October 12, 2017

The Demise of Print Publishing Is Exaggerated

Predictions that print books would disappear within a few years haven’t come anywhere near reality, according to Henrique Mota, President of the Federation of European Publishers (FEP), writing a foreword to a new, continent wide report on Europe’s publishing industry. “The main reason for this seems simply to be that people mostly prefer reading in print – which comes as no surprise, as print books are an excellent technology”.

In the digital domain, dedicated e-readers appear to be in decline, mostly replaced by tablets and, increasingly, by smartphones, as the devices of choice for reading e-books. The 24 page report The Book Sector in Europe, Facts and Figures, 2017, reminds all that e-book sales, stimulated by technological developments, emerged as a significant phenomenon only around 2007, taking off at remarkable speed, showing growth in the double and even triple digits in some countries and sectors. ”That growth now appears to have slowed down, with print sales picking up again in several territories”.

Indeed, if between 2009 and 2014 print sales decreased almost everywhere and digital sales helped to contain the losses (and in a few cases were sufficient to provide overall growth), “now print seems to account for most of the current recovery”, the report notes. “At the same time, the growth of the e-book market is likely to have contributed to the decline of sales in print and to the global shrinking of the market, as there has been a degree of substitution and e-books tend to have lower prices”.

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