Sunday, June 24, 2012

Print Still Rules

Bowker released some stats showing a 6% growth in the number of print books published in 2011 in the U.S.; the first significant growth in four years. In case you’re curious, the number of print titles published last year was 347,178. Would you be surprised to learn that the extra 6% came solely from self-published books? Without them the number of titles would have been completely flat, although, given the number of books already on the market, I’m not sure this would have been a terrible thing. Many of us won’t be able to get through a fraction of the number of books published in a single year, in our lifetime.

According to an article excerpt in The Passive Guy newsletter, most people are still reading print books, says an analyst with publishing research firm Simba Information. Based on my own anecdotal observations, I agree. Whenever I’m on planes or ferries the majority of readers are holding print books. On a recent airplane from Toronto to Vancouver, I spotted about six electronic reading devices, but many more people held paperbacks. Whenever I sell books at venues, perhaps two out of every fifty people ask if they’re available on Kindle. Sure, the ebook revolution is growing, but it hasn’t taken over yet, and won’t be this year. You can read more of the article by subscribing to the Passive Voice newsletter at

Here’s another reason why print still rules. A recent Pew Center poll showed that over half of Americans aren’t aware that libraries lend out ebooks. Only 12% of Americans had borrowed an ebook last year. Aside from the lack of awareness, a little over half of those polled said the ebook they wanted to borrow wasn’t available at their library, or there was a waiting list. 18% of people said their ereaders weren’t compatible with the ebooks they wanted. Interestingly, 46% said that they’d like to borrow an ereader with the book they wanted already loaded, while only a third said they were interested in learning how to download borrowed ebooks. Clearly, there are still glitches in the ebook borrowing system, but they will be worked out over time. Meanwhile, I'm still loving both words and the freedom of choice it brings. You can read more of the article at

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