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Paperback Renaissance Proves Print Is Not Dead

Paperback Renaissance Proves Print Is Not Dead



There are some that have long been endorsing the death of print media.  The so-called cause of death; the internet.  But, then again, there have been doomsday-criers on the corners of many a great city for decades, and we’re all still here.


It’s true that electronics have changed the face of media and defined the modern era.  However, any threats that this may have posed to traditional print media now seem to be feint whimpers hardly indicative that the end is nigh.  At least, this was the message conveyed by Ed Williams, the CEO of Edelman UK and Ireland, at the end of 2015.


Speaking of the potential of print media in 2016, Williams stated that he thought the national attention span could likely broaden instead of shrink.  This was, of course, in response to a seemingly universal impression that short video content and social media posts are pushing the population’s attention span towards that of goldfish.


It is true that we, as busy, modern people, like our media short and easily digestible – which is why Williams’ statement seemed curious at the time.  However, he based his assessment on an experiment run by the New York Times, which, coincidentally, is experiencing a period of profitability for essentially the first time in 230 years.   


Is There Proof, or Just Predictions?


Granted, optimistic predictions and social experiments don’t prove much.  Instead, people want hard evidence.  But, in the case of whether print media is succumbing to the might of digital, there happens to be abundant evidence to suggest the contrary.  


Waterstones, the top book seller in the UK, can certainly attest to the fact that print is alive and well.  In 2012 the retailer teamed up with Amazon in order to offer readers Kindles and ebooks, predicting that the rising popularity of digital media would soon overtake that of print.  Now, just four years later, sales are “pitiful” enough to cause the company to remove the ereaders from its shelves to make more room for traditional books.

Pile of Books with E-book


The UK Is Experiencing a Book Renaissance


Dropping ereader sales at a single retail chain aren’t enough to prove a resurgence for print media.  After all, people may be choosing to read their ebooks on other devices, like tablets or smartphones.  However, the drop in sales is not only applicable to Waterstones, or even retailers in general.  The figures regarding ebook sales provided by publishers have shown that national ebook sales are down – up to 7.70% in the case of one publisher.   


Again, this drop in sales doesn’t prove that readers are once again turning to printed books instead of ebooks.  However, the fact that Waterstones experienced a 5% rise in book sales in December of 2014 certainly does.  Again, this is not confined to this retailer.  Weeks 1 to 36 of 2015 saw a 4.6% rise in sales according to Nielsen Bookscan – a rise that is worth £739.5 million.


Disco Might Be Dead, but Print Is Not


Of course, books are not the only form of print media that represent its continued relevance in modern society, but they are a great example of how print is flourishing.  Books join pamphlets, posters, newspapers, and many other print media in representing the importance of tangibility in our world.  And, judging by the improving sales in the UK, print media is set to go from strength to strength in the future.