The digital era has already claimed numerous victims in the entertainment industry, and many more will follow this fate. But one medium keeps successfully defending itself against the adoption of bits and bytes. While the music industry had to watch in horror as the sales of physical records plunged into the abyss, book publishers have so far triumphantly stood their ground. Lovers of the printed word still attach immense importance to the paper book.
Eight years ago, it seemed that the digitalization trend had also caught up with books. E-books gained massive popularity, especially in the USA and then something strange happened. Sales stagnated and even declined in some countries. In principle, literature sales are still increasing, but the number of buyers of e-books is slowing down, with only the previous year being an exception. That is astonishing as the electronic version of a book offers many advantages and convenience in comparison to a hardback. But these are only apparent at first glance.
Readers Value the Feel
In contrast to music and films, buyers of books place much more value on the feel of a hardcover. While the era of high growth rates for e-books appears to be over in the USA, some countries in Europe are still growing. But one cannot speak of an overtaking maneuver of a paper book by far. For example, the market share of e-books in Germany is only 5.9 per cent of the total. Most recently, this share rose by only 0.9 per cent in one year. Electronic books have secured a fixed market share, but this is no more than just a comfortable niche.
E-books Remain a Niche
E-books have become a popular addition to the book market, but they currently have no chance of replacing traditional books. In contrast, the conventional book on paper even made a slight comeback. That could also have something to do with some digital fatigue. We are surrounded by electronic devices all day and even in our free time, many users use smartphones or tablets to relax. It is good to consume something analogue in between. As with hard copies of music records, experienced readers also value something vulnerable and fragile.
Detective Stories Are Popular
Regardless, the book market is on the move. Although the publishers still do not disclose exact figures, experts assume that the number of printed books is overall declining too. The same can be said for audiobooks. More people are spending their time in front of screens. Depending on the country, this is often several hours a day with a little or no time left for books. That makes it even more difficult for new authors and publishers to get noticed. Though blockbuster writers still sell their works in millions, young or rising authors find it increasingly difficult to present their writing to a broader public, interest them and then sell the final product. However, the public interest in crime novels is unbroken, and non-fiction books are also selling well.