In the first half of 2018, the sales of print versus e-books stand at a ratio of 80-20, with 80% being surprisingly in favor of print books. But, many print books are now sold online.
In books categories, this year, political books have dominated sales for traditional publishers. In fact, the number of print as well as digital books sold in this genre doubled after the 2016 elections vis-à-vis the 2012 elections. It isn’t that more books have been published; rather, each title has sold more books.
Traditional books sales have shown an annual growth rate of 2% to 3%, however, that growth is coming mostly from backlist titles, non-fiction and children’s picture books as well as YA (young adult) and middle grade books.
Fiction books, including romance and thrillers, have not done so well. However, in e-books, fiction novels have had the highest sales.
One thing that has helped the publishing industry is the fact that book sales are also benefitting from foreign translation.
Despite the rise of audio books and e-books, the print book industry is holding steady. However, major traditional publishers admit that their challenges are growing, and they are concerned about the future of print books in the long run.
This is because traditional publishers have multiple factors to deal with - they not only have to focus on queries from prospective agents, but also on the marketing, shipping, warehousing and distribution of print books. Added to this, publishers also have the increased desire (some might say onus) of securing dramatic rights for the books they are publishing.
Two pillars of the print book industry – brick and mortar bookstores and libraries – are also struggling to deal with the advent of the digital age. Libraries are evolving into centers for education, entertainment, work and health – print books are just one part of that space now. Bookstores have adopted similar strategies to survive, creating spaces where customers can relax and browse their favorite books.
However, with the online revolution, it remains to be seen how long the traditional spaces survive as we know them.