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Book Em

If e-books are the future, why do stores still sell hard-copy books? Electronic book sales have doubled over the past five years to about one-quarter of worldwide book sales. But those sales are slowing.

E-book revenue among 1,200 publishers reporting data fell to $743.5 million from January to August last year, 5.3 percent below the same period in 2016, according to the Association of American Publishers. E-book sales were down 18.7% in the
same period in 2016 while paper books rose 7.5%. Why?

Experts surmise the decline has been driven in part by “digital fatigue” among readers who spend hours looking at computers and smartphones and want an escape by picking up a paper book. The majority of Americans who read regularly are agnostic: they read both e-books and paper books. Only about one-eighth use e-books exclusively. Roughly two-thirds of readers use both forms.


Publishers therefore keep investing in book cover art and in-store advertising because they work. They draw attention, invite investigation, and lead to more sales. Those physical books act as billboards even for those who choose to purchase an e-book.


Just as online sales remain a small minority of total sales for most products, even books – a core market for Amazon – still benefit from connecting with people in stores.