The return of the Paperback

Julianna Bonnett
By Julianna Bonnett October 6, 2017 12:57



Elaine Weeks at her home in Windsor on Sept. 28,2017

Elaine Weeks at her home in Windsor on Sept. 28,2017. (Photo by: Julianna Bonnett)


Back and better than ever.

According to a recent study conducted by Booknet, it appears that a large number of young people are not as interested in digital reading as might have been expected.

Booknet stated the reading public is ditching ebooks and returning to the old fashion printed word. In Canada, ebook sales accounted for only 16.8 per cent of total sales, a decline of 19 per cent from the previous year. The average ebook cost has increased by seven per cent in the last year, while a paperback has increased by three per cent.

Kathleen Westlake, a local author and manager at Mad Science, said ebooks are not as nostalgic as a paperback.

“Paperbacks appeal to those who don’t like reading digitally or, in most cases, just like the ‘feel’ of a book in their hands, the motion of turning a physical page. Being a local author, I know that you can’t sign an ebook like you can a paperback,” said Westlake.

Westlake said the wholesale cost of a paperback book is under four dollars on a small print run. “I’ve seen ebooks, mainly textbooks, which are selling for up to $100 or more. Essentially, the book’s value isn’t in its print format, but rather all the things that it takes to get it to the reader,” said Westlake.

While reading a paperback book is good, some studies have found that animation and audio in ebooks seem to help children identify printed words. According to National Literacy Trust, children’s reading abilities have improved since using ebooks. The study also found that ebooks are more appealing to children.

“Printed copies of books will always dominate, but I think ebooks have benefits to a lot of people,” said Elaine Weeks, a local author and publisher.

“I feel like audio books will become more popular in the next few years. With an audio book, you can just listen to it whenever. To be fair, there was more interest in ebooks when they first came out. Now it seems like more people want to go to a book store and hold a physical copy of a book in their hands. On the other hand, I’ve heard that ebooks have benefited children and even adults. I guess the use of different text and colour has drawn an interest to people.”

According to Booknet, sales of paperbacks accounted for 54 per cent of all book purchases in 2016 but have skyrocketed in sales in 2017.  With the rise in sales of paperback copies of books, not everyone wants the return of the paperback.

“I’m not all for paperback books anymore. I’d rather use an ebook,” said Aleksandra Matoski, worker at Chrysler Canada and self-described bookworm

“My kids have used ebooks a lot. I noticed when they were younger that they were more attracted to reading. I think it’s the feel of an electronic in a child’s hand that excites them, it’s something shiny and interesting.”

Some people prefer to hear their words over seeing them. With the digital audio book industry trending, the latest statistics from the Audio Publishing Association show that audiobook sales have totaled more than $1.77 billion in 2017, up to 20.7 percent over the previous year.


“Although opinions differ, what really matters is that people are still interested in the written word,” said Westlake.

Julianna Bonnett
By Julianna Bonnett October 6, 2017 12:57

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