Do we really need to worry about audiobooks affecting print sales?

With print units falling 1.9%[1] in the first half of 2019 and audiobook sales jumping up 24%[2] in 2018, we need to look at the bigger picture…

In the publishing industry we often see market disruptors, like audiobooks and before that, eBooks, which supposedly change the dynamic of how people consume their books.

Traditional publishers will make the most of all formats of publishing. And they can do so primarily because they have the resources to do so. However, this won’t be a go-to option for every type of publisher.

From the self-published author to the large publisher, all publishers need to ensure they are making a good sales margin, especially during seasons when print is not performing as well. Which is why Printondemand-worldwide’s BookVAULT is such a great option. BookVAULT takes the risk out of print, with no warehousing and the capability of printing from just one book, in either mono or HD colour.

In our blog, What Is Book Of One And How Can It Help Publishers? we explored how our printing capabilities allow for all publishers to have a flexible business. Combined with the rest of our services, we have made generating revenue from your entire book catalogue possible.

Traditional printing in the modern age

When we think back to the rise of the eBook and the emergence of Kindle, (2007) and then the Apple mobile eBook app iBooks, (2010), we saw the same drop in print sales. The market looked ready for change as eBooks took off. However, despite many industry experts declaring that ‘print is dead’, it didn’t die. In fact, print began to flourish again as sales of printed books rose 7%[3] in 2016.

The fact is, the publishing industry worked its socks off to thrive despite the naysayers, and it will rise again. Print has a magic formula that no other format can compare with, polls often show that young readers still prefer print.

Pros of Print

  • Reading to your children encourages them to learn new words, which 90% of parents prefer to do with print over ebook.
  • Readers of print books absorb and remember more of the plot than readers of eBooks do, according to a study that was presented in Italy in 2014.
  • In Dr Brown’s pioneering study of 429 university students, 92% of those surveyed said they found it easier to concentrate when reading print and almost half said that reading digitally had caused them considerable discomfort due to eyestrain.
  • Students who have books at home are more likely to score higher on tests, according to a study of readers from 42 countries.
  • The smell – scientists have found that the smell of old books gives off a hint of vanilla, from lignin, a similar-smelling component in paper, as well as grassy notes. A comforting, addictive experience indeed!

A new challenge

In conclusion, we think it is best to celebrate different formats, rather than fear them. Audiobooks and eBooks will not suit everyone’s taste, just like print. But if the industry stays passionate about books, readers will continue to devour them – in any format.

To keep on top of your print game, you need to set yourself a new challenge, think about the quality of your print and how it can stand out from the crowd. Speak to one of our advisors and allow us to help you achieve your print goal, cost-effectively. Contact us to learn more today.

[1] Figures from Publishers Weekly Jul 17, 2019
[2] Figures from Publishers Weekly Jul 17, 2019
[3] Figures from The Guardian Mar 14, 2007