But the latest data suggests that print books may not be on its deathbed, after all.
The number of print books sold in 2014 increased by 2.4 percent from a year earlier, totaling 635 million units, according to Nielsen Book Scan. That may not sound dramatic, but the number represents growth at a time when most people are forecasting steady declines.
“For Books, Print is Back,” Publishers Weekly proclaimed in its coverage. Print sales plateaued in 2012, when 590 million books were sold, according to BookScan. (BookScan captures about 80 percent of sales and the more recent numbers were also inflated by the addition of Wal-Mart, Publishers Weekly notes.)
Meanwhile, the growth of ebooks has slowed noticeably, to single digit levels after years of meteoric adoptions. Ebooks make up about 27 percent of the market these days, but print seems to be enjoying a bit of mini-revival.
But the news was not all good. Sales of adult fiction print books were down 7.9 percent from a year earlier. No adult fiction titles sold more a million copies in print, with only Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” coming close, with 963,000 copies sold, Publishers Weekly reports.
Most of the growth in print was in juvenile and young adult categories, which hopefully translates to a new generation of readers engaging with print.