#Shelfies are not enough: Reader behavior keeps print alive in the digital age

According to the Association of American Publishers’ annual report, covering all kinds of trade and educational books, the total US books market was worth $26 billion in revenue in 2018. What’s surprising about this figure is the low percentage of it that is representative of e-book revenue: just $2.06 billion.

As we often encounter within our community, the digital version is clearly a must have, but for many, there is no replacing the magic of print. Even in the age of sharing #shelfies, or photos of the print titles on one’s bookshelf on social media, it turns out, there must be more motivation for readers to continue building out physical libraries as more than Instagram photo post props.

We often hear Sprinters express an affinity for the tactile experience of print books – both participating authors and also readers – which could be why, in 2020, participating organizations such as Cisco still opt to produce both electronic and print versions of books written in Book Sprints. Similarly, designing beautiful books that really ‘show up’ in a striking and pleasant way both in digital and physical environments remains so important for this reason.

At the very same time, we feel extremely grateful that technology unlocks options. This story from the estate of J.D. Salinger, for example, well illustrates how access to digital versions is not only about mass market consumers, but can prove vital to access for across abilities.

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