“People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.” Logan Pearsall Smith
Printed books have had a rough time of it recently, but they seem to be on the upswing, both in America and across the pond. According to an article forwarded to me by Pat Carrigan, one of my cherished KWD readers, the UK book industry is strong: Total sales of print and digital books and journals climbed 7% in 2016, the biggest surge since 2007 when digital sales were first included. Print sales also rose 8% in 2016 — a five year high. In the United States, 2016 print sales rose 6%.
“I wouldn’t say that the ebook dream is over,” noted Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the Publishers Association, “but people are clearly making decisions on when they want to spend time with their screens.
“There is generally a sense that people are now getting screen tiredness, or fatigue, from so many devices being used, watched or looked at in their week. [Printed] books provide an opportunity to step away from that.”
The recent growth in U.S. printed book sales can be traced in part to publishers, who are bringing out a dynamic array of books that are grabbing people’s attention and dollars. According to Whitney Hu, communications director for Strand Bookstore, there’s a growing cool factor associated with printed books — people are getting back into reading physical books and it’s become more of a social activity. “We have more events now than ever before,” Hu said. “And we’ve have a lot more inquires into how to start and set up book clubs and for book-club book recommendations.”
High-profile bestsellers like 2016’s National Book Award for Nonfiction winner “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates are being prized for their thought-provoking perspectives and the culture surrounding authors and their works has also become more celebrated, notes the Strand Bookstore’s Hu.
Whatever the reason behind the comeback of print books, it seems clear that print books and ebooks have reached a stage of peaceful coexistence — one where people can shift back and forth seamlessly from one form of reading to another. Today, we’re fortunate to have so many paths to publication and the healthier they all are, the more opportunities we all have to get out work out into the world.
In short, all this is good news for us as writers. So is the idea that reading now has a “cool factor” associated with it and that the culture surrounding authors and their work is now being recognized and celebrated. Just think about it: It’s cool to be a writer! Barvo, Pat!
Lit lovers unite — and write on!