Despite Covid, Print Books Still Outsold Ebooks in 2020

Despite Covid, Print Books Still Outsold Ebooks in 2020

In 2020, with the early Covid fears that packages delivered by mail could spread the virus, many people who preferred physical information products started buying electronic ones. However, not everybody did that (including me) and print sales were still higher than ebook sales. In addition, the closing of schools affected the sale of education books. And, then there was the whole boredom factor. Many people who were staying home were turning to books (both print and electronic) for entertainment and escape.

Here is a compilation of articles covering print and ebook sales for 2020:

Print Book Sales Rose 8.2% in 2020
“BookScan said the 8.2% gain was the largest annual increase since 2010. The year certainly turned out much better than many in the trade side of publishing expected in the early spring, when pandemic-induced store lockdowns and some supply chain issues caused deep concern. But a prolonged decline never came, as online sales and sales through nonbookstore outlets more than offset declines at physical bookstores.”

Print Units Post Surprising Increase in First Half of 2020
“In what is perhaps the biggest surprise in publishing since the Covid-19 pandemic began roiling the U.S. economy this spring, unit sales of print books in the first half of 2020 were up 2.8% over the same period in 2019 at outlets the report to NPD BookScan.”

In the UK:
Print sales – 39%
Audiobook sales – 34%
Ebook sales – 27%
UK audiobook sales surge in lockdown
“According to the survey results, audiobooks make up a 34% share of weekly reading in the UK, up from 33% in 2019 and 25% in 2017. Ebooks have a 27% share and print is at 39%, down from 45% in 2017.”

US Book Publishing Remains Resilient: Print and Ebook Sales Are Growing
“As much of the retail world faces crisis, book publishing is positioned to grow in terms of unit sales when compared to 2019. In fact, 2020 may prove to be one of the strongest sales years in recent memory.”

Publishers Dismayed By 25% Increase in eBook Revenues in July 2020
“The decline is largely the result of steep declines in sales of educational materials for both college and K-12, while at the same time most other segments of the industry have shown surprising resilience…”

eBook sales are undergoing a revival in 2020
“Digital book sales are increasing across the board, due to the viral pandemic. Thousands of physical bookstores have closed all over the world and companies like Amazon are taking weeks to ship out the latest bestseller in hardcover or paperback. Digital book sales can be instantly purchased and they are available via apps, tablet or e-reader.”

Kobo Reveals 60% Growth in eBook Sales
“One of the biggest online retailers of books, Kobo, has revealed huge growth in eBook consumption during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.”

Surprise Ending for Publishers: In 2020, Business Was Good
“I expect that at the end of the year, when you look at the final numbers,” Madeline McIntosh, chief executive of Penguin Random House U.S., said of the industry, “it will have been the best year in a very long time.”

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Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the author of 19 books, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).

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Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.

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