Book sales plummet as eBook power grows

9 March 2012

some law-type books, yesterday

Britain’s high streets are shrinking rapidly and it looks as though the humble book shop could be next to disappear, if some stats released by boffins today are to be believed. Get this – Britons bought 7.6 million novels over the first eight weeks of 2012, which sounds impressive, but it’s almost 2.5 million fewer than over the same period in 2011.

Throw in non-fiction and children’s books and the total sales figures over that eight-week period are 25 million, but that itself is down by 4.7 million from the previous year. The ‘tough economic climate’ and the rise and rise of eBooks are clearly to blame.

Then throw in the additional fact that almost 1.4 million e-readers were sold in the UK over Christmas, and it’s not hard to see where the missing physical book sales are all going. (eBook sales rose by 623% between January and June last year).

Are we REALLY going to see a drastic drop in the numbers of book shops across the country? Will future generations SCOFF when we tell them about the joys of sitting cross-legged in a book shop, sniffing the pages of a novel while fighting off the unwelcome attentions of security guards? They won’t get it will they?

TOPICS:   Technology


  • Zleet
    Problem with any move to digital format is that it will bring with it piracy. Although I love my Kindle I would have been happy if they never took off as piracy will all but kill off fiction and produce more celebretard biographies, as the readers of those turds can barely work a computer.
  • JonB
    "Are we REALLY going to see a drastic drop in the numbers of book shops across the country?" I thought we'd already seen that in the past couple of years with the demise of Borders/Books Etc. and other bookshops? It was blamed on Amazon and other online sellers at the time.
  • The B.
    I would like to have a kindle for the convenience but I love my books too much and I'm buggered if I'm buying it in both physical and electronic formats. If you think e-book sales are going up, just wait until the EU eventually decides e-books aren't physical entities and drops the tax they currently levy on them.
  • Capability B.
    This is merely a change in consumer habits. Book sales via the internet from sites such as Amazon are well up on the past two years. Rather than go to a high street shop and pay full price (if indeed the shop has the book you want), people are simply getting them online and delivered. So book sales through the high street may indeed be falling, but that is more than compensated for by sales over the internet. Why go to WHSmith and pay through the nose (even though books may well be heavily discounted on the shelf) when you can log on to Amazon and get a copy for a few quid or even less? Library use is also rising - when people can't afford a stack of chick-lit tat, it costs nothing to get yourself a library ticket. After all, most of the trash that is published these days you are only ever going to want to read once. So why spend £8 on a paperback when you can borrow it for nothing? Or a rummage on the bookshelf in your local charity shops might get you the book you want for a pound or so. "Coffee table books" and swanky TV tie ins like natural history books will never be replaced by the E-book. You buy a book like that for the pleasure of looking at the pictures as much as for reading the text, and the Kindle and all its wretched ilk will never be able to compare with that. Sales of Kindles might be up, but didnt Bitterwallet run an article relatively recently about the high percentage of people who got one never using it? If I spill coffee on my paperback I can still read it.If it gets dropped in the pool on holiday its not the end of the world. If i leave my paperback on the train by mistake I can replace it easily and cheaply. I can write something witty or profound on the title page of a book, wrap it up and give it to someone as a gift. I can lend a book to someone and get it back after they've read it. If my bag gets stolen I don't lose my whole library. Ebooks are just a fad for the kind of people who will be queueing up for "the new iPad".
  • Dick
    Fiction books are shit anyway. They are just words and you can find lots of words for free on the internet. The stories are not even true. The authors make them up. I'm not paying for made up shite that I have to read, not when I can watch made up shite on TV.
  • Capability B.
    So much for serious debate then. Way to go, Dick. Appropriate name btw. No doubt you will be making comments about peoples' sexuality and the overall topic of sex changes fairly soon. LOL you are such a gangsta.
  • The J.
    Coffee table books will start to fade away too, five more years or so. A waterproof kindle shoudn't be far away (although it is crap compared to the glory of my iPads - they are literally windows into a brighter tomorrow) and your library isn't in the kindle; it's with the cloudy-woudy and will only get lost if Amazon want it to (and you haven't backed it up with any of the other services). Elibraries are alredy tested so you can loan a book for a limited period, no need to go down to the real library. Once the demand is high enough book loans (or cheap rental) will be easy. Nearly all of the classics of literature are free anyway. You can write your whit in a letter not on the gift. Costs fall; a kindle is under £100 already and you get thousands of books free with it. If you read a lot you will easily save in the long run even if you are a drunk that loses things on a train or drops things in a pool (you really should see someone about your clumsiness - I assume you have no other valuable things on your person when you go out of the house 'just in case') This is the beginning of the end for books in high-tech nations but it will be a long process; some peopel still have scroll collections
  • Sawyer
    @ Capability Bowes: You make some excellent points but then bring up the total non-issue of e-Readers and water. Yes they're more expensive to replace than paperbacks, but just don't break the thing. We have plenty of expensive luxury gadgets already, and Kindles are damn cheap compared to most of them. And you only lose your entire library if you bought some cheap junky e-Reader. With Kindle you can just read your entire library on your phone, PC, tablet... unless you dropped those in a pool as well?
  • The J.
    I fucking said that first Sawyer - can't you read? Don't worry, my amazing iPads can read things out loud for you if you are too ignorant to read the amazingly crisp text on the new iPad; that retina display is a joy to behold. I must be off now; I have some revolutionary improvements to discuss with God. expect Heaven on Earth soon.
  • Incapable B.
    My favourite book I have ever read was "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" it was such a delightful romp of a story. It would not have been the same on a Kindle, holding a piece of cold plastic, not being able to lick each page as I would with a book. The movie was also a joy. I am not really one for reading or watching true life stories but that Benjamin Barry was a card, very much a ladies man who acted like he had no shame. I was really expecting him to get Into a few scrapes. I am hoping to catch it at the theatre sometime soon as I would like nothing more than to give you all a treat on here with a comprehensive detailed review of it. I do hope they sign Kate Hudson for the lead female role, she is just so divine.
  • Kevin
    Books in shops cost too much money. It's as simple as that. Yes a lot is to do with the cost of the shops, staff etc but the point is if you don't bring the prices down people won't buy them. You can't avoid that point.
  • Capability B.
    I wouldnt know about kindles. I dont have one and I dont ever intend to have one.
  • The J.
    @Capability Jesus wept. It was last night when I showed Him the startling clarity of th the retina screen on the new iPad. He loved how the gold illumination on the Lindisfarne Gospels really popped off the virtual page. "Try to get that level of divine beauty on the Kindle Fire" I said. Tears of joy rolled down His divine cheeks and yet they did not damage the crystal bright screen, unlike paper. "Look how Our Lady's halo flickers". "Saint Steve, for thou art a worker of true miracles, abide with me for all eternity in My House. Take this seat at the left hand of My Father" But back to the point. If you have no knowledge then why bother prattling on eh?
  • Mike H.
    What the fuck do kids need to read for? No point going to school either. They are bred to go on the dole!
  • Zleet
    At least with books when the economy finally collapses you have something to burn for heat. Although in the resulting Mad Max style wasteland a kindle would make a fair throwing weapon and you could probably glue a few iPads to yourself for armour.

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment