Recent figures show that Christmas trading for the UK book market saw its strongest sales in 10 years, highlighting that despite predictions following the creation of the Kindle and the increased prevalence of online copies of books, consumers still prefer physical copies. According to reports from Nielsen BookScan, £83.3m worth of print books were sold in the run-up to Christmas, which marks the highest figure seen since 2007.
This boost in sales of physical copies of books can be put down to a number of reasons. Partially this is because books are convenient; they don’t require batteries or brightness settings, and it is well known that whilst reading before bed is very soothing, reading on an electronic device can disrupt your sleep.
Switching off is, in my opinion, a key factor here. Many people spend all day reading articles and blog posts online through their phone or computer, and as such when they read for pleasure they enjoy the novelty of a real book. It gives them a feeling that they are relaxing and chilling out, for the same reason many people still keep TVs, despite the fact that they have online streaming services and Youtube, which have now surpassed anything a traditional TV package can offer.
Book shopping itself also acts as an experience, as highlighted by another recent news story about a Yorkshire based bookshop owner who charges customers a 50p fee to browse. Searching through a bookshop is therapeutic and enjoyable- a good bookshop is more than just a place to buy something. Many people make it their hobby to spend their weekends riffling through the selection in their local independent bookshop, and the feeling of anticipation and invigoration you get reading the blurbs on any book that catches your eye cannot be replicated in any online store.
Actual books also make a far better gift than ebooks; the figures show the increase is in pre-Christmas book buying, with the majority of these presumably ending up under the Christmas tree as presents. It is much more exciting to unwrap a hardcover of the latest bestseller than a receipt showing it has been sent to your Amazon account in pdf form!
These news stories make one thing abundantly clear: print books are here to stay. You can keep your Kindle, the public has spoken and we want more books.