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

When e-readers first came onto the market, they were said to mark the beginning of the end for traditional print books. This has proved to not necessarily be the case, however, as print books still account for the vast majority of revenue for book publishers in the United States. In a 2016 survey, 38 percent of respondents stated that they read only print books, whereas only six percent reported to only read digital books, meaning both e-books and audiobooks. The new books coming onto the market through self-publishing are also mostly print books, with over 570 thousand published in the United States in 2015 alone, in comparison to 153 thousand self-published e-books.


Despite the fear that the art of reading is dwindling in this digital age, it appears that there are still many avid readers in the United States. During a recent survey, 41 percent of respondents claimed to read more than 15 books a year and a further 20 percent stated that they read up to 10 books. When asked where they found new books, 61 percent stated that they relied on the traditional method of visiting a store, whilst 27 percent found new books on social media. Surprisingly, it is the younger generations that tend to read more print books, with 72 percent of 18-29 year-olds saying that they had read a print book in the last 12 months. This figure falls to 61 percent amongst those aged 65 and over.

The sales revenue generated from trade e-books in the United States stood at 1.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2016, marking a slight fall from the 1.6 billion U.S. dollars generated in 2014. Whilst the rise of the e-book has slowed in recent years, it is undoubtedly a significantly larger market than it was in 2010, when just 69 million units were sold. As a relatively new technology, e-readers remain more popular with younger readers. In a 2016 survey, 35 percent of respondents aged 18 to 29 stated they had read at least one e-book in the previous 12 months, and this figure falls to 19 percent in the 65 and over age category.

The audiobook industry was worth two billion U.S. dollars in 2016. There were 102 audiobook publishers in the United States and 4,387 people were employed in the industry. The market for audiobooks has seen a significant growth in recent years as the number of audiobook titles published in the United States has risen from just over 3,000 in 2007 to over 50 thousand in 2016. Of the audiobooks sold in 2016, more than three-quarters were fiction books, although the non-fiction genre has experienced an increase in popularity since 2014.

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