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The Book Is Back

By Darrin Duber-Smith


The failure of e-books to win enough American hearts and minds means that the creative destruction of the book industry may be coming to a close. Larger bookstores have already consolidated and big chains have closed down as Amazon rapidly grabbed its market share. In fact the e-books, a product category that only emerged recently with the advent of such clever devices as the Kindle and the Nook, has seen revenues fall by more than 15% annually since 2015. That's might be hard to believe, but I have been surprised by the lack of e-textbook adoption among my students over the past few years. I guess it just hasn't caught on. It is interesting to note that the tablet category, which largely replaced those devices when Apple introduced the iPad, is also already in decline. The market moves fast these days, which is exciting for a young marketer.


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So does that mean traditional books are on the rise again? We know from previous KnowNOW! Marketing posts that independent bookstores are now doing rather well. As long as the location is right and the marketer understands the demographics and psychographics of the local market, the proper mix of new and used books, coffee, sometimes wine, and good old-fashioned customer service can result in some outstanding outcomes.


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the answer is a surprising "yes". Print books themselves are seeing some healthy revenue growth at around 5% annually for both 2015 and 2016, which is great news for independent booksellers, publishers, authors, editors, bookmakers, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and for anyone who wants to break into the business. Five percent growth in a large industry means that there is opportunity. And demand for goods and services all the way up the supply chain is derived from the consumer, so when consumers want more of something, the whole chain grows and flourishes. Indeed many companies are reinvesting in print books at a rapid clip and some in the industry are working on building more effective pipelines to bring more authors to more consumers. And so it looks like the book may be back, at least for now.



Do you own a tablet or e-reader? What percentage of books that you read are e-books? Do you think that e-books might eventually become more popular? Why or why not?