Deloitte: Print continues to dominate book sales profit

18 February 2015

Print books are expected to continue to dominate the books sales in 2015, with Deloitte predicting the print versions to constitute 80% of all book sales profit. According to the firm, physical books will not be replaced by eBooks as even the youngest generations are not turning on their eReader but are rather picking up page turners.

In a recently released report from Deloitte, the “Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions 2015”, the major trends developing in the next 12-18 months for the TMT sector are considered. The predictions are backed up by Deloitte engaging in hundreds of meetings with industry executives and commentators from around the world, as well as its proprietary programs of research with tens of thousands of consumers worldwide. 

Print is alive and well
One of Deloitte’s predictions is that ten years on from the launch of the eReader, which had the potential of fully digitalising the reading process, print media, especially books, is anything but dead or dying in 2015. The consulting firm found that of book sales in the UK, one of the largest book markets, more than 80% will still be in the form of a physical copy. The introduction of digitalisation into the book media landscape a decade ago, hasn’t been able to influence bookworms from consuming paper, and while 16% of people have an eReader, almost half a tablet and 3 out 4 is able to read a book on their smartphone, sales of eBooks have plateaued in the UK, US, and Canada.

Ownership of smartphones, laptops, tablets and eReader

For Millennials, who have left CDs, DVDs and other physical-digital media by the wayside for digital access, do not have the same aversion to print books. Stronger, 92% of younger Millennial generation, aged 18-24, read print – above the national average. Younger readers are also more passionate about physical page turners, with half of 16-34 year olds agreeing that “eBooks will never take the place of real books for me.”

Physical preference
Deloitte looked at a number of studies for the reason of physical preference, a UK study finding that 62% of 16-24 year olds preferred buying print because they ”like the smell” and “want full bookshelves.” Another key value of material books are their cover, covers appear to drive sales as they send a message to those around the reader of what is being read and “the kind of person” they are, “reading in public conveys important information to other readers.” Social framing is something eBooks cannot capitalise on. The studies show that it is not merely a social or psychophysical preference for pressed words; studies have been released that suggest that physical books, particularly those involving long passages, significantly improve the retention of information over that of eBooks. 

Print books remain popular

Deloitte concludes in their prediction that the future of book selling is “complicated.” In some markets, like the UK the number of high-street bookstores has fallen by half in the last seven years. However, the trend for physical is not necessarily for a physical store, with online book shopping (book and eBook) making up 40% of the UK market. Ed Shedd, head of Deloitte’s UK technology, media and telecommunications practice, explains: “Bricks-and-mortar booksellers should not consider the resilience of print to be matched by bookshop sales. Online sales of physical books are likely to remain strong. However, bookshops should extol the value of buying print in person. You can browse far more easily, you can appreciate the font, and you can feel the paper. And you can walk out reading the book, rather than having to wait a few days for the book to be delivered.”


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