that books in electronic formats would account for the majority of sales with good old paper hanging on because of old farts like me.

Shows how much the pundits and trend-makers know…


Sybil Johnson said...

Very interesting. Especially the part about the young-uns reading print books.

Rick Blechta said...

It would also be interesting to see the results for those readers below 18.

Importantly, the majority of those in the 18-29 range have the means to buy any electronic device they desire to read e-books and tend to not hold back when they want something like this.

Sybil Johnson said...

True. I worry a bit about young kids using ereaders. I know from my own experience that my eyes bother me when using certain screens. Not the paperwhite. I use my Kindle Fire to read ebooks.

Unknown said...

This is good news all around, especially in view of the abundance of research these days that shows the bad effect of all screens on developing young brains--and not only young brains but the brains and minds of people at any age. Maybe the neuroscientists will succeed in chasing everyone back to reading print!

Donis Casey said...

I had the same conversation about the ebook prognostication with someone just yesterday! Nothing ever works out the way the pundits predict. And if I can think of more 'p' words to get my point across, I'll let you know.

Rick Blechta said...

In answer to "Unknown"'s comment: you may have hit on something to explain the seemingly addled brain of a certain politician of note: he's been reading too many e-books!

Or not...