Print versus ebook? That's the big question. According to Waterstones, ebook sales have plummeted while print book sales have soared. Then again, according to The Guardian, print book sales have declined as readers migrated to ebooks.
A review of 2014 from book sales monitor Nielsen BookScan shows that while the decline in sales of print books in the UK slowed last year, with value sales down 1.3% to £1.39bn, and volume sales down 1.9% to 180m, the performance for printed adult fiction was markedly worse. The adult fiction market was the worst-performing of all areas of the book business, down by 5.3% in 2014 to £321.3m, with volume sales down 7.8% to 50.7m. In 2009, printed adult fiction was worth £476.16m.
The decline is even greater when paperback fiction is removed from the picture: according to Nielsen, hardback adult fiction sales plummeted last year by 11.6% to £67.9m, with just three titles – by crime and thriller bestsellers Lee Child, CJ Sansom and Martina Cole – selling more than 100,000 copies.
“The ebook has quite demonstrably hit the commercial end of the fiction market,” said the Bookseller’s editor Philip Jones. “Almost any drop in adult fiction sales can mainly be put down to the migration to digital, which is obviously still continuing. We think consumer ebooks this year will be worth £350m, with most big publishers reporting ebook growth of double digits – and almost all of that will be in fiction.”
There's nothing quite as satisfying as holding a paperback or hard cover book in your hand if you're a writer.
You can sign print books. Yes, you may sign ebooks with an ebook signature but it's just not the same.
Having physical books for potential readers to handle and buy at conventions makes it easier to sell books than pushing ebooks on browsers in the same venues.
There is satisfaction in the feel of a print book. The tactile sensation of holding paper and the "new book smell" are very appealing.
Sadly, some do not consider ebooks "real" books. A physical print book may hold more psychological clout than a digital book.
You can store hundreds of books on an ebook reader, which is great if you don't have much room for numerous bookcases.
Readers of erotic fiction in particular are especially attracted to ebook readers because these ereaders give them privacy. They don't have to worry about getting the raised eyebrow from onlookers who see a paperback with scantily clad women and muscle-bound beefcakes on the covers.
Ebook readers are lightweight and easy to use.
You can adjust the size of the font with an ebook reader. This especially benefits those with poor eyesight.
Some ebook readers light up, eliminating the need for a book light.
Ebook readers don't crease or get coffee stains on the pages.