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Books Are Back — Physical Book Sales Rise, E-Books Plummet

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* Digital detoxing leads to surge in “real” book sales
* E-books sales are down in the US and UK
* Children’s books and cookbooks always more popular in print

As e-books sales in the United States declined by nearly 19 percent over the first nine months of 2016, paperback and hard cover sales enjoyed respective gains of 7.5 percent and 4.1 percent during the same period, reports CNN.

“The print format is appealing to many and publishers are finding that some genres lend themselves more to print than others and are using them to drive sales of print books,” said Phil Stokes of PricewaterhouseCoopers. Stokes leads PwC’s entertainment and media division in the UK, where e-book sales tumbled by 17 percent, while sales for physical books and journals increased by 7 percent and children’s books surged by 16 percent.

Stokes went on to explain that some genres — like children’s books and cook books — were always more popular in print. “Coloring books were a big trend over the past few years,” he said. “And giving a book as a gift is far less impressive if you are giving a digital version.”

The shift in buying behavior also coincides with people trying to limit their screen time.

The UK’s Office of Communications found that in 2016, 33 percent of adults had attempted a “digital detox” by limiting their use of smartphones, tablets and other devices. Perhaps fittingly, sales of e-readers declined by 40 percent from 2011 to 2016, says consumer research group Euromonitor International.

“E-readers, which was once a promising category, saw its sales peak in 2011. Its success was short-lived, as it spiraled downwards within a year with the entry of tablets,” noted Euromonitor’s research.

In the United States, the Pew Research Center found that 65 percent of those polled had read a printed book in the past year. Only 28 percent had read an e-book, and 25 percent had read no books in any format.