Commercial Printing

Why consumers favour physical books

Enjoying an engrossing tale as we pass the time on our commute, exploring some new learning to enhance our knowledge, or curling up with a good story at the end of the day. When it comes to choosing a medium for reading it is physical books the majority of us pick.

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Our love of physical books is unshakable. Despite the growth of eBooks and audiobooks the majority of us avid readers continue to enjoy this medium for our reading experience. A Pew Research Center survey confirms this. It found printed books remain the most popular format for reading with 65% of US adults saying that they had read a printed book in the previous 12 months.

Latest book industry figures agree. Statista predicts revenue for physical book sales will reach US$69.44bn this year compared to just US$14.61bn for eBooks sales, such as Kindle books. Interesting too, is the average revenue per user. For physical books it is expected to amount to US$37.95 by 2029 compared to just US$14.18 for ebooks.

Not only are readers more likely to prefer a physical hardcover, softcover, or textbook, we are happier to spend more doing so - even in this digital age. 

What it is about printed books?

There are a number of reasons many people prefer this format rather than eBooks. They include:

Interacting with a traditional book is enjoyable for the reader. When we hold a book and turn its pages, apart from the obvious sense of sight, we also engage our senses of smell, touch, and hearing. Old books have a sweet smell with notes of vanilla flowers and almonds, which is caused by the breakdown of chemical compounds in the paper, new publications have the rich, fresh ink aroma. That is why visiting the bookstore and library can be such an enjoyable tactile experience. The multiple activation of the senses is something e-readers cannot achieve.

They help the reader’s learning and are memorable. When reading texts of several hundred words or more, learning is generally more successful when it is on paper than onscreen. In one study, researchers found that 3 and 4 year old children had more activation in language regions of the brain when they read a book with an adult like a parent than when they listened to an audiobook or read from a digital app. Activation was lower when they read on an iPad. In another study, MRI scans of 8 to 12 year olds showed stronger reading circuits in those who spent more time reading paper books than those who spent their time on screens. For older students, significant research shows that comprehension suffers when they read from a screen. A large 2019 analysis of 33 different studies showed that students understood more informational text when they read on paper. Researchers believe that this is because reading content on paper allows for deeper processing of the material, as it requires more attention and focus.

Promote digital detoxing. A digital detox is a period of time when we don’t interact with technical devices, such as smart phones, televisions, or computers. We could allocate lunch breaks or make our bedrooms tech-free. The latter could be very beneficial for the reader according to research from Harvard Medical School. It says the blue lights our phones, laptops, tablets, and televisions prior to sleeping can disrupt melatonin production, sleep quality, and mood.  

The look, feel and smell of printed books, combined with their memorability are no match for eBook consumption it seems. They also help us absorb more information, better recall what we read, and enables us to disconnect from electronic devices in an increasingly online world.

Book printing on demand

Encouraging our love for the paper books presents print service providers with a number of opportunities. The way books are produced has evolved opening up new publishing possibilities for digital technologies. They are increasingly being employed to support print on demand production. In fact IT Strategies has reported that book printing is the fastest growing application for production inkjet.

Print on demand has become a gamechanger for the publishing industry, offering a more sustainable and accessible way to produce books. It’s ideal for authors who want to self-publish, small or new publishing houses looking to reduce risk, or larger print houses looking to produce smaller initial runs or reprints.

With traditional publishing the emphasis was on publishers having to predetermine how many copies of a book to print. This could prove risky and result in significant financial loss if the books didn’t sell as planned.

With print-on-demand:
  • only what is ordered is printed - eliminating guesswork and the potential for overproduction,

  • there is also no need to warehouse and waste unsold inventory,

  • costs can be integrated into the price of each copy,

  • titles can be published with no need for large investments.

By introducing a new workflow print on demand offers a more streamlined process. A book is only printed when it is ordered. There are also faster turnaround times with the books sent directly to the customer. The process can more agilely respond to fluctuations in market demand.

For small publishing houses that may not have the financial resources of larger firms, it is easier to be competitive in the marketplace. There are no upfront costs, risks are reduced, they can manage a broader range of titles, support self -publishing, or they can print books that don’t have mass-market appeal but still have a passionate readership. Printing closer to the end-user can also reduce shipping costs and lower the publisher’s carbon footprint.

Secure you share of the print on demand market

Print service providers should consider offering a service that delivers on:

  • Quality of Print: Ensure high-resolution, vibrant colour printing or a luxurious grayscale for black-and-white publications.

  • Customization: Help publications stand out and attract attention by offering a variety of enhancements and variations whether that is in design, substrate choice, size or covers.

  • Speed: Consider timely delivery and how your hardware and software solutions can drive a faster and more efficient process.

  • Sustainability: Introduce ink and paper choices that reduce environmental impact. Also adopt technologies that have a responsible approach in their productions and operation.

This will make them the partner for choice for publishing houses and self-published authors.

Ensuring these elements are offered can be made easier by investigating all the technologies available with their own partner of choice. From software that drives order placement and production planning to responsive digital presses that can produce cost-effective runs of all sizes quickly and efficiently. Working with the right support can enable operations to take confident step towards beginning a new chapter in a fully managed way.

The pros of old-fashioned printed books far outweigh the cons, keeping them a firm favourite for readers. The benefits of physical books as opposed to e-readers are easily recognised by all age groups, whether we are digital natives or not. No matter what the options our reading habits draw us back to physical books.

To explore how on-demand publishing can be supported by our AccurioPress hardware solutions and begin you next chapter of success contact one of our specialists. Contact us | KONICA MINOLTA
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