As Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble launched their respective eBook readers in 2007 and 2010, there were many who rushed to predict that the printed book would soon be meeting an untimely end. New data from the Pew Research Center now suggests that your standard paper, ink, and glue novel has considerable staying power with consumers.
Pew’s study surveyed readers, and found that while the total number of Americans who had read a book in the past year had dipped slightly (73 percent, down from 74 percent in 2012), the number of readers who read a printed book had essentially remained the same, at 65 percent.
Readers are still predominantly turning to printed books over electronic ones
That number more than doubles the number of people who reported that they had read an e-book in the same time period (28 percent). While printed books are pretty much the go-to choice for most readers, the percentage of readers reading eBooks has jumped significantly since 2012, when 23 percent of readers read an eBook. Audiobooks have also made some slight gains. While those are significant changes, the share of people reading eBooks has remained the same in the last two years.
These figures also correlate with increased retail activity in the physical bookstore market. In 2015, bookstores reported a 2.5 percent gain in sales, the first gains since 2007, while publishers also reported stronger gains.
This trend makes sense: more Americans are using devices such as tablets and phones. According to Pew, the usage of eBook readers has largely remained the same since 2011, while the "share of e-book readers on tablets has more than tripled since 2011 and the number of readers on phones has more than doubled over that time." Despite those gains, it does seem that the trusty book is here to stay.