Bibliophiles wax lyrical about the tactile, sensory qualities of paper books and the most dedicated will never ditch paper for digital versions.
But in commercial terms, they seemed to be swimming against the stream after the Amazon Kindle was introduced in 2007 — bringing a portable library of millions of titles to customers worldwide.
However, Publishing Association stats show that sales of e-readers and ebooks slowed after 2014 and in 2017 the Guardian reported that sales of physical books were outperforming physical titles.
Competitive pricing partly accounts for this comeback — but some types of books are simply much more suited to paper.
Here are three types of books consumers don’t like to read digitally.
1. Children’s books.
A 2014 survey from Scholastic revealed that 68 per cent of kids would always want to buy paper children’s books — even if there were electronic versions available.
And in 2016, market researchers Nielsen BookScan reported 75 per cent of children favoured physical books, with 35 per cent actually refusing to read digital copies.
Parents who participated in the first survey believed kids enjoyed choosing a physical book from a bookseller and seemed to immerse themselves more deeply in the magic of reading when holding paper versions of the of the latest David Walliams or JK Rowling title in their hands.
Nielsen BookScan reported sales of £16.57 million worth of books for Walliams in 2017 and £15.47 for Rowling — so it looks like this genre will probably keep paper alive for years to come.
2. Cookery books.
Cookery books are another genre that perhaps doesn’t lend itself well to digital — photographs don’t look as appetising on phone screens and cookery websites sometimes don’t provide the type of deep dive into a cuisine’s cultural context that’s included in a physical title.
Paper books accounted for a significant slice of the one million diet book sales Joe Wicks enjoyed in the 18 months preceding January 2017, according to publisher Pan Macmillan.
There’s even a Cookbook Cafe in Dublin where customers enjoy themed nights preparing recipes from the books that line the venue’s shelves and purchase classic cookery books to take home at the end of the evening.
3. Academic books.
It wouldn’t seem unreasonable to presume that digital natives prefer reading ebooks to flicking through paper alternatives — but this seems to be misguided.
Worldwide research from American University’s linguistics professor Naomi Baron in 2013 revealed that 92 per cent of US college students preferred paper books — as did 95 per cent of German, and 77 per cent of Japanese students.
And a 2017 study by University of Maryland psychologists Patricia Alexander and Lauren Singer suggested that students learn better from traditional books than screens.
So the next generation of doctors might still find quality medical books are more accessible in paper format and the same possibly holds true for other academic disciplines.
So there are three types of books consumers don’t like to read digitally — if you’ve got an eye on making money in publishing, don’t put all your eggs in an electronic basket.
Do you prefer paper or digital books? Share your thoughts in the comments section.