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E-book sales dip, but is print really making a comeback?

Billy Steele
09.23.15
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We've all heard "print is dead" a few (hundred) times before, but it looks like print is still kickin'. In fact, it could be making a bit of a comeback. The Association of American Publishers, using collected data from around 1,200 publishers, found that e-book sales dropped 10 percent during the first five months of 2015. The reason? Signs point to a lot of folks being "hybrid readers" these days, opting for a mix of print and digital over one or the other. E-reader sales have also been on the downswing for quite a while. For example, Forrester Research says 12 million of the dedicated reading devices were sold last year -- that's down from 20 million in 2011. Of course, Amazon just announced a $50 tablet that'll offer easy access to its library, but it also packs in some core slate features. It also looks like those Netflix-like e-book subscription services, like Oyster, didn't catch on like companies had hoped.

High e-book prices could also be contributing to the dip in sales. After Amazon's rift with publishers, the retailer handed over pricing and now digital versions are only slightly cheaper (or the same price) than print in a lot of cases. Is print really making a comeback, though? Well, the American Booksellers Association tallied 1,712 member stores and 2,227 locations this year. That's up significantly over the last five years. Publishers are looking to keep pace as well, investing in distribution to keep copies on shelves to meet the demand. While folks in the e-book business aren't ready to panic, it'll be interesting to see if this is a temporary slow down or if consumers really do prefer the physical act of page turning once more. Either way, Sony was a little off with its prediction.

[Image credit: AFP PHOTO / ISAAC LAWRENCE]

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