Book formats in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

When e-readers first entered the market, many believed that the technology would usher in the beginning of the end for traditional print books. While e-books have certainly affected the industry, the technology hasn’t yet led to the death of print books, and unlike many other media related industries, the book industry hasn’t been completely overrun by digital products. People still feel some sort of connection to the physical form of a print book despite the obvious advantages associated with e-book and e-reader technology. Luckily, the market is healthy enough to support many different types of products, with Americans spending an average of 110 U.S. dollars on reading each year. Despite the fear that people are losing their appreciation for books in this new digital age, around 74 percent of U.S. adults report that they’ve read at least one book in the past year.

Print books remain the dominant product in the market, with 28 percent of consumers reporting that they read print books only and another 25 percent stating that they read more print books than e-books. Unit sales of print books reached a seven year high in 2017 with a total of 687 units sold. Somewhat surprisingly, printed books are most popular among young consumers aged 18 to 29, with 75 percent of respondents from this group stating that they read printed books. Only 17 percent of people state that they never read printed books, and around 30 percent state that they read printed books at least a few times per week.

Although they have yet to displace print books at the top of the market, around 266 million e-books were sold in 2017, marking a monumental rise from just 69 million in 2010. Around 48 percent of U.S. consumers state that they currently purchase e-books, with only nine percent stating that they never intend to purchase an e-book. Amazon is by far the biggest name in the industry, accounting for 85 percent of e-book purchases in 2017 and manufacturing the most popular e-reader: the Amazon Kindle. Although e-readers remain a popular method of e-book consumption, the widespread popularity of tablets and smartphones have made e-books available to a huge portion of the population without the need to purchase any additional hardware.

Audiobooks are another new and growing segment of the book industry, with around 108 million units sold and over 46 thousand different titles published in 2017 alone. Sales revenues from audiobooks reached 2.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, further establishing it as a major segment in the media industry as a whole. Around 57 percent of audiobook consumers use their smartphones to listen to books, and around 81 percent of people cite the ability to multitask as a key reason for their use of audiobooks.

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