Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Book is Not Dead! 6 reasons why the paper book is still loved

An article in the latest edition of the Financial Times has shared some startling data about book sales in the last year. While the hype for the last three years has been that paper book sales will continue to dive at the expense of eBooks, and that book stores and traditional publishers face extinction, these views might well have been premature. Indeed, they might even be wrong!

Here are some of the highlights of the article:

1. Publishers and book chains in the US, UK and Australia have all celebrated some of their strongest sales figures for some time with rises of up to 5% in December.
2. The number of paper books sold rose in the US by 2.4% in 2014 to 635,000,000 copies.
3. The growth in eBooks stalled in the US and UK with fewer electronic book readers being sold.
4. Sales of adolescent and young adult fiction rose by 12% in 2014, while adult fiction fell by 8%.
5. A recent Nielsen Book Sale survey found that teenagers prefer paper books.
6. A Deloitte study suggests that paper books will account for 80% of global book sales this year and would continue to outsell electronic books for the foreseeable future.

My own work with children also suggests that the hype that electronic book apps created 2-3 years ago has waned a little, as the novelty has worn off and readers rediscover the power of narrative and the tactile benefits of paper. This might also relate to the discovery that interactivity can ultimately distract from story, not just enrich it. Other trends seem to suggest an increased interest in graphic novels and comics (see HERE and HERE).

6 Reasons Why Paper Books Still Work!

1. They're easy! They don't need power, and can be mistreated. You can take them to the beach! Simply try throwing your tablet towards the bed and missing it! Or accidentally sitting it.
2. They're always there. If you've been buying picture books online for years as I have, take note of the number of apps that no longer work.
3. While novels on readers are easy enough to use, many picture book apps take time to navigate and the interactivity can be distracting.
4. There is something gloriously good about the tactile experience of curling up with a book, or reading to your child with a paper book.
5. Books are a visible presence that reminds us that they're there! I'm embarrassed to say how many books I've bought online and still haven't opened (true I have book piles too!). I can't trip over them or simply see them reminding me of their presence as I walk into the room. A room with books invites the reader to enter new worlds.
6. In professional reading, paper books offer a more natural opportunity (for most) to make marginal notes, use post it notes etc.

Having said all of the above, I know that we can list many good reasons for eBooks (that's why I'm a fan of both) - they store easy, silverfish aren't a problem, they are cheaper, easier to get, offer countless titles (especially of old books), allow expanded options for publication, they do allow new ways to interact with books and open up the way for new multimodal forms of reading (which I've written on before). But.... the paper book still has a magic that will ensure that it doesn't die.

I'd be particularly be keen to hear from teachers who have been using eBooks with younger readers aged 5-12 years. Picture books and in fact all books for readers 0-6 would seem to be the most resilient to the 'assault' of eBooks. My own observations suggest that there is a drop off in interest with ePicture books once the novelty of 'clever' apps subsides. Your thoughts?

Some of my previous Posts on eBooks HERE

No comments: