Printed Books Are Winning the War Against E-Books

Remember when e-books were supposed to kill publishing? That’s not happening, according to The New York Times.

E-books were the wave of the future in the late 2000s, with sales surging 1,260% as booksellers and book lovers fretted that the printed book was doomed. A failure to keep up with e-book customers helped shutter mega-bookstore Borders, while success with them helped keep competitor Barnes and Noble alive.

In fact, analysts in the late 2000s pegged 2015 as the year that e-books sales would overtake print ones. As it turned out, however, they were wrong: 2015 is here, but the print apocalypse is not.

In fact the latest data suggests that many e-book readers are returning to print. Over the first five months of the year, the Association of American Publishers says, e-books sales have actually fallen by 10%. Oyster, a company that wanted to be “Netflix for e-books,” has just announced that they’re shutting down. Penguin Random House is expanding their warehouses. The year so far has been good to print publishing and rather unkind to e-books

A large part of the trend is that early adopters who switched entirely to e-books are now using both e-books and printed material. Increased delivery speeds, which cut down on the e-books’ instant gratification advantage, are also a factor.

The bad news for e-books is great news to publishers and booksellers who rely on print media for their income. “The e-book terror has kind of subsided,” bookstore owner Steve Bercu told The New York Times.


Stephen Lovely, writer