Hanging out with friends at the cottage over the long weekend, I looked at us sitting on the dock, reading our e-thingies. No paper, just iPads, Kobos and a Kindle. Last summer, we'd got into a discussion over whether printed books were dead. My friend, a designer who travels a lot, just loves his iPad. Last summer, he bet me that in three years, printed books would disappear.
I say he's wrong. Printed books aren't going away, they're just becoming more niche. There are lots of books we used to buy which went to yard sales and library or hospital donations, once they were read. Those books are perfect for e-readers. Save the trees. And travel guides are changing as people research trips differently than they used to. When Lonely Planet let 100 editorial staffers go in Australia last month, it was more likely due to a declining dependence on traditional travel guides. Now people go to online travel services which offer editorial content and user reviews on top of e-commerce for a richer and more immediate experience.
So I went to do a little research. Despite all the new tech options and various e-reading devices, it's interesting that printed book sales have dipped only a bit. People seem to be reading more. According to a study the American Association of Publishers released July 16, the e-book sales of adult fiction and non-fiction rose 13.6% in the first quarter of 2013 from Q1 of 2012, yet hardcover sales were down only .4%. At the same time, softcover sales rose by 1.7%, and audiobook downloads grew by 14.4%. So except for hardcover purchases (which might be strongest in the Christmas shopping season), book sales are growing overall. And while some people are expecting a slower growth rate for e-book sales, it looks like audiobooks will rise more dramatically in the next year. So I can love technology, and love books – the e-ones and the printed ones – too.
Another stat I came across was that after December, August is the month people read books most. Happy summer reading!
Brenda van Ginkel
Every great brand that's making a difference to people or the planet deserves to stand out and be noticed. I write about creative direction and brand strategy for entrepreneurs and those supporting them, packaging concepts with messaging for growth and audience engagement in a crowded, noisy digital space.