Against all odds the printed book thrives

Posted on by Guy Cookson

the-art-of-looking-sideways

The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher

When Amazon introduced the Kindle e-reader in 2007 it looked like the writing was on the wall for printed books.

Just as the iPod had decimated CD sales when launched by Apple six years earlier, it looked certain that the Kindle would do the same to physical book sales.

All the signs were there. How could bulky paper books possibly compete with a lightweight device that could store a whole bookcase?

And the Kindle was a huge success. Sales of e-books grew from near zero to around a third of all book sales in just a few years. Book publishers were convinced this trend would continue. Bookshops, already under pressure from the sale of physical books online, started to close in greater numbers, including many much loved independent stores.

But now something strange is happening. E-book sales have flatlined. Physical book sales are growing again. It turns out the printed book, with a history stretching back many hundreds of years, is a resilient old thing.

Some people have drawn parallels with the resurgence of vinyl records, which are growing in sales too. But this is from a very low base, and still accounts for only 3% of the UK music market. It is also not happening at the expense of music streaming, which continues to explode in popularity.

And there is another difference. Once music is playing it is in the air. A book, however, is something that you hold in your hands. Paper is tactile. It has weight.

Books are often beautifully made, from the choice of paper stock and binding to the typography and graphics. A book can be something you admire as an object before you have read a single word.

And when you do start to read there are no distractions. No internet browser or Facebook app.

Like most children my two young sons would probably spend all day every day playing on an iPad if only they were allowed, and yet surprisingly they have never once asked to swap a bedtime story in print for one on a screen.

For all these reasons and more it felt good to give and receive a bunch of books this Christmas.

This article originally appeared in the Lancaster Guardian where I write a column.

Related Posts

This entry was posted in Design, Lancashire, Lancaster, News, Print and tagged , , , on by .
Relevant Pages: Print Design & Production

We’d Love To Work With You

Get in touch & let’s chat through your project


Awards & Accreditations

  • The Drum Recommended
  • Marketing Lancashire
  • The Bibas Winner
  • Lancashire Business Awards Nominee 2016
  • Boost Business Lancashire
  • Cumbria Tourism
  • Awwwards Nominee 2016
  • Digital Lancashire Founding Member
  • Lakes Hospitality Association
  • Red Rose Winner